Victorian era

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Queen Victoria, after whom the era is named.

The Victorian era of the United Kingdom was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901.[1] The reign was a long period of prosperity for the British people, as profits gained from the overseas British Empire, as well as from industrial improvements at home. Some scholars extend the beginning of the period—as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political games that have come to be associated with the Victorians—back five years to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.

The era was preceded by the Georgian period and succeeded by the Edwardian period. The latter half of the Victorian era roughly coincided with the first portion of the Belle Époque era of continental Europe and the Gilded Age of the United States.

The era is often characterised as a long period of peace, known as the Pax Britannica, and economic, colonial, and industrial consolidation, temporarily disrupted by the Crimean War, although Britain was at war every year during this time. Towards the end of the century, the policies of New Imperialism led to increasing colonial conflicts and eventually the Anglo-Zanzibar War and the Boer War. Domestically, the agenda was increasingly liberal with a number of shifts in the direction of gradual political reform and the widening of the voting franchise.

The population of England had almost doubled from 16.8 million in 1851 to 30.5 million in 1901.[2] Scotland's population also doubled from 2.8 million in 1851 to 4.4 million in 1901. Ireland’s population decreased rapidly, from 8.2 million in 1841 to less than 4.5 million in 1901.[3] At the same time, around 15 million emigrants left the United Kingdom in the Victorian era and settled mostly in the United States, Canada, and Australia.[4]

During the early part of the era, the House of Commons was headed by the two parties, the Whigs and the Tories. From the late 1850s onwards, the Whigs became the Liberals; the Tories became the Conservatives. These parties were led by many prominent statesmen including Lord Melbourne, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Derby, Lord Palmerston, William Ewart Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli, and Lord Salisbury. The unsolved problems relating to Irish Home Rule played a great part in politics in the later Victorian era, particularly in view of Gladstone's determination to achieve a political settlement. Indeed these issues would eventually lead to the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent domino effect that would play a large part in the fall of the empire.

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