Liverpool University Press is delighted to announce a new series in Ancient History, spearheaded by series editors Colin Adams (Liverpool), Fiona Hobden (Liverpool), Cristina Rosillo-López, (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla) and Susan Mattern (Georgia), supported by an international editorial board.
Liverpool Studies in Ancient History is a major new international series showcasing high quality research and representing the dynamism and vibrancy of the study of ancient history today. The series will focus on the history of the Greek and Roman worlds, particularly through the lens of politics, economy, culture and society. Volumes will be of interest and importance to an international readership, through their empirical research, interpretative approach and emphasis on what interaction between different types of evidence can tell us about the development of ancient societies.
LUP editorial director Alison Welsby said “An exciting new series by exceptional and enthusiastic series editors, Liverpool University Press is proud to launch Liverpool Studies in Ancient History, which demonstrates not only our strong commitment to Ancient History but also our mission to publish high quality research for the academic community.”
Fiona Hobden speaking on behalf of all the series editors said “We are delighted to be launching our new Ancient History series with Liverpool University Press. The series aims to capture the complexity and diversity of the ancient Greco-Roman world, and to trace trends and transformations within and across regions and time. Working with our international editorial board, we hope to showcase innovative approaches to and fresh perspectives on the history, politics, society, and culture of the ancient world.”
Commissioning editor Clare Litt said “I am very excited to be working with a fantastic editorial team on this series, which will showcase the very strong research being carried out, not just in Liverpool but around the world.”
Further information on the series, including on submitting a proposal can be found here.
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To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we’ve curated a list of recent work by our brilliant female authors. Keep reading to find out more about some of the key titles by women from across our disciplines!
Sarah Schenirer and the Bais Yaakov movement she founded represent a revolution in the name of tradition in interwar Poland. The new type of Jewishly educated woman the movement created was a major innovation in a culture hostile to female initiative. Naomi Seidman provides a vivid portrait of Schenirer that dispels many myths.
Moving Histories explores the story of Irish female emigrants in Britain, from their working lives to their personal relationships. Using a wide range of sources, including some previously unavailable, Jennifer Redmond’s book offers a new appraisal of an important, but often forgotten, group of Irish migrants.
Middlebrow Matters is the first book to study the middlebrow novel in France. It asks what middlebrow means, and applies the term positively to explore the ‘poetics’ of the types of novel that have attracted ‘ordinary’ fiction readers – in their majority female – since the end of the 19th century.
Linda Yuretich translates the mid-12th-century Synopsis Chronike by Constantine Manasses, covering a history of the peoples of the East, Alexander the Great’s conquests, the Hellenistic empires, the Trojan War and early empire until the reigns of Constantine I in the East, finally focusing on New Rome and its emperors.
Doyeeta Majumder investigates the political, legal, historical circumstances under which the ‘tyrant’ of early Tudor drama becomes conflated with the ‘usurper-tyrant’ of the commercial theatres of London, and how the usurpation plot emerges as one of the central preoccupations of early modern drama.
In The Unfinished Revolution, Karen Salt examines post-revolutionary (and contemporary) sovereignty in Haiti, noting the many international responses to the arrival of a nation born from blood, fire and revolution. Using blackness as a lens, Salt charts the impact of Haiti’s sovereignty—and its blackness—in the Atlantic world.
The paperback version of the second edition of Marianne Elliott’s award-winning and highly acclaimed biography of Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763-98), the founder of Irish Republican nationalism, published earlier this month. Elliott has updated the work with new scholarship, new historical insights and fresh insights, making it a crucial publication for all scholars and readers of Irish history.
Virginia Smith’s A Scientific Companion to Robert Frost, represents the first systematic attempt to catalogue and explain all of the references to science and natural history in Frost’s published poetry.
A pious expedient between philosophy and anti-philosophy can be found in some eighteenth-century novels. The collected essays in this volume edited by IsabelleTremblay study how French novels of the Catholic Enlightenment contributed to the great debates of the eighteenth century and to the transmission of ideas. They also aim to restore those novels to the literary constellation of the age.
To further celebrate female authors, we’ve curated a collection of books in our Writers and their Work series which are written either by a female author, or have a female as their subject. View the collection on our website.
Marvel’s blockbuster “Black Panther,” which recently became the first superhero drama to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, takes place in the secret African Kingdom of Wakanda. The Black Panther, also known as T’Challa, rules over this imaginary empire – a refuge from the colonialists and capitalists who have historically impoverished the real continent of Africa.
But fans of the box-office hit might not realize that they don’t need to look to the make-believe world of the Black Panther to find a modern-day black kingdom that aspired to be a safe haven from racism and inequality.
The fictional kingdom has a real-life corollary in the historic Kingdom of Hayti, which existed as a sort of Wakanda of the Western Hemisphere from 1811 to 1820.
The Haitian Revolution led to the creation of the first free black state in the Americas. But the world was hardly expecting a former enslaved man named Henry Christophe to make himself the king of it.
Media accounts from the era, some of which I’ve collected in a digital archive, serve as a window into a brief period of time when the kingdom stood as a beacon of black freedom in a world of slavery. Yet, like Wakanda, the Kingdom of Hayti wasn’t a utopia for everyone.
A new kind of kingdom
On Jan. 1, 1804, an army led by former enslaved Africans in the French colony of Saint-Domingue staved off France’s attempt to bring back slavery, and declared themselves independent and free forever.
The leader of the revolutionaries, General Jean-Jacques Dessalines, had defeated Napoleon’s famous army and made himself emperor of the newly-renamed Haiti.
But in October 1806, Dessalines was assassinated by political rivals, leading the country to be divided into two separate states: General Henry Christophe named himself president of the northern part of Haiti, while General Alexandre Pétion governed a completely separate republic in the southern and southwestern part of the country.
In March 1811, President Henry Christophe surprised everyone when he anointed himself King Henry I and renamed the northern republic, the Kingdom of Hayti. Henry I soon had a full court of nobles that included dukes, barons, counts and knights to rival that of royal England.
Haiti’s first and only kingdom immediately attracted the attention of media outlets from around the world. How could there be a republic on one side of the island and a monarchy on the other, they wondered? Was the new black king trying to mimic the same white sovereigns who had once enslaved his people, others asked?
The edicts establishing the royal order of Haiti were immediately translated into English and printed in Philadelphia, while many American and British newspapers and magazines ran celebrity profiles of the Haitian king.
One newspaper described him as “the elegant model of an Hercules.” Another described him as “a remarkably handsome, well-built man; with a broad chest, square shoulders, and an appearance of great muscular strength and activity.”
The ‘First Monarch’ of the ‘New World’
In 1813, construction of the opulent Sans-Souci Palace – meaning literally “without worry” – was completed.
The palace was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1842; today, its remains have been designated a world heritage UNESCO site.
During its heyday, the palace dazzled.
There were the elegantly manicured gardens and a unique, domed cathedral. The structure was flanked by a dramatic double staircase leading to the entryway and two arches detailed with etchings and inscriptions. One acknowledged Henry, rather than Jean-Jacques, as the country’s “founder.”
There were also two painted crowns on the principal palace façade, each of which stood at 16 feet tall. The one on the right read “To the First Monarch Crowned in the New World.” The one on the left said “The Beloved Queen Reigns Forever Over Our Hearts.”
Newspapers around the world reprinted articles from the monarchy’s official newspaper, the Gazette Royale d’Hayti, detailing the royal family’s lavish dinners, replete with bombastic speeches and lengthy toasts to famous contemporary figures such as King George III of England, U.S. President James Madison, the King of Prussia, and the “friend of humanity,” the “immortal” British abolitionist Thomas Clarkson.
The Gazette also recounted the decadence of Queen Marie-Louise’s August 1816 official birthday celebration, which lasted for 12 days and had 1,500 people in attendance. On the final day of the party, 12 cannons fired after the Duke of Anse toasted the queen as “the perfect model of mothers and wives.”
A free island in a sea of slavery
There was much more to King Henry’s reign than luxurious parties.
On March 28, 1811, King Henry installed a constitutional monarchy, a move lauded by many in the British elite. The famous British naturalist Joseph Banks championed Henry’s 1812 book of laws, titled the “Code Henry,” calling it “the most moral association of men in existence.”
“Nothing that white men have been able to arrange is equal to it,” he added.
Banks admired the code’s detailed reorganization of the economy, from one based on slave labor to one – at least in theory – based on free labor. This transformation was wholly fitting for the formerly enslaved man-turned-king, whose motto was “I am reborn from my ashes.”
The code provided for shared compensation between proprietors and laborers at “a full fourth the gross product, free from all duties,” and it also contained provisions for the redistribution of any land that had previously belonged to slave owners.
“Your Majesty, in his paternal solicitude,” one edict reads, “wants for every Haytian, indiscriminately, the poor as well as the rich, to have the ability to become the owner of the lands of our former oppressors.”
Henry’s stated “paternal solicitude” even extended to enslaved Africans. While the Constitution of 1807 had announced that Haiti would not “disturb the regimes” of the colonial powers, royal Haitian guards regularly intervened in the slave trade to free captives on foreign ships that entered Haitian waters. An October 1817 issue of the Gazette celebrated the Haitian military’s capture of a slave ship and subsequent release of 145 of “our unfortunate brothers, victims of greed and the odious traffic in human flesh.”
Too good to be true?
Yet life in the Kingdom of Hayti was far from perfect.
Henry’s political rivals noted that people frequently defected to the southern Republic of Haiti, where they told stories of the monarch’s favoritism and the aristocracy’s abuse of power.
Worse, Henry’s famous fortress, the Citadelle Laferrière, was, according to some accounts, built with forced labor. For this reason, Haitians have long debated whether the imposing structure, which was restored in 1990, ought to symbolize the liberty of post-independence Haiti.
Henry’s dreams of a free black kingdom would not outlive him. On Aug. 15, 1820, the king suffered a debilitating stroke. Physically impaired – and fearing a fracturing administration plagued by the desertion of some its most prominent members – Haiti’s first and only king killed himself on the night of Oct. 8, 1820.
Despite some questions about living conditions in the Kingdom of Hayti, its ruler can still be recognized as a visionary. Even one of his most ardent rivals from the south, Charles Hérard Dumesle, who often referred to Christophe as a “despot,” nonetheless praised the remarkable “new social order” outlined in the Code Henry. Dumesle appeared to lament that the king’s “civil laws were the formula for a social code that existed only on paper.”
For all those who still dream of black liberation, strong – if ultimately flawed – leaders, like both the King of Hayti and Black Panther, have always been central to these visions.
King Henry was even depicted as a sort of superhero in his time. As one article from 1816 noted of Henry,
“History demonstrates that no people has ever done anything great entirely by themselves; it is only ever in collaboration with the great men who become elevated in their midst that they raise themselves up to the glory of accomplishing extraordinary deeds.”
Marlene Daut is Associate Professor of African Diaspora Studies, University of Virginia. She is also the author of Tropics of Haiti.
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Liverpool and the Slave Trade is the first comprehensive account of the city’s role in the slave trade. Drawing on recent research, contemporary documents and illustrations, it provides a detailed account of how the trade operated and was eventually brought to an end. We caught up with author Anthony Tibbles to discuss this recent publication.
First, could you tell us a bit about Liverpool and the Slave Trade and what compelled you to focus your research in this area?
I first became interested in Liverpool’s role in the slave trade when I was asked to take charge of the development of the Transatlantic Slavery Gallery at the Maritime Museum over twenty-five years ago. In doing some initial research, it was clear that there were a lot of myths but very little academically sound published information, particularly about the scale and nature of the city’s involvement. Whilst a large amount of research has been carried and published since then on the transatlantic trade, very little has focussed specifically on Liverpool.
In 2007 I helped edit Liverpool and Transatlantic Slavery(Liverpool University Press), a volume of academic papers on various aspects of Liverpool’s role in the slave trade but I still felt there was a need for a comprehensive history especially one aimed at the interested general reader. In the same year, as part of the events organised to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, I was asked to give a lecture on Liverpool and the slave trade at Gresham College in London. After I retired and decided to attempt to write about the subject myself, the Gresham lecture provided me with a template for my approach to the book.
This is the first comprehensive account of Liverpool’s participation in the slave trade. Why do you think this area of the city’s history has been overlooked?
I think for many years there was a reluctance to admit that the city had been so closely involved in what was by then almost universally condemned as an horrific and disgraceful trade. It was easier and less painful to pass over what had become regarded as a shameful episode in the city’s history and concentrate on the spectacular growth of Liverpool in the nineteenth century. I know when we developed the Transatlantic Slavery Gallery there were people who said we should put Liverpool’s role in the trade ‘behind us’, effectively forget about it, and look to the future. In fact, it is only by confronting uncomfortable aspects of the past and recognising that history, that you are able to move on.
Liverpool and the Slave Trade includes the use of contemporary documents and personal testimonies and experiences to explain the topic – are there any stand-out materials which you could tell us more about?
I have made significant use of the Davenport Papers which the Maritime Museum acquired in 2002. They are part of the extensive business archive of William Davenport who was one of Liverpool’s most active slave traders, responsible for over 140 voyages. The letters between him and his captains are particularly detailed and revealing of the complexities of the trade. They show the matter of fact way that Davenport and his captains discussed the buying and selling of fellow human beings and their total lack of concern for the enslaved, unless it affected the profitability of the voyage.
Could you tell us more about the cover image and why you chose it?
The cover image is a detail from a watercolour entitled Liverpool from Seacombe Boathouse which was painted by Michael Angelo Rooker (1746-1801) in about 1768 or 1769 and was published in 1770. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1769 along with its pair A View of Liverpool from the Bowling Green. I wanted an image that related to the subject of the book and although there are one or two paintings of Liverpool slave ships, they are not immediately obvious as such. I thought it was important to show Liverpool and the Mersey and this view shows the port during the height of the slave trade.
How does this volume pave the way for further research on the topic?
This book is a general overall survey of Liverpool’s participation in the slave trade and is intended as a summary of current research.
There are still a number of questions which have not been fully answered and where historians have different opinions. These include the extent of the importance of the trade to Liverpool’s development and economy; how the slave trade related to other trades that the town was involved in; the relationship between the trade and the industrial revolution; and why Liverpool and its merchants came to dominate the trade in the late eighteenth century. More research could also be done on the merchants themselves, who they were, what were their origins, how far they were involved in other trades and how important the slave trade was to their personal wealth and prosperity.
What are you going to be working on next?
I usually have a number of projects on the go at any one time. I have been researching members of the Watt family who owned Speke Hall in the nineteenth century and whose wealth came from Richard Watt (1724-96). He made his fortune in Jamaica as a factor, a dealer in enslaved Africans and a plantation owner and in his latter years was a shipowner and trader in Jamaican produce, particularly sugar and rum. Quite separately, I am also researching Liverpool marine artists and ship portrait painters with the intention of publishing a dictionary. The port was home to some of the most prolific and talented painters in this genre from the late eighteenth century until the immediate post-Second World War years.
I’ve also become interested in the history of bell ringing in Cornwall! This started from seeing a couple of delightful eighteenth century painted boards featuring images of bell ringers and a rhyme about rules for ringing. I’ve now found more than a dozen similar boards in local churches which seem to be unique to Cornwall.
For more information on Liverpool and the Slave Trade please visit our website.
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How did Liverpool transform its 19th century reputation for drunkenness? David Beckingham, author of The Licensed City explains the social impact of licensing laws in a city centred on drinking culture.
What made you decide to study Liverpool and what did you focus on in your research?
For much of the nineteenth century, Liverpool enjoyed a terrible reputation for drunkenness. According to police statistics it was at various times the most drunken city in England. At its peak in the 1870s, there was something like 20,000 annual police proceedings for drunkenness. I was interested to find out more about why Liverpool looked so at odds with other cities.
I began by considering the role of numbers in constructing municipal reputations. I was cautious of these numbers, aware that they were counting incidents of policing and not every act of consuming alcohol. But I wanted to know what that record said about Victorian Liverpool, a city whose civic ambitions betrayed a series of social anxieties.
This meant asking why the authorities in Liverpool thought that the city had such a drink problem. Because policing reflecting anxieties about largely public behaviours, I started to consider the role that drink played in the social and street life of the city. This took me on a kind of archive tour of the docksides, the slums of north Liverpool, the mercantile heart around the Town Hall, and the theatre land of Williamson Square. I focus on the regulatory mechanism for controlling the sale of alcohol through pubs. This is the licensed city of my title, a city where regulators were keen to address the links between drink and a range of social problems.
How did you go about your research for this book? Were you surprised by any of your findings?
My book grew out of a PhD in Geography. Most of my research was done in Liverpool’s Central Library, where I read the minute books of the Council, Watch Committee (which was in charge of policing) and magistrates. Newspapers were also fantastically useful. I particularly liked reading old satirical papers like Porcupine. They provide a very different angle on the sometimes rather dry tone of official minute books and, even through their criticisms, revealed the sense of civic pride and identity so central to social reform.
The archives also have some wonderful temperance material, produced by reformers campaigning against drink. This included an amazing set of maps of pubs in different parts of town, which are reprinted in the book. Being trained as a geographer, I was interested to think about what kind of political work was done by representing information in this way. They show us how tempting it can be to construct reductive moral arguments about people and places.
I really wanted to learn about the cultures of Liverpool’s pubs. We know what they looked like: plans formed part of the licensing process and there are plenty of street photographs that reflect changing branding and design. Liverpool still has some famous examples of pubs from the period. I tried to imagine what they would have sounded like as people talked over their beer about their daily concerns. The written records aren’t really set up for that, of course. Things were usually recorded when they went wrong, but by understanding this it is still possible to glimpse daily life.
Most surprising, to me, was just how detailed these records could be. They show magistrates manipulating the layout of pubs, doing away with screens or doors to cosy corners where people could get up to mischief. My favourite examples come from cases where publicans were tasked with managing women who were reputed to be prostitutes. The law didn’t ban women from seeking liquid refreshment, but it asked that they stay no longer than was necessary for ‘reasonable refreshment’. Importantly, it didn’t spell out how long this was. One London Road publican was told that if he spotted a known prostitute she should not be allowed to stay on his premises for longer than four minutes. The obvious concern was to prevent pubs being used by prostitutes to solicit for sex. To me it conjures up an image of the pub’s staff lining up clocks along the bar. I can’t imagine the magistrates’ intention was to endorse speed drinking, but this tells us a lot about their priorities. It has been really instructive to see just how these gendered moral codes ran right the way down through the social life of the city.
Photograph courtesy of Colin Wilkinson at Blue Coat Press
Why did alcohol become such a pressing political issue in the nineteenth century?
In a way, that concern with prostitution helps explain something very important about drink. It intersected with such a broad range of social issues and policy arenas, right the way from labour productivity and criminality through to health and housing reform.
It is clear to me that the problem of prostitution played a particular role in politicising the management of pubs in Liverpool, in no small part because of the political clout of some of the city’s brewers. This helped turn drink from a question of individual moral responsibility into a collective question about the city’s management to be challenged through the ballot box.
Nationally, the growth of the temperance movement also reflects a distinctive feature of drink: it made really very tangible an important and unresolved debate about the rights and reach of the state to govern individual behaviours. This is really what got me interested in drink in the first place. It is a great case study for understanding the developing governance of everyday life in Victorian Britain.
To what extent did you find that reforming licensing laws tackled the social issues that Liverpool was facing in the nineteenth century?
That’s a really important question. It is wrong to assume that the broader social changes I narrate were all down to licensing. Licensing has to be seen alongside other reforms such as slum clearance, as well as changes in prosperity and social attitudes to drink. But that’s the interesting thing about drink: it links to so many other features of urban life. The magistrates reduced the numbers of licences, particularly beerhouses in the working-class parts of town, and they really did try to address what went on in pubs. They also learnt how to use licensing to shape the world beyond the pub. In that, they showed that licensing was a useful tool of social governance, and the argument I make is that this was often directed at behaviours other than simply drinking.
It would also be wrong to see any successes as all their own work, however: I place great emphasis on the campaigns of social reformers. They were central to the definition of particular behaviours as problems that required intervention. For me the most telling thing is that reformers thought that licensing was working. This fed into a really useful political narrative that their social action was helping transform how their city was run. That takes us full circle back to the idea of reputation.
For more information on The Licensed City please visit our website.
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