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THE VICTORIAN AGE - HISTORICAL CONTEXT



THE VICTORIAN AGE - HISTORICAL CONTEXT








The first half of XIX century is an age of important reforms.
With William IV's reign the Reform Act(1832) increased the size of electorate. This act abolished rotten boroughs and changed the electoral system; for this reason all male members of the middle classes gained to right to vote.
In 1833 the Factory Act forbade children exploitation: children couldn't be empyed more then 48 hours a week. This law wanted to protect adult workers too, but it wasn't succesful.
In 1837 Queen Victoria succeded William IV: she reigned until her death in 1901 and hers was the longest reign in tje history of England.
This long period was for England source of :
 Material progress
 Imperial expansion
 Political and costitutional developements
Queen Victoria led her reign to democracy; she reigned costitutionallyu and avoided the revolutionary movements that caracterized european countries in 1848.
For what concern political businnesses, she became a mediator above politic parties.
She was beloved expecially by the middle class, who shared her moral and and religious views and admired her respecle and decent code of behaviour, known as "Victorianism"

The liberal campaign of free trade
2 POLITICAL TENDENCES
during the firs decade of her reign the chartism

FREEDOM OF TRADE
In the fist decade of Victorian age, a strong movement for complete freedom of trade mobilised public opinion in favour of the abolition of protectionist laws on imports and exports. In fact protectionism seemed to be out-of-date; English economy needed some reforms, as political institution before.
The movement of free trade asked also to repeal the Corn Laws, that had increased the price of corn. The reapel of the Corn Laws became reality with the Tory Prime Minister Robert Peel, who was forced by scarcity of food ("hungry forties") to abolish these laws. Peel had to resign and the Tory party was split (1846).

CHARTISM
Chartism was a radical working-class movement, which expressed the popular discontent for the bad conditions of workers and the Reform Act, which had given the vote to so few.
This movement wanted to give the workers more importance in the social and political life of the reign and alleviate their misery.
In fact, even if English economy had a leading position in the world economy, workers conditions had not improve. Factory legislation didn't protect workers and social evils, like child labour, had not disappeared.



THE LATER YEARS OF VICTORIAN AGE
Th second half of XIX century is dominated in politics by 3 important ures: Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Salisbury (who were consertives) and William Gladstone (who was a liberal)
During his ministry, Gladstone tried to find a solution to the Irish question.
However, a tide of Irish nationalism broke out and asked "Home Rule", an Irish indipent governement.
This period, from 1860 to 1901, is charactierized by social and political reforms, too:
 In 1870, the Elementary Education Act recognized the importance of primary schooling.
 In 1872, the Ballot Act secured secret vote at elections and the number of voters rose.
 Some others reforms improved public health and protected trade unions.
So, workers began to organize themselves to protect their rights and to help each other.
The political tendences were turning into democratic and socialist ideas.
In fact, with the "Labour Representation Conference" in 1900, trade unionists and socialists, with the Fabian Society (an association of middle class intellectuals) agreed to support the election of Labour members in Paliament.
In this period the question of women's rights became important and some movements for women's rights began to rise.

AT THE CLOSE OF THE CENTURY THE STRICT MORAL CODE OF VICTORIANISM WAS WEAKENING.
















However, great progress was made in "municipal socialism": towns provided municipal gas, electricity, water and transport and also publics baths, museums and parks WELFARE STATE
















The loss of American colonies had made the idea of a futher Empire unpopular ontil the second half of XIX century.
In 1850s Britain began to face the expansion of Russia in Asia, which was breaking the Ottoman Empire and repersented a threat for Turkey and for England, too.
The British support or Turkey led to the War of Crimea(1853-56) between Russia on one side and Britain, France and Turkey onn the other. The war ended with the defeat of Russia; however R. lost no territories and the only achievement of the allies was the presertion of Turkey.
Another element of danger broke out in 1857, when the native soldiers threatened British rule in India.
The Indian Revolt was solved with difficulty and was followed by an Act of Parliament which abolished the governement of East Indian Company and put the Governement of India directly in the hands of the Queen.(1877 Qeen Victoria Empress of India)
In the same time, Disraeli bought a large numer of shere in the Suez Canal to protect British routes to India.

Political crisis with Egyptian nationalists

BRITAIN INVADED EGYPT TO PROTECT ITS IMPERIAL INTERESTS.

Britain began his expansion also in Africa.
1884,Sudan
1899-l902, war in South Africa(gold) against the DutchsIt was won by British with difficulty
The war made Britain unpopular abroad and divided the public opinion at home:


Many British citizen believed Britain discovered that every area
in th Empire and thought that of the Empire represented a
imperial expansion would absorb danger
excess goods, capital & population.
Moreover they were proud of the imperial ambitions were in
spreadindg thier civilized culture contast with liberal ideas of the In the world. reign









URBANISATION
Transformations in English society:
 Rise in population deep urabanisation and increase of urban and industial cities.
CITY= DIRT, DISEASE, UNHEALTH, SMELLS, NOISE
They were not conforle to live becuse of the industrialisation, the density of population and their big size.
The poor lived in the SLUMS, appalling quartiers characterized by squalor, crime and disease. They lived in bad conditions and worked in a bad and dangerous atmosphere.
After cholera and TB epidemics was indtroducted a campaign to improve workers' quarters conditions: cities had to be cleaned up and professional medical organisation to be found..
Victorian towns were also overcrowded (rented houses, row after row, no water, no light.)
.
The development of industry didn't brought only disease, but also material benefits for the middle and upper classes. Sometimes we have also the growth of lower middle class, linked to the new forms of economic activity in banking, insurace and public service.
In the late-century public transports, like tram and trains, developped and other services like gas, water and lightening were introducted. Personal higiene was made possible when running water began to be pumped into many British cities.

But differences between middle classes and poor increased and childeren and woman continued to be expoilted.
The contitions of life of the Victorian working people were still bleak, though ried foods and occasional pleasure. In this period we have debates abuot poverty and the birth of social movements to protect working classes' conditions (denounce of inhumane workhouses)
Trade unions and chartism
Socialism
The Victorian's features
Victorian were moralizers, maybe because they had a lot of problems that tried to solve with lues( world as they wished it to be) that offered a solution or an escape
 need to work hard
 PUNCTUALITY, APPLICATION, GOOD BEHAVIOUR(for all strates of society)
 Upper classas had their MUSTS:good-manners
House with a sernt
Attending the church
Make charity
During Victorian Age philantropht and charity grew they are marks of good behaviour and respecility (hipocrisy, because they didn't really want to solve social problems)
FAMILY patriarchal unit FATHER: breadwinner, source of discipline(divine features)
MOTHER: children's education, submitted and inferior to man
Sexuality was repressed(public and prite) denunciation of nudity in art and rejection of words with sexual connotation.
End-century: NATIONALISM civil pride and racial superirity(big empire)

BASIS OF VICTORIAN VALUES:
EVANGELICANISM:influenced victorian emphasis on moral behaviour
 Enthusiasm and commitment in religion
 Importance of humanitarian causes
 Obedience to a strict code of morality
 Bible
UTILITARIANISM: man act to reach the personal pleasure and to avoid the pain
Any problem could be overcome through reason
Attacked by intellectuals
because they wereIndifferent to human and
cultural lues













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