It is high treason in British law to 'imagine' the king's death. But after the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, everyone in Britain must have found themselves imagining that the same fate might befall George III. How easy was it to distinguish between fantasising about the death of George and'imagining' it, in the legal sense of 'intending' or 'designing'? John Barrell examines this question in the context of the political trials of the mid-1790s and the controversies they generated. He shows how the law of treason was adapted in the years following Louis's death to punish what wasacknowledged to be a 'modern' form of treason unheard of when the law had been framed. The result, he argues, was the invention of a new, an imaginary, a 'figurative' treason, by which the question of who was imagining the king's death, the supposed traitors or those who charged them with treason,became inescapable.