|Part of the history of Manchester|
A painting of the Peterloo Massacre published by Richard Carlile
The Peterloo Massacre (or Battle of Peterloo) happened at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819. It was when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000 to 80,000 gathered at a meeting to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.
The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 had resulted in a time of famine and chronic unemployment. This was exacerbated by the introduction of the first of the Corn Laws. By the beginning of 1819 the pressure generated by poor economic conditions and the lack of suffrage in northern England, had enhanced the appeal of political radicalism. In response, the Manchester Patriotic Union organised a demonstration to be addressed by the radical orator Henry Hunt. The Manchester Patriotic Union was a group agitating for parliamentary reform.
Shortly after the meeting began, local magistrates called on the military authorities to arrest Henry Hunt and several others with him, and to the men. Cavalry charged into the crowd with sabres drawn. In the resulting confusion, 11 people were killed and 400 to 700 were injured. The massacre was given the name Peterloo in ironic comparison to the Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place four years earlier.
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