The End of the European Era Notes
In Western Europe, elected parliaments determined the character of the
governments and the course of their policies. By contrast the monarchs in the
Central and Eastern European great power states— Germany, Austria-Hungary,
and Russia—had strong policy-making influence, though the extent of that
influence and the constitutional arrangements in these countries differed.
Had advanced furthest in democratic evolution and in industrialization
Gave the impression of remarkable political and social stability
Queen Victoria succeeded by flamboyant heir King Edward VII, leader of
an opulent and luxurious society.
GB’s economic position not as brilliant as it appeared, no longer the
leading producer of steel, iron, coal, overtaken by U.S., lagging behind
Germany in innovations regarding vehicles, chemicals.
Remained the leading power in textile production, invested well in foreign
Many landowners found their soil was rich in coal, landowners frequently
became involved in industrial and financial activities, rising class of
Politics mirrored the homogeneity of the ruling class
Descendants of the aristocratic families who had ruled GB in previous
centuries continued to be prominent, most had financial and industrial
connections, strictly classical educations.
The most important leaders of both parties were conscious imperialists.
Conservatives more concerned with maintaining their nation as the
world’s foremost power, while Liberals might emphasize its mission of
guiding the colonial people to self-government and the other blessings of
British society—both were committed to competing for the African and
Asian lands that were up for grabs.
Labor movement and social reforms
Misery among the masses of the working population was still great,
agricultural crisis in the 1880s had forced small farmers to migrate into
cities, increasing numbers of unskilled workers
More militant spirit arose in trade unions, wanted to move toward
Development of a movement among middle-class British intellectuals who
strove to close the gap between the wealth of the ruling group and the
misery of the workers, called Fabians.
Conservatives and Liberals aware that the founding of a Labor party was a
threat to the two party system, recognized they needed to make an effort to
satisfy the needs of the working class. Conservatives placed emphasis on
social reform, “municipal socialism” which improved public services.
Liberals had a similar tendency towards social reform.