While researching for my first Regency romance, The Nobleman’s Daughter, I asked over and over, “But what about the poor people? Have they no rights? No recourse? Who is caring for them?” I had a wonderful story in mind highlighting the beautiful and wealthy elite–the plight of the poor mercilessly bumped it aside. So I stopped ignoring the lower classes, like the wealthy of the time should have done, and I really looked at what had happened to these people.
And I found that no one was speaking for them. No one SAW them. Think about that. In a world where we feel like we have a voice, however small, imagine if you had no recourse, a government who didn’t care, nobles who hoped to keep you in your lowly position, and zero money or opportunity to gain more.
I just couldn’t fathom their lives. And then I wondered how did they get out of that mess? As a people, what brought about change? And that’s when I discovered Peterloo.
The poor were rising. They were not content to live in misery, not content with their lack of rights or freedom, and they bravely asked for change.
Sixty thousand people showed up in a great rally. Think about that. How often could you or I gather sixty thousand people to stand up for anything? And this was before phones or internet or any form of simple communication. They rode horses. And they came in peace with signs. Women too. “No Corn Laws” (their food was taxed an unbearable amount) “Votes for all” “Love” “Unity and Strength”.
They prepared to hear speakers. Full of hope that something would finally change, they came in their Sunday best.
And they were chopped down. By swords. Chased out of the square, trampled. It was one of the worst tragedies of the time and became known as the Peterloo Massacre.
I am proud of these peaceful fighters for freedom, thrilled to continue their memory in my romance, and determined to be another voice who stands for the downtrodden, for rights and for freedom.