The Many and the Few - A Divided Decade
In this final programme, Lucy Worsley examines the backlash against the excesses of the Prince Regent and the elite world he represented, as George finds himself in a Britain on the brink of revolution in the closing years of his Regency. This was a moment when the power of the word - in radical writings and speeches - briefly challenged the power of the sword. Percy Bysshe Shelley, and future wife Mary, openly supported revolutionary ideas and Mary's famous novel Frankenstein can be seen as a vehicle for the fears surrounding the creation of an uncontrollable new industrial world.
Lucy reveals that even Lord Byron was not always the snake-hipped seducer of legend. He and fellow writers and poets were active supporters of the grass roots movement for reform. Byron made an impassioned speech in Parliament in defence of Luddite machine-breakers. New industrial cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester were being established yet, under the archaic electoral system of the day, not one returned an MP. The vote was in fact limited to a small land-owning class. The demands for democratic change were to end in tragedy in Manchester with a bloody massacre of unarmed men, women and children at St Peter's Fields - an event dubbed, with bitter reference to the triumph of Waterloo, as 'Peterloo'.
Lucy also describes the technological changes that transformed the Regency landscape and experiences - she enjoys the thrills of a mail coach ride, complete with armed guard; learns how to operate the world's oldest steam engine; and partakes in the Regency craze of balloon flight.
The programme ends with the Prince Regent finally being crowned as George IV at Westminster Abbey in 1821 while his estranged wife Caroline batters the main doors demanding entry. A colourful ending to a decade of elegance and extravagance.
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|Executive Producer||Michael Poole|