Charles Dickens di Elisa Armellino


The Victorian Age [E2] [E3] [I1] [F1] encompasses the years from 1837 to 1901. In the first part of XIX century, Britain had become more powerful in the international context.

This period is normally called “Victorian” because it corresponds with the reign of queen Victoria [S1] [I1] [F2], who was very loved by her people. She was able to become the very symbol of Britain and of the glorious years of British colonialism [F1] [I1] [S1].

However, the Parliament, too, was very powerful at the time and a system of parliamentary democracy was constructed which assured stability and cohesion in English society.

The Victorian also marked the rapid development of Industrialism and the growth of factories all over the country, though mainly in urban contexts.

The more succesful sectors of economy were linked to machine tool production, to cotton and wool industries and to heavy engineering. British trade was, in those years, the most powerful of the world.

In addition, many territories outside the boundaries of Europe became British colonies, providing new territories which allowed Britain to find new markets and new supplies of material for factories and industries.

Some of the territories which went under British dominion were Australia, New Zealand, Canada, New Guinea, Sudan, Burma, Uganda, Kenya. India became one of the greates symbols of the Empire and queen Victoria was declared Empress of India in 1876.

The Victorian Age was also a period of important social and political reforms, which affected people’s daily lives in several ways. A cheap postal system was introduced for the first time, education became compulsory up to the age of 13, though it was still not free.

A Health Commission was established to improve the quality of health services and a greater number of people could vote thanks to the Second Reform Bill of 1867. Women, however, were still excluded.

Despite all these social improvements, the lowest ranks of society still lived in very poor conditions. Slums in the cities were full of poor families and the level of deliquency was quite high. Many children were obliged to work in factories and manufactories.

However, Britain was seen from the outside as the country of progress and success. The Great Exhibition [F1] [S1] (May 1851, London) showed to millions of people from all over the world all the artistic and industrial achievements of British culture and society.

Only a few movements of dissent were heard at the time. One of them was Chartism [S1] [F1] [S2], which asked for the right of vote for all men. Though it never achieved this goal, it succeeded in stirring the consciousness of working classes and encouraged them to get involved in politics.

In the second half of XIX century, a very big strike was supported by the Trade Union Congress in favour of thousands of workers who protested against their worsened working conditions during recession. This also brought to the birth of the Independent Labour Party.

Slowly, in the years following the Irish famine (1845), the Victorian period – with all its splendours and stability – draw to a close and a totally different age of turmoil began.



    Nessuna voce inserita

Inserisci approfondimento/commento

Indice percorso Edita Roberto Trinchero