8 Key Developments Under Queen Victoria

8 Key Developments Under Queen Victoria



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The Inaugration of the Great Exhibition (1851) by David Roberts. Image credit: Royal Collection / CC.

The Victorian age is measured by the life and reign of Queen Victoria, who was born on 24 May 1819 and would oversee a period on unparalleled magnificence and colour in British history, guided by the good sense (most of the time) and stability of her rule. Her death in 1901 ushered in a new century and a darker, more uncertain age. So what were some of the key developments at home and abroad during this reign?

1. Abolition of Slavery

Whilst technically slavery was abolished prior to Victoria’s reign, the end of ‘apprenticeships’ and the start of true emancipation only came into force in 1838. Subsequent acts passed in 1843 and 1873 continued to outlaw practices associated with slavery, although the Slave Compensation Act ensured that slave owners continued to profit from slavery. The debt was only paid off by the government in 2015.

2. Mass urbanisation

The population of the United Kingdom grew by more than double during the course of Victoria’s reign, and society was transformed through the Industrial Revolution. The economy moved from a primarily rural, agricultural based one to an urban, industrialised one. Working conditions were poor, wages were low and hours were long: urban poverty and pollution proved to be one of the biggest blights of the era.

However, urban centres proved to be an attractive prospect for many people: they quickly became hubs for radical new political thought, the dissemination of ideas and social centres.

3. Rising living standards

By the end of Victoria’s reign, legislation was coming into force to improve living conditions for the very poorest in society. The Factory Act of 1878 prohibited work before the age of 10 and applied to all trades, whilst the Education Act of 1880 introduced compulsory schooling until the age of 10.

Reports on the full extent of poverty, as well as a greater understanding of its causes were also being published towards the end of the 19th century, including Seebohm Rowntree’s investigation into poverty in York and Charles Booth’s ‘poverty line’ in London.

The Boer War (1899-1902) further highlighted the issues poor living standards as large numbers of young men who enlisted failed to pass basic medical inspections. David Lloyd George’s Liberal party won a landslide victory in 1906, promising

4. The British Empire reached its zenith

Famously the sun never set on the British Empire under Victoria: Britain ruled around 400 million people, nearly 25% of the world’s population at the time. India became a particularly important (and financially lucrative) asset, and for the first time, the British monarch was crowned Empress of India.

British expansion in Africa also took off: the age of exploration, colonisation and conquest was in full force. The 1880s saw the ‘Scramble for Africa’: European powers carved up the continent using arbitrary and artificial lines to allow for competing interests and colonial interests.

White colonies also gained more self-determination, with Canada, Australia and New Zealand being granted dominion status by the late 19th century, which effectively allowed them some level of self-determination.

5. Modern medicine

With urbanisation came disease: cramped living quarters saw diseases spread like wildfire. At the start of Victoria’s reign, medicine remained somewhat rudimentary: the rich were often no better off in the hands of doctors than the poor. The Public Health Act (1848) established a central board of health, and further breakthroughs in the 1850s established dirty water as a cause of cholera, as well as the use of carbolic acid as an antiseptic.

Victoria herself used chloroform as a means of pain relief during the birth of her sixth child. Advances in medicine and surgery proved hugely beneficial at all levels of society, and life expectancy was on the up by the end of her reign.

Dr Emma Liggins is an expert on Victorian Gothic literature. She joined Dan on the pod to examine how great female writers of the 19th century - such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Brontes - responded to the impact of fatal diseases on their home lives.

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6. Extending the franchise

Whilst suffrage was far from universal by the start of the 20th century, over 60% of men had the right to vote, as opposed to 20%, which was the case when Victoria became queen in 1837. The 1872 Ballot Act allowed for parliamentary election ballots to be cast in secret, which greatly reduced external influences or pressures affecting voting habits.

Unlike many other European counterparts, Britain managed to extend the franchise gradually and without revolution: she remained politically stable throughout the 20th century as a result.

7. Redefining the monarch

The monarchy’s image was badly tarnished when Victoria inherited the throne. Known for extravagance, loose morals and infighting, the Royal Family needed to change its image. The 18 year old Victoria proved to be a breath of fresh air: 400,000 people lined the streets of London on her coronation day in the hope of catching a glimpse of the new queen.

Victoria and her husband Albert created a much more visible monarchy, becoming patrons of dozens of charities and societies, sitting for photographs, visiting towns and cities and presenting awards themselves. They cultivated the image of a happy family and domestic bliss: the couple appeared to be very much in love and produced nine children. Victoria’s long period of mourning following Albert’s death became a source of frustration to money, but attested to her devotion to her husband.

8. Leisure time and popular culture

Leisure time did not exist for the vast majority of the population prior to urbanisation: agricultural work was physically demanding, and sparsely populated land left little to do for fun outside of working hours (assuming of course there was sufficient light to do so). The rise of new technologies like oil and gas lamps, combined with higher wages, limits on working hours and large numbers of people close together fuelled a rise in leisure activities.

Museums, exhibitions, zoos, theatres, seaside trips and football matches all became popular ways to enjoy leisure time for many, rather than just the elites. An increasingly literate population saw a boom in newspaper and book production, and whole new economies, like those of department stores as well as cheap books, theatres, and shops began to spring up: some proved, like the Great Exhibition of 1851, proved to be an excellent political and propaganda opportunity, museums proved a chance to enlighten and educate the masses, whilst penny dreadfuls proved popular (and lucrative) amongst the masses.

A recent study published in the science journal Nature tracked the emotional tone of books and newspapers over the past 200 years and suggested that the British were happier in the 19th century. We got Hannah Woods on the pod pronto to talk us through the reality of life in the 19th century.

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Victoria

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Victoria, in full Alexandrina Victoria, (born May 24, 1819, Kensington Palace, London, England—died January 22, 1901, Osborne, near Cowes, Isle of Wight), queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1837–1901) and empress of India (1876–1901). She was the last of the house of Hanover and gave her name to an era, the Victorian Age. During her reign the British monarchy took on its modern ceremonial character. She and her husband, Prince Consort Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, had nine children, through whose marriages were descended many of the royal families of Europe.

Why is Victoria famous?

Victoria was queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1837–1901) and empress of India (1876–1901). Her reign was one of the longest in British history, and the Victorian Age was named after her.

What was Victoria’s childhood like?

Victoria’s father died when she was a baby. She was raised by her mother at Kensington Palace and had a lonely childhood until she became queen at the age of 18.

When did Victoria marry?

Victoria married her first cousin Albert, prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, on February 10, 1840.

What were Victoria’s children’s names?

Victoria had nine children: Victoria (1840–1901), the princess royal Albert Edward (1841–1910), who became King Edward VII Alice (1843–78) Alfred (1844–1900) Helena (1846–1923) Louise (1848–1939) Arthur (1850–1942) Leopold (1853–84) and Beatrice (1857–1944). Through their marriages, many of the royal families of Europe were descended from Victoria.

Victoria first learned of her future role as a young princess during a history lesson when she was 10 years old. Almost four decades later Victoria’s governess recalled that the future queen reacted to the discovery by declaring, “I will be good.” This combination of earnestness and egotism marked Victoria as a child of the age that bears her name. The queen, however, rejected important Victorian values and developments. Although she hated pregnancy and childbirth, detested babies, and was uncomfortable in the presence of children, Victoria reigned in a society that idealized both motherhood and the family. She had no interest in social issues, yet the 19th century in Britain was an age of reform. She resisted technological change even while mechanical and technological innovations reshaped the face of European civilization.

Most significantly, Victoria was a queen determined to retain political power, yet unwillingly and unwittingly she presided over the transformation of the sovereign’s political role into a ceremonial one and thus preserved the British monarchy. When Victoria became queen, the political role of the crown was by no means clear nor was the permanence of the throne itself. When she died and her son Edward VII moved from Marlborough House to Buckingham Palace, the change was one of social rather than of political focus there was no doubt about the monarchy’s continuance. That was the measure of her reign.


Great pioneers

Isambard Kingdom Brunel © The designer of the Great Western was the brilliant young engineer of the Great Western Railway, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who had persuaded his directors that a transatlantic shipping line was the natural way to expand the services offered by their railway. Brunel's response to the challenge posed by his rivals was to design a bigger and better ship. In July 1839, the keel was laid in Bristol for a new 3270 ton iron super ship. Designed for speed and comfort, this was to be the most revolutionary steamship of the early Victorian period. Equipped with cabins and state rooms for 360 passengers and the largest and most lavish dining room afloat, and the first large ship to be screw-driven, the Great Britain set the standard for large liners for many decades to come. By 1853 the Great Britain, refitted to accommodate up to 630 passengers, was operating an efficient London to Australia service and continued to do so for nearly twenty years.

The success of the Great Britain encouraged Brunel and his backers to create one more ship. In 1854 work started at Millwallon the Thames in east London on the building of the Great Eastern. Designed to carry 4000 passengers and enough coal to sail to Australia without refuelling en route, the ship was 693 feet long, 120 feet wide and weighed over 18,900 tons. Nothing on this scale had ever been considered before, and when she was finally broken up in 1888, the Great Eastern was still the largest ship in the world. The records of scale set by the Great Eastern were only finally broken by the super liners of the Edwardian era, the Lusitania of 1907, the Titanic of 1912 and the Imperator of 1913. On the Great Eastern's maiden voyage in June 1860 the ship carried only 38 paying passengers.

Scale and technical virtuosity were not enough and the smaller, simpler and faster ships of Samuel Cunard captured the traffic.

This became a pattern and the ship never sailed with all berths filled. Scale and technical virtuosity were not enough and the smaller, simpler and faster ships of Samuel Cunard captured the traffic. Increasingly a white elephant, the Great Eastern came out of passenger service in 1863 and was chartered by the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company to lay telegraph cables across the Atlantic and from India to Aden, a task for which her huge size and powerful engines made her eminently suitable.

From an early date the British government realised that the successful operation and maintenance of an expanding trade empire depended upon fast, regular and reliable steamship services, supported by coaling and supply stations scattered all over the world. The primary function of the Royal Navy in Victorian Britain was the protection of these trade routes and their supply bases. As a result, the government sponsored the development and maintenance of the routes and, increasingly, the cost of building the ships. In 1840 the Peninsular Company became the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, with government contracts to operate services to Egypt, South Africa, India, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. In the process, as the Cunard name was becoming synonymous with the Atlantic so P&O developed its long term association with routes east of Suez.


4. Queen Victoria was the first known carrier of hemophilia, an affliction that would become known as the “Royal disease.”

Hemophilia, a blood clotting disorder caused by a mutation on the X chromosome, can be passed along the maternal line within families men are more likely to develop it, while women are usually carriers. Sufferers can bleed excessively, since their blood does not properly coagulate, leading to extreme pain and even death. Victoria’s son Leopold, Duke of Albany, died from blood loss after he slipped and fell her grandson Friedrich bled to death at age 2, while two other grandsons, Leopold and Maurice, died of the affliction in their early 30s. As Victoria’s descendants married into royal families throughout the Europe, the disease spread from Britain to the nobility of Germany, Russia and Spain. Recent research involving DNA analysis on the bones of the last Russian royal family, the Romanovs (who were executed in 1918 after the Bolshevik Revolution) revealed that Victoria’s descendants suffered from a subtype of the disorder, hemophilia B, which is far less common than hemophilia A and now appears to be extinct in the European royal lines.


Queen Victoria Timeline

1819 - Victoria, daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield, is born at Kensington Palace on May 24th.


1837 - On June 20th, Victoria, at age 18, becomes Queen of England, succeeding her uncle William IV.


1837 - Prince Albert writes a letter to his cousin, the Queen of England.


1838 - Victoria is crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 28th.


1840 - Marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on February 10th.


1840 - Princess Victoria is born - first child.


1841 - Prince Albert Edward Wettin is born - second child and future King of England.


1842 - Attempted assassination of Queen Victoria.


1843 - Princess Alice Maude Mary is born - third child.


1844 - Prince Alfred Ernest Albert is born - fourth child.


1846 - Princess Helena Augusta Victoria is born - fifth child.


1848 - Princess Louise Caroline Alberta is born - sixth child.


1850 - Prince Arthur William Patrick is born - seventh child.


1851 - Great Exhibition opens in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park.


1853 - Prince Leopold George Duncan is born - eighth child.

1857 - Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria is born - ninth child.


1857 - Parliament gives Albert the title of Prince Consort.


1861 - Prince Albert dies of typhoid fever at age 42.


1863 - Edward, Prince of Wales, marries Alexandra of Denmark.


1877 - Victoria becomes Empress of India.


1887 - Queen Victoria celebrates her Golden Jubilee, 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne.


1897 - Queen Victoria celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

1901 - The death of Queen Victoria at Osborne House, Isle of Wight on January 22nd. She was 81.


What Did Queen Victoria Do That Was Important?

Queen Victoria established the modern role of a monarch in a constitutional monarchy and exerted her influence to promote the British Empire's expansion and reforms benefiting the poor, according to the website of The British Monarchy. During her 67-year reign of Britain, the Empire experienced immense social, political and industrial change. Her longevity, combined with her grace and reclusive nature, led to her becoming a national icon of moral strictness.

Queen Victoria ruled during a time when the British monarch held little real political power. Nevertheless, she used her title and personality to influence public affairs as she saw fit. The effects of her behind-the-scenes politicking were observable in foreign policy. Victoria successfully pressed her ministers to avoid involving the nation in the Prussia-Austria-Denmark War, thereby saving Britain from the costs of massive military engagement. According to the official website of The British Monarchy, Victoria prevented a Franco-German war in 1875 by writing a persuasive letter to the Emperor of Germany, whose son had married her daughter.

Through a personal relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria indirectly shaped the foreign policy that made Britain a world empire. During her reign, the Crown took over rule of India from the East India Company the Royal Titles Act made Victoria Empress of India.

Victoria also supported a number of acts that democratized the country, including the establishment of the secret ballot, easing of voting requirements and enacting of wage increases for the working class.


Your guide to Queen Victoria and a timeline of her life – plus 16 fascinating facts

One of history's most iconic monarchs, Queen Victoria (1819-1901) ruled for more than 60 years. She was empress of the world's largest ever empire, and her name denotes an entire era of British history. Here, we bring you a guide to her life, plus 16 facts…

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Published: January 6, 2021 at 3:20 pm

At the time of her birth, Victoria was never expected to be queen. Yet upon the death of her uncle, King William IV, she succeeded him at the age of 18. She is remembered for her reign that spanned more than six decades, overseeing the expansion of the British empire for almost 64 years. Here are facts you need to know about the diminutive monarch – from her famed love and mourning for her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, to the many attempts on her life…

Queen Victoria: a biography

Born: 24 May 1819 at Kensington Palace, London (born Alexandrina Victoria) | Read more about her childhood

Died: 22 January 1901, aged 81 | Read more about her final days and death

Preceded by: King William IV, her uncle | Read more about her unusual succession

Reigned: 1837–1901

Parents: Edward (King George III’s fourth son) and Victoria, the Duke and Duchess of Kent

Spouse: Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha | Read more about their relationship

Children: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had nine children, five daughters and four sons. The eldest was Princess Victoria (b1840) and the youngest was Princess Beatrice (b1857) | Read more about Victoria’s children

Cause of death: Victoria died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight aged 81, after suffering a series of strokes

Succeeded by: Her eldest son, Edward VII (born Albert Edward) (1841–1910)

Victoria was born fifth in line to the throne

“Plump as a partridge… more of a pocket Hercules than a pocket Venus”, is how the Duke of Kent described his spirited newborn daughter Princess Victoria when she was born on 24 May 1819 at Kensington Palace.

Yet though she went on to become one of Britain’s most iconic monarchs, Victoria’s birth did not herald national celebration. As the daughter of King George III’s fourth son, at the time of her birth Victoria was only fifth in line to the throne. Expected to be just another minor royal relative who would end up married into a European royal family, Victoria’s arrival slipped under the radar somewhat. Few could have predicted that she would sit on the throne for more than 60 years. By the time Victoria reached her teens, however, the death of her father, his brothers and any other legitimate heirs left the young princess as King William IV’s closest surviving heir.

On 24 June 1819, the princess was christened in a low-key ceremony. Frustrated by his own inability to produce a surviving heir, Victoria’s uncle, the Prince Regent, only allowed a handful of people to attend. Also under the direction of her uncle, she was given the name ‘Alexandrina Victoria’. At the time, Victoria was far from a regal name – it was highly unusual and of French origin. When it became clear that Victoria would indeed accede to the throne, her name was seen to be completely inappropriate for a queen of England. She was advised to change it to something more traditional, but refused.

Queen Victoria had an unhappy childhood

Victoria spent her formative years at Kensington Palace. However, in many ways the palace proved a prison for the princess, and her childhood there was far from rosy.

Following her father’s death from pneumonia when she was just eight months old, Victoria’s early life was dominated by her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her ambitious adviser Sir John Conroy. Keen to establish himself as the power behind the throne in the event of a Regency (in which Victoria’s mother would rule with her if she acceded while still underage), Conroy sought to keep tight control of the princess. Both he and the Duchess had a hostile relationship with Victoria’s uncle, King William, and consequently kept Victoria isolated from the royal court, even preventing her from attending her uncle’s coronation.

The pair imposed a stifling code of discipline on the young Victoria, which came to be known as the ‘Kensington System’. Along with a strict timetable of lessons to improve her moral and intellectual rigor, this suffocating regime dictated that the princess spent hardly any time with other children and was under constant adult supervision. Right up until the time she became queen, Victoria was forced to share a bedroom with her mother. She was forbidden from ever being alone, or even walking down stairs without someone holding her hand.

Later in life, Victoria reflected that she “led a very unhappy life as a child… and did not know what a happy domestic life was”. She retained a deep-seated hatred of John Conroy for manipulating her mother and imposing such rigid rules on her, later describing him as “demon incarnate”.

Victoria was only 18 when she became queen

“I went into my sitting room (only in my dressing gown) alone and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at twelve minutes past two this morning and consequently that I was Queen.”

This is how Victoria recalled the moment that would change her life forever. At 6am on 20 June 1837, the young princess was woken from her bed to be informed that her uncle, King William IV, had died during the night. This meant that Victoria, who was only 18 at the time, was now queen of England.

Although it came as a shock, Victoria took the news extremely stoically. Despite her young age she remained calm and had no need for the smelling salts her governess had prepared for her. In her first meeting with her privy council just a few hours later, Victoria’s new ministers towered over her – at just 4ft 11, she had to be seated on a raised platform in order to be seen. What Victoria lacked in height, however, she made up for in determination, and she quickly made a favourable impression.

Victoria had turned 18 less than a month before acceding to the throne. This was a crucial milestone, as it meant that she was able to rule under her own steam, rather than alongside her mother in a regency. She began her new life by moving away from her childhood home at Kensington to Buckingham Palace, in part to escape from the controlling influence of Conroy and her mother. Her relationship with her mother remained strained and distant for many years and she limited Conroy’s influence at court. Just two years after Victoria took the throne, he resigned his post and left for Italy amid shame and scandal.

In June the following year, Victoria was crowned in a five-hour-long ceremony at Westminster Abbey followed by a royal banquet and fireworks. “I shall ever remember this day as the proudest of my life” she recorded in her diary.

Queen Victoria timeline: 9 milestones in the monarch’s life

24 May 1819 – Princess Victoria is born

20 June 1837 – The young princess becomes a queen

1839 – The Bedchamber crisis

10 February 1840 – Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

21 November 1840 – Victoria and Albert start a royal family

14 December 1861 – Prince Albert dies

20 June 1887 and 22 June 1897 – The nation celebrates Victoria’s golden and diamond jubilees

22 January 1901 – Queen Victoria dies

Queen Victoria proposed to Prince Albert

Though as a young woman she had many suitors, a key figure throughout Victoria’s life and reign was her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Victoria met the German prince at Kensington Palace when the pair were both just 17. The meeting of Victoria and Albert, who were also first cousins, had been masterminded by Victoria’s uncle, Leopold I of Belgium, who believed he could benefit politically from the match.

Yet despite the marriage brokering that had led the couple to meet, this was most definitely a love match. Victoria’s diary revealed that she found the young prince “extremely handsome”. She wrote, “his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth but the charm of his countenance is his expression, which is most delightful”. As royal tradition dictated that no one could propose to a reigning monarch, in October 1839 it was Victoria who proposed to Albert.

Victoria’s marriage was the first of a reigning queen of England in 286 years

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s wedding, which took place in St James’s Palace chapel on 10 February 1840, was the first marriage of a reigning queen of England since Mary I in 1554. Victoria wore an 18-foot-long train carried by 12 bridesmaids and kicked off a modern-day tradition by wearing white. Outside, the nation erupted into huge public celebration. Victoria recorded how she “never saw such crowds of people… they cheered most enthusiastically”. She reflected on the event as “ the happiest day of my life”.

Over the course of their 21-year marriage, Victoria and Albert had a passionate, if sometimes tempestuous, relationship. Although the couple had blazing arguments, Victoria clearly adored her husband, describing him in her diary as “perfection in every way … oh how I adore and love him”.

Queen Victoria had nine children… but she hated being pregnant

Just over nine months after their wedding, Victoria and Albert’s first child, Princess Victoria, was born at Buckingham Palace. The queen soon after recorded how “after a good many hours suffering, a perfect little child was born… but alas! A girl & not a boy, as we both had so hoped & wished for”. The royal couple’s wishes were granted less than a year later, however, when Victoria gave birth to a male heir: Edward, known by the family as Bertie. Victoria and Albert went on to have a total of nine children – four boys and five girls.

Surprisingly, Victoria hated being pregnant, and historians have suggested that she may have suffered from post-natal depression. She compared pregnancy to feeling like a cow and wrote that “an ugly baby is a very nasty object – and the prettiest is frightful when undressed”.

Many of Victoria’s children were married into the royal families of Europe, yet throughout her life she maintained a close, perhaps even suffocating, relationship with them. She had a notoriously fractious relationship with her eldest son, the charismatic yet quick-tempered Bertie.

The 1839 ‘Bedchamber Crisis’ got Queen Victoria into trouble

Victoria took the throne at a time when the monarch’s role was intended to be largely apolitical. Yet early in her reign, the inexperienced queen got into hot water for meddling in political matters, in an event termed ‘The Bedchamber Crisis’.

The first prime minister of Victoria’s reign was the Whig politician Lord Melbourne, with whom she enjoyed a remarkably close relationship. Melbourne held significant sway over the young queen, who appointed the majority of her ladies-in-waiting according to his advice.

In 1839, Melbourne resigned following several parliamentary defeats. Tory Robert Peel stepped forward to become prime minister, on one condition: he requested that Victoria dismiss some of her existing household – who largely held Whig sympathies and were loyal to Melbourne – and replace them with Tory ladies. As many of Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting were also her closest friends, she took offence at Peel’s request and refused.

The queen had already been criticised for her over-reliance on Lord Melbourne, and now she was widely condemned for being not just politically partisan, but unconstitutional. The tense situation was eventually defused by the ever-reasonable Prince Albert, who arranged for some of Victoria’s ladies to resign their posts voluntarily.

Queen Victoria spoke several languages

Perhaps in part due to her strict schooling under the ‘Kensington system’, Victoria proved herself to be a remarkably adept linguist. As well as being fluent in both English and German, she also spoke French, Italian and Latin.

As her mother and governess both hailed from Germany, Victoria grew up speaking the language and at one stage reportedly even had a German accent, which had to be erased by tutors. When she later married her German cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the couple regularly spoke German together. Although Albert was fluent in English, he and Victoria could often be heard talking – and indeed arguing – in German when in private.

Later in life, Victoria also experimented with some of the languages from across her vast empire. Following the arrival of Indian servants at Windsor Castle in August 1887, she was taught Hindustani and Urdu phrases by her favourite Indian attendant, Abdul Karim. The queen recorded in her diary: “I am learning a few words of Hindustani to speak to my servants. It is a great interest to me for both the language and the people, I have naturally never come into real contact with before”.

The queen’s relationship with her prime ministers wasn’t always easy

Over the course of the six decades she sat on the throne, Victoria saw many prime ministers come and go. Yet while she established a remarkably close bond with some, others failed spectacularly to win her favour.

Victoria’s first prime minister, Lord Melbourne, was keen to flatter, instruct and influence the young queen from the very beginning. The pair were so close that Victoria claimed to love him “like a father”. However, this intense friendship with ‘Lord M’ made the queen unpopular with many – she was criticised for being politically partisan and was even mockingly called her “Mrs Melbourne”. Later in her reign, Benjamin Disraeli similarly pulled out all the stops to win Victoria’s favour with charm and flattery. His tactics clearly worked, as the queen told her eldest daughter [also named Victoria] that he would “do very well” and was “full of poetry, romance and chivalry”.

Other ministers, however, received a much less enthusiastic response from her majesty: she found Lord John Russell stubborn and rude and referred to Lord Palmerston as a “dreadful old man”. As foreign secretary, Palmerston had invoked Victoria’s wrath by ignoring Albert’s suggested amendments to dispatches and apparently attempting to seduce one of her ladies-in-waiting. Victoria found Gladstone similarly infuriating, and with her characteristically sharp tongue dismissed him as a “half-crazy and in many ways ridiculous, wild and incomprehensible old fanatic”.

Britain’s imperial conquests increased nearly fivefold during Victoria’s reign

Over the course of her reign, Victoria witnessed a mammoth expansion of the British empire. During her first 20 years on the throne, Britain’s imperial conquests had increased almost fivefold. By the time she died, it was the largest empire the world had ever known and included a quarter of the world’s population. As the monarchy was seen as a focal point for imperial pride, and a means of uniting the empire’s disparate peoples, Victoria’s image was spread across the empire.

The queen herself took a great interest in imperial affairs. In 1877, prime minister Benjamin Disraeli pronounced her empress of India in a move to cement Britain’s link to the “jewel in the empire’s crown”. The queen had pushed for the title for several years, but, concerned about its absolutist connotations, Disraeli had been hesitant to agree. By 1877, however, Victoria had become so insistent he felt he could not resist any longer, for fear of offending her.

Queen Victoria was known as the “grandmother of Europe”

Over the course of their 21-year marriage, Victoria and Albert raised nine children together. As a means of extending Britain’s influence and building international allegiances, several of their sons and daughters were married into various European monarchies, and within just a couple of generations Victoria’s descendants were spread across the continent. Her 42 grandchildren could be found in the royal families of Germany, Russia, Greece, Romania, Sweden, Norway and Spain.

Warring First World War royals Kaiser Wilhelm (of Germany), Tsarina Alexandra (of Russia) and George V (of Britain) were all grandchildren of Victoria. Kaiser Wilhelm reportedly remarked that had his grandmother still been alive, the First World War may never have happened, as she simply would not have allowed her relatives to go to war with one another.

Victoria’s widespread influence had unexpected genetic, as well as political, implications for Europe’s monarchies. It is believed that the queen was a carrier of haemophilia and had unwittingly introduced the rare inherited disease into her bloodline. Over subsequent generations the condition resurfaced in royal families across the continent. In an age of limited medical facilities, haemophilia – which affects the blood’s ability to clot – could have disastrous consequences. Victoria’s own son Leopold suffered from the disease and died aged 30 after he slipped and fell, triggering a cerebral haemorrhage. Three of the queen’s grandchildren also suffered from the disease, as did her great-grandson, the murdered heir to the Russian throne, Tsarevich Alexei.

Listen: Deborah Cadbury shows how Queen Victoria sought to influence the future of Europe through the marriages of her descendants, on this episode of the HistoryExtra podcast:

Queen Victoria survived at least six assassination attempts

During the course of her 63-year-long reign, Victoria came out unscathed from at least six serious attempts on her life, some of which were terrifyingly close calls.

In June 1840, while four months pregnant with her first child, Victoria was shot at while on an evening carriage ride with Prince Albert. For a moment it seemed as though the queen had been hit, but Albert spurred the driver to speed away to safety and the would-be assassin, Edward Oxford, was apprehended.

Oxford – who was later acquitted on grounds of insanity – proved to be the first of many to target the queen while she was driving in her open-top carriage. In 1850, as the carriage slowed down to pass through the gates of Buckingham Palace, retired soldier Robert Pate ran forward and managed to strike the queen sharply on the head with a small cane. Although it transpired that the cane weighed less than three ounces, so could not have done much damage, the incident nonetheless unnerved Victoria. She escaped several more assassination attempts while riding in her carriage in 1842, 1849 and 1872.

Victoria was also infamously targeted by a stalker – a notorious teenager known in the newspapers as ‘The Boy Jones’. Between 1838 and 1841, Edward Jones managed to break into Buckingham Palace several times, hiding under the queen’s sofa, sitting on her throne and reportedly even stealing her underwear, before being caught.

Victoria mourned Prince Albert for 40 years

On 14 December 1861, Victoria’s life was rocked by the death of her beloved husband, Albert. As the prince was aged just 42 and generally enjoyed good health, his death from typhoid was highly unexpected. It came as a huge blow to the queen, who had been intensely reliant on his support, practically and politically as well as emotionally.

Following Albert’s death, Victoria retreated from public life, adopting elaborate mourning rituals that rapidly became obsessive. As time went on, the situation began to spiral out of control as it became clear the queen’s period of mourning would last much longer than the two years that convention dictated. Consumed by grief, Victoria fell into a state of depression and began neglecting her royal duties. As she repeatedly refused to take part in public events, her popularity began to deteriorate. The British people began to lose patience with their queen, questioning what the ‘Widow of Windsor’ did to earn her royal income. It was not until the 1870s that Victoria was coaxed back into gradually engaging in public life once more.

Despite the decades that passed, Victoria never fully recovered from the loss of Albert. Although she had other intimate relationships – most notably a close friendship with her Scottish servant John Brown – she never remarried. She continued to wear black and sleep beside an image of Albert, and she even had a set of clothes laid out for him each morning, right up until her own death 40 years later in 1901.

Both Queen Victoria’s golden and diamond jubilees were celebrated

Years after her damaging retreat from public life following Albert’s death, Victoria was eventually coaxed back into the limelight. Her golden and diamond jubilees of 1887 and 1897 were crucial to restoring her reputation. Designed to be show-stopping crowd-pleasers, these national festivities reinvented the ‘widow of Windsor’ as a source of national (and imperial) pride and celebration. Grand processions and military displays were jam-packed with patriotic pomp, while Victoria’s face was plastered on all manner of commemorative products.

During 1897’s diamond jubilee (marking Victoria’s 60th year on the throne), street parties, parades, fireworks and cricket games took place across the country. Some 300,000 of Britain’s poor were treated to a special jubilee dinner, while in India 19,000 prisoners were pardoned. During a royal procession to St Paul’s Cathedral, Victoria was reportedly so overwhelmed by the cheering crowds that she burst into tears.

Queen Victoria was buried with a lock of John Brown’s hair

As she entered her eighties, Victoria was still actively taking on her royal duties. Yet, after six decades on the throne, her health finally began to decline. After being diagnosed with ‘cerebral exhaustion’, Queen Victoria died at the age of 81 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, on 22 January 1901. The queen had refused to be embalmed, so part of the preparations that followed her death included preparing the coffin to combat the smell and absorb moisture, by scattering coal across its floor. The queen’s staff also cut off her hair, dressed her in a white silk dressing gown with garter ribbon and star and placed her wedding veil over her face, before summoning members of the queen’s family – the royal dukes, the kaiser and the new king, Edward VII – to lift her body into the coffin.

The family then retired, leaving staff to carry out the queen’s secret instructions that were never to be revealed to her children. The wedding ring of the mother of her personal servant, John Brown, was placed on her finger a photograph of Brown and a lock of his hair were laid beside her, along with Brown’s pocket handkerchief, all carefully hidden from view.

The queen was buried beside her beloved Prince Albert on 4 February 1901, in the mausoleum the queen had built for her husband at Frogmore, adjoining Windsor Castle.

Queen Victoria was succeeded by Edward VII, her eldest son

Victoria and Albert’s first son and second child was named Albert Edward, although he was known as ‘Bertie’. As Prince of Wales, he had a love of society and ‘good living’ and was known for his hearty appetites, Bertie – who was crowned King Edward VII on 9 August 1902 – defied expectations by proving himself to be a very successful and well-loved monarch.

Think you know everything about Queen Victoria? Put your knowledge to the test in our Queen Victoria quiz!

Ellie Cawthorne is staff writer at BBC History Magazine.

This article was first published by HistoryExtra in 2016


8 Key Developments Under Queen Victoria - History

This Chronology presents important dates in the history of social change and social reform in Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries including parliamentary reform, industrialisation, urbanisation, industrial disputes, advances in technology, labour rights, sanitary conditions and health protection, education, social welfare, female emancipation, women's suffrage, and children’s rights.

1799 The Combination Act , titled An Act to prevent Unlawful Combinations of Workmen , prohibits trade unions and collective bargaining by workers.

1801 The official Census reports that Britain has a population of a little of 10.5 million.

1802 The Health and Morals of Apprentices Act (also known as the Factory Act) limits hours of work for apprentices to 12 per day. No night work is allowed. Young employees are to provide education, decent clothing and accommodation to apprentices.

1807 Gas lights introduced in London. The Society for the Suppression of Vice is established. The Slave Act abolishes slave trade in the British Empire, but not slavery itself. Parochial Schools Bill makes provision for the education of the labouring classes.

1811 The National Society for the Education of the Poor founded.

1811-17 Luddites (mostly textile artisans in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire) riot and destroy labour-saving textile machinery in the belief that such machinery would diminish employment.

1814 The British and Foreign School Society is founded by liberal Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Jews as an alternative to the National Society.

1815 Corn Laws cut off less expensive foreign wheat. Apothecaries Act sets national (England and Wales) standards for licensing of apothecaries.

1816 Safety lamps are introduced in mines. Robert Owen opens first infant school in New Lanark, Scotland.

1819 The First Factory Act stops children under nine from working in factories and limits those aged nine to sixteen to 72 hours. Peterloo massacre. An estimated 11 people, including a woman and a child, die from saber cuts and trampling by a cavalry charge, and over 400 men, women and children receive serious injuries at a mass reform meeting of 60,000 people on the 16th of August around what's now St Peters Square, Manchester. The term 'Peterloo' was intended to mock the soldiers who attacked unarmed civilians by echoing the term 'Waterloo'.

1820-1825 Legal Acts reform criminal codes. London's Regent Street built for expensive shopping.

1820-1850 A rapid growth of the British economy. Britain as a country gets richer, but the standard of living of the urban lower classes decreases. A respectable paid occupation for a middle-class woman is governess or dressmaker.

1821 The population of England and Wales is 11.5 million, Scotland 2 million, Ireland almost 7 million. The population of London is almost 1.5 million. Beginning of a spread of factory system and growth of industrial towns. The Bank of England (image) begins to function as a central bank.

1824 Combinations Acts of 1799 and 1800 repealed. Trade Unions legalised.

1825 Combinations of Workmen Act prohibits trade unions to collectively bargain for better terms and conditions at work, and suppresses the right to strike. Stockton and Darlington railway opens with a thirteen tonne train, 'Rocket', which achieves a speed of 44 miles per hour.

1826 Journeymen Steam Engine, Machine Makers and Millwrights Friendly Society formed.

1828 Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. Non-Anglican Protestants such as Unitarians, Wesleyan Methodists, Primitive Methodists and the Society of Friends, could sit in Parliament and participate in local government.

1829 The Catholic Emancipation Act ends most of denials or restrictions of Catholic civil rights, ownership of property, and holding of public office. This legislation allowed Catholics to sit as MPs for the first time since the Elizabethan Act of Settlement in 1558/9. Liverpool and Manchester railway opens. Sir Robert Peel’s police make their appearance in London. Before this time public order was maintained by the military forces.

1830 The Manchester-Liverpool Railway is opened. The Swing Riots, a widespread uprising by agricultural workers, begins with the destruction of threshing machines in the Elham Valley area of East Kent in the summer of 1830. It spreads throughout the whole of southern England and East Anglia.

1830s Demolition of houses arising from street clearances, warehouse construction and railway building in London.

1831 Factory Act prohibits night work of person under the age of 21. The Truck Act prohibits in certain trades the payment of wages in goods, tokens, or otherwise than in the current coin of the realm. The cholera epidemic draws attention to the deplorable lack of sanitation in the industrial cities.

1832 1832 The Reform Act enfranchises middle-class males and restructures representation in Parliament. Report of the Select Committee on the Bill for the Regulation of Factories describes appalling conditions, excessive hours of work and cruelty to children in factories.

1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. Parish workhouses are instituted. Robert Owen founds the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union. Chimney Sweeps Act forbids the apprenticing of any boy under the age of 10 years, and the employment of children under 14 in chimney sweeping unless they are apprenticed or on trial. The apprentices are not to be 'evil treated' by their employers, and any complaints of the children are to be heard by justices of the peace.

1835 Municipal Corporations Act replaces the unpaid administration of squires and magistrates with professional bureaucrats serving elected councils. Working Men’s Association is founded. The legislation follows the Reform Act of 1832, which abolishes most of the rotten boroughs for parliamentary purposes.

1836 The Civil Marriage Act broadens the range of legitimate marriage partners, regardless of religion and ceremony. The Church of England loses its monopoly over marriage services, and non-Anglicans are allowed to marry either in their own Church or in Registry Offices.

1836-1848 Chartist agitation for electoral reform and universal male suffrage. The University of London offers medical degree that combine academic instruction with clinical practice in medicine

1837 Queen Victoria succeeds to the throne. The middle class makes up about 15 percent of the population of England. The mandatory civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths is introduced in England and Wales.

1838 People's Charter published. Anti-Corn Law League founded. London-Birmingham line opens, and the railway boom starts (17 September).

1839 Child Custody Act gives mother limited rights in her children and right to petition for co-guardianship.Rural Police Act empowers Justices of the Peace to establish county police forces.

1840 The population of England and Wales is almost 16 million. Vaccination Act makes free vaccination available. Report of the Select Committee on the Health of the Towns exposes squalid living conditions in many industrial areas and recommends to create district boards of health which turn the public attention to the causes of illness and suggest means by which the sources of contagion might be removed. Penny Post: an inexpensive and fast mail service is established. Vaccination for the poor introduced. Chimney Sweeps Act prohibits any child under the age of 16 years being apprenticed, and any person under 21 being compelled or knowingly allowed to ascend or descend a chimney or flue for sweeping, cleaning or coring. Grammar Schools Act allows endowment funds to be spent on modern and commercial subjects.

1842 Report on Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain , compiled by Edwin Chadwick, Secretary to the Poor Law Commission, reveals that working-class streets and homes are appallingly and dangerously unsanitary. Mines and Collieries Act makes it illegal for women and children under ten to work below ground. Prime Minister Robert Peel reintroduces income tax (which had last been collected in 1816). The tax becomes the government's principal source of revenue for public spending. Railway from Manchester to London opens.

1843 The Royal Commission for Inquiry into the State of Large Towns and Populous Districts established.

1844 The Royal Commission of Health in Towns established. Beginning of the cooperative movement at Rochdale. Labour in Factories Act amends the regulations concerning factory inspectors and certifying surgeons. For the first time machinery is required to be guarded.The Railway Regulation Act provides for a minimum standard for rail passenger travel. It also makes provision of certain compulsory services at a price affordable to poorer people to enable them to travel to find work.

1845 Engels laments in his Condition of the Working Class in England : &ldquoThe worker is forced to live in such dilapidated dwellings because he cannot afford to rent better accommodation, or because no better cottages are available close to the factory where he is working.&rdquo The Final Report of the Health of the Towns Commission recommends that local authorities should be responsible for drainage, paving, cleansing and water supply as well as they should have the authority to require that landlords clean and repair properties dangerous to public health. The Bastardy Clause of the 1834 Poor Law repealed.

1845-48 The potato blight destroys Ireland's population growth up to a million people die of malnutrition two million emigrate. The new technology of steam printing makes books cheaper.

1846 Parliament begins defining what constitutes unfit conditions for living accommodation in the first of several Nuisances Removal Acts. Repeal of the Corn Laws.

1847 Cholera epidemics in London and other industrial cities in England. The Ten Hour Act further limits the workday for both women and adolescent males to ten hours daily and 58 hours in a week. Asylum for Idiots established at Highgate. James Simpson Young first uses chloroform for women in labour. William Dixon and W. P. Roberts, two of the leaders of the Miners' Association of Great Britain and Ireland, become the first union officials to stand for election to parliament.

1848 Major cholera epidemic sweeping westwards in Europe in England about 60,000 deaths, about 14,000 in London alone. Influenza pandemic, 50,000 deaths in London. Public Health Act establishes a General Board of Health empowered to create local boards of health which have authority to deal with water supplies, sewerage, control of offensive trades, quality of foods, paving of streets, removal of garbage, and other sanitary measures. The Queen’s College for Women is founded in London. An Act of Parliament established 'ragged schools' for the children of the poor. Publication of John Stuart Mill's Principles of Political Economy , the book which presented a more optimistic view of the possibility for improving the conditions of living of the working class.

1849 Another cholera epidemic 3,183 deaths reported in London. There are over 3,000 textile factories in Britain.

1850 Factories Act amends the act of 1847 by stating the times between which young people and women could be employed in factories and increases the total hours which could be worked by them to 60 per week. Public Libraries Act enacted.

1851 The population of England is almost 18 million. 54 percent live in urban areas. Saltaire, a model housing development is built by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. The Great Exhibition, a celebration of technological achievement and British imperial power, opens at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London (1 May). It attracts more than six million visitors to Britain, the richest nation in the world. There are 161,000 commercial horse-drawn vehicles on British roads, most of them are linked to railway travel. Cripples Home and Industrial School for Girls founded at Marylebone.

1852 The first public library opens in Manchester.

1853 Compulsory Vaccination Act introduces vaccination for all infants within four months of birth, but contains no powers of enforcement. Queen Victoria uses chloroform at the birth of her eighth child, and thereby ensures its use as an anaesthetic.

1854 London Working Men's College is founded.

1854-56 Crimean War: Florence Nightingale organises hospitals and nursing services.

1855 Metropolis Management Act creates the Metropolitan Board of Works, body to co-ordinate the construction of the London's infrastructure. Abolition of stamp duties on newspapers enables the British workers to read newspapers at an affordable price.

1857 Matrimonial Causes Act establishes divorce courts (The Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes). It entitles couples to divorce without the need to obtain permission via a private Act of Parliament. The grounds, however, are different for men and women: a husband can divorce his wife on the grounds of adultery the woman, on the other hand, must prove adultery and cruelty or desertion. The famous report on prostitution by William Acton presents a conservative view of female sexuality.

1858 Workhouse Visiting Society is formed. The first swimming bath for ladies is opened at Marylebone, London. Lionel de Rothschild is the first Jew seated in Parliament. The property qualification of MPs abolished.

1859 Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species .

1860 Food and Drugs Act prevents the adulteration of food.The Nightingale School of Nursing is founded.

1860s Philanthropic societies build model housing: blocks of tenements (mainly in London) where working people can rent flats, e.g. Beaconsfield buildings, Improved Industrial Dwellings Company and Peabody Trust. Some large factory owners also build model housing estates for employees, e.g. the manufacturer and philanthropist Titus Salt at Saltaire.

1861 Local Government Act amends the 1858 act by requiring local authorities to purify sewerage before discharging it into rivers and canals. Post Office savings scheme for ordinary people is launched. The abolition of the 'Taxes on Knowledge' (the stamp duties on newspapers and the customs and excise duties on paper) results in spectacular development of daily and Sunday newspapers. Lectures in physiology opened to ladies at University College, London.

1862 Companies Act provides stimulus to accumulation of capital in shares. Florence Nightingale establishes Nightingale School for Nurses at St. Thomas' Hospital (image).

1863 The world's first underground railway opens in London in January between Paddington and Farringdon using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives. There are over 1,000 newspapers in Britain. Queen's Institute founded in London for the industrial training of women.

1864 The first Contagious Diseases Act is passed, permitting forcible registration and regular internal examination of women suspected to be prostitute, within a radius of 11 army camps and naval ports in England and Ireland.

1865 Girls are admitted to Cambridge Local Examinations. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson passes the Society of Apothecaries examination and becomes the first British woman licensed as a doctor. Barbara Bodichon forms Women's Suffrage Committee.

1866 A second new Contagious Diseases Act adds Chatham and Windsor to the list of towns and introduces the enforcement of fortnightly medical examinations of women for venereal disease. Women's suffrage societies founded in London, Edinburgh, and Manchester.

1867 Second Reform Act doubles the electorate (15 August). Metropolitan Poor Act provides for the establishment of hospitals for the sick and insane. John Stuart Mill introduces the first women’s suffrage bill into parliament. Josephine Butler establishes the first Industrial Home which provides former prostitutes with work, such as making clothes and envelopes. Factory Extension Act brings all factories employing more than 50 people under the terms of all existing factory acts, forbids the employment of children, young people and women on Sundays and amends some regulations of previous acts.

1868 Founding of the Trades Union Congress. Torren's Act imposes punishment for landlords who fail to improve their property. Last public execution in England.

1869 The Ladies National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts founded. The first municipal housing estate in Europe, St Martin’s Cottages are built in Liverpool. The Charity Organisation Society is founded in response to growing pauperism in London and other large cities during the 1860s. First women's college at Cambridge (Girton — image). Women ratepayers receive municipal franchise. Imprisonment for debt is abolished. Anglican Church disestablished in Ireland.

1870 W. E. Forster's Education Act makes elementary education available to all children in England and Wales. William Fowler MP introduces a private member's bills to repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts. A Royal Commission is set up to consider the matter. The First Married Women’s Property Act allows wives to retain earned income and property acquired after her marriage.Over 30 large music halls in London and almost 400 large music halls in Britain.

1871 The population of England and Wales is 27,7 million, Scotland 3.5 million, Ireland 5.4. Religious tests for university teachers and officials abolished. Trade unions legalised and workers are granted the right to strike. Bank Holidays Act lays down that Easter Monday, Whit Monday, the first Monday in August and 26th of December (if a weekday) should be official holidays.

1872 Voting by secret ballot is introduced in national elections. National Agricultural Labourers Union founded. Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act prohibits the employment in the mines of all girls, women and boys under the age of 12 years introduces powers to appoint inspectors of mines and sets out rules regarding ventilation, blasting and machinery.

1872 Infant Custody Act provides a possibility that a mother can obtain child custody even if she committed adultery.

1874 Women’s Trade Union League formed. London Medical College for Women opened. Factory Act raises the minimum working age to nine limits the working day for women and young people to 10 hours in the textile industry, to be between 6 am and 6 pm and reduces the working week to 561 hours. London School of Medicine for Women founded.

1875 The Artizans Dwellings Act allows councils to clear and redevelop slum areas and re-house inhabitants.

1875 Women physicians can be licensed to practise.

1877  Royal Free Hospital admits women as medical students.

1878 Women are admitted to degree courses at the University of London. Maria Grey Training College for women teachers founded. Legal separation permitted if wife is repeatedly assaulted. Electric lights are installed in some London streets. Phillipa Flowerday appointed as nurse to the J & J Colman (Norwich) to work among the factory people, and to visit them at home when they are ill. She is believed to be the first trained nurse to be appointed to work as a nurse within an industrial organisation.

1877 Social campaigners, Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh, are tried for republishing Charles Knowlton's The Fruits of Philosophy , a book advocating contraception. Their action is considered 'likely to deprave or corrupt those whose minds are open to immoral influences', and they are sentenced to six months imprisonment.

1877 Electric lights are installed on some London streets.

1879  First women's colleges at Oxford — Somerville (image) and Lady Margaret Hall). Pharmaceutical Society admits women as members. London's first telephone exchange opens.

1880s Some 120,000 Jews flee from Eastern Europe to England to avoid religious and economic persecution. The middle classes begin to move to the suburbs from city centres. Stores begin to sell canned meat and fruits.

1880 Elementary education becomes compulsory for children aged 7 to 10. Women admitted to degrees at the University of London. Josephine Butler begins her campaign against the 'white slave trade' and names officials in the trafficking of girls from London to Belgium.

1880-96  Real wages go up by almost 45 per cent.

1882 A second Married Women's Property Act entitles married women to retain separate ownership of any property they own before their marriage. (Previously, a wife's existing property legally passed into the ownership of her husband when they married.)

1883 Married women obtain the right to acquire their own property. The first electric tram is in operation.

1884 The third Reform Act creates a uniform franchise qualification based on the Reform Acts of 1867 and 1868. As a consequence almost two-thirds of adult males in England and Wales, three-fifths in Scotland and half in Ireland are entitled to vote in parliamentary elections. The Royal Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes is appointed. Marks & Spencer opens as a stall at Kirkgate, Leeds.

1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act raises age of consent to 16. Criminal Law Amendment Act permits wives to testify against husbands in court. The Royal Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes reveals extent of overcrowding in inner city areas. John Kemp Starley invents the modern safety bicycle. Domestic service still remains the largest area of employment for women and girls, but clerical work and shop work moves to the second place.The railway network covers 27,000 kilometres (17,000 miles)

1886 The Contagious Diseases Acts are repealed.

The Maintenance in Case of Desertion Act enables magistrates to award the wife maintenance up to a maximum limit of 2 pounds a week if she can show the Bench that her husband was able to support her and their children but refused or neglected to do so and deserted her. The Guardianship of Infants Act mandates that when father dies, guardianship passes to mother.

1886 Shop Hours Regulation Act regulates the hours of work of children and young persons in shops. The hours of work are not to exceed 74 per week, including meal times.The Salvation Army has 1,749 congregations and over 4,000 officers in Britain.

1887 Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee turns into a celebration of fifty years of domestic progress.

1888 Local Government Act establishes county councils and county borough councils in England and Wales. 1,400 women go on strike in protest of the poor wages and dangerous conditions in the at Bryant & May matchstick factory. Trade Union membership stands at 750,000. Jack the Ripper murders 5 women in London slums.

1889 Employment of children under age 10 prohibited. Elementary school compulsory for children up to age 12. London County Council (LCC) formed. Women's Franchise League established.

1890 Housing of the Working Classes Act allows London’s local councils to build houses as well as clearing away slums. Councils have to re-house at least half the people displaced by slum clearance. First moving-picture shows appear. The first electric underground train line in London begins to operate.

1892 London County Council (LCC) begins building tenement blocks.

1893 The Independent Labour Party formed. Elementary Education Act (Blind and Deaf Children) requires provision of free schools for blind and deaf children.

1894 Parish councils created. Trade union membership reaches 1.5 million.

1897 Queen Victoria's Dimanond Jubilee marks the high tide of the British Empire. Workmen’s Compensation Act establishes the principle that persons injured at work should be compensated. National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) founded. Actress Minni Palmer becomes the first woman car driver and car owner.

1898 Thomas M. Legge (later Sir, 1863-1932) appointed as the first medical inspector of factories.

1901 Queen Victoria dies at the age of 80. Her reign lasted 63 years – the longest of any British monarch. The middle class makes up about 25 percent of the population of England. Census reveals that there are 212 female doctors in the UK.

1902 Balfour's Education Act provides for secondary education.

1903 LCC, influenced by the Garden City and Arts & Crafts movements, begins to build 'garden village' estates in the suburbs. The first was Totterdown Fields estate in Tooting. The Women's Social and Political Union is founded by Emmeline Pankhurst with the aim of gaining the vote for women. In response to a government unsympathetic to their arguments, the group turns to acts of civil disobedience. The London County Council Tramways first electric line opens in May between Westminster Bridge and Tooting.

1905 London-based churches, missions, and charities support some 7,500 volunteers and almost 1,000 paid visitors, the vast majority of them being middle or upper class women.

1906  The Liberal Party wins the general election and embarks on a significant series of reforms. In extending the principle of governmental responsibility for the nation's citizens, these lay the foundations of the modern welfare state. Workers are compensated for injuries at work. The National Federation of Women Workers is set up by Mary MacArthur.

1907 Under the Qualification of Women Act , women can be elected onto borough and county councils and can also be elected mayor. Act allowing marriage with deceased wife’s sister. Free medical treatment for children at schools.

1908 Old age pension introduced. Five shillings a week to be given to every poor man and woman over 70 years old.

1909 Campaign for female suffrage intensifies.

1911 National Insurance Act: insurance provided for sick workers. Every worker with less than 100 pounds a year is to pay fourpence a week to the State. The employer adds fivepence and the Government threepence, making it all a shilling a week, which is paid to a doctor (known as the panel doctor), who then gives the worker free treatment when he or she is sick.

1913 Maternity, sickness, and unemployment benefits are introduced in Britain. Cat and Mouse Act passed, allowing hunger-striking women suffragists in prisons to be released when their health is threatened and then re-arrested when they had recovered.

1914 The First World War begins. The wartime effort sees a large influx of women into the workforce, to fill jobs vacated by men conscripted to serve in the war against Germany.

1918 The First World War ends. Women of thirty (wives of electors and female householders) are allowed to vote.

1919 Lady Nancy Astor becomes the first female Member of Parliament.

1920 Sex Discrimination Removal Act allows women access to the legal profession and accountancy.

1923 Matrimonial Causes Act grants divorce on same ground to both sexes.

1925 Widows’ Pension Act passed.

1929  Suffrage for all over 21.

Select Bibliography

Davies, Gill. The Illustrated Timeline of Medicine . New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2011.

Morgan, Kenneth O., ed. The Oxford Popular History of Britain . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Mathias, Peter. The First Industrial Nation: The Economic History of Britain 1700–1914 . New York: Routledge, 2001.

Thackeray, Frank W., John E. Findling, eds. Events that Changed Great Britain Since 1689 . Westport: Greenwood, 2002.


10. And a popular Christmas one as well.

You can thank Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert for your Christmas tree. They popularized the custom in 1848 when Albert sent decorated trees to schools and army barracks around Windsor. An image of the royal family decorating a tree was also published that year, inspiring other British families to do the same.

Victoria and Albert were very hands-on in the process. "Queen Victoria and Prince Albert brought the tree into Windsor Castle on Christmas Eve and they would decorate it themselves," Royal Collection curator Kathryn Jones explained to the BBC. "They would light the candles and put gingerbread on the tree and the children would be brought in."


World History Final

Let us go, children of the fatherland
Our day of Glory has arrived.
Against us stands tyranny,
The bloody flag is raised,
The bloody flag is raised.

Do you hear in the countryside
The roar of these savage soldiers
They come right into our arms
To cut the throats of your sons,
your country.

Which line illustrates how the French people feel about their relationship to their country and national identity? (1 point)

"That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal

That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal

That levying money for or to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative, without grant of Parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal

That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal

That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law. "
Public Domain

How did the English Bill of Rights represent a change from the existing political trends in 17thÚSdm4á| century Europe? (5 points)


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