By Rhian E. Jones

The wave of unrest which came about in 1840s Wales, often called ‘Rebeccaism’ or ‘the Rebecca riots’, stands proud as a hit tale in the ordinarily gloomy annals of well known fight and defeat.

The tale is remembered in bright and compelling photos: assaults on tollgates and different symbols of perceived injustice by way of farmers and staff, outlandishly wearing bonnets and petticoats and led by way of the enduring nameless determine of Rebecca herself. The occasions shape a middle a part of old examine and remembrance in Wales, and often look in broader paintings on British radicalism and Victorian protest activities.

This ebook attracts on cultural heritage, gender experiences and symbolic anthropology to give clean and substitute arguments at the which means of Rebeccaite gown and formality; the importance of the female in protest; the hyperlinks among protest and pop culture; using Rebecca’s photo in Victorian press and political discourse; and the ways that the occasions and just like Rebecca herself have been built-in into politics, tradition and well known reminiscence in Wales and past. these kind of points pay off higher attention than they've got but been accorded, and spotlight the relevance of Rebeccaism to British and eu well known protest – as much as and together with the current day.

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55 Rebeccaism is more plausibly and less restrictively viewed as divided into phases, defined by location and targets as well as by chronology, and with the capacity to spread beyond its area of origin and to transcend its initial remit. 26 Politics and Society in Rebecca’s Country While the friction produced by population growth, industrial expansion and the consequent dislocation of older social and governmental institutions was not exclusive to south Wales, south Welsh protest movements in the early nineteenth century were distinguished by these shared background factors.

This view was influential on historians writing in the early twentieth century, whose work defined the Welsh primarily in terms of their relationship with the land. 2 Despite criticising ‘geographic determinism’, Bowen nevertheless distinguished between a mountainous heartland of ‘inner Wales’ and outer border or lowland areas considered more open to external influences. From this perspective, Welsh history appeared as a gradual retreat of the older culture, a process culminating in the inexorable spread of industrialisation with the old culture corrupted or destroyed apart from remnants in mountainous redoubts.

This enabled her image and name to transcend their original objectives and to function as multivalent symbols expressing the pursuit of popular concepts of justice, the defence of established rights and the legitimisation of activities – including poaching, arson and the writing of threatening letters – which were otherwise being placed beyond the pale of constitutional law. The evolution of Rebeccaism illustrates that specific modes of protest did not originate with or remain the property of specific movements or demographics, but were utilised, adapted and channelled as the occasion demanded.

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