The historians have reassessed even the seemingly unshakable maxims and so, Victorianism is not an exception. Even the period of Victorianism stands challenged because the historians do not consider the entire period of the monarch as the era, but a brief one from about 1830 to 1880.
To the later generation, Victorianism means moralizing, repressive, prudish and old-fashioned. Victorianism is the Victorian period. The entire second half of the nineteenth century is included, the period of British history when Queen Victoria ruled.
This was the time when Britain was the most powerful nation in the world. This period is known for rather strict morality.
Although the entire period of Queen Victoria’s reign, from 1837 to 1901, is termed as the Victorian era, Victorianism starts from 1830 because usually, this was the time that was considered as the end of the Romantic period in Britain.
Table of Contents
The early Victorian era perceived the emergence of a group of values and beliefs which indicate the central idea of Victorianism. These years show the developments in governance as well as economic and social life along with developments in science and education which comprise the essential features of Victorianism.
Reforms in Governance
If you look into the reforms in governance, you may not find immediate effects, but the structure of parliament changed the paving way to a tradition of evolutionary change.
Although democratic changes took time to enter, there was an expansion of local, middle-class political power.
Considering economic life, the priority on hard-nosed essentials of political economy and utilitarianism could be seen before the 1850s. Political economy helped to shape the policy conditions which gave direction to the reforms in the poor law during the era of Elizabeth.
All the changes paved the way to the concept of self-help. Amazing rise of friendly societies, the co-operative movement, trade unions and many other examples of collective identification by the people started to be seen right with the Victorian era.
Many positive events took place during the Victorian era and a number of artists, writers and poets flourished at that time. There were social, political and religious movements as well as there were border expansions along with political reforms.
Science and Technology
Due to advancement in science, there was an increase in fertility rate and at the same time, the mortality rate decreased. Health and environmental standards along with discoveries as well as advancement in medical science increased the average lifespan of people.
Inventions at that time helped make life easier. Not just the Victorians, but also the whole world today admires the developments in science and technology which gave discoveries like steam-powered engine and telephone.
No doubt, Victorians tried to make the best use of the discoveries and developments in different fields. For example, trains made travel easier and the telephone helped make long distance communication better and accessible.
The middle-class Victorians even took the train service for leisure trips like visiting the seaside. Many people started seeing tourism as a viable business and started such services as well.
The development in sanitation methods helped keep streets clean unlike the filthy ones making the life of everyone brighter.
Values and Beliefs
In religion, Victorianism tried to have a balance between the ancient regime of Anglicanism in the churches of England and the alternative Christianity including the new faiths and toleration of unbelief.
Victorianism started to be associated with patriarchal social values and an image of motherhood was created with giving importance to the family.
Education and Sport
The Victorian era saw a renaissance of public schools which became a model for gentlemen as well as for public service. The credit for the introduction and development of many modern sports goes to the Victorian era.
Cycling, cricket, horse-riding and some water activities are examples of popular sports of this era. The modern game of tennis originated in between 1859 to 1865 in Birmingham, England.
Popular forms of entertainment were available which varied by social class. During this time theatre, art, music, drama, and opera were widely attended where the drama usually ranged from low comedy to Shakespeare. The British circus is said to have gone through the golden age during the Victorian era.
Indeed, the Victorian era became one of the most iconic eras in history. In fact, during her entire reign, Queen Victoria tried to change Britain for better and this paved way to the making of Modern Britain.
The later years of Victorian era also saw the rise of aestheticism, the movement of “art for art’s sake”. This contradicted the social and political goals of the early Victorian period.
Urbanization also had begun to create a problem by the later years as 80% of the population moved to cities which resulted in horrifying slums and cramped row houses. Victorianism impacted heavily upon the wider world too. Urbanization increased outside Britain along with spreading within.
Victorianism affected street designs as well as civic building programs in India, parts of Africa and the far east. However, end of Queen Victoria’s reign also saw the beginning of a new century and hence many changes started to take place eventually.