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Dangerous TalkScandalous, Seditious, and Treasonable Speech in Pre-Modern England$
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David Cressy

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199564804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564804.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021

Dangerous Speech from Hanoverian to Modern England

Dangerous Speech from Hanoverian to Modern England

(p.236) 11 Dangerous Speech from Hanoverian to Modern England
Dangerous Talk

David Cressy

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the loosening of restraints on political conversation in the 18th century, and renewed assaults on seditious speech in the later Hanoverian period amidst calls for reform and revolution. For the most part, 18th- and 19th-century governments tolerated or dismissed abusive remarks, or inflicted no more than token punishment on speakers of scandal and sedition. From time to time, however, regimes felt threatened, and used old law against new offenders. Jacobite scares in the early Hanoverian period, radical enthusiasms in the age of the French Revolution, and plebeian outbursts after the Napoleonic wars produced the greatest concentration of cases. The latter sections of this chapter bring the story to the present, showing how speech that once led to trial and punishment became ‘the birthright of an Englishman’.

Keywords:   Hanoverian period, modern England, French revolution, freedom of speech, birthright, George III, Napoleonic wars

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