|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801-1922)|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801-1922)from the Wikipedia||Read original article|
|United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland
"God Save the King/Queen"
Location of the United Kingdom in 1921 (green)
in Europe (green & grey)
|Languages||English, Scots, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh|
|Government||Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
|-||Upper house||House of Lords|
|-||Lower house||House of Commons|
|-||Acts of Union||1 January 1801|
|-||Anglo-Irish Treaty||6 December 1921|
|-||Irish Free State Constitution Act||6 December 1922|
|-||Titles amended||12 April 1927|
|-||Total||315,093 km² (121,658 sq mi)|
|Density||50.8 /km² (131.5 /sq mi)|
|Density||144 /km² (372.9 /sq mi)|
|Today part of|| Republic of Ireland
|a.||Monarch of the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland from 1760.|
|b.||Continued as monarch of the United Kingdom until 1936.|
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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was established on 1 January 1801 under the terms of the Acts of Union 1800, by which the nominally separate kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland were united. In 1922, twenty-six of thirty-two counties of Ireland seceded to form the Irish Free State (later becoming the Republic of Ireland) and, to reflect the change in the United Kingdom's boundaries, the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 formally amended the name of the UK Parliament to the "Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
The period began with the newly formed United Kingdom defeating France in 1814 in the Napoleonic Wars. As a direct result of this, the British Empire became the foremost world power for the next century. Great Britain and the north-east of Ireland industrialised rapidly, whereas the rest of Ireland did not, deepening economic and social disparities between them. A devastating famine, exacerbated by government inaction in the mid-19th century, led to demographic collapse in much of Ireland, and increased calls for Irish land reform and the devolution of executive power. During and after the Great War, the rise of Irish nationalism and republicanism eventually culminated in the Irish War of Independence, and in 1922, the partition of Ireland between the newly founded Irish Free State and the north-east, which opted to remain part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland.
The Kingdom of Ireland was a settler state; the monarch was the incumbent monarch of England and later of Great Britain. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland headed the government on behalf of the monarch. He was assisted by the Chief Secretary of Ireland. Both were responsible to the government in London rather than to the Parliament of Ireland. Before the Constitution of 1782, the Irish parliament was also severely fettered, and decisions in Irish courts could be overturned on appeal to the British House of Lords in London.
Ireland gained a degree of independence in the 1780s thanks to Henry Grattan. During this time the effects of the penal laws on the majority Roman Catholic population were reduced, and some property-owning Catholics were granted the franchise in 1794; however, they were still excluded from becoming members of the Irish House of Commons. This brief period of limited independence came to an end following the Irish Rebellion of 1798, which occurred during the British war with revolutionary France. The British government's fear of an independent Ireland siding against them with the French resulted in the decision to unite the two countries. This was brought about by legislation in the parliaments of both kingdoms and came into effect on 1 January 1801. The Irish had been led to believe by the British that their loss of legislative independence would be compensated for with Catholic Emancipation, i.e. by the removal of civil disabilities placed upon Roman Catholics in both Great Britain and Ireland. However, King George III was bitterly opposed to any such Emancipation and succeeded in defeating his government's attempts to introduce it.
During the War of the Second Coalition (1799–1801), Britain occupied most of the French and Dutch overseas possessions, the Netherlands having become a satellite state of France in 1796, but tropical diseases claimed the lives of over 40,000 troops. When the Treaty of Amiens ended the war, Britain agreed to return most of the territories it had seized. The peace settlement was in effect only a ceasefire, and Napoleon continued to provoke the British by attempting a trade embargo on the country and by occupying the city of Hanover, capital of the Electorate, a German-speaking duchy which was in a personal union with the United Kingdom. In May 1803, war was declared again. Napoleon's plans to invade Britain failed, chiefly due to the inferiority of his navy, and in 1805 Lord Nelson's Royal Navy fleet decisively defeated the French and Spanish at Trafalgar, which was the last significant naval action of the Napoleonic Wars.
In 1806, Napoleon issued the series of Berlin Decrees, which brought into effect the Continental System. This policy aimed to eliminate the threat from the British by closing French-controlled territory to foreign trade. The British Army remained a minimal threat to France; it maintained a standing strength of just 220,000 men at the height of the Napoleonic Wars, whereas France's armies exceeded a million men—in addition to the armies of numerous allies and several hundred thousand national guardsmen that Napoleon could draft into the French armies when they were needed. Although the Royal Navy effectively disrupted France's extra-continental trade—both by seizing and threatening French shipping and by seizing French colonial possessions—it could do nothing about France's trade with the major continental economies and posed little threat to French territory in Europe. France's population and agricultural capacity far outstripped that of the British Isles.
Many in the French government believed that cutting the British off from the European mainland would end their economic hegemony, but Great Britain possessed the greatest industrial capacity in the world, and its mastery of the seas allowed it to build up considerable economic strength through trade to its possessions from its rapidly expanding new Empire. The Spanish uprising in 1808 at last permitted Britain to gain a foothold on the Continent. The Duke of Wellington and his army of British and Portuguese gradually pushed the French out of Spain, and in early 1814, as Napoleon was being driven back in the east by the Prussians, Austrians, and Russians, Wellington invaded southern France. After Napoleon's surrender and exile to the island of Elba, peace appeared to have returned, but when he escaped back into France in 1815, the British and their allies had to fight him again. The armies of Wellington and Blucher defeated Napoleon once and for all at Waterloo.
Simultaneous with the Napoleonic Wars, trade disputes and British impressment of American sailors led to the War of 1812 with the United States. A central event in American history, it was little noticed in Britain, where all attention was focused on the struggle with France. The British could devote few resources to the conflict until the fall of Napoleon in 1814. American frigates also inflicted a series of embarrassing defeats on the British navy, which was short on manpower due to the conflict in Europe.
A stepped-up war effort that year brought about some successes such as the burning of Washington, D.C., but many influential voices such as the Duke of Wellington argued that an outright victory over the U.S. was impossible. Peace was agreed to at the end of 1814, but not before Andrew Jackson, unaware of this, won a great victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 (news took several weeks to cross the Atlantic before the advent of steam ships). The Treaty of Ghent subsequently ended the war. As a result, the Red River Basin was ceded to the US, and the Canadian border completely demilitarised by both countries and never changed since, although fears of an American conquest of the Canadas persisted through the 19th century.
Britain emerged from the Napoleonic Wars a very different country than it had been in 1793. As industrialisation progressed, society changed, becoming more urban and less rural. The postwar period saw an economic slump, and poor harvests and inflation caused widespread social unrest. Europe after 1815 was on guard against a return of Jacobinism, and even liberal Britain saw the passage of the Six Acts in 1819, which proscribed radical activities. By the end of the 1820s, along with a general economic recovery, many of these repressive laws were repealed and in 1828 new legislation guaranteed the civil rights of religious dissenters.
A weak ruler as regent (1811–20) and king (1820–30), George IV let his ministers take full charge of government affairs, playing a far lesser role than his father, George III. His governments, with little help from the king, presided over victory in the Napoleonic Wars, negotiated the peace settlement, and attempted to deal with the social and economic malaise that followed. His younger brother William IV ruled (1830–37), but was little involved in politics. His reign saw several reforms: the poor law was updated, child labour restricted, slavery abolished in nearly all the British Empire, and, most important, the Reform Act 1832 refashioned the British electoral system.
There were no major wars until the Crimean War (1853–56). While Prussia, Austria, and Russia, as absolute monarchies, tried to suppress liberalism wherever it might occur, the British came to terms with new ideas. Britain intervened in Portugal in 1826 to defend a constitutional government there and recognising the independence of Spain's American colonies in 1824. British merchants and financiers, and later railway builders, played major roles in the economies of most Latin American nations.
The Whig Party recovered its strength and unity by supporting moral reforms, especially the reform of the electoral system, the abolition of slavery and emancipation of the Catholics. Catholic emancipation was secured in the Catholic Relief Act of 1829, which removed the most substantial restrictions on Roman Catholics in Great Britain and Ireland.
The Whigs became champions of Parliamentary reform. They made Lord Grey prime minister 1830–1834, and the Reform Act of 1832 became their signature measure. It broadened the franchise and ended the system of "rotten borough" and "pocket boroughs" (where elections were controlled by powerful families), and instead redistributed power on the basis of population. It added 217,000 voters to an electorate of 435,000 in England and Wales. The main effect of the act was to weaken the power of the landed gentry, and enlarge the power of the professional and business middle-class, which now for the first time had a significant voice in Parliament. However, the great majority of manual workers, clerks, and farmers did not have enough property to qualify to vote. The aristocracy continued to dominate the government, the Army and Royal Navy, and high society. After parliamentary investigations demonstrated the horrors of child labour, limited reforms were passed in 1833.
Chartism emerged after the 1832 Reform Bill failed to give the vote to the working class. Activists denounced the "betrayal" of the working classes and the "sacrificing" of their "interests" by the "misconduct" of the government. In 1838, Chartists issued the People's Charter demanding manhood suffrage, equal sized election districts, voting by ballots, payment of Members of Parliament (so that poor men could serve), annual Parliaments, and abolition of property requirements. The ruling class saw the movement as pathological, [clarification needed] so the Chartists were unable to force serious constitutional debate. Historians see Chartism as both a continuation of the 18th century fight against corruption and as a new stage in demands for democracy in an industrial society. In 1832 Parliament abolished slavery in the Empire with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. The government purchased the slaves for £20,000,000 (the money went to rich plantation owners who mostly lived in England), and freed the slaves, especially those in the Caribbean sugar islands.
Prime Ministers of the period included: William Pitt the Younger, Lord Grenville, Duke of Portland, Spencer Perceval, Lord Liverpool, George Canning, Lord Goderich, Duke of Wellington, Lord Grey, Lord Melbourne, and Sir Robert Peel.
The Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's rule between 1837 and 1901 which signified the height of the British Industrial Revolution and the apex of the British Empire. Scholars debate whether the Victorian period—as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political concerns that have come to be associated with the Victorians—actually begins with the passage of the Reform Act 1832. The era was preceded by the Regency era and succeeded by the Edwardian period. Victoria became queen in 1837 at age 18. Her long reign saw Britain reach the zenith of its economic and political power, with the introduction of steam ships, railroads, photography, and the telegraph. Britain again remained mostly inactive in Continental politics.
The Great London Exhibition of 1851 clearly demonstrated Britain's dominance in engineering and industry; that lasted until the rise of the United States and Germany in the 1890s. Using the imperial tools of free trade and financial investment, it exerted major influence on many countries outside Europe, especially in Latin America and Asia. Thus Britain had both a formal Empire based on British rule as well as an informal one based on the British pound.
One nagging fear was the possible collapse of the Ottoman Empire. It was well understood that a collapse of that country would set off a scramble for its territory and possibly plunge Britain into war. To head that off Britain sought to keep the Russians from occupying Constantinople and taking over the Bosphorus Strait, as well as from threatening India via Afghanistan. In 1853, Britain and France intervened in the Crimean War against Russia. Despite mediocre generalship, they managed to capture the Russian port of Sevastopol, compelling Tsar Nicholas I to ask for peace.
The next Russo-Ottoman war in 1877 led to another European intervention, although this time at the negotiating table. The Congress of Berlin blocked Russia from imposing the harsh Treaty of San Stefano on the Ottoman Empire. Despite its alliance with the French in the Crimean War, Britain viewed the Second Empire of Napoleon III with some distrust, especially as the emperor constructed ironclad warships and began returning France to a more active foreign policy.
During the American Civil War (1861–1865), British leaders favoured the Confederacy, a major source of cotton for textile mills. Prince Albert was effective in defusing a war scare in late 1861. The British people, however, who depended heavily on American food imports, generally favoured the Union. What little cotton was available came from New York, as the blockade by the US Navy shut down 95% of Southern exports to Britain. In September 1862, Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation. Since support of the Confederacy now meant supporting the institution of slavery, there was no possibility of European intervention. The British sold arms to both sides, built blockade runners for a lucrative trade with the Confederacy, and surreptitiously allowed warships to be built for the Confederacy. The warships caused a major diplomatic row that was resolved in the Alabama Claims in 1872, in the Americans' favour.
In 1867, Britain united most of its North American colonies as the Dominion of Canada, giving it self-government and responsibility for its own defence, but Canada did not have an independent foreign policy until 1931. Several of the colonies temporarily refused to join the Dominion despite pressure from both Canada and Britain; the last one, Newfoundland, held out until 1949. The second half of the 19th century saw a huge expansion of Britain's colonial empire, mostly in Africa. A talk of the Union Jack flying "from Cairo to Cape Town" only became a reality at the end of the Great War. Having possessions on six continents, Britain had to defend all of its empire and did so with a volunteer army, the only great power in Europe to have no conscription. Some questioned whether the country was overstretched.
The rise of the German Empire since its creation in 1871 posed a new challenge, for it (along with the United States), threatened to usurp Britain's place as the world's foremost industrial power. Germany acquired a number of colonies in Africa and the Pacific, but Chancellor Otto von Bismarck succeeded in achieving general peace through his balance of power strategy. When William II became emperor in 1888, he discarded Bismarck, began using bellicose language, and planned to build a navy to rival Britain's.
Ever since Britain had wrested control of the Cape Colony from the Netherlands during the Napoleonic Wars, it had co-existed with Dutch settlers who had migrated further away from the Cape and created two republics of their own. The British imperial vision called for control over these new countries, and the Dutch-speaking "Boers" (or "Afrikaners") fought back in the War in 1899–1902. Outgunned by a mighty empire, the Boers waged a guerrilla war (which certain other British territories would later employ to attain independence). This gave the British regulars a difficult fight, but their weight of numbers, superior equipment, and often brutal tactics, eventually brought about a British victory. The war had been costly in human rights and was widely criticised by Liberals in Britain and worldwide. However, the United States gave its support. The Boer republics were merged into the Union of South Africa in 1910; this had internal self-government, but its foreign policy was controlled by London and it was an integral part of the British Empire.
Part of the agreement which led to the 1800 Act of Union stipulated that the Penal Laws in Ireland were to be repealed and Catholic emancipation granted. However King George III blocked emancipation, arguing that to grant it would break his coronation oath to defend the Anglican Church. A campaign by the lawyer Daniel O'Connell, and the death of George III, led to the concession of Catholic Emancipation in 1829, allowing Roman Catholics to sit in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. But Catholic Emancipation was not O'Connell's ultimate goal, which was Repeal of the Act of Union with Great Britain. On 1 January 1843 O'Connell confidently, but wrongly, declared that Repeal would be achieved that year. When potato blight hit the island in 1846, much of the rural population was left without food, because cash crops were being exported to pay rents.
British politicians such as the Prime Minister Robert Peel were at this time wedded to the economic policy of laissez-faire, which argued against state intervention. While funds were raised by private individuals and charities, lack of adequate action let the problem become a catastrophe. Cottiers (or farm labourers) were largely wiped out during what is known in Ireland as the "Great Hunger". A significant minority elected Unionists, who championed the Union. A Church of Ireland former Tory barrister turned nationalist campaigner, Isaac Butt, established a new moderate nationalist movement, the Home Rule League, in the 1870s. After Butt's death the Home Rule Movement, or the Irish Parliamentary Party as it had become known, was turned into a major political force under the guidance of William Shaw and a radical young Protestant landowner, Charles Stewart Parnell.
Parnell's movement campaigned for "Home Rule", by which they meant that Ireland would govern itself as a region within the United Kingdom. Two Home Rule Bills (1886 and 1893) were introduced by Liberal Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, but neither became law, mainly due to opposition from the Conservative Party and the House of Lords. The issue was a source of contention throughout Ireland, as a significant majority of Unionists (largely but not exclusively based in Ulster), opposed Home Rule, fearing that a Catholic Nationalist ("Rome Rule") Parliament in Dublin would discriminate or retaliate against them, impose Roman Catholic doctrine, and impose tariffs on industry. While most of Ireland was primarily agricultural, six of the counties in Ulster were the location of heavy industry and would be affected by any tariff barriers imposed.
Prime Ministers of the period included: Lord Melbourne, Sir Robert Peel, Lord John Russell, Lord Derby, Lord Aberdeen, Lord Palmerston, Benjamin Disraeli, William Ewart Gladstone, Lord Salisbury, and Lord Rosebery.
The Queen gave her name to an era of British greatness, especially in the far-flung British Empire with which she identified. She played a small role in politics, but became the iconic symbol of the nation, the empire, and proper, restrained behaviour. Her success as ruler was due to the power of the self-images she successively portrayed of innocent young woman, devoted wife and mother, suffering and patient widow, and grandmotherly matriarch.
Disraeli and Gladstone dominated the politics of the late 19th century, Britain's golden age of parliamentary government. They long were idolized, but historians in recent decades have become much more critical, especially regarding Disraeli.
Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881), prime minister 1868 and 1874–80, remains an iconic hero of the Conservative Party. He was typical of the generation of British leaders who matured in the 1830s and 1840s. He was concerned with threats to established political, social, and religious values and elites; he emphasized the need for national leadership in response to radicalism, uncertainty, and materialism. Disraeli was especially noted for his enthusiastic support for expanding and strengthening the British Empire, in contrast to Gladstone's negative attitude toward imperialism. Gladstone denounced Disraeli's policies of territorial aggrandizement, military pomp, and imperial symbolism (such as making the Queen Empress of India), saying it did not fit a modern commercial and Christian nation.
Disraeli drummed up support by warnings of a supposed Russian threat to India that sank deep into the Conservative mindset. His reputation as the "Tory democrat" and promoter of the welfare state fell away as historians showed that Disraeli had few proposals for social legislation in 1874–80, and that the 1867 Reform Act did not reflect a vision of Conservatism for the unenfranchised working man. However he did work to reduce class anatagonism, for as Perry notes, "When confronted with specific problems, he sought to reduce tension between town and country, landlords and farmers, capital and labour, and warring religious sects in Britain and Ireland—in other words, to create a unifying synthesis."
William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898) was the Liberal counterpart to Disraeli, serving as prime minister four times (1868–74, 1880–85, 1886, and 1892–94). His financial policies, based on the notion of balanced budgets, low taxes and laissez-faire, were suited to a developing capitalist society but could not respond effectively as economic and social conditions changed. Called the "Grand Old Man" later in life, he was always a dynamic popular orator who appealed strongly to British workers and the lower middle class. The deeply religious Gladstone brought a new moral tone to politics with his evangelical sensibility and opposition to aristocracy. His moralism often angered his upper-class opponents (including Queen Victoria, who strongly favoured Disraeli), and his heavy-handed control split the Liberal party. His foreign policy goal was to create a European order based on cooperation rather than conflict and mutual trust instead of rivalry and suspicion; the rule of law was to supplant the reign of force and self-interest. This Gladstonian concept of a harmonious Concert of Europe was opposed to and ultimately defeated by the Germans with a Bismarckian system of manipulated alliances and antagonisms.
Historians portray Conservative Prime Minister Lord Salisbury (1830–1903) as a talented leader who was an icon of traditional, aristocratic conservatism. Robert Blake has claimed that Salisbury was "a great foreign minister, [but] essentially negative, indeed reactionary in home affairs". Professor P.T. Marsh’s estimate is more favourable than Blake's, he portrays Salisbury as a leader who "held back the popular tide for twenty years." Professor Paul Smith[who?] argues that, "into the 'progressive' strain of modern Conservatism he simply will not fit." Professor H.C.G. Matthew points to "the narrow cynicism of Salisbury". One admirer of Salisbury, Maurice Cowling[who?] agrees that Salisbury found the democracy born of the 1867 and 1884 Reform Acts as "perhaps less objectionable than he had expected—succeeding, through his public persona, in mitigating some part of its nastiness."
The Victorian era is famous for the Victorian standards of personal morality. Historians generally agree that the middle classes held high personal moral standards (and usually followed them), but have debated whether the working classes followed suit. Moralists in the late 19th century such as Henry Mayhew decried the slums for their supposed high levels of cohabitation without marriage and illegitimate births. However, new research using computerized matching of data files shows that the rates of cohabitation then were quite low — under 5% — for the working class and the poor.
Queen Victoria died in 1901 and her son Edward VII became king, inaugurating the Edwardian Era, which was characterised by great and ostentatious displays of wealth in contrast to the sombre Victorian Era. With the advent of the 20th century, things such as motion pictures, automobiles, and aeroplanes were coming into use. The new century was characterised by a feeling of great optimism. The social reforms of the last century continued into the 20th with the Labour Party being formed in 1900. Edward died in 1910, to be succeeded by George V, who reigned 1910–36. Scandal-free, hard working and popular, George V was the British monarch who, with Queen Mary, established the modern pattern of exemplary conduct for British royalty, based on middle-class values and virtues. He understood the overseas Empire better than any of his prime ministers and used his exceptional memory for figures and details, whether of uniforms, politics, or relations, to good effect in reaching out in conversation with his subjects.
The era was prosperous but political crises were escalating out of control. Dangerfield (1935) identified the "strange death of liberal England" as the multiple crisis that hit simultaneously in 1910–1914 with serious social and political instability arising from the Irish crisis, labor unrest, the women's suffrage movements, and partisan and constitutional struggles in Parliament. At one point it even seemed the Army might refuse orders dealing with Ireland. No solution appeared in sight when the unexpected outbreak of the Great War in 1914 put domestic issues on hold. McKibben argues that the political party system of the Edwardian era was in delicate balance on the eve of the war in 1914. The Liberals were in power with a progressive alliance of Labour and, off and on, Irish Nationalists. The coalition was committed to free trade (as opposed to the high tariffs the Conservatives sought), free collective bargaining for trades unions (which Conservatives opposed), an active social policy that was forging the welfare state, and constitutional reform to reduce the power of the House of Lords. The coalition lacked a long-term plan, because it was cobbled together from leftovers from the 1890s. The sociological basis was non-Anglicanism and non-English ethnicity rather than the emerging class conflict emphasized by the Labour Party.
After a rough start Britain under David Lloyd George successfully mobilised its manpower, industry, finances, Empire and diplomacy, in league with the French and Americans, to defeat the Central Powers. A segment of extreme Irish nationalists had infiltrated Eoin MacNeill's Irish Volunteers, and plotted a rebellion in 1916. The economy grew by about 14% from 1914–18 despite the absence of so many men in the services; by contrast the German economy shrank 27%. The Great War saw a decline in civilian consumption, with a major reallocation to munitions. The government share of GDP soared from 8% in 1913 to 38% in 1918 (compared to 50% in 1943). The war forced Britain to use up its financial reserves and borrow large sums from the U.S.
The spark that set off the war came in June 1914, when the multi-ethnic Austrian Empire declared war on Serbia after Serb guerrillas murdered the Archduke and his wife. The system of alliances caused a local conflict to engulf the entire continent. Britain was part of the Triple Entente with France and Russia, which confronted the Central Powers of Germany, Austria and Italy. Following the assassination Austria attacked Serbia, which was allied to Russia. Russia then mobilized its army, leading Germany to enter into war against Russia. France could not afford a mobilized Germany on its border, and it mobilized. Germany declared war on France. Britain was neutral at first as the Liberal government had a pacifist tendency, but it was committed to defending Belgium, which Germany invaded. Britain declared war on Germany and its allies. The romantic notions of warfare that everyone had expected faded as the fighting in France bogged down into trench warfare. Along the Western Front the British and French launched repeated assaults on the German trench lines in 1915–16, which killed and wounded hundreds of thousands, but failed to make gains of even a mile. By 1916, with volunteers falling off, the government imposed conscription in Britain (but was not able to do so in Ireland where nationalists of all stripes militantly opposed it) in order to keep up the strength of the army. Industry turned out munitions in large quantities, with many women taking factory jobs. The Asquith government proved ineffective but when David Lloyd George replaced him in December 1916 Britain gained a powerful and successful wartime leader.
The Navy continued to dominate the seas, fighting the German fleet to a draw in the only great battle, the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Germany was blockaded and was increasingly short of food. It tried to fight back with submarines, despite the risk of war by the powerful neutral power the United States. The waters around Britain were declared a war zone where any ship, neutral or otherwise, was a target. After the liner Lusitania was sunk in May 1915, drowning over 100 American passengers, protests by the United States led Germany to abandon unrestricted submarine warfare. With victory over Russia in 1917 Germany now calculated it could finally have numerical superiority on the Western Front. Planning for a massive spring offensive in 1918, it resumed the sinking of all merchant ships without warning. The US entered the war alongside the Allies (without actually joining them), and provided the needed money and supplies to keep them going. On other fronts, the British, French, Australians, and Japanese occupied Germany's colonies. Britain fought the Ottoman Empire, suffering defeats in the Gallipoli Campaign) and in Mesopotamia, while arousing the Arabs who helped expel the Turks from their lands. Exhaustion and war-weariness were growing worse in 1917, as the fighting in France continued with no end in sight. The German spring offensives of 1918 failed, and with the arrival of the Americans in summer at the rate of 10,000 a day the Germans realized they were being overwhelmed. Germany agreed to an Armistice — actually a surrender — on 11 November 1918. The war had been won by Britain and its allies, but at a terrible human and financial cost, creating a sentiment that wars should never be fought again. The League of Nations was founded with the idea that nations could resolve their differences peacefully, but these hopes were unfounded. The harsh peace settlement imposed on Germany would leave it embittered and seeking revenge.
Victorian attitudes and ideals that had continued into the first years of the 20th century changed during the Great War. The army had traditionally never been a large employer in the nation, with the regular army standing at 247,432 at the start of the war. By 1918, there were about five million people in the army and the fledgling Royal Air Force, newly formed from the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), was about the same size of the pre-war army. The almost three million casualties were known as the "lost generation," and such numbers inevitably left society scarred; but even so, some people felt their sacrifice was little regarded in Britain, with poems like Siegfried Sassoon's Blighters criticising the ill-informed "jingoism" of the Home Front.
Following the war, Britain gained the German colony of Tanganyika and part of Togoland in Africa. Britain was granted League of Nations mandates over Palestine, which was turned into a homeland for Jewish settlers, and Iraq, created from the three Ottoman provinces in Mesopotamia; the latter of which became fully independent in 1932. Egypt, which had been a British protectorate since 1882, became independent in 1922, although British troops remained stationed there until 1956. Lloyd George said after victory that "the nation was now in a molten state", [clarification needed] and his Housing Act of 1919 would lead to affordable council housing which allowed people to move out of Victorian inner-city slums. The slums remained for several more years, with trams being electrified long before many houses. The Representation of the People Act 1918 gave women householders the vote, but it would not be until 1928 that equal suffrage was achieved. Labour did not achieve major success until the 1922 general election.
The European situation combined with the threat of conscription (which had been operating in Great Britain but had not been introduced in Ireland) changed the political climate further. In the Irish general election of December 1918, the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) lost all but six of its seats to the more radical nationalist party, Sinn Féin. (John Redmond, the leader of the IPP, had died earlier that year, and his successor, John Dillon, son of the noted Young Irelander John Blake Dillon, lost his own seat.) Unionists won the remainder of the seats, almost exclusively in six counties of Ulster, which would later become Northern Ireland. The Sinn Féin "MPs" (some, like Laurence Ginnell, having formerly been members of the IPP), campaigned as abstentionists, refusing to participate at Westminster. In January 1919 a unilaterally independent Irish parliament was formed in Dublin, known as the first "Dáil Éireann", with an executive under the President of Dáil Éireann, Éamon de Valera, a leader of the Easter Rising of 1916, who had avoided execution due to his birth in New York. (Although de Valera never made any claim to U.S. citizenship, the British, struggling in the midst of the Great War, could not afford to estrange itself from the United States, which did not formally enter the war until April 1917.)
A War of Independence was fought between 1919 and 1922, largely led by Michael Collins, who employed unorthodox guerrilla and counter-intelligence tactics which inflicted heavy damage on both the local police (the Royal Irish Constabulary, or RIC) as well as British intelligence agents in Dublin, undermining British morale, although Collins reportedly later told the British: "You had us dead beat. We could not have lasted another three weeks. When we were told of the offer of a truce we were astounded. We thought you must have gone mad." A treaty between the British government and representatives of the Dáil was finally agreed in 1922, which resulted in the partition of the island of Ireland on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 into two distinct autonomous United Kingdom regions, Northern Ireland and the short-lived Southern Ireland. Although the new Dominion status granted Irish nationalists far more autonomy than had been sought by the IPP, it was unacceptable to hard-liners who opposed the treaty (Fianna Fáil). A civil war was fought, which the pro-treaty (Fine Gael) forces finally won in 1923. Michael Collins was assassinated on 22 August 1922 in his native County Cork.
On 6 December 1922, exactly a year after the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, the entire island of Ireland effectively seceded from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, forming a new dominion of the British Empire, the Irish Free State. As expected, the area known as "Northern Ireland" (six counties in Ulster), immediately exercised its right under the Anglo-Irish Treaty to opt out of the new state. On 7 December 1922, the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State, the Parliament of Northern Ireland made an address to King George V to opt out of the Irish Free State, which the King accepted. The surviving Union of Great Britain with part of Ireland continued to be called the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" until 1927, when it was renamed United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927, and is known by this name to the present time.
In 1919, the majority of Irish MPs refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and formed a unilaterally independent Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann, with an executive under the President of Dáil Éireann, Eamon de Valera. A War of Independence was fought between 1919 and 1921. Finally in December 1922, twenty-six of Ireland's counties exited from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to form the Irish Free State. The southern part of Ireland that seceded from the union is today the Republic of Ireland. It covers the same territory as the Free State, but adopted a new constitution in 1937. Six counties in Ulster, called Northern Ireland, remain a part of the continuing United Kingdom, which was renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927, in accordance with the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty was given effect in the whole of the British Isles through the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922. That Act established a new Dominion for the whole island of Ireland but also allowed Northern Ireland to opt out of it. Under Article 12 of the Treaty, Northern Ireland could exercise its opt out by presenting an address to the King requesting not to be part of the Irish Free State. Once the Treaty was ratified, the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland had one month to exercise this opt out during which month the Irish Free State Government could not legislate for Northern Ireland, holding the Free State's effective jurisdiction in abeyance for a month.
On 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State) the Houses of Parliament demonstrated its lack of hesitation by resolving to make the following address to the King to opt out of the Irish Free State:
MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland.
On 13 December 1922 Prime Minister James Craig addressed the Parliament of Northern Ireland, informing them that the King had responded to the Parliament's address as follows (the King having received it on 8 December 1922):
I have received the Address presented to me by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in pursuance of Article 12 of the Articles of Agreement set forth in the Schedule to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, and of Section 5 of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, and I have caused my Ministers and the Irish Free State Government to be so informed.
Despite increasing political independence from each other from 1922 and complete political independence since the new constitution of 1937, the union left the two countries intertwined with each other in many respects. The Irish Free State, as it was then known, used the Irish pound (known colloquially as the "punt") from 1928 until 2001, when the euro replaced it. Until joining the ERM in 1979, the Irish pound was directly linked to the pound sterling. Decimalisation of both currencies occurred simultaneously on Decimal Day in 1971. Coins of equivalent value had the same dimensions and size until the introduction of the British twenty pence coin in 1982. British coinage, therefore, although technically not legal tender in the Republic of Ireland was in wide circulation and usually acceptable as payment, and vice versa. The new British twenty pence coin and later British one pound coin were the notable exceptions to this, as there was initially no equivalent Irish coin value, and when subsequently, Irish coins of these values were introduced, their designs differed significantly, thereby not allowing for 'stealth' passing of the coins in change.
Irish citizens in the UK have a status almost equivalent to British citizens. They can vote in all elections and stand for Parliament.[dubious ] British citizens have similar rights to Irish citizens in the Republic of Ireland and can vote in all elections apart from presidential elections and referendums.[dubious ]
Under the Irish nationality law anyone born on the island of Ireland to a British or Irish parent can have Irish citizenship and so most children born in Northern Ireland can have a British or an Irish passport (or both). Before 2005 there was no requirement for one parent to be a British or Irish citizen and so all persons born on the island of Ireland before then are entitled to be Irish citizens.
Ireland was never fully integrated into the British state or political culture. Despite losing its own parliament, much of the system of government in Ireland remained in place after the union: the offices of Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary remained (although the latter came to eclipse the former), as well as the Privy Council of Ireland and the various government departments. Ireland retained its own legal system, and its own courts; though the House of Lords in London resumed its place as a court of appeal. The retention of laws and courts in Ireland was paralleled with the position of Scotland under the union, which continued its own legal system. The main difference from Scotland was in religious policy and demography. While the majority of the Irish were Catholic, England and Scotland were both predominantly Protestant.
The question over how the British state should respond to Irish demands, called "the Irish question" was a major influence on British politics throughout the long nineteenth century. In 1844, future British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli described the situation in Ireland:
That dense population in extreme distress inhabited an island where there was an established church which was not their church; and a territorial aristocracy, the richest of whom lived in distant capitals. Thus they had a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church, and, in addition, the weakest executive in the world. That was the Irish question.
In the context of rising national awareness in Ireland, there were several inter-related popular campaigns against British policy in Ireland in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Catholic Emancipation was finally brought about in 1829, following a campaign led by Daniel O'Connell. O'Connell had been elected as Member of Parliament for County Clare, but had been prevented from taking his seat in the British House of Commons at Westminster because of the requirement to swear the Oath of Supremacy; the oath had been expressly worded to prevent Roman Catholics from entering parliament.
O'Connell had also campaigned for "Repeal", i.e. for the repeal of the Acts of Union and a return to Ireland's position under the Constitution of 1782. O'Connell was an early leader of Irish nationalism. He wrote in 1842, "I am not British", and also declared Ireland a "separate nation".
British thinkers tried to respond to these demands, but philosopher John Stuart Mill struggled to think of the Irish as a separate nation, and feared any such recognition's implications for Britain. Most English elites assumed their ways were superior and the Irish were not their equals but merely a "degraded caste". Ireland was in the Union, but still felt and was treated as separate. British ministers of the Crown rarely visited Ireland, and delegated their authority to the Irish secretary, Ireland's sole voice in the cabinet.
More demands from Ireland for the re-establishment of its own parliament were to be repeated through the course of the 19th century, building up until the Irish Home Rule movement came to dominate Irish politics from the late 1870s onwards.
Irish demands ranged from the "repeal" of O'Connell, the "federal scheme" of William Sharman Crawford (actually devolution, not federalism as such), to the Home Rule League of Issac Butt. Ireland was no closer to home rule by the mid-19th century, and rebellions in 1848 and 1867 failed.
O'Connell's campaign was hampered by the limited scope of the franchise in Ireland. The wider the franchise was expanded, the better anti-Union parties were able to do in Ireland. Running on a platform that advocated something like the self-rule successfully enacted in Canada under the British North America Act, 1867, Home Rulers won a majority of both county and borough seats in Ireland in 1874. By 1882, leadership of the Home Rule movement had passed to Charles Stewart Parnell of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP). A wider franchise also changed the ideological mix among non-Irish MPs, making them more receptive to Irish demands. The 1885 election resulted in a hung parliament in which the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) held the balance of power. They initially supported the Conservatives in a minority government, but when news leaked that Liberal Party leader William Ewart Gladstone was considering Home Rule, the IPP ousted the Conservatives and brought the Liberals into office.
Gladstone's First Home Rule Bill was closely modeled on the self-government given to British settler colonies, starting with the Act of Union 1840 ("The Canada Act"), and especially the British North America Act, 1867. Irish MPs would no longer vote in Westminster but in a separate Dublin parliament, which would control domestic areas, but not foreign policy or military affairs, which would remain with London. Gladstone's proposals did not go as far as most Irish nationalists desired, but were still too radical for both Irish and British unionists: his First Home Rule Bill was defeated in the House of Commons following a split in his own party. Gladstone took the issue to the people in the 1886 election, but the unionists (Conservatives plus Liberal dissenters) held a majority over the Home Rule coalition (Liberals and Irish nationalists). Pro-Home Rule parties won majorities in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but not in England, where most seats were contested.
Before the 1892 election, Parnell was caught in one of the "one of the most celebrated sex scandals of the century", which incurred the wrath of the Catholic Church and most of its clerics, especially since Parnell's paramour, Mrs Kitty O'Shea, and her nominally Catholic husband, divorced as a result. The IPP was split. Parnell died largely out of favour in his native country. The 1892 election gave pro-Home Rule forces a narrow majority, however; again the Liberals did better in Scotland and Wales than England. Gladstone introduced a Second Home Rule Bill in 1893, which this time would have kept Irish MPs in the British parliament, but was defeated (as expected) in the Conservative-dominated House of Lords.
With the Conservatives opposed to Home Rule, it slipped from the mainstream of British politics once they came into power in the 1890s. However, the Conservative government also felt that the demands for Home Rule were essentially materialist in origin, and that to improve conditions in Ireland would satisfy opinion there; this has been described as "killing home rule with kindness". Reforms passed as a result included the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 and the Wyndham Land Act. Outside of constitutional change, the British state tried other methods to placate Ireland. Between 1868 and 1908: spending on Ireland was generally increased, huge tracts of land were purchased from landlords and redistributed to smallholders, local government was democratised, and the franchise widely extended. The ending of so many social and economic grievances did not end Irish disenchantment, however. What this did accomplish was a simplification of the issues. No longer could British governments fool themselves into thinking that something other than satisfying Irish demands for national recognition and self-determination would answer the Irish question.
Some Britons[who?] were beginning to accept Irish nationalism as legitimate. British liberal support for home rule rested on the premise that the Irish people had withdrawn their consent to be governed by the United Kingdom by electing the Nationalists to repeated majorities, and the popular consent was a basic prerequisite for morally legitimate government. The competing idea among Unionists was that it was impossible to give Ireland independence or it would be used as a base for Continental powers to attack Britain. Writing much later, after 1922, Winston Churchill stated that this idea had taken on the status of dogma and fossilised in British minds long after it had ceased to have any basis in fact and that only the "large outside shock" of the Great War had changed this.
The Liberals regained power in 1905. Following a confrontation with the House of Lords over the "People's Budget", a wider constitutional conflict developed, resulting in two general elections during 1910. The second in December 1910 saw the Liberals lose seats in the Commons, necessitating the support of the Irish Parliamentary Party, now led by John Redmond. Redmond, holding the balance of power in the Commons, renewed the old "Liberal Alliance" this time with H. H. Asquith as Prime Minister. For budget reasons, Asquith had to agree to a new Home Rule Bill and to the removal of the veto power of the Lords with the passage of the Parliament Act 1911. The Irish Parliamentary Party saw their support repaid with the introduction of the Home Rule Bill, which, with the removal of the House of Lords' veto power by the Parliament Act, became a clear possibility for the first time. The Third Home Rule Bill, introduced in 1912, provoked increasingly bitter opposition from unionists, particularly those in the mostly Protestant-dominated province of Ulster and their wing of the Irish Unionist Alliance.
The Bill finally passed into law as the Government of Ireland Act 1914 a few weeks after the start of the Great War, but its implementation was simultaneously suspended for the duration of the war. The situation in Ireland had deteriorated severely, with the Unionist Ulster Volunteers and the Nationalist Irish Volunteers openly drilling, and with both sides seeking to import arms for an anticipated post-war conflagration. WWI had exacerbated tensions further, with Unionists and some segments of the Irish Parliamentary Party encouraging volunteers to fight for the Allied nations. Nationalists were ambivalent about the war, which many saw as Britain's conflict, not Ireland's.
The Easter Rising of 1916, planned a year in advance, in favour of a completely independent Irish Republic was suppressed after a week of fighting but the executions of some 15 leaders of the uprising, as well as the hanging one month later of a former British diplomat (Roger Casement), who had been enmeshed in the rebellion, have long been cited as having helped alienate Catholic and nationalist opinion. After the week-long rebellion, the Cabinet decided in May 1916 that the 1914 Act should be brought into operation immediately and a Government established in Dublin. Asquith tasked Lloyd George, then Minister for Munitions, with opening negotiations between Redmond and Carson.
Redmond and Carson came close to reaching a deal, but ambiguities of the wording of the final document were purposely intrigued by Walter Long to jeopardise Home Rule, Lloyd George admitting that Long had behaved treacherously. Redmond broke off negotiations when he realised partition was not to be temporary as he had been led to believe. A second attempt to introduce the Act was made by the Prime Minister Lloyd George in 1917 when he called together all parties within Ireland to decide their future at an Irish Convention; however, after six months the Convention failed to reach agreement on the important question of whether Ulster was to be under the authority of any new Dublin parliament. The inconclusive findings of the Convention were passed by the government to a Long Committee which decided by October 1919, that two Irish parliaments should be established, paving the way for the Fourth Home Rule Bill, enacted as the Government of Ireland Act 1920.
Until 1927, part of the monarch's royal title included the words King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1927, the words United Kingdom were removed from the royal title so that the monarch was instead styled as King/Queen of Great Britain, Ireland...[and other places]. The words United Kingdom were restored to the monarch's title in 1953 with the reference to Ireland replaced with a reference to Northern Ireland.
Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Ireland
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Irish Free State