Open Educational Resources

Britain in the Long Eighteenth Century: Politics and Society, 1688-1832

The long eighteenth century was a time of profound change for the British Isles. England, Scotland and Ireland would be unified, society revolutionised and the political system altered forever. This course will explore how and why this remarkable transformation occurred.

The eighteenth century is often thought of as the ‘forgotten century’ fitting between the English Civil War and the Victorians. It was however a time of remarkable change, with the beginnings of a free press, the modern boom and bust economy, industrialisation, parliamentary government and Britain’s emergence as a great power.  For the purpose of this course, the historical period of the eighteenth century is considered to start with the Glorious Revolution, an event which defined the next century, when basic liberties would be enshrined in law -  and ending with the Great Reform Act of 1832 when Britain arguably began on its path towards our present form of parliamentary democracy. By looking at some key themes throughout this period we will be able to see how modern Great Britain emerged in the early nineteenth century, a society and political system transformed.

Date created:

2017-04-24 09:56
Course type: 

Resources for this course

Displaying 1 - 30 of 30
Type Resource Description People Full details
Document Week 1 - Declaration of William of Orange.

An abridged version of William III's declaration. A full version can be found at An http...

Document Week 1 - The Bill of Rights

Abridged version of the English Bill of Rights.  Also see

Document Week 1 - Act of Settlement 1701

Abridged version of the Act of Settlement. See also

Link Week 2 - A Jacobite Ballad

A Jacobite ballad ridiculing George I and his mistress the Duchess of Munster

Link Week 2 - Craftsman No. 172

The Craftsman was created in opposition to the premiership of Sir Robert Walpole. Read No. 172 which discusses the 'Robinocracy', this can be...

Link Week 2 - Idol-Worship or the way to preferment

Satirical Image on the rule of Sir Robert Walpole from around 1740 

Link Week 3 - Excise in Triumph

Satire on Walpole's excise scheme of 1733. 

Link Week 3 -Death of General Wolfe

Painting by Benjamin West, painted in 1770

Link Week 3 The Idea of a Patriot King

The Idea of A Patriot King was written in 1738 but on published in 1749. by Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke  His section on the military...

Link Week 4 - Principles of Population

Thomas Malthus: An Essay on the Principle of Population Part 1. Read pages 397-400. This is Malthus' breif 'sketch of the state of society in...

Link Week 4 - Thoughts on the Education of Daughters Part 1

Mary Wolstonecraft - Thoughts on the education of daughters, read pages 144-147 'On Card=Playing'. This gives an indication of  some of...

Link Week 4 - Thoughts on the Education of Daughters - Part 2

Read the chapters on 'Reading' and 'Boarding Schools' pages 48-60 (only 12 pages). 

Document Week 5 - The Act of Union

An abridged version of the Act of Union 1707. For the full document see ...

Link Week 5 - Portrait of George III

Image of George III, popular monarchism was at its height during the early 1800's. 

Link Week 5 - A Poem by Robert Burns

'Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation' was written in 1791 (highlighting a lingering hostility towards the union almost a century later), it...

Link Week 6 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey

28th of August 1723, a record of the indictments and punishments for a range of crimes in the early 18th century. Note the lack of Prison...

Link Week 6 - The Panopticon

Read pages 5-12, a description of Bentham's prison the 'Panopticon'.  Also look at this image of the design...

Link Week 6 - The Nine Principles of Policing

Probably composed by Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, these principles set out a set of principles for Peel's new Metropolitan Police force

Link Week 7 -The North Briton No. 45

Read the extract from John Wilkes' North Briton No.45 where he attacks the Prime Minister the Earl of Bute 

Link Week 7 - The Tories and Whigs Pulling for a Crown

An example of a cartoon from the Regency Crisis of 1788-9.

Link Week 7 - The Wealth of Nations

Read chapter two of book one (pages 16-20) of the Wealth of Nations. Pay particular attention to the idea of 'self-love'  and 'interest' mentioned...

Link Week 8 - Common Sense

Read this short extract from Thomas Paine's Common Sense. Read pages 17-21 (from 'I have heard it asserted by some')

Link Week 8 - The Life of Olaudah Equiano

Read 'The Life of Olaudah Equiano' pages 36-42 

Link Week 8 - Clive of India

A picture by Benjamin West, commemorating the granting of the 'diwani' to Robert Clive 

Link Week 9 - Rights of Man

Read the short extract from Thomas Paine's 'The Rights of Man' p. 16-24 (this makes up just four paragraphs)

Link Week 9 -Edmund Burke

Read pages 20-22 'the harm the French Revolution has done'. 

Link week 9 - James Gillray Cartoons

See the 'Birmingham Toast' ridiculing the English Jacobins. Although taking a conservative stance Gillray often ridiculed Pitt as well see ...

Link Week 10 - Cartoon 'The System Works'

Cartoon by Cruikshank in 1831. A mill representing the notorious 'rotten boroughs' churns out money and sinecures.

Document Week 10 - Speech by Sir Robert Peel

An (abridged) speech by Sir Robert Peel against the cause of reform. A full version can be found here  ...

Link Week 10 - Lord Macaulay's speech in favour of Reform

Lord Macaulay's speech in favour of reform (abridged).