The Gordon riots of June 1780 were the most devastating outbreak of urban violence in British history. For almost a week large parts of central London were ablaze, prisons were destroyed and the Bank of England attacked. Hundreds of rioters were shot dead by troops and for many observers it seemed that England was on the verge of a revolution. The first scholarly study in a generation, this book brings together leading scholars from historical and literary studies to provide new perspectives on these momentous events. The essays include new archival work on the religious, political and international contexts of the riots and new interpretations of contemporary literary and artistic sources. For too long the significance of the Gordon riots has been overshadowed by the impact of the French revolution on British society and culture: this book restores the riots to their central position in late eighteenth-century Britain.