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Ideological Context: War, Martial Values, and Military Prestige

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Abstract

War was no stranger to the Edwardian imagination. Britain had emerged during the nineteenth century as the world’s pre-eminent industrial and commercial power, but she was also, in many ways, a remarkably warlike one. During the sixty-four years of Queen Victoria’s long reign there was not a single year that did not see British soldiers fighting in some corner of the world. As well as large-scale conflicts such as the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny during the 1850s, this fighting included a bewildering number of ‘little wars’ — punitive expeditions, the suppression of rebellions and mutinies, and wars of colonial expansion, through which the British Empire more than quadrupled in size. When Victoria died, in January 1901, Britain was embroiled in a war in South Africa that had already dragged on for more than a year. As Byron Farwell has noted, ‘it was in the Victorian era that continual warfare became an accepted way of life’.1 Typically, of course, this fighting occurred at a remote distance from the civilian population at home. Yet from the second half of the nineteenth century the experience of war was relayed to the British public in unprecedented detail and with unprecedented immediacy by an army of newspaper correspondents, employed by a popular press eager to sell stories of military heroism and adventure to its readers.

Keywords

  • Daily News
  • Labour Leader
  • British Army
  • British Troop
  • Ideological Context

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Notes

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© 2013 Matthew Johnson

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Johnson, M. (2013). Ideological Context: War, Martial Values, and Military Prestige. In: Militarism and the British Left, 1902–1914. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137274137_2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137274137_2

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-44551-6

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