History of England

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1837 Jun 20 - 1901 Jan 22

Victorian era

England, UK

The Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. There was a strong religious drive for higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodists and the evangelical wing of the established Church of England. Ideologically, the Victorian era witnessed resistance to the rationalism that defined the Georgian period, and an increasing turn towards romanticism and even mysticism in religion, social values, and arts. This era saw a staggering amount of technological innovations that proved key to Britain's power and prosperity. Doctors started moving away from tradition and mysticism towards a science-based approach; medicine advanced thanks to the adoption of the germ theory of disease and pioneering research in epidemiology.


Domestically, the political agenda was increasingly liberal, with a number of shifts in the direction of gradual political reform, improved social reform, and the widening of the franchise. There were unprecedented demographic changes: the population of England and Wales almost doubled from 16.8 million in 1851 to 30.5 million in 1901. Between 1837 and 1901 about 15 million emigrated from Great Britain, mostly to the United States, as well as to imperial outposts in Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. Thanks to educational reforms, the British population not only approached universal literacy towards the end of the era but also became increasingly well-educated; the market for reading materials of all kinds boomed.


Britain's relations with the other Great Powers were driven by antagonism with Russia, including the Crimean War and the Great Game. A Pax Britannica of peaceful trade was maintained by the country's naval and industrial supremacy. Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history. National self-confidence peaked. Britain granted political autonomy to the more advanced colonies of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Apart from the Crimean War, Britain was not involved in any armed conflict with another major power.

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Last Updated: Sat Jan 28 2023