According to animalerts, these were difficult years, during which decisions matured that little by little, albeit through bitter and sometimes bloody conflicts, transformed “old” England into modern Britain. In fact, if Canada, after the division into two parts by Pitt and Grenville (1791), and India, after the measures adopted by W. Hastings and with the Indian Act by Pitt (1784), they remained quiet for a long time; if the sending of penal colonies to Australia and New Zealand (1786), which replaced those lost in America, was followed first by the emigration of free citizens left without work in the motherland following the industrial revolution, then by capitalist farmers who in the first decades of the century. XIX introduced large-scale cattle breeding, and if from this intertwining of reasons two nations of Anglo-Saxon population were born at the antipodes, without serious contrasts, the situation was not so calm in neighboring Ireland and also in Great Britain itself due to the heavy discrimination that weighed on Catholics since 1699. Some improvements were granted to the unfortunate island in 1778 and 1780 (freedom of trade, Test Act); others were granted in 1793 to Irish Catholics who had the active right to vote, as long as they were owners of land that gave at least 40 shillings of annual income (practically all the peasant owners had it), but they did not have the right to passive vote and therefore could not be elected to the Dublin Parliament where they were represented by Protestant deputies. Tamed an insurrection that broke out in 1798, the British government decided to abolish the Irish Parliament (1800) and the island was simply annexed to Great Britain: 100 Irish deputies and 32 Irish lords (4 spiritual and 28 temporal, appointed by their peers for life) were admitted to the British Parliament, but the purpose of seating the representatives of the Irish people in London fell short as the eligibility of Catholics, which was the premise and that Pitt had promised, was denied by the king: Pitt resigned and the situation was worse than the previous one. But the problem of the Catholics had by now entered the consciousness of a part of the English and after long, exhausting electoral battles, in 1829 George IV admitted the Catholic Relief Bill passed by Parliament, under which Catholics were admitted to any office except regent, Lord Chancellor and Viceroy of Ireland. Two years later the Reform Bill was voted, made necessary by the fact that, following the displacement of the population caused by the agrarian reforms and the industrial revolution, the electoral districts were so little representative that while on the one hand there were villages in which only one or two voters remained (the so-called “Putrid villages”) on the other hand there were cities that had no deputies. It was decided that the 50 villages with less than 2000 residents were not represented in Parliament; that 30 with less than 4000 residents had a single deputy, and 143 seats were redistributed as follows: 64 to cities without representation, 80 to counties; in addition, the principle of identity as a criterion was affirmed in order to enjoy active electorate. In this way the petty bourgeoisie of the industrial regions was admitted to the municipalities. Another important decision was taken in 1835 by transforming the government from constitutional to parliamentary: that is, the principle was affirmed that a ministry could not have stood without a majority in the Municipalities even if it had enjoyed the trust of the king and that of the lords. The popular will, even if then expressed by a limited electoral body, took over the old oligarchy and the coming to the throne in 1837 of an eighteen-year-old and inexperienced queen, the queen Vittoria, consolidated the principle then established.


But English life also changed in other respects: in 1825 the first railway opened between Stockton and Darlington; in 1826 the dismantling of the Navigation Act was started and in 1842 and 1849 it was abrogated with the triumph of the principle of freedom of navigation, albeit regulated by international negotiations; in 1839 the tax on letters charged to the recipient was abolished and replaced by the payment by the sender of a modest fee whatever the distance. In the social field the workers’ associations were recognized in 1825 which, later constituted in Trade Unions, became the spring for further demands of the working class even if a radical movement arose from its ranks, chartism, ended up being inconclusive. In 1833 it was abolished in the colonies where slavery still survived by granting compensation to slave owners; in 1839 the state began to take an interest in education which had hitherto been left to private individuals under the control of the Anglican Church. A major reform that dealt a serious blow to the conservative agrarian class was the consequence of the struggle unleashed by the Anti-Corn Laws-League for the abolition of the protectionist tariffs in favor of English cereals, introduced in 1815 to allow the owners to maintain the well-being they had enjoyed during the Napoleonic wars when England had to be self-sufficient. The increase in the population that took place in the following years had made useless this rule that weighed on the poorer classes and in 1846 an enlightened conservative, R. Peel, he succeeded in having the protectionist laws suppressed, albeit gradually. This decision was of great importance not only economically and socially but also politically because it broke the Conservative Party into two sections, which for many years was no longer able to govern the country. Later (1868) the suffrage was further extended until the granting of universal suffrage to men (1918) and to women (1929) which, with the progressive depreciation of the House of Lords, begun in 1911, gave the English Parliament the face of a democratic institution tempered by the House of Lords. Finally, in 1859 the Jews (who had been expelled in 1290 and readmitted during the Cromwellian period but without enjoying political rights) gained parity with other British citizens. Industrialization, favored by the presence in the subsoil of coal mines, and the constant expansion of colonial domains, obtained with easy naval expeditions in Asia and Oceania, meant that Great Britain maintained throughout the century. XIX the world record, a record favored by a policy of peace (interrupted only in 1854-56 by the so-called Crimean war fought against Russia to prevent it from settling in the Mediterranean and the need to suppress a violent revolt in India in 1857) and to support the principle of nationality and the establishment of liberal governments on the European continent as well as by treaties of trade based on liberalism (the famous one concluded with France in 1860). From the point of view of institutions, the monarchy received a valid strengthening from the dignified and glorious reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), which erased the memory of the scandals that occurred during previous reigns. World famous figures, for the principles they preached, were G. Canning, Peel, Lord J. Russell and Lord HJ Palmerston, in which the Great Britain of the first part of the century can be personified. XIX.

United Kingdom History - the Reign of Queen Victoria

United Kingdom History – the Reign of Queen Victoria and Liberalism
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