Edwardian period

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King Edward VII, after whom the Edwardian period is named.

The Edwardian era or Edwardian period in the United Kingdom is the period covering the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910.

The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 and the succession of her son, Edward, marked the start of a new century and the end of the Victorian era. While Victoria had shunned society, Edward was the leader of a fashionable elite which set a style influenced by the art and fashions of continental Europe—perhaps because of the King's fondness for travel. The era was marked by significant shifts in politics as sections of society which had been largely excluded from wielding power in the past, such as common labourers and women, became increasingly politicised.[1]

The Edwardian period is frequently extended beyond Edward's death in 1910 to include the years up to the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, the start of World War I in 1914, the end of hostilities with Germany on November 11, 1918, or the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. By the end of the war, the Edwardian way of life, with its inherent imbalance of wealth and power, had become increasingly anachronistic in the eyes of a population who had suffered in the face of war and who were exposed to elements of new mass media which decried the injustice of class division.

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Class and society

Socially, the Edwardian era was a period during which the British class system was very rigid. It is seen as the last period of the English country house. Economic and social changes created an environment in which there was more social mobility. Such changes included rising interest in socialism, attention to the plight of the poor and the status of women, including the issue of women's suffrage, together with increased economic opportunities as a result of rapid industrialisation. These changes were to be hastened in the aftermath of the first World War.

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