The romantic era begins in 1793, which is start of the war between English and France, known as the French Revolutionary wars. A temporary peace in 1802 occurs, in which the peace of Amiens formally ends the war. In 1803 however war resumes again between the two, due to France’s interference in other countries affairs, as well as Britain’s refusal to return Malta to the knights of Malta.

The conflict spans from 1793 to 1815, 22 years of war.

From 1803 to 1815, the war is called the Napoleonic wars.

In 1812, America declares war on Britain

In 1806, Napoleon issues the Berlin decrees, which create the continental system. This system forbids the import of British goods into Europe.

In 1814, Napoleon abdicates and is exiled on the island of Elba, off the Tuscan coast in Italy.

In 1815, Napoleon returns from exile for the “hundred days” campaign. He is defeated at Waterloo and the war between Britain and France ends.

The regency era starts in 1811, when King George the third went insane. Up until 1820, when King George died, his son the prince regent George acted as regent or ruler for all nine years of the king’s insanity. Prince George then reigned through 1820 – 1830, who influenced the arts and architecture. It is during this time that the gothic style of architecture became popular.


Economy and Society

Britain was in a state of constant war for most of the era, which crippled its economy greatly, as Britain was in the middle of an economical reform, caused by the beginning of the industrial revolution. Britain remained rural throughout the romantic era however. In the beginning years of the nineteenth century, food prices rose to famine prices. This was due to the fact that the wars cut off the supply of European corn, which was necessary to keep food prices stable. Wheat and corn prices rose between 1792 – 1812. The amount of homegrown grain wasn’t sufficient to support the population.

Though in the later years, around 1825 a few inventions were introduced, this increased agriculture’s productivity. The two most notable inventions included the first reaper and the complete iron plough.

For the most part though, the poor became poorer, and the rich became richer.

The industrial revolution changed and created new social classes. With the introduction of the poor law, the social class known as the pauper came into being. It also produced a leisure class that did not hold any ties to the industry or economy, but rather were fund holders. Ladies of the aristocratic class were beginning to be expected to conform to a restricted lifestyle. On the other end of the spectrum ladies of the working class began to help out in agriculture, working alongside their husbands.



The Romantic era was a turbulent time in Great Britain. Riots and organizations were met with soldiers and suppression. The political atmosphere of the nation changed drastically when the American colonies became an independent country. Reforms occurred, but not until the end of the time period.



The world of literature changed radically during the Romantic era. A new kind of book, the novel, was popularized across Europe. Poetry and literature dropped the idea of structure and embraced nature and emotion. Authors used their imaginations instead of their logical minds. Romantic literature embodied the spirit of the era.



Culture was a very defining part of the Romantic Era. Music and Art were valued forms of expressing emotion. The Art and Music of the era was varied because the society valued individuality rather than conformity. Food was also and important piece of culture. Along with food came important etiquette concerning meals and inviting guest to dinner through the practice of calling. The art, music, food and etiquette of the Romantic Era make it truly unique.



Fashion in this era fluctuates greatly, at the least women’s fashion does. Men’s fashion does not undergo much of a change, unlike their female counterparts.


In the early part of romanticism, the dress lines rose to about under arm height. The less formal the dress, the higher the waistline was. Around the neck of the dress, it was common to have loose frills. Hair was cut short and frizzed, which could also be worn in small ringlets. Romanticism dresses were also commonly worn with bonnets, which were usually adorned with flowers.

“The hair cropped and dressed without powder, in bushy curls. Turban of India muslin, intermixed with yellow stained muslin; black velvet…” Evening dressing advice from the 1797, The lady's magazine: or entertaining companion for the fair sex, appropriated solely to their use and amusement, Volume 2.

Approximately half way through the romantic era, into the regency era, women’s fashion changed dramatically. The waistline begins to drop, and reaches its lowest level in 1830. The new fashion trend was tight, but contrasted with very full skirts. Long hair became fashionable again, generally adorned with bows and ribbons. As waistlines dropped, sleeves became larger and larger. The sought after tight waist look was complemented by huge hats that were generally over trimmed.


The common place knee breeches become somewhat longer, reaching mid calf instead of knee height. Shoes were to be tied, instead of buckled. Men were expected to be clean shaven, which was generally accompanied by short hair. In the regency era, knee breeches became trousers.