Peace, war and party politics

The Conservatives and Europe 1846–59

Author: Geoffrey Hicks

This book 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. It 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, the book 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 an 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, the book helps provide us with a fuller picture of mid-Victorian Britain's engagement with the world.

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