Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Faithful Representation of the Trial of Her Most Gracious Majesty Caroline Queen of England in the House of Lords…London: G. Thompson, 1821

The trial opened on August 17, 1820. The streets, rooftops, and windows along Caroline’s route to the House of Lords were packed with people. Once inside, Henry Brougham, who had fallen out with Caroline but was still her lawyer, began by attacking the use of a “Bill of Pains and Penalties” instead of an outright impeachment. He brought up the possibility of recriminations against George in defense of Caroline. His oratory was well-received and repeated in the morning papers. On the eighteenth, it was Thomas Denman’s turn to build his speech on the groundwork laid by Brougham. It, too, was well-received. Over the next days the evidence was unrolled against Caroline…changing her clothes in front of Pergami, sleeping together, going about in matching costumes, buying titles for him, having a tent erected and a bed placed in it for the two of them., etc. The persons giving testimony were naturally the Italian servants who worked in her household. The radical supporters of Caroline tried to discredit these witnesses as “foreign,” “Papists,” “from the untrustworthy lower orders,” in short, un-British. It was unpatriotic to allow non-Englishmen to testify against a British Queen! Brougham himself used the argument that Italians from the time of Henry VIII were known for giving false witness. Brougham lined up a parade of English witnesses, but not all of these proved to be helpful to Caroline. Because they were British, their testimony was all the more harmful. Brougham shifted his focus to the prosecution’s methods of obtaining witnesses. Nothing conclusive could be drawn from this line of attack. Brougham tried to prove that a conspiracy existed. This line went nowhere, as well.
Meanwhile in the streets, radical politicians organized processions and public readings from groups and guilds in favor of the Queen. This made the Queen’s side appear to include everyone from every walk of life.

LC28 2.1

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