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

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2000-06-01
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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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.

Author Biography

John Barrell is Professor of English, University of York.

Table of Contents

Sad Stories
The Last Interview
'When Kings Are Hurled From Their Thrones'
The Invention of Modern Treason
Convention and Conspiracy
The British Convention
The Trial of Thomas Walker
Secret Committees
The Arming of the L.C.S.
Parliament and Prejudication
The Trials of Watt and Downie
The Charge to the Grand Jury
The Trial of Thomas Hardy
The Trials of Tooke and Thelwall
'A Conspiracy without Conspirators'
Alarms and Diversions
The Pop-Gun Plot
Traitor or Lunatic: The Arrest of Richard Brothers
Phantoms of Imagination
The Treasonable Practices Act
King Killing
Epilogue: 'Fire, Famine, And Slaughter'
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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