Edwardian Period 1901 – 1910

The Edwardian period. This historic theme explores Britain as it slips from the pinnacle of it’s triumph as an Empire. In this short period politicians grappled with the new emerging Empire. Use our timeline and maps to examine the multiple layers of the Edwardian period.

“I don’t mind praying to the eternal Father but I must be the only man in the country afflicted with an eternal mother. ”

Edward VII as Prince of Wales

King Edward VII had spent most of his life waiting in the wings as Prince of Wales. His mother, Queen Victoria, became Britain’s longest reigning monarch whilst Edward waited to be granted a position and responsibilities which, Queen Victoria was reluctant to give. With time on his hands the Prince brought scandal to the royal family with two citations in divorce cases. It was difficult to imagine how Edward could adjust his playboy lifestyle to become King after his mothers death but he managed to make the role his own with the help of his long suffering wife, Queen Alexandria of Denmark.

King Edward VII the Duke of York and Clarence, Queen Alexandria and the King's daughters
King Edward VII the Duke of York and clarence Queen Alexandria and the king’s daughters

King Edward VII, steers the country into the new Edwardian period.

Almost as if the turning of the century heralded in a new world perspective, a shift from European dominance to a rise in the power of America and Japan and an emerging independent India so King Edward VII came to power. Although politicians such as Joseph Chamberlain were concerned with maintaining Britain at the heart of global trade so other politicians and the King himself were more concerned with the threat from a previous ally closer to home, Germany. Unification and industrialization during the latter part of the 19th century had made Germany into a great economic and military power.

Edward VII was known as the ‘Peacemaker’. He was concerned that his nephew, Kaiser Willhelm II had a vision for the German people that would drive a rift through Europe and tip Europe towards war. His fears proved to be well-founded.

Edwardian Peace but Edward VII was troubled that the Kaiser would tip Europe into War he was correct
King Edward VII his nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II with Queen Alexandria and the future King George V.

Edwardian politics and society.

The Edwardian Period and the period up to what is called the modern period occupies a small time frame but one in which world and domestic politics were turned on their respective heads. The working classes found their voice in the trade union movement and the role of women in society began, fundamentally to change. Tumult in Government caused King Edward to become embroiled in politics and he became involved in the debacle when the Conservatives in the House of Lords refused to approve the Liberals “Peoples Budget”. The King was so dismayed that he introduced his son as the “the Last King of England” to the Foreign Secretary of the day. He had tried to intervene and urged the Conservatives, Balfour and Lansdowne, to pass the budget. Winston Churchill and Lloyd George were the ‘Radicals’ in the thick of the action proposing change. The people were finding a voice and nothing would ever be the same again. The death of King Edward in 1910 was absorbed as the politics continued to role over daily life. The Parliament Act of 1911 would ultimately resolve the constitutional relationship between the Commons and the Lords. The age old concerns about the role of the monarch and Parliament and the relative roles of the Commons and the Lords had made its final transition. Never again could the Lords of the Land ultimately stop the democratic will of the people.This complex period can be examined more fully in our Edwardian timeline which we are are adding to dynamically.

After the death of King Edward VII.

The times were changing, a World War was approaching and the new king, King George V would steer Britain into the Modern Era.

There would be a change of name for the monarchy and a break with their German past but the world is beginning to creak and the political and economic environment that created conditions for world war just four years after the death of King Edward would create the fractures and fissures that would, for generations, lead us to the present day and the complicated and fractious situation in the Middle East.

DatesEvents /NarrativeCategories
Jan 22 1901Death of Queen Victoria. She passed away at Osborne on the Isle of Wight. It was captured by a motion camera.
Jan 23 1901Accession of King Edward
Feb 2 1901Funeral of Queen Victoria
Feb 4 1901The keel of the 'Holland' submarine was laid down. The order was placed with Messrs. Vickers.
Mar 16 1901Duke and Duchess of Cornwall depart on their Colonial tour.
Mar 31 1901The 1901 census reveals that the population of the United Kingdom has almost doubled in 50 years, to 38 million
June 1901Frank Hornby begins to market in Britain his immensely successful Meccano kits.
Aug 1901 The first establishment dedicated solely to cinema was opened in Islington.Art
Aug 6 1901Robert Falcon Scott sets off in the Discovery on his first expedition to the Antarctic.
Sep 1901Taff Vale Judgement, a landmark in the development of the Labour Party. Workers on the Taff Vale Railway took action to gain the right to join a trade union. The railway company sought damages from the union for losses incurred during the strike. The House of Lords granted £42,000 plus costs against the union, thereby severely limiting the right to strike.
1901First Nobel Prizes were awarded.Science, invention
Oct 1901Rudyard Kipling's novel 'Kim' is published.Literature
Oct 1901Britain's first submarine launched.Military
Dec 1901Guglielmo Marconi transmits a radio message in Morse code 2100 miles, from Poldhu in Cornwall to St John's in NewfoundlandScience, invention
1902A polygraph machine is invented by James Mackenzie.Science, invention
1902Balfours Education Act was a highly controversial Act of Parliament which standardized and upgraded the educational systems of England and Wales, and led to a rapid growth of secondary schoolsEducation
March 1902Cecil Rhodes 'the architect of Empire' dies.People, politics
May 1902Boer War ends.War
July 22 1902Cremation Act The major purpose of the Act was to allow burial authorities to establish crematoria. Politics
July 31 1902Midwives Act. The stated purpose of the Act was ‘to secure the better training of midwives and to regulate their practice’. A woman could not call herself, nor practise as a midwife, unless she was certified under the Act. If she contravened this, she was liable to be fined by her local magistrates’ court up to £5. However, until 1 April 1910, there was a loophole — a woman could still practice midwifery, providing she didn’t call herself a ‘midwife’ or imply that she was one.Politics
July 1902Arthur Balfour succeeds Salisbury as Conservative Prime Minister.
Aug 9 1902Coronation of Edward VII, delayed from July because of the King's appendicitis.
Oct 1902Irish politician Arthur Griffith launches Sinn Fein, as an organization campaigning for a strong and independent Ireland.
Oct 1902'Land of Hope and Glory' features in its lasting form as the finale of Elgar's Coronation Ode for Edward VII
Jan 1903Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy identify the phenomenon of radioactive half-life.
Jan 1903Mary Anderson invents windshield wipers
Jan 1903Edward VII proclaimed Emperor of India.
Nov 1903First edition of the Daily Mirror.
Oct 1903Formation of the suffragette Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst.
Dec 17 1903Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane 20 feet above a wind-swept beach in North Carolina. The flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet.
1904Benjamin Holt invents a tractor.
Jan 1904British troops under Francis Younghusband enter Tibet's holy city of Lhasa.
Feb 1904War breaks out between Russia and Japan when the Russian fleet attacks at Port Arthur.
Apr 1904Entente Cordiale signed with France.
May 1904Rolls-Royce car manufacturing company formed.
Dec 1904J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up opens in London.
1905The Bloomsbury Group begin to meet.
Jan 22 1905Bloody Sunday is the name given to the events of Sunday in St Petersburg, Russia, when unarmed demonstrators led by Father Georgy Gapon were fired upon by soldiers of the Imperial Guard as they marched towards the Winter Palace to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. 40 people died.
1905English engineer Herbert Austin sets up a factory to manufacture cars at Longbridge, south of Birmingham
1905Hitler moves to Vienna, hoping to be a painter, but is twice rejected as a student by the Academy of Fine Arts
Jan 1905By popular demand, Arthur Conan Doyle brings his famous detective back from the 'dead' in a new book, The Return of Sherlock Holmes.
May 1905Women's Suffrage Bill 'talked out' in Commons.
June 1905Automobile Association founded.
July 1905Einstein's Theory of Relativity proposed.
Aug 1905Lord Curzon resigns as Viceroy of India.
Oct 1905Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney arrested: start of the militant phase of the Suffrage movement.
Dec 1905Balfour resigns. Henry Campbell-Bannerman leads the Liberals to a massive election victory in the UK on a promised programme of reform.
1906English biologist William Bateson uses the word 'genetics' to describe the phenomenon of heredity and variation
1906 E. Nesbit publishes The Railway Children, the most successful of her books featuring the Bastable family
1906The Cunard company launches the Lusitania on the Clyde as a sister ship to the Mauretania
Feb 1906Liberal landslide at General Election; Labour wins 29 seats. Labour Party formed.
Feb 1906 HMS Dreadnought launched.
Feb 1906Free school meals introduced for children in need.
April 1906 San Francisco earthquake 800 die.
April 1907Women can stand for election in county and borough elections and can take the office of mayor.
1909The People's Budget
1910Budget and Lords crisis. There are 2 General Elections in this year.
1910Death of King Edward VII
1911Parliament Act. National Health Insurance introduced.
1911Home Rule introduced.
1912Captain Scott reaches the South Pole.
1912Balkan Wars

 

 

 

Tariff Reform League

Tariff Reform League

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The Edwardian Era

The Edwardian Era

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Women’s Roles in Edwardian Era

Women’s Roles in Edwardian Era

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Arthur James Balfour Prime Minister 1902-1905

Arthur James Balfour Prime Minister 1902-1905

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series British Prime Ministers

Arthur James Balfour was a Prime Minister cut from the old aristocratic mould, an intelligent man who perhaps lacked emotional intelligence to match. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, nephew of Lord Salisbury, his mother’s brother. He would serve in coalition during WWI alongside Lloyd George more than strange bed-fellows. It was then that his now infamous Balfour Declaration would be declared and continues to cited as the root cause of the troubles between the Arab and Zionist causes in Palestine. and modern Israel. Unsuccessful Prime Ministers can be even more important it would seem than those that succeed and the failures may also be greatest when they are no longer in the top job.

Quebec Canada Maps early 1900’s

Early Quebec maps in the British Library

Marie Curie 1908 Professor

First ever, female professor at the Sorbonne 1908, two Nobel Prizes, in chemistry and physics

Marie Curie 1903

Marie Curie presents her doctoral paper on the discovery of Radium.

Poverty 1904

Poverty, how did it affect your family at the begining of the C20th?

Changing Society in the Edwardian Period

Society and the Edwardian Period, how did your family cope in these economically tough times?

International Council of Women 1904

Women’s Suffrage 1904

1900 Rare footage of Victoria in Dublin

Queen Victoria at Balmoral first footage ever of a British Monarch on film Tsar Nicholas II features