Britain & Ireland

What was it about industrialisation that led to the emergence of a woman’s movement in Victorian Britain? Why do we see so many people fighting for so many rights and liberties in this period and what are the origins of some of the issues we still campaign on today? This section includes our major series on Social and Political Change in the UK from 1800 to the present day. There are also articles and podcasts on the often violent relationship between England and Ireland during this period and England’s changing relationship with Scotland and Wales. Read more

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  • The price of reform: the people's budget and the present trauma

    Article

    When Lloyd George succeeded Asquith as Chancellor of the Exchequer in April 1908, his first task was to introduce the old age pensions Asquith had initiated. His second was to prove even more momentous. On 29 April 1909 he presented what has become known as "The People's Budget". The task...

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  • The shortest war in history: The Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896

    Article

    At 9am on 27 August 1896, following an ultimatum, five ships of the Royal Navy began a bombardment of the Royal Palace and Harem in Zanzibar. Thirty-eight, or 40, or 43 minutes later, depending on which source you believe, the bombardment stopped when the white flag of surrender was raised...

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  • The snobbery of chronology: In defence of the generals on the Western Front

    Article

    Faced with the testimony of the huge casualty lists of the First World War, the desperate battles of attrition, the emotive evidence of the seemingly endless cemeteries and memorials, the moving war poetry of men such as Owen and Sassoon, and the memoirs of those who fought, it is not...

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  • The world in 1913: friendly societies

    Article

    Friendly societies were designed to help members to cope with the illness, death or unemployment of a household's breadwinner. Each month members, mostly men, paid into the society, often at a meeting in a pub and in return payments from the pooled funds were made to ill members and to...

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  • Thomas Muir and the 'Scottish Martyrs' of the 1790s

    Article

    From the 1750s, after more than a century of intense political and religious disputes and of economic stagnation, Scotland began to enjoy several decades of almost unprecedented political stability, religious harmony, economic growth and cultural achievements. Jacobitism had been crushed and most propertied and influential Scots rallied to the Hanoverian...

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  • Tony Blair, the Iraq War, and a sense of history

    Article

    Blair the war leader provided historians with countless opportunities to get their names in the newspapers, let alone voice their opinions across the airwaves. The usual suspects were lined up (Eric Hobsbawm and Ben Pimlott in the Guardian, Andrew Roberts and John Keegan in the Telegraph, Niall Ferguson in The...

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  • Towards Reform in 1809

    Article

    Two hundred years ago it must have seemed to some as if the time for political and economic reform in Britain had arrived. A number of the necessary conditions appeared to be in place:recent examples from America and France showing how readily and rapidly established systems could be overturnedseveral instances...

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  • Twickenham as a Patriotic Town

    Article

    Twickenham from the 1890s onwards grew as a town with a special sense of history. Nobody in authority on the local council could quite forget the reputation which the district had acquired as a rural arcadia. The aristocrats and gentry who built villas in the parish in the late 17th...

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  • Two Babies That Could Have Changed World History

    Article

    'At last have made wonderful discovery in Valley; a magnificent tomb with seals intact; re-covered same for your arrival. Congratulations.’ This telegram was sent from Luxor on the 6th November 1922 by Howard Carter to his coarchaeologist Lord Carnarvon in Britain. It started the Tut·ankh·Amen story which led to a...

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  • War Plan Red: the American Plan for war with Britain

    Article

    John Major discusses an astonishing aspect of past Anglo-American history. All great powers have developed contingency plans for war with each other, and the United States in the early twentieth century was no exception. Each of Washington’s schemes was given a distinctive colour. Green mapped out intervention in neighbouring Mexico,...

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  • Waterloo's prizefight factor

    Article

    Image: 'Pierce Egan celebrates the Boxiana touch as Napoleon is floored' David Snowdon examines the impact of the world of ‘pugilism' on the army during the Napoleonic Wars and looks at some famous boxers who perished in the battle. By 1815, one writer, and one sporting publication, had become synonymous with...

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  • Wellington's Soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars

    Article

    Wellington's Soldiers in the Napoleonic WarsThe war with France, which began in 1793, had moved to the Iberian Peninsula by 1808. This year is therefore the two-hundredth anniversary of the commencement of the Peninsular War campaigns. War on the Peninsula demanded huge resources of manpower in order to defeat Napoleon....

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  • What did you do in The Great War? A family mystery explored

    Article

    Research into family history is well-known as likely to dig up some uncomfortable evidence. Nearly every family has had its bastards; nearly every generation has had someone on poor relief. We had both. But more troubling was my recent suspicion that a hundred or so years ago not one but two...

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  • What's New About New Labour?

    Article

    In the 1980s it was often argued that the Labour party was finished as a major force in British politics. Yet on 1st May 1997 it won a landslide victory, securing an overall majority of 179 in parliament. Two years into its term of office, it retains a strong lead...

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  • Why the OBE survived the Empire

    Article

    An anomaly of the British honours system is the name of the award most frequently given - the Order of the British Empire created in 1917. Each medal carries the words: ‘For God and the Empire'. When the connection between the person honoured and the church is often very tenuous...

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  • William Morris, Art and the Rise of the British Labour Movement

    Article

    Commenting in early 1934 at the University College, Hull, at the time of the centenary of William Morris’ birth and of a large exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the historian and active socialist, G.D.H. Cole commented, William Morris’ influence is very much alive today: but let us not...

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  • William Stubbs

    Article

    William Stubbs was among the earliest, and is still one of the greatest of the academical English historians. His life (1825-1901) fell in a period that produced a notable succession of distinguished historians in England. He was the first of them to do his historical work as a resident teacher...

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  • William Vernon Harcourt

    Article

    2004 marks the centenary of the death of Sir William Vernon Harcourt, on 30 September 1904, and this provides an opportunity to consider the extent to which Harcourt's beliefs and political attitudes are still relevant today. Although he is now almost forgotten Harcourt was regarded as a major figure in...

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  • Women and Gender in the French Wars

    Podcast

    In this podcast Dr Louise Carter critically examines the role of women in Britain during the French Revolution. During these wars, women were typically called on for army cooking, laundry, nursing and spying, and as such were considered part of the war machine. While women in the French wars accounted for...

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  • Women and the Politics of the Parish in England

    Article

    Petticoat Politicians: Women and the Politics of the Parish in EnglandThe history of women voting in Britain is familiar to many. 2013 marked the centenary of the zenith of the militant female suffrage movement, culminating in the tragic death of Emily Wilding Davison, crushed by the King's horse at the...

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