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Aristocratic Government in the Age of ReformWhigs and Liberals 1830-1852$
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Peter Mandler

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198217817

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198217817.001.0001

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Introduction: Whiggism and the Age of Reform *

Introduction: Whiggism and the Age of Reform *

(p.1) Introduction: Whiggism and the Age of Reform*
Aristocratic Government in the Age of Reform

Peter Mandler

Oxford University Press

This book challenges the view that there was a smooth and inevitable progression towards liberalism in early nineteenth-century England. It argues instead that England witnessed a reassertion of aristocratic power in the 1830s and 1840s, in part at least because popular forces rebelled against the forms in which liberalism had been presented over the previous half-century. The highest and most cosmopolitan section of the landed elite — the high Whig aristocracy — got a chance to revivify older ideals of government and to vindicate their view that the aristocracy's natural role was to rule for the people from the centre, at Westminster. Aristocratic Whiggism and liberalism coexisted within the Whig party throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. This book charts the movement towards liberalism before 1830, the movement back towards Whiggism in the Age of Reform, and finally the decisive return to a moderate liberalism from the late 1840s. This being a study of aristocratic politics, the ‘Whiggism’ and ‘liberalism’ under question are matters of style and tradition rather than well-defined and articulated ideology.

Keywords:   England, liberalism, Whiggism, aristocracy, Age of Reform, aristocratic politics, Whig party, nineteenth century

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