The Edwardian age

Edward VII
• 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.
• He became king as Edward VII(1901-1910).
• He embodied this new culture :
 in the way he modernized the monarchy
 brought new life and a sense of fun to a royal court (that had become gloomy)
 redecorated Buckingham Palace ,where he held balls and session of court.

• In 1904 he signed an agreement with France , in the so-called Entente cordiale.
o It established a mutual agreement that Britain could pursue its interest in Egypt, and France in Morocco.
o The Britain was helped by the king’s diplomacy to establish itself in a new alignment of European countries: Britain would count on France and Russia in any conflict with Germany Austria or Italy

• Similarities between Edwardian and Victorian England:
 Class distinctions were well defined and carefully preserved; there were inequalities of wealth
 Inability to provide themselves and their families with adequate food , clothing, and shelter.

• In 1906 the Liberals gained supremacy in the election and the situation changed.
• Liberals were divided into two groups:
o Those who supported the Traditional Liberal Values of laissez-faire and self-help
o Those who supported New Liberalism. => among the new liberals was :
 Winston Churchill(1874-1965) was the prime minister.
 David Lloyd George (1863-1945) was Chancellor of Exchequer in charge of the country’s finances and had the money and the power to carry the reforms.
=> He believed that the government had the responsibility to look after the poor and he started what is called Welfare state with some reforms:
1.The children’s charter (1906-08) was a series of laws helping children because they received free meals, regular medical inspection in school and were banned from public houses and not allowed to beg.
2.The Old Age Pensions Act(1908)
=>The old age was one of the main causes of poverty and so many old person went into workhouses. The poverty was improved partially with the introduction of the old age pension for person with an annual income of under £21 a year.
=>Another cause of poverty was unemployment but in 1909 minimum wages were fixed, and in 1911 workers had benefits such as free medical treatment and sickness benefit.

• The House of Lords supported the Conservative Party and rejected George’s budget because in this way its members would pay increased taxes.

• The liberals decided that the house of lords needed to be performed but with the Parliament Act (1911) made impossible to they to reject a bill about money and also it stated that general election would be at least every five years. This type of system still operates.


• The women
 In 1900 were still second class citizens who had not the right to vote in the election for Parliament and even had not the right to become MPs.
 In 1903 Emmeline Pankurst and her daughter Christabel founded “The Women’s Social and Political Union “
 The WSPU was an group of “Suffragettes” who wanted that the women have the right to vote .
 They believed in “DEEDS NOT WORDS”
 they held large marches in London, chained themselves to railings, broke windows, hit and spit at policemen.
 Women aged 30 and over would gain the vote in 1918.

• The appearance of popular newspapers was one of the most striking social changes of this period.
• Universal education had created a reading public which could not afford to buy papers like ''the times'' and the ''daily telegraph'', and which did not have sufficient knowledge of or interest in politics to appreciate the long reports of parliamentary debates to be found in traditional newspapers.
• “Daily mail” was launched in 1896. =>This paper differed from all other dailies because :
 it cost only a halfpenny ,
 the articles were short ,
 the vocabulary simple and the layout attractive.

• The transport change during the age because ; in London the underground railway was electrified and considerably extended after 1905, with the result that working class people were able to live in new estates on the edges of the town and could be transported cheaply to work in the city centre.

• The Edwardian age still relied mainly on the horse and for long distances, on the railway.
Britain and World War i
George V
• When Edward VII died in 1910 his young son became king in Westminster Abbey in 1911 until 1936.
• During his reign was the World War I ,which broke out in 1914.
• Europe was divided into two rival camps:
 The Triple alliance of Germany, Austria, Italy
 The Triple entente between Britain, France , Russia

• The war broke out because :
 Russia and Austria was in conflict over the Slavic state of Slovenia
 And the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914.

• Russia was forced to defend Serbia ,while Germany take the part of Austro –Hungarian empire.
• Britain declared war to Germany in august 1914 because this marched through Belgium (neutral territory) in order to attack France and the nation told that it would defend
 The weak (Belgium) against the strong Germany
 Fighting for democracy and freedom

• In Britain there was great patriotic enthusiasm for the war because
 Many people thought it was right
 And because had romantic ideas that it would be a heroic adventure
• The government was able in persuading men to join up with the help (by using)
 Propaganda (posters ,speeches newspaper advertisement )
 and encouraging men from the same area or factory to form " Pals Battalions" =>was a group of men of the same area.
• In 1915 many men were killed in the war and so that more recruits were needed
 so the government introduced conscription for all men aged 18-41

• Women replaced men in their civilian jobs with competence and reliability , thus effectively contributing to bring about women's suffrage

• The Germans expected a brief conflict and they nearly defeated the allies in the first few weeks of war in 1914, since
 it had better equipment,
 better trained soldiers and clear plan of attack
• French stop the Germans in the Battle of the Marne .
• In December 1914 ,the war stopped to be a war of movement.
• Trench warfare :
 Was military stalemate strategy widely used in Europe during WWI (1914-1918)
 Both sides built a huge line of trenches on the Western front from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border with France.
 Became the main method of fighting for the next four years.
• Huge numbers of men were killed by : machine guns, barbed wire , gas and shells.
• Shell shock
 is the reaction of some surviving soldiers in World War I to the trauma of the battle and they suffered from various forms of obsession in which
 the terror, anguish and the immobility of combat led to a variety of physical and emotional symptoms.
• SEA
 Was the most important front because
 turned out to be vital for the outcome of the war.
 Britain received supplies from the USA but Germans used they submarines, the “U-boats “ to sink the merchant ships carrying these supplies.
• The US declaration of war on Germany in 1917 was made following the sinking of the British passenger liner Lusitania.
 The Allies received fresh troops and large supplies of munitions.
 They blockaded Germany causing a shortage of food that led the country to ask for an armistice.

• The world war I end on 11 November 1918 and the peace treaty was signed at Versailles in 1919 by
 the British prime minister Lloyd George ,

 Georges Clemenceau of France ,
 the American president Woodrow Wilson who proposed fourteen points to work out the peace treaty and prevent future wars.
 The League Of Nations is an organization in which the representatives of the world's nations would try to discuss and settle their differences instead of resorting to war.
 The American senate voted against permanent involvement in European problems, and the United States never joined The League Of Nations.
 and Vittorio emanuele Orlando of Italy


The Twenties and the Thirties

• During the war the Irish volunteers had organizes a rebellion on Easter Morning 1916 and inspired Yeats’s poem Easter 1916, and proclaimed an Irish republic.
 The rebellion was crushed but it became a legendary symbol of Irish heroism in the face of oppression , especially when the British executed the leaders of the movement.
• The Irish volunteers became in 1919 the IRA (Irish Republican Army )and prepared for civil war, which began during Easter 1920.

• In the 1918 election the Sinn Fein party (Irish name meaning :” ourselves alone”) won nearly all the seats except in Ulster , but instead of going to Westminster, they set up an Irish parliament in Dublin , the Dail , and once more proclaimed an Irish republic.

• In 1921 the Irish free state was established under the leadership of Eamon de Valera (1882-1975) as a dominion of the empire ,
 while the six predominantly protestant counties of Ulster remained part of united kingdom with their own parliament in Belfast.
 The original proclamation of the republic of Ireland took place in 1949.

• After World War I
 The Labour party rose rapidly
 The Trade Unions became more active in trying to get better pay and conditions by holding striker.
The General Strike of 1926 was achieved because of disputes during the 1920s between :
o the coal miners and the mine owners.
o The families of coal miners, shipbuilders, and cotton workers experienced prolonged periods of hardship, and areas in the north of England, south Wales , and central Scotland became depressed.
• The unemployed spent their time
 longing at street corners,
 waiting in the dole queues for food,
 huddling for warmth in the reading- room of the public library.

• In all over Europe and America was a serious crisis, known as the ' depression'.

During the II half of the decade
 the economy recovered somewhat , mostly because of the impending war against Germany, which was rapidly gaining control of Europe.
 In 1936 Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940) ,leader of the Conservative Party became Prime Minister ,was one of crisis
 with the abdication of king Edward VIII .When king Edward announced his intention to marry a divorced American women, he met the opposition of all parties. And for this he abdicated and was succeeded by his brother George VI (1936-52)
 and the outbreak of the Spanish civil war.
 Spanish civil war dragged on until April 1939, and was won by the rebel General Francisco Franco with the assistance of Mussolini and Hitler.


• The anti-fascist international brigade is composed by
 the left-wing movements in Britain which supported the Spanish republican government
 and many committed intellectuals like Auden, Orwell and the American Hemingway

• An important change in the British population was
 The drift from North to South due to the decline of heavy industry.
 Fewer people lived in the centers of town; professionals moved out to suburbs, and many working-class families went to live in new council housing estates on the edges of town.
• Newspapers
 were supplemented in the 1920s by the development of radio broadcasting.
 the government granted a monopoly to the British broadcasting company, which became the British broadcasting corporation in 1926.

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