Lords of Misrule reclaims the rhetoric of hostility to aristocracy in Britain. Frequently dismissed as an aspect of the underdeveloped nature of British socialism, anti-aristocratic sentiment is sometimes seen as an immature expression of politics. This book takes a different view. Anti-aristocratic ideas demonstrate the continuities within popular radicalism. Opposition to privilege and the landed elite reframed the Land Question, and touched long-standing concerns about the dispossession of the English peasantry. Through a close scrutiny of aristocratic immorality, the gentry's monopoly of land, opposition to hunting, and historical controversies about the House of Lords, hostility to aristocracy emerges as central, rather than peripheral, to the popular politics of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Consideration of anti-aristocratic ideas provides an alternative avenue for the understanding of pre-labourist radicalism, and, informed by imperial perspectives and recent work on literacy, broadens the parameters of the historiography of popular reformism in Britain.

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