From Edward VII to World War I
In 1901 Queen Victoria died, but Victorian attitudes and conventions were only gradually abandoned. The new King Edward VII did not change political scene till the general elections of 1906. In that period, some legislative measures and social improvements were passed:
- The introduction of a medical service in schools (1907).
- The invalid and old age pension Act (1908) that granted pensions to people over 70.
- The coal mines regulation Act (1908) that introduced the eight-hour working day.
- The national insurance Act (1911) that granted free medical treatment to insured workers.
These measures influenced profoundly a society marked by industrial unrest, strikes and violence.
Violence came also from women. Since 1860, a few educated ladies were in favor of voting rights for women. But in 1903, Mrs Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst founded the “Women’s social and political union”. The “suffragettes” used violence, es. breaking windows, and public opinion was better disposed to them before these militant campaigns. The foreign policy of “splendid isolation” ended. Europe was divided into two blocks: the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria and Italy, and the Triple Entente of Britain, Russia and France. The first world war broke out in 1914, when the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. Russia defended Serbia against Austro-Hungarian Empire.