U.K. History - Balance of Power and Reforms

U.K. History: Balance of Power and Reforms


The foreign policy was up to the First World War was determined by peacekeeping outwards, with the UK as a saturated power avoid the cost of war (at least in Europe, because overseas there were over 200 but usually limited military operations), and by a policy of reforms, with which the inner peace in the age of the opening of the political system for broader sections of the population should be achieved. In Europe, the Foreign Minister Viscount Castlereagh (1812-22), G. Canning (1822–27) directed British foreign policy under the auspices of the balance of power. The European equilibrium was a basic requirement for British overseas policy, which mostly increased British international standing through indirect influence (economic and financial penetration, e.g. of South America). Canning promoted the secession of South and Central America from Spain and Portugal by recognizing the new republics, just as he recognized the rebellious Greeks as a belligerent power. The most dangerous opponent of British interests in Asia and the Middle East was Russia, against whose expansionist efforts in south-eastern Europe Great Britain supported Turkey (London Dardanelles Treaty 1841).

According to Physicscat, Great Britain was only drawn back into a European war when Russia attacked Turkey in 1853. Great Britain joined Napoleon III. , who thus emerged from its isolation, entered the Crimean War in 1854, the outcome of which blocked the Russians from the Dardanelles. However, when Napoleon III. Turned against Austria in 1859, Great Britain separated from him again and now pursued the emperor’s policy with increasing suspicion. Great Britain was isolated when the Austro-Prussian War broke out against Denmark in 1864, for which it had campaigned in 1850 and 1852; his diplomatic intervention in favor of Denmark was ineffective. Great Britain also found itself in an unfavorable position during the American Civil War, when the lock on cotton supplies affected British industry because of British preferences for the southern states (Alabama question). At the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, Bismarck covered Napoleon III. Plans against Belgium and thereby strengthened those in Great Britain against Napoleon’s existing animosity. But after the German victory and v. a. After the establishment of the German Empire, the British Prime Minister B. Disraeli (1868, 1874–80) expressed concern in February 1871 that the balance of power had been shaken.

In domestic policy, Wellington (Prime Minister 1828-30 and 1834), supported by Home Secretary Sir R. Peel, brought about equality for Catholics (1828 repeal of the Test Act, 1829 passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act); but Wellington refused to undertake the reform of parliament planned by Pitt the Younger, which was practically only elected by a privileged minority and included members who had got their seats by questionable means (purchase of voters, placement in districts with declining populations, the “Rotten Boroughs”). The way was cleared by the death of George IV. (1820-30). He was followed by his less headstrong brother William IV (1830-37), who owned the Whig C. Gray appointed prime minister. A Reform Bill (1832) brought about a fairer distribution of the electoral districts, especially in favor of the new industrial cities, and doubled the number of people entitled to vote (around half a million so far). Even after the reform of the electoral law, the v. a. benefited the bourgeois middle class, only 4.2% of the population had the right to vote. The new electorate accepted the tradition of political life and the two-party system (now: Conservatives and Liberals instead of Tories and Whigs). Further reform laws concerned the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, which was passed in 1833 (slave trade prohibited since 1807), laws restricting women and child labor (since 1833) and a rigid form of poor relief, which could by no means be more attractive than the hardest work for the lowest wage (1834). A new town order (1835) put the local administration on a broader basis. on Wilhelm IV was followed by his teenage niece Viktoria (1837–1901), who married her cousin Albert von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha in 1840 and, through an exemplary family life, met the demands of the church and the ideal of the population. However, since the female succession to the throne did not apply in Hanover, a brother of Wilhelm IV, King Ernst August, followed in the home country of the dynasty; thus, after 123 years, the personal union between Great Britain and Hanover came to an end.

In 1867, the conservative majority government carried out an electoral reform that also gave all city apartment owners, including many workers, the right to vote. The motor of conservative politics was Disraeli, who led the conservatives on a progressive path that also attracted the broad masses (Tory democracy). Disraeli’s liberal opponent W. Gladstone (Prime Minister 1868–74, 1880–85, 1886, 1892–94) brought about reforms in Ireland, in the school system (compulsory education) and in the army (abolition of the sale of officers’ posts) as well as a third parliamentary reform (1884).

U.K. History - Balance of Power and Reforms