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Peterloo: The massacre that changed Britain

The story of the Peterloo Massacre – an event which changed British history.

Editor in Chief of Britain’s The Guardian newspaper Katharine Viner charts the story of the infamous Peterloo Massacre which happened in Manchester 200 years ago this year – a devastating event which would have a huge impact on how Britain was run.

Up to 80,000 people had gathered in an area that was then known as St Peter's Field in the heart of what is now city centre Manchester in the north of England. Their mission – to peacefully demand more democracy and representation in parliament.

On 16 August 1819, troops charged the crowds in St Peter's Field - 18 people lost their lives and around 700 were injured. Within days, the press were referring to it as "The Peterloo Massacre" after the battle of Waterloo just four years earlier.

The events shocked the nation and eventually led to widespread change.

Katharine meets descendants of those there that day, she looks at the background and build up, hears graphic accounts of the slaughter, death and injury and examines how the events would revolutionise what was meant by democracy and change the way Britain was run forever. There are contributions from leading historians as well as dramatic reconstructions of real testimony from the time.

(Photo: Yeomanry charging crowds during bread riots in Manchester. The event became known as the Peterloo Massacre. Credit: Rischgitz/Getty Images)

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27 minutes

Last on

Sun 18 Aug 2019 17:32GMT

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