How were guns in Victorian times

Victorian era

Ruler of an era

When Victoria was crowned Queen of Great Britain and Ireland on June 20, 1837, no one could have guessed that her name would one day be representative of the entire century - the Victorian era.

Under their reign, the monarchy largely loses its power and turns into a representative body. As early as the 19th century, the country's fortunes were no longer shaped by the crown and nobility, but by industrialists, trading companies and ambitious politicians.

Nevertheless, Victoria embodies both the transformation of Great Britain into a modern great power and the adherence to bourgeois traditions and conventions. The first women fighters for women's rights speak out during her reign, but the Queen considers their goals to be superfluous and immoral.

Economic power England

The development of England into the leading economic power of the 19th century was laid out very early on by the industrial revolution. Nowhere else in Europe is the change from artisanal production to industrial production taking place faster and more thoroughly than in England.

Existing democratic institutions such as parties, parliament and freedom of the press as well as clever electoral law reforms prevent revolutionary developments like in other European countries. Despite many obvious grievances, even the workers believe that they can assert their interests within the existing social system.

The population of Great Britain (including Ireland) almost doubled from 24 to 41.5 million between 1830 and 1901, despite the high number of emigrants. The enormously increasing need for food for so many people is covered by exports of industrial goods and imports of food and raw materials. Accordingly, the idea of ​​free trade and thus the dismantling of protective tariffs for the English economy and politics is vital.

The social development

Although Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels developed their socialist ideas using the example of English industrial workers, this had little influence on the English labor movement of the Victorian era.

The social upheavals caused by industrialization, urbanization and the construction of railways affect every single citizen. They are often enforced against bitter resistance, because entire traditional branches of business are destroyed by the new developments. The impoverishment of large sections of the population in the ghettos of the industrial cities is obvious.

At the same time, there is an unshakable belief in progress and the enormous economic upswing between 1845 and 1865 reconciles many Britons with this change, as it is noticeably better for a growing middle class in particular. It becomes the state-supporting class, whose values ​​shape the epoch. Basic education for all classes - including women - is becoming a socially recognized task.

The downsides

Due to its early dependence on world trade, England becomes correspondingly vulnerable to crises that arise in its foreign markets. The potato rot that was brought in from South America led to a terrible famine in Ireland for several years from 1845 onwards, killing 1.5 million people.

The government in London is idly watching the disaster. By 1855, more than 2.1 million people had left the island, mostly for the United States.

In England itself, too, attempts are increasingly being made to solve social problems by encouraging the emigration of affected groups rather than by eliminating the causes. Between 1815 and 1875, in addition to the Irish already mentioned, another five million people left England to settle permanently in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa.


Until the middle of the 19th century, the English Empire grew rather randomly, depending on which areas were opened up by trading companies. Naval strategic considerations are often more decisive for the sea power England than the desire to make countries into colonies. Some areas only fall to the crown due to changes in the balance of power in Europe (for example after the Napoleonic wars against France).

From 1850, this began to change fundamentally. Industry needs more and more raw materials. Germany and the United States in particular are increasingly developing into competitors who want to open up similar markets. And last but not least, the Puritan Victorians develop a strong zeal for mission.

With the use of the military, countries are therefore increasingly being turned into colonies whose raw materials and markets are to be completely controlled. This is intended to secure existing trade relations (e.g. India and Hong Kong) or to meet growing demand for raw materials (Africa).

In the long term, such developments contradict the original idea of ​​free trade. But the idea of ​​imperialism is so accepted worldwide among the leading nations of the time that no one doubts its legitimacy. The fact that English is still the number one world language today is a late consequence of English imperialism.