Imagining the King's Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-1796

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Oxford University Press, 2000 - Art - 737 pages
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It is high treason in British law to imagine the king's death. But after the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, everyone in Britain must have found themselves imagining that the same fate might befall George III. How easy was it to distinguish between fantasising about the death of George and imagining it, in the legal sense of intending or designing? John Barrell examines this question in the context of the political trials of the mid-1790s and the controversies they generated. He shows how the law of treason was adapted in the years following Louis's death to punish what was acknowledged to be a "modern" form of treason unheard of when the law had been framed. The result, he argues, was the invention of a new and imaginary reading, a "figurative" treason, by which the question of who was imagining the king's death, the supposed traitors or those who charged them with treason, became inseparable.
 

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Contents

I The Last Interview
49
When Kings are Hurled from their Thrones
87
Convention and Conspiracy
127
The British Convention
142
The Trial of Thomas Walker
170
Secret Committees
182
The Arming of the LCS
210
Parliament and Prejudication
231
The Trial of Thomas Hardy
318
The Trials of Tooke and Thelwall
366
A Conspiracy without Conspirators
402
The PopGun Plot A Tragicomedy by Thomas Upton
443
Traitor or Lunatic The Arrest of Richard Brothers
502
The Treasonable Practices Act
549
King Killing
602
Fire Famine and Slaughter
643

The Trials of Watt and Downie
252
The Charge to the Grand Jury
285
Plant Plant the Tree
657
Copyright

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About the author (2000)


John Barrell is Professor of English and Co-Director, Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, University of York.

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