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Wales and the French Revolution Series

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Marion Löffler (with Bethan Jenkins), Political Pamphlets and Sermons from Wales 1790–1805

Pamphleteering was a vital component of the popular political discussion opened up by the French Revolution of 1789. The English pamphlet wars between loyalists and radicals, Tories and Whigs, Richard Price, Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine and Hannah Moore, are well- analysed, but the political pamphlets and sermons published in the Welsh context have been neglected, partly because many of them were in Welsh.

However, over thirty political pamphlets and sermons by Welsh authors were published in the wake of the French Revolution. Radical texts boldly attacked the very institution of the monarchy and the principle of establishing a church. They refuted the state’s political misuse of Christian practices, such as fasting, to support the British war against the French Republic and exhorted their compatriots to emigrate to an America which emulated religious and civil liberty. Loyalists wrote back, defending the Established Church and attacking the ‘Welsh Jacobins’ whom they blamed for turning the common people into Dissenters, and for the rioting and the public disturbances which shook many parts of Wales throughout the 1790s and early 1800s. A Welsh Treason Trial pamphlet voiced the complaints of the two Dissenters accused of conspiring with the French forces who landed at Fishguard in February 1797. At times, both radical and loyalist writers turned against the Methodist ‘jumpers’, whom the first saw as a disgrace to Dissent, while the latter feared that they were undermining church and state.

This volume opens up the field of investigation for these pamphlets by publishing and translating pamphlets and sermons by leading Welsh radicals such as Morgan John Rhys, John Jones (Jac Glan-y-gors), Thomas Roberts and William Richards. An extended introduction interprets the groups of Welsh pamphlets in the political, religious and social context of Wales for the first time.