Post-War Crime and Violence in Britain, 1748-53
After the end of the War of Austrian Succession in 1748, thousands of unemployed and sometimes unemployable soldiers and seamen found themselves on the streets of London ready to roister the town and steal when necessary. In this fascinating book Nicholas Rogers explores the moral panic associated with this rapid demobilization.
Through interlocking stories of duels, highway robberies, smuggling, riots, binge drinking, and even two earthquakes, Rogers captures the anxieties of a half-decade and assesses the social reforms contemporaries framed and imagined to deal with the crisis. He argues that in addressing these events, contemporaries not only endorsed the traditional sanction of public executions, but wrestled with the problem of expanding the parameters of government to include practices and institutions we now regard as commonplace: censuses, the regularization of marriage through uniform methods of registration, penitentiaries and police forces.
"I know of no book that examines such a broad swath of topics and employs such a variety of sources. . . . It is seldom that an academic book, researched by a first-rate scholar, is so readable and entertaining."—Donna T. Andrew, University of Guelph~Donna T. Andrew
"From the streets, turnpikes, and taverns to the courts, pulpits, and Parliament, Mayhem reminds us that the fractious polity of mid-century Britain took its cues from a great many players. Rogers is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the eighteenth century."—Deborah Valenze, author of The Social Life of Money in the English Past~Deborah Valenze
"Nick Rogers’ expert knowledge of electoral politics, crowd behavior and the lives of seafarers are all put to good use in this Hogarthian account of life in the British metropolis and empire in the mid eighteenth century."—Joanna Innes, Somerville College, Oxford~Joanna Innes
“Far from being an age of patrician calm, mid-eighteenth-century Britain was riven with conflict. Rogers’s compelling new book examines the often violent dislocations that attended the end of the War of Austrian Succession and shows some of the surprisingly modern governmental experiments they inspired.”—Margaret R. Hunt, Amherst College~Margaret R. Hunt
“[A] lively, compelling work.”—Choice ~Choice
~Stephen Brumwell, Times Literary Supplement
“Rogers’s fascinating examination of the gin craze is one of several interlocking case studies that together offer a vivid picture of a Hanoverian state facing myriad challenges to authority . . . Mayhem is acutely observed and richly detailed: it provides a convincing snapshot of a society reeling under a crime wave, and desperate enough to consider any means of curbing it.”—Stephen Brumwell, Times Literary Supplement
Winner of the 2013 John Ben Snow Prize sponsored by the North American Conference on British Studies.~John Ben Snow, North American Conference on British Studies
"Nicholas Rogers is a deft scholar who marshals an impressive variety of sources in this book. . . . He offers a fresh take on the intersection of a variety of social and political issues at a key point in the eighteenth century.”—American Historical Review ~American Historical Review