Author Archives: richardjohnbr

Politicians return ‘to school’

Britain’s relationship with Europe over the past millennium has been one of ‘divide and rule’ and this has meant that we’ve fought against the French with the Germans, the Germans with the French, the Spanish with the French and against … Continue reading

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Britain 1780-1945: Reforming Society

NOW PUBLISHED Britain 1780-1945: Reforming Society develops the ideas and chronological scope that I put forward in my earlier studies of Britain’s social and economic development during the late-eighteenth, nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The result is a new history of … Continue reading

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Fragments from an Unexceptional Life

We all, in one way or another, live unexceptional lives. We are born, we go to school and increasingly university, we start work, enter relationships that may or may not lead to children who we watch grow into adults and, … Continue reading

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From Peace to Victory: Amiens to Waterloo 1802-1815

The Peace of Amiens, negotiated by Hawkesbury (later Lord Liverpool) and Cornwallis and ratified by Parliament in May 1802, received a poor press from contemporaries and subsequently from historians. The surren­der of Austria deprived Britain of any leverage in Europe … Continue reading

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Is leaving now really an option?

Let me be clear from the outset that I was one of the 48 per cent who voted remain in the referendum almost two years ago.  I was also one of those who was not surprised by the outcome of … Continue reading

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Why did Britain not win the war with France 1793 and 1802?

The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 was initially welcomed by most politicians. The Whigs saw it as the dawn of liberty. For Pitt, the revolution would be a useful distraction for Britain’s major rival. Edmund Burke found in … Continue reading

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Recollections of Victorian Birmingham

This book offers readers an absorbing portrait of Birmingham’s nineteenth century. It provides eyewitness accounts of the main events and personalities of the time. These twenty-five autobiographical articles were originally published in the Birmingham Gazette and Express in 1907-9, but … Continue reading

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What were British foreign interests between 1793 and 1841?

In the fifty-four years before 1793, Britain had fought three major wars with France lasting some twenty-three years. Britain could not ignore France and the threat to European security posed by the expansion of the French Revolution. Lord Auckland declared … Continue reading

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170th Anniversary of Kennington Common meeting 10 April 1848

The National Charter Association (NCA) Executive, its funds depleted, had little control over the events in early March and found itself having to improvise to keep up with the popular mood. On 18 March, it announced that the National Petition … Continue reading

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What were the social and economic effects of the Famine?

The ‘Great Famine’ began unexpectedly in the late summer of 1845. By September, potatoes were rotting in the ground and within a month blight was spreading rapidly. Three-quarters of the country’s crop, the chief food for some three million people … Continue reading

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Posted in Nineteenth century politics, Nineteenth century society, Sir Robert Peel | Tagged , ,

Why was Ireland so important in Peel’s career?

The Conservative victory in 1841 brought the conflict between Peel and O’Connell that had festered for twenty-years centre stage. Peel was not prepared to compromise on Repeal of the Act of Union. However, he recognised the need to build confidence … Continue reading

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Why was Catholic Emancipation such a contentious issue?

The Catholic question was left unresolved by Union and until 1823 the issue stagnated. There were two main reasons why the campaign for Catholic Emancipation before the formation of the Catholic Association by Daniel O’Connell in 1823-1824 made little headway. … Continue reading

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Posted in Nineteenth century politics, Nineteenth century society, Uncategorized

Resisting tithes

Tithes were traditional payments that entitled the Church to a tenth of people’s annual income. Usually the payments were made in kind in the form of crops, wool, milk and other produce, to represent a tenth of the yearly production. … Continue reading

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Ireland in the decade before Union

Ireland posed three problems in the period between the 1780s and the famines in the mid-1840s. First, there was the question of how Ireland should be governed. There was also the highly emotive question of the rights of the Catholic … Continue reading

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Why did Corn Law repeal lead to the end of Peel’s government?

Relations between Peel and his backbenchers were strained from the early days of his ministry. Peel was insensitive to their interests of many Conservative MPs and made little attempt to court backbench opinion. He took the loyalty of Conservatives in … Continue reading

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Posted in Books, Nineteenth century politics, Peel in power 1841-1846, Sir Robert Peel | Tagged , ,