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Distributed for University of Wales Press

Petticoat Heroes

Gender, Culture and Popular Protest in the Rebecca Riots

The wave of unrest which took place in the 1840s in Wales known as “the Rebecca riots” stands out as a success story within the generally gloomy annals of popular struggle and defeat: farmers and workers, outlandishly dressed in bonnets and petticoats, showed their outrage against unfair taxes by attacking tollgates and other symbols of perceived injustice. Petticoat Heroes draws on the fields of cultural history, gender studies, and anthropology to present fresh and alternative arguments on the meaning of Rebeccaite costume and ritual, the significance of the feminine in protest, and the links between protest and popular culture. An epilogue discusses the Rebecca riots in the context of the contemporary resurgence of leaderless protest around the world including the Occupy and Anonymous movements.

224 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016

History: European History

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"Popular protest in drag? Read this lively and authoritative study to understand the history, myths and legacies of the notorious Rebecca Riots in early Victorian Wales."

Penelope J. Corfield, London University

"This is an important and impressive piece of historical writing, displaying a masterly unity of conception and execution, and breaking new ground in drawing on the major advances of recent years in both gender and cultural history. Jones has brought an energy and a verve to our understanding of the Rebecca Riots that reactivates the debates around what Geoffrey Elton termed Wales's 'special revolutionary enterprise.'"

Chris Williams, Cardiff University

Table of Contents


1. Introduction
2. ‘Everything conspires to disorder’: Politics and Society in Rebecca’s Country
3. Rebecca and the Historian
4. ‘Pomp’ and paraphernalia’: Custom, Festival, Ritual and Rebeccaism
5. ‘Petticoat heroes’: Rethinking Rebeccaite Costume and Symbolism
6. ‘Six hundred children and more every day’: The New Poor Law and Female Sexual Agency
7. ‘Maid, spirit or man’: Rebecca’s Image in Public Discourse
8. ‘A very creditable portion of Welsh history’? Rebeccaism’s Aftermath and Longer-Term Political and Cultural Impact

Epilogue. ‘The rallying-cry of discontent’: Repurposing Rebecca

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