A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain by H. T. Dickinson


By H. T. Dickinson

This authoritative significant other introduces readers to the advancements that result in Britain turning into an exceptional international energy, the top ecu imperial country, and, whilst, the main economically and socially complicated, politically liberal and religiously tolerant country in Europe.

  • Covers political, social, cultural, monetary and spiritual background. Written via a world group of specialists.
  • Examines Britain's place from the point of view of different ecu nations.

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In a real emergency even a powerful administration might retreat rather than pursue a policy that was alienating too many MPs. Thus, Walpole abandoned his excise scheme in 1733, Henry Pelham repealed the Jewish Naturalization Act after a few months in 1753, and William Pitt abandoned his Irish trade proposals in 1785. What needs to be recognized, however, is that all successful administrations stayed in office for long periods because their policies were acceptable to the majority of the House of Commons (and also to public opinion outside parliament).

The largest fighting force that Britain mobilized during the long eighteenth century was undoubtedly that which fought in the Napoleonic Wars. At the end of this conflict, about 500,000 men were under arms in the army and the navy. The shape of the British military apparatus differed substantially from that of its rivals on the continent of Europe. In cases of military conflict, considerable numbers of foreign troops were hired to supplement the regular units of the standing army and large subsidies were paid to foreign powers.

The leading ministers gathered able men of business around them to win over opinion-formers on the backbenches. Parliamentary debates were vital in persuading the uncommitted backbencher and hence effective ministerial teams of fine orators and expert debaters had to be deployed. MPs could also be influenced before a session started by efforts to explain government policy through the despatch of circular letters to the constituencies or through ministerial addresses to large numbers of backbenchers in private meetings.

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