–ефераты. History of Great Britain






been succeeded by his eldest son, who reigned first as prince regent and

then as King George IV. Although a patron of art and Regency architecture,

the prince regent became unpopular because of his gluttony and his personal

immorality. His attempt to divorce his wife, Caroline of Brunswick,

provided much cause for scandal.

Postwar Government (1815-1830)

Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, presided as Tory prime

minister from 1812 to 1827, over a cabinet of luminaries including Viscount

Castlereagh, the foreign secretary, who represented Britain at the Congress

of Vienna (1815). Former Dutch possessions such as the Cape of Good Hope

and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) were added to the British Empire, and a balance

of power was restored to continental Europe. Although eager to consult its

European partners about possible territorial changes, Britain soon made it

clear that it had no desire to join the Holy Alliance (Russia, Austria, and

Prussia) in policing Europe.

Rapid demobilization after the wars, economic depression, and bad harvests

led to rioting in 1816. The Liverpool government sought to aid landlords

with protective tariffs (the Corn Laws of 1815) and to aid other supporters

by repealing the wartime income tax in 1817 and restoring the gold standard

in 1819. The so-called Six Acts in 1819 curbed the freedom of the press and

the rights of assembly. A giant political protest demonstration near

Manchester that year was broken up by the militia. The economy recovered

during the early 1820s, and government policies became more moderate.

George Canning, who replaced Castlereagh as foreign secretary, welcomed the

independence of SpainТs South American colonies and aided the Greek

rebellion against Turkish ruleЧa cause also hailed by romantic poets such

as Lord Byron. William Huskisson at the Board of Trade cut tariffs and

eased international trade. Robert Peel, the home secretary, reformed the

criminal law and instituted a modern police force in London in 1829.

Barriers to labor union organization were also reduced during this time.

Despite an early 19th-century religious revival, especially among

Methodists and other non-Anglican Protestants, Tory ministries remained

reluctant to challenge religious and political fundamentals. In 1828

Parliament agreed, however, to end political restrictions on Protestant

dissenters, and one year later the government of the duke of Wellington was

challenged in Ireland by a mass movement called the Catholic Association.

Wellington bought peace in Ireland by granting Roman Catholics the right to

become members of Parliament and to hold public office, but in so doing

split the Tory Party. In November 1830, after the election prompted by the

death of George IV and the accession of his brother, William IV, a

predominantly Whig ministry headed by the 2nd Earl Grey took over.

Reforms of the 1830s

The great political issue of 1831 and 1832 was the Whig Reform Bill. After

much debate in and out of the House of Commons and after a threat to swamp

a reluctant House of Lords with new and sympathetic peers, the measure

became law in June 1832. It provided for a redistribution of seats in favor

of the growing industrial cities and a single property test that gave the

vote to all middle-class men and some artisans. In England and Wales the

electorate grew by 50 percent. In Ireland it more than doubled, and in

Scotland it increased by 15 times. The bill set up a system of registration

that encouraged political party organization, both locally and nationally.

The measure weakened the influence of the monarch and the House of Lords.

Other reforms followed. The Factory Act of 1833 limited the working hours

of women and children and provided for central inspectors. Slavery was

abolished in the same year, and the controversial New Poor Law, enacted a

year later, also involved supervision by a central board. The Municipal

Corporations Act (1835) provided for elected representative town councils.

An Ecclesiastical Commission was set up in 1836 to reform the established

church, and a separate statute placed the registration of births, deaths,

and marriages in the hands of the state rather than the church.

In 1837 the elderly William IV was succeeded as monarch by his 18-year-old

niece, Victoria. She and her husband, Albert, came to symbolize many

virtues: a close-knit family life, a sense of public duty, integrity, and

respectability. These beliefs and attitudes, which are often known as

УVictorian,Ф were also molded by the revival of evangelical religion and by

utilitarian notions of efficiency and good business practice.

Chartists and Corn Law Reformers

The Whig reform spirit ebbed during the ministry of Lord Melbourne, and an

economic depression in 1837 brought to public attention two powerful

protest organizations. The Chartists urged the immediate adoption of the

PeopleТs Charter, which would have transformed Britain into a political

democracy (with universal male suffrage, equal electoral districts, and

secret ballot) and which was somehow expected to improve living standards

as well. Millions of workers signed Charter petitions in 1839, 1842, and

1848, and some Chartist demonstrations turned into riots. Parliament

repeatedly rejected the PeopleТs Charter, but it proved more receptive to

the creed of the Manchester-based Anti-Corn Law League. League leaders such

as Richard Cobden expected the repeal of tariffs on imported food to

advance the welfare of manufacturers and workers alike, while promoting

international trade and peace among nations. Sir Robert PeelТs Conservative

ministry succeeded Melbourne, and became active in reducing BritainТs

tariffs but brought back the income tax to make up for lost revenue. In the

winter of 1845 and 1846, spurred by an Irish potato blight and consequent

famine, Peel proposed the complete repeal of the Corn Laws. With Whig aid

the measure passed, but two-thirds of PeelТs fellow Conservatives condemned

the action as a sellout of the partyТs agricultural supporters. The

Conservatives divided between Peelites and protectionists, and the Whigs

returned to power under Lord John Russell in 1846.

During the Peel and Russell years the trend toward free trade continued,

aided by the 1849 repeal of the Navigation Acts, and a system of

administrative regulation was gradually established. Women and children

were barred from underground work in mines and limited to 10-hour working

days in factories. Regulations were also imposed on urban sanitation

facilities and passenger-carrying railroads, and commissions were set up to

oversee prisons, insane asylums, merchant shipping, and private charities.

Attempts to subsidize elementary education, however, were hampered by

conflict over the churchТs role in running schools.

Mid-Victorian Prosperity

From the late 1840s until the late 1860s, Britons were less concerned with

domestic conflict than with an economic boom occasionally affected by wars

and threats of war on the Continent and overseas. The Great Exhibition of

1851 in London symbolized BritainТs industrial supremacy. The 10,600-km

(6600-mi) railroad network of 1850 more than doubled during the mid-

Victorian years, and the number of passengers carried annually went up by

seven times. The telegraph provided instant communication. Inexpensive

steel was made possible by Henry BessemerТs process, developed in 1856, and

a boom in steamship building began in the 1860s. The value of British

exports tripled, and overseas capital investments quadrupled. Working-class

living standards improved also, and the growth of trade unionism among

engineers, carpenters, and others led to the founding of the Trades Union

Congress in 1868. In the aftermath of the Continental revolutions of 1848,

a Britain governed by the Peelite-Liberal coalition of Lord Aberdeen

drifted into war with an autocratic, expansionist Russia. In alliance with

the France of Napoleon III, Britain entered the Crimean War in 1854.

Parliamentary criticism of army mismanagement, however, caused the downfall

of Aberdeen. He was replaced by Lord Palmerston, a staunch English

nationalist and champion of European liberalism, who saw the war to its

conclusionЧa limited Anglo-French victory in 1856. In 1857 and 1858, the

Sepoy Mutiny was suppressed, and Britain abolished the East India Company,

making British India a crown colony. In contrast, domestic self-government

was encouraged in BritainТs settlement colonies: Canada (federated under

the British North America Act of 1867), Australia, New Zealand, and Cape

Colony (South Africa). Britain maintained a difficult neutrality during the

American Civil War (1861-1865). It encouraged the unification of Italy, but

witnessed with apprehension Prince Otto von BismarckТs creation of a German

Empire under Prussian domination.

The Gladstone-Disraeli Rivalry

During the 16 years after PalmerstonТs death in 1865, the rivalry of

William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli dominated British politics. Both

had begun as Tories, but in 1846 Gladstone had become a Peelite and had

thereafter gradually moved toward liberalism. As PalmerstonТs chancellor of

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up with the Reform Bill of 1867, which Disraeli successfully piloted

through the House of Commons. The measure enfranchised most urban workers.

It almost doubled the English and Welsh electorates and more than doubled

the Scottish. It also launched the era of mass political organization and

of increasingly polarized and disciplined parliamentary parties.

Disraeli succeeded Derby as prime minister early in 1868, but a Liberal

election victory in December of that year gave the post to Gladstone.

GladstoneТs first cabinet was responsible for numerous reforms: the

disestablishment of the Church of Ireland; the creation of a national

system of elementary education; the full admission of religious dissenters

to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge; a merit-based civil service;

the secret ballot; and judicial and army reform. During the Disraeli

ministry that followed, the Conservatives passed legislation advancing

УTory democracyФЧtrade union legalization, slum clearance, and public

healthЧbut Disraeli became more concerned with upholding the British Empire

in Africa and Asia and scoring a diplomatic triumph at the Congress of

Berlin (1878).

A whistle-stop campaign by Gladstone in 1879 and 1880 restored him to the

prime ministership. His second cabinet curbed electoral corruption and,

with the Reform Act of 1884, extended the vote to almost all males who

owned or rented housing. The measure made the single-member parliamentary

district the general rule. Gladstone became increasingly concerned with

bringing peace and land reform to Ireland, which was represented in

Parliament by the Irish Nationalist Party of Charles Stewart Parnell. When

Gladstone became a convert to the cause of home ruleЧthe creation of a semi-

independent Irish legislature and cabinetЧhe divided the Liberal Party and

led his brief third ministry to defeat in 1886. A second effort to enact

home rule during GladstoneТs fourth ministry, which lasted from 1892 to

1894, was blocked by the House of Lords.

Late Victorian Economic and Social Change

The same agricultural depression that led to unrest among Irish tenant

farmers in the second half of the 19th century also undermined British

agriculture and the prosperity of country squires. The mid-Victorian boom

gave way to an era of deflation, falling profit margins, and occasional

large-scale unemployment. Both the United States and Germany overtook

Britain in the production of steel and other manufactured goods. At the

same time, Britain remained the worldТs prime shipbuilder, shipper, and

banker, and a majority of British workers gained in purchasing power. The

number of trade unionists grew, and significant attempts were made to

organize the semiskilled; the London Dock Strike of 1889 was the result of

one such effort. Social investigators and professed socialists discovered

large pockets of poverty in the slums of London and other cities, and the

national government as well as voluntary agencies were called on to remedy

social evils. Despite a high level of emigration to British colonies and

the United StatesЧmore than 200,000 per year during the 1880sЧthe

population of England and Wales doubled between 1851 and 1911 (to more than

36 million) and that of Scotland grew by more than 60 percent (to almost 5

million). Both death rates and birth rates declined somewhat, and a series

of changes in the law made it possible for a minority of women to enter

universities, vote in local elections, and keep control of their property

while married.

The Late Victorian Empire

A relative lack of interest in empire during the mid-Victorian years gave

way to increased concern during the 1880s and 1890s. The raising of tariff

barriers by the United States, Germany, and France made colonies more

valuable again, ushering in an era of rivalry with Russia in the Middle

East and along the Indian frontier and a Уscramble for AfricaФ that

involved the carving out of large claims by Britain, France, and Germany.

Hong Kong and Singapore served as centers of British trade and influence in

China and the South Pacific. The completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 led

indirectly to a British protectorate over Egypt in 1882. Queen Victoria

became empress of India in 1876, and both VictoriaТs golden jubilee (1887)

and her diamond jubilee (1897) celebrated imperial unity. The Conservative

ministries of Lord Salisbury were preoccupied with imperial concerns as

well. The policies of SalisburyТs colonial secretary, Joseph Chamberlain,

contributed to the outbreak of the Boer War in 1899. Britain suffered

initial reverses in that war but then captured Johannesburg and Pretoria in

1900. Only after protracted guerrilla warfare, however, was the conflict

brought to an end in 1902. By then Queen Victoria was dead.

The Edwardian Age (1901-1914)

In the aftermath of the Boer War, Britain signed a treaty of alliance with

Japan (1902) and ended several decades of overseas rivalry with France in

the Entente Cordiale (1904). After Anglo-Russian disputes had also been

settled, this link became the Triple Entente (1907), which faced the Triple

Alliance of Germany, Austria, and Italy. As the reign of King Edward VII

began, however, most Britons were more concerned with domestic matters.

Arthur BalfourТs Education Act in 1902 helped meet the demand for national

efficiency with the beginnings of a national system of secondary education,

but the measure stirred old religious passions. In the course of BalfourТs

ministry, the Conservative Party was divided between tariff reformers, who

wanted to restore protective duties, and free traders. The general election

of 1906 gave the Liberals an overwhelming majority. Union influence led to

the appearance of a small separate Labour Party of 29 members as well. The

Liberal government, headed first by Henry Campbell-Bannerman and then by

Herbert Asquith, gave domestic self-government to the new Union of South

Africa and partial provincial self-government to British India in 1909 and

1910. Under the inspiration of David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, it

also laid the foundations of the welfare state. Its program, from 1908 to

1912, included old-age pensions, government employment offices,

unemployment insurance, a contributory program of national medical

insurance for most workers, and boards to fix minimum wages for miners and

others. Lloyd GeorgeТs controversial УpeopleТs budget,Ф designed to pay the

costs of social welfare and naval rearmament, was blocked by the House of

Lords and led in due course to the Parliament Act of 1911, which left the

Lords with no more than a temporary veto. The Conservatives made a

comeback, however, in the general elections of 1910, and the Liberals were

thereafter dependent on the Irish Nationalists to stay in power. Although

the economy seemed to be booming, wages scarcely kept up with rising

prices, and the years 1911 to 1914 were marked by major and divisive

strikes by miners, dock workers, and transport workers. Suffragists staged

violent demonstrations in favor of the enfranchisement of women. When the

Liberal government sought to enact home rule for Ireland, non-Catholic

Irish from Ulster threatened force to prevent Britain from compelling them

to become part of a semi-independent Ireland. In the midst of these

domestic disputes, a crisis in the Balkans exploded into World War I.

The Era of World Wars

Although the competitive naval buildup of Britain and Germany is often

cited as a cause of World War I, Anglo-German relations were actually

cordial in early 1914, and Britain was GermanyТs best customer. It was

GermanyТs threat to France and its invasion of neutral Belgium that

prompted Britain to declare war.

Britain in World War I

A British expeditionary force was immediately sent to France and helped

stem the German advance at the Marne. Fighting on the Western Front soon

became mired in a bloody stalemate amid muddy trenches, barbed wire, and

machine-gun emplacements. Battles to push the Germans back failed

repeatedly at the cost of tens of thousands of lives. Efforts to outflank

the Central Powers (Germany, Austria, and Turkey) in the Balkans, as at

Gallipoli (1915), failed also. At the Battle of Jutland (1916), the British

prevented the German fleet from venturing into the North Sea and beyond,

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