The Regency is noted for its elegance and achievements in the fine arts and architecture. This era encompassed a time of great social, political, and economic change. War was waged with Napoleon and on other fronts, affecting commerce both at home and internationally, as well as politics. However, despite the bloodshed and warfare, the Regency was also a period of great refinement and cultural achievement, which shaped and altered the societal structure of Britain as a whole.
One of the greatest patrons of the arts and architecture was the Prince Regent himself (the future George IV). Upper class society flourished in a sort of mini-Renaissance of culture and refinement. As one of the greatest patrons of the arts, the Prince Regent ordered the costly building and refurbishing of the beautiful and exotic Brighton Pavilion, the ornate Carlton House, as well as many other public works and architecture (see John Nash, James Burton, and Decimus Burton). Naturally, this required dipping into the treasury, and the Regent, and later, the King's exuberance often outstripped his pocket, at the people's expense.
Society during that period was considerably stratified. In many ways, there was a dark counterpart to the beautiful and fashionable sectors of England of this time. In the dingier, less affluent areas of London, thievery, womanising, gambling, the existence of rookeries, and constant drinking ran rampant. The population boom--comprising an increase from just under a million in 1801 to one and a quarter million by 1820--created a wild, roiling, volatile, and vibrant scene. According to Robert Southey, the difference between the strata of society was vast indeed:
The squalor that existed beneath the glamour and gloss of Regency society provided sharp contrast to the Prince Regent's social circle. Poverty was addressed only marginally. The formation of the Regency after the retirement of George III saw the end of a more pious and reserved society, and gave birth of a more frivolous, ostentatious one. This change was influenced by the Regent himself, who was kept entirely removed from the machinations of politics and military exploits. This did nothing to channel his energies in a more positive direction, thereby leaving him with the pursuit of pleasure as his only outlet, as well as his sole form of rebellion against what he saw as disapproval and censure in the form of his father.
Driving these changes were not only money and rebellious pampered youth, but also significant technological advancements. In 1814, The Times adopted steam printing. By this method it could now print 1,100 sheets every hour, not 200 as before--a fivefold increase in production capability and demand. This development brought about the rise of the wildly popular fashionable novels in which publishers spread the stories, rumours, and flaunting of the rich and aristocratic, not so secretly hinting at the specific identity of these individuals. The gap in the hierarchy of society was so great that those of the upper classes could be viewed by those below as wondrous and fantastical fiction, something entirely out of reach yet tangibly there.
Crime and punishment
In recent decades, historians have used social and cultural history to study crime and criminal justice as a major aspect of social history. Studies of criminality, criminal trials, punishment, legislation, and penal reform have focused especially on England, with special attention to London. The issues addressed include how the middle and working classes used the judicial system to their own advantage, even though it was controlled by a small upper-class. The influence of the emerging industrial revolution had attracted attention to crime in rapidly growing cities.
George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, began his nine-year tenure as regent and became known as The Prince Regent. This sub-period of the Georgian era began the formal Regency. The Duke of Wellington held off the French at Fuentes d'Onoro and Albuhera in the Peninsular War. The Prince Regent held a fete at 9:00 p.m. June 19, 1811, at Carlton House in celebration of his assumption of the Regency. Luddite uprisings. Glasgow weavers riot.
^Morgan, Marjorie. (1994). Manners, Morals, and Class in England, 1774-1859. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 34.
^Innes, Joanna & Styles, John (1986). "The Crime Wave: Recent Writing on Crime and Criminal Justice in Eighteenth-Century England". Journal of British Studies (Online ed.). 25 (4): 380-435. doi:10.1086/385872. JSTOR175563.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
Parissien, Steven. George IV Inspiration of the Regency. New York: St. Martin's P, 2001.
Pilcher, Donald. The Regency Style: 1800-1830 (London: Batsford, 1947).
Rendell, Jane. The pursuit of pleasure: gender, space & architecture in Regency London (Bloomsbury, 2002).
Smith, E. A. George IV. (Yale UP, 1999).
Webb, R.K. Modern England: from the 18th century to the present (1968) online widely recommended university textbook
Wellesley, Lord Gerald. "Regency Furniture", The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 70, no. 410 (1937): 233-41.
White, R.J. Life in Regency England (Batsford, 1963).
Crime and punishment
Emsley, Clive. Crime and society in England: 1750-1900 (2013).
Innes, Joanna and John Styles. "The Crime Wave: Recent Writing on Crime and Criminal Justice in Eighteenth-Century England" Journal of British Studies 25#4 (1986), pp. 380-435 [https://www.jstor.org/stable/175563 online.
Low, Donald A. The Regency Underworld. Gloucestershire: Sutton, 1999.
Morgan, Gwenda, and Peter Rushton. Rogues, Thieves And the Rule of Law: The Problem Of Law Enforcement In North-East England, 1718-1820 (2005).
Simond, Louis. Journal of a tour and residence in Great Britain, during the years 1810 and 1811online