Peace, war and party politics

The Conservatives and Europe, 1846–59
Hicks, Geoffrey
Date published: 
September 2014

Peace, war and party politics examines the mid-Victorian Conservative Party’s significant but overlooked role in British foreign policy and in contemporary debate about Britain’s relations with Europe.

The book considers the Conservatives’ response – in opposition and government – to the tumultuous era of Napoleon III, the Crimean war and Italian unification. Within a clear chronological framework, it focuses on ‘high’ politics, and offers a detailed account of the party’s foreign policy in government under its longest-serving but forgotten leader, the fourteenth Earl of Derby. It attaches equal significance to domestic politics, and incorporates a provocative new analysis of Disraeli’s role in internal tussles over policy, illuminating the roots of the power struggle he would later win against Derby’s son in the 1870s. Overall, it helps to provide us with a fuller picture of mid-Victorian Britain’s engagement with the world.

This book will be of use to those teaching and studying Victorian politics and foreign policy at all levels in higher education.