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The definition "Edwardian era" derives from the name of Queen Victoria's son, Edward, who succeeded to the throne when his mother died in 1901. The period of his reign was one of relative calm and a period of social reform started in the field of education and welfare. This period was considered an idyllic era of peace and prosperity.
After the death of Edward VII, George V ascended the throne: in his reign all the turmoil came to the surface. The reforms carried out in the preceding years led to an increase in taxation and conflict in parliament ending with a Parliament Act which deprived the House of Lords of the veto power over financial matters. Trade Unionism started to develop: there were seen violent clashes between capital and labor, and the police and the army were used against strikers.
The suffragette movement, founded in 1903 by Mrs Pankhurst and her daughter, gathered force and used militant and violent tactics. In 1918 they obtained the right to vote for women over 30 and in 1928 the suffrage was granted to women over 21. In Ireland, support for Home Rule, that is, the right of the people to control their own affairs, had grown the late 19th century. Southern Catholics wanted an independent republic of Ireland, wholly separated from Britain, this was opposed by the Unionist in the north and by the conservative party. This contrast claim gave rise to a rebellion which was crushed, but the problem wasn't solved as the IRA (Irish Republican Army) resorted to terrorist tactics.

This historical period was characterized by the first World War which gave the illusion that the Irish question problems could be solved peacefully. War had a bad impact on the British population: many young men died. The political settlement resolving how the Treaty of Versailles at the end of First World War, was unsatisfactory for all European countries involved in it because it left too many problems unresolved. After this war Britain had to face another war with the Irish Republican Army which ended with a treaty that created the Irish Free State in 1921 but kept Ulster under British rule. This was followed by a bitter civil war.
There were also problems in the Empire. The colonies claimed their independence and Ireland declared itself autonomous but united by a common allegiance to the crown and associated to the British Commonwealth of Nations. In India Gandhi started a non-violent protest against Britain. The economic difficulties created a fertile climate for the rise of totalitarianism: Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and Franco in Spain. In Britain there was democracy. The Second World War was fought to defend democracy against totalitarianism.

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