In the history of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian period and preceded the Edwardian period, and its later half overlaps with the first part of the Belle Époque era of Continental Europe.

Quick facts: Victorian era, Monarch(s), Leader(s)...
Victorian era
1837–1901
Queen Victoria in 1859 by Winterhalter
Monarch(s)Victoria
Leader(s)
 Preceded by
Georgian era
Followed by 
Edwardian era
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There was a strong religious drive for higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodists and the evangelical wing of the established Church of England. Ideologically, the Victorian era witnessed resistance to the rationalism that defined the Georgian period, and an increasing turn towards romanticism and even mysticism in religion, social values, and arts.[1] This era saw a staggering amount of technological innovations that proved key to Britain's power and prosperity.[2][3] Doctors started moving away from tradition and mysticism towards a science-based approach; medicine advanced thanks to the adoption of the germ theory of disease and pioneering research in epidemiology.[4]

Domestically, the political agenda was increasingly liberal, with a number of shifts in the direction of gradual political reform, improved social reform, and the widening of the franchise. There were unprecedented demographic changes: the population of England and Wales almost doubled from 16.8 million in 1851 to 30.5 million in 1901,[5] and Scotland's population also rose rapidly, from 2.8 million in 1851 to 4.4 million in 1901.[citation needed] However, Ireland's population decreased sharply, from 8.2 million in 1841 to less than 4.5 million in 1901, mostly due to emigration and the Great Famine.[6] Between 1837 and 1901 about 15 million emigrated from Great Britain, mostly to the United States, as well as to imperial outposts in Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.[7] Thanks to educational reforms, the British population not only approached universal literacy towards the end of the era but also became increasingly well-educated; the market for reading materials of all kinds boomed.[8][9][10]

Britain's relations with the other Great Powers were driven by antagonism with Russia, including the Crimean War and the Great Game. A Pax Britannica of peaceful trade was maintained by the country's naval and industrial supremacy. Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history. National self-confidence peaked.[11][12] Britain granted political autonomy to the more advanced colonies of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.[13] Apart from the Crimean War, Britain was not involved in any armed conflict with another major power.[13][14]

The two main political parties during the era remained the Whigs/Liberals and the Conservatives; by its end, the Labour Party had formed as a distinct political entity. These parties were led by such prominent statesmen as Lord Melbourne, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Derby, Lord Palmerston, Benjamin Disraeli, William Gladstone, and Lord Salisbury. The unsolved problems relating to Irish Home Rule played a great part in politics in the later Victorian era, particularly in view of Gladstone's determination to achieve a political settlement in Ireland.

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