The Great Ruckus of 1712 began in Hartfordshire, where a rowdy bar song began on St. Swithun’s Day and became a bar fight, which spilled out onto the town square in a general melee of roughousing and cacophony. Constables summoned to attend to the disturbance became part of it, and by nightfall the anarchy had spread as far as London.

While there is no record of Queen Anne punching her husband and his chamberlain, as is often claimed in legend, large parts of the old city were consumed by ruckus for the better part of 48 hours. Troops were eventually called in to quell the disorder, but no inroads could be made until soldiers who couldn’t speak fluent English were located.

The incident was little commented upon at the time, except in bawdy ballads and the like, but the Great Ruckus of 1712 is now regarded as an early example of mass hysteria. It shares this distinction with the Terrible Row of 1757, the Godawful Noise of 1691, and of course the Infernal Racket of 1802.

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