When Was The Victorian Era?
The Victorian era is the period in the history of the United Kingdom that begins and ends with Queen Victoria’s reign in the country. It thus starts from June 20, 1837, when Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom and ends on January 22, 1901, the date of the Queen’s death. The Victorian era was preceded by the Georgian period (1714 to 1830) that was characterized by the rule of the first four Hanoverian kings who were all named George. The Edwardian period (1901 to 1910) succeeded the Victorian era and covered the rule of King Edward VII.
Although the Victorian era is considered to have started from the date of Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne, according to a section of scholars, the beginning of the Victorian era could be extended to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.
The Victorian era is marked with great changes in the history of the UK that was to impact and influence the political, economic, religious, and cultural scene in the rest of the world for years to come. The British Empire became the largest empire in history during this era. A global imperial expansion mission launched by Britain led to the colonization of large parts of Africa and Asia and a consolidation of formerly existing British colonies.
The Victorian era also overlaps with Pax Britannica (Latin for "British Peace”), a period of relative peace in Europe where the British Empire played the role of a global hegemonic power. The Royal Navy’s supremacy prevailed and helped maintain peace among the great powers.
The latter half of the Victorian era also overlapped with the Belle Époque or the "Beautiful Era” in Europe. This era extended from 1871 to 1914 and was characterized by regional peace and economic prosperity. Great advances were made in the technological, cultural, and scientific fields.
Changes In The Demographics Of The UK During The Victorian Era
The Victorian era witnessed a dramatic increase in Britain’s population which soared from 13.9 million in 1831 to 32.5 million in 1901. The fast pace of industrial growth is believed to have increased the standards of living in the country leading to the creation of an environment that encouraged high population growth. The increased prosperity also boosted fertility rates in the country which increased every decade until the end of the Victorian era. Mortality rates also decreased during the Victorian era due to improved environmental and health standards. No catastrophic famines or epidemics were recorded in the UK during this period.
Religion In The Victorian Era
Religion dominated every aspect of the life of the people in the Victorian era. Doctrinal disputes within Christianity and the debate between science and religion were the talks of the day. Although the Church of England remained dominant throughout the era, other denominations of Christianity also flourished during this time. Church attendance was high during this time. There was a great increase in foreign missionary activity and Christianity was preached in all the colonies of the British Empire. A general belief prevailed in the Victorian society that it was the duty of Britain to Christianize and civilize the world. This belief gave birth to the attitudes of religious and cultural superiority among the British and racist attitudes also developed.
Industry, Science, And Technology In The Victorian Era
The period between 1850 and 1870 or the mid-Victorian era has been referred to as the "Golden Years” by historians. Social stability and peace abroad allowed rapid industrialization in England. A positive environment and a spirit of libertarianism prevailed in the country, and employers ensured the welfare of their employees. The low taxes and low levels of government restrictions allowed entrepreneurs to establish flourishing start-ups. Britain became the world leader in advanced engineering and technology. Infrastructural facilities were expanded and established throughout the country that facilitated industry and trade. The shipping industry produced massive steam ships including both luxury liners and cargo ships. The development of the railway system greatly eased the transport of goods and people. The first postage stamp was invented during this time which standardized the postage price. Hand-held cameras became available since 1889. Many other innovations were realized during the Victorian era.
Victorian Era Society
The human society in the UK underwent some dramatic changes in the Victorian era. Rapid urbanization followed the industrial developments in the country. As cities in the country grew in size, infrastructural inadequacies came to light. A result of this was the development of slums where people lived in miserable conditions. Although the economy of the country flourished, the people in the slum areas lived in impoverished conditions. The early part of the Victorian era was notorious for child labor. Children were used as cheap labor in factories, mines, and as chimneysweeps. However, the scenario gradually started to change in the latter half of the period with the implementation of laws related to child welfare.
The standards of morality were also very high in the Victorian era England. Co-inhabitation without marriage and births out of wedlock were rare in the society. Prostitution was regarded as the "The Great Social Evil” and attempts were made to reform the prostitutes.
Legacy Of The Victorian Era
The Victorian era left behind a legacy that was to influence the human society in the UK and in many other parts of the world for the years to come. The technological and scientific advances made during this time enriched the future lives of the human civilization. The focus on morality and public duty took deep root and were to influence the actions of future governments in many parts of the world. The ideals and practices of the Victorian era were not limited to England alone but was prevalent in the British colonies across the world. Thus, a common global culture began to develop for the first time. People in different parts of the world could now identify themselves as co-citizens inhabiting an interdependent world. Although the Victorians did exploit the natives in their colonies to some extent, their rule also helped foster unity among the natives. The new scientific and technological knowledge generated in Britain during the Victorian era was also transmitted to other cultures of the world. Thus, the Victorian era was an important phase in both the history of the UK and the entire world.
About the Author
Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.
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