During the reign of William IV (1830-1837) there were a lot of reforms:
When William IV died, he was succeeded by
(9.2) The later
years of Queen
death, English policy was dominated by two Conservatives, Disraeli and
British colonial expansion, after the loss of
the American colonies, began in the 1830s, with the "Opium War"(1839-1842), a war fought by
During the 19th century in
In Victorian cities poor people lived in the slums, appalling quarters characterised by squalor, disease and crime. Death rate was high and polluted atmospheres had a disastrous effect on health. In this period became organised campaigns against national ills, like cholera and tuberculosis. Professional medical organisations were founded, following Florence Nigthingale's example, and there were also a development in nursing and pharmacy techniques, with the creation of modern hospitals. Overcrowding was another great problem in Victorian cities. In the end of the 19th century town living conditions improved with the development of trams and trains and the introduction of services such as running water, gas, lighting, paved roads and places of entertainment. Other Victorian institutions were prisons, hospitals, police stations, boarding schools, town halls and mental hospitals (in the old workhouses). Police stations were built close to the poorer parts of the cities, in order to control with the creation of Bobbies (the Metropolitan Police) the most dangerous parts of the towns. Discipline was severe and involved corporal punishments. Public executions continued until 1868.
Victorian men were great moralists, the idea of respectability dominated all society. They believed that material progress would emerge from hard work. Respectability was a mixture of morality, hypocrisy, severity and conformity to social standards. It implied the possession of good manners, a comfortable house with servants and a carriage, regular attendance at church and charitable activity (philanthropy was a characteristic of this age). Bourgeois ideals dominated family life: family was a patriarchal unity where the husband had the dominant role and his wife had to obey him, in managing domestics works and in educating children. Sexuality was repressed by extreme and bigot Puritanism. Patriotism was very spread and influenced by ideas of racial superiority: British race was superior and had the obligation given by God to spread their way of life, their institutions, law, politics on native people all over the world. This attitude was called "Jingoism".
In Victorian period there were some new religious and philosophical movements. One of them was the religious movement of Evangelism, that influenced the extreme moralist attitude upon life conduct. It was inspired by John Wesley, whose principals teachings were:
· The need to bring enthusiasm and engagement into the established church.
· The dedication to humanitarian causes and social reforms.
· The obedience to a strict and bigot code of morality.
· The importance of the Bible reading and praying at home.
Another movement was Utilitarianism, based on Jeremy Bentham's principles. It said:
· Man's actions are driven by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
· All institutions should be tested with reason and common sense, in order to understand their utility to provide material happiness for people.
· Religious belief is an old-fashioned superstition.
This movement suited middle classes' interests with the idea that every problem could be solved with reason. Another thinker was John Stuart Mill, that said in contrast with Utilitarianism:
In the middle part of Victorian age, scientific discoveries began to disturb the old theory of the universe seen as stable and transparent to the intellect. The new scientific view of the universe was that it changes incessantly and it's governed by the laws of chance.
An important scientist was Charles Darwin, who presented in this period his theories of natural selection and evolution:
· All living creatures have taken their forms through a slow process of change and adaptation in a struggle for survival.
· Favourable physical conditions determine the survival of a species, unfavourable ones its extinction.
· Man evolved like the other animals, from less highly organised forms, namely from an ape-like mammal.
Darwin's theories discarded the bigot version
of creation given by the fucked church in the fucked bible, but on the other
hand were supported by Herbert Spencer, that applied his ideas to social
life, thinking that economic competition was the same that natural selection,
where only the strongest survived and the weakest were defeated. This theories led to the idea that poor and oppressed people
didn't deserve any compassion. British bigots replied to these new theories by
returning to the ancient doctrines and rituals; this movement of revival was
headed by the cardinal John Henry Newman, which founded the
"Oxford Movement". Other thinkers protested against the harm caused by
industrialism in man's life and in the environment. The supreme Companion Karl
Marx, in the Capital exposed his theories, elaborated after a research carried
During the Victorian age, literature had penetrated into the big and various new middle class, that borrowed books from circulating libraries and also read a lot of peridicals.
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