Luddism, incendiarism and the defence of rural 'task-scapes' in 1812

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The Luddite machine-breaking outbreaks in 1812 were not solely an urban or industrial phenomenon. Using a case study of the Horbury district in the West Riding, this article shows that Luddism, and especially popular fear of Luddism, was heightened by ancillary activities, both criminal and customary, occurring on the semi-rural peripheries of urban-industrial areas. Incendiarism was a common feature of social conflict in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century England. This article also demonstrates how the environment and landscape of the industrialising Pennines shaped the disturbances of 1812. Luddites were defending their customary 'task-scapes' that were increasingly being enclosed by aggrandising landlords and manufacturers. Luddism can only be understood within a longer and more holistic context of regional social tensions and customary practices of resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-73
JournalNorthern History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Luddism
  • incendiarism
  • west riding
  • environment
  • protest
  • resistance


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