In the first detailed study of its kind, James Gregory's book takes a historical approach to mercy by focusing on widespread and varied discussions about the quality, virtue or feeling of mercy in the British world during Victoria's reign. Gregory covers an impressive range of themes from the gendered discourses of 'emotional' appeal surrounding Queen Victoria to the exercise and withholding of royal mercy in the wake of colonial rebellion throughout the British empire. Against the backdrop of major events and their historical significance, a masterful synthesis of rich source material is analysed, including visual depictions (paintings and cartoons in periodicals and popular literature) and literary ones (in sermons, novels, plays and poetry).
Gregory's sophisticated analysis of the multiple meanings, uses and operations of royal mercy duly emphasise its significance as a major theme in British cultural history during the 'long 19th century'. This will be essential reading for those interested in the history of mercy, the history of gender, British social and cultural history and the legacy of Queen Victoria's reign.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 544 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
James Gregory's new book is a highly original and wide-ranging account of the changing tradition of official pardoning and forgiveness in modern Britain. Focusing particularly on the 19th century, and on the role of the monarchy, he uncovers a missing dimension of legal, political and popular culture. He has consulted an abundance of sources and made very good use of the Royal Archives, the latter allowing him to investigate the unusually active role played by Queen Victoria in dispensing clemency. I envisage a good audience for this book, amongst general historical readership, and especially students of Victorian studies, legal history and the history of the monarchy. It will also be a good addition to the range of books appearing in Queen Victoria's bicentenary year. * Miles Taylor, Professor of Modern History, University of York, UK *
James Gregory's penetrating study highlights Mercy-Portia's "quality" and "deed"-as a key word in re-evaluating a wide range of cultural challenges coalescing around Victoria's long reign, including: the nature of monarchy itself; debates on capital punishment, Empire, and rebellion; concerns whether unadulterated justice could tame social complexity. Admirably convincing. * Gonzalo Sanchez, Professor of European Cultural History and Humanities, The Juilliard School, USA *