Power, Peace and Prosperity - 1815 to 1914

duke of wellington Nelson's victory at sea in 1805 and Wellington's (left) on land at Waterloo in 1815, marked the end of major wars for a century. Britain was the dominant power, and the defeat of Napoleon (right) removed French aspirations to rule the world waterloo
The death of George IV (right)was not regretted by the nation - the Times wrote "there was never an individual less regretted by his fellow creatures than this deceased king" king george IV It was an age of poets - Keats, Shelly and Byron. Of Science - Faraday and Davy in electricity, Stephenson with his steam train , artists like Constable and Turner. It was against this background that Victoria came to the throne in 1837, to commence a reign that spanned 64 years
queen victoria Victoria (left) was 18 when she became queen. She became a symbol of her age. It was an age of steam and iron, men like Brunel came to prominence, He surveyed the Great Western railway to Bristol, he built bridges and tunnels that still exist today, he built the Great Eastern, the largest ship afloat. brunel
The Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park was a showcase for British achievements. Authors like Dickens (below) and the Bronte sisters wrote novels. A new parliament building was constructed at Westminster after the old building burnt down charge of light brigade 1854 brought British involvement in the Crimean War in Russia, and one of those heroic defeats when the Light brigade charged massed Russian guns. One outcome of this defeat was that in future the British army would be better officered, with wealth no longer being the sole key to promotion.
darwin Charles Darwin (left) completed his voyage in the Beagle in 1837 and produced his theories of evolution. Africa was explored by men like David Livingstone
Slavery was abolished throughout the Empire, and Britain used her naval power to blockade the West African coast and arrest slavers slavery The British Empire, like all empires, was acquired by force of arms. By 1900 Britain had the largest navy in the world, and used it to control an Empire "on which the sun never set". The map (below left) shows the British Empire in 1900, with Canada, Australia, India, large chunks Africa, the Caribbean and the Far East
british empire However by Victoria's death in 1901, Britain was being challenged militarily by Germany. European countries rushed to arm themselves and protect themselves with a series of alliances.
     
The result of these warlike happenings was that , when an Austrian Archduke was assassinated in Bosnia in 1914, the alliances led to virtually every nation in Europe becoming involved, with the Central Powers (coloured green above left) fighting the Allies (coloured red) - 10 million men were to die before peace was declared in 1918
     
Go on to next history page - 1914 World War I
   
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