Keeping Europe in Order Conservative International Political Thought in Victorian Britain, 1854-1880
MetadataShow full item record
Conservative international thought in Victorian Britain is a prominent landmark in the landscape of international thought which has up to now gone unmapped. In illuminating this body of thought, the thesis addresses weaknesses present in three different historiographies. As the first detailed study of conservative international thought in Victorian Britain, the thesis rectifies a marked bias in Victorian intellectual history towards the study of liberal and radical thought. Furthermore, by analysing the political thought of major representatives of the conservative educated classes, this thesis provides context for the history of conservative high politics, thereby leading us to view these in a different light. Finally, this study, by providing a historically nuanced account of the evolution of major themes of international relations theory in mid-Victorian Britain, functions as a corrective to the self-history of the academic field of International Relations. The thesis makes its argument by analysing conservative contributions in periodicals, pamphlets, and newspapers to British public debates on international affairs, from the Crimean War (1854-56) until the Eastern Question crisis of 1876-80. The general claim of this thesis is that there existed a distinctly conservative perspective on the international sphere. The core elements of this conservative perspective were the primacy of statesmen in setting foreign policy; of interests, military force, and stature in determining the course of international politics; and of order and equilibrium as its normative content. Conservative authors used this constellation of ideas in the major debates of the mid-Victorian era on international affairs, both as a means to make sense of events, and as a counterpoint to liberal narratives – with which Victorian international thought is all too often identified. In recovering the international political thought of Victorian conservatives, this thesis illuminates an important but neglected aspect of how international relations were understood and conceptualised in mid-Victorian Britain.
- Theses