THE CHARTIST MOVEMENT AND THE REFORM BILLS
The reign of Queen Victoria started in a difficult period. The working class was kept in very poor conditions and didn'thave the right to vote yet. The Chartists, an organized workers' movement, drew up a People's Charter asking for the extension of the franchise to all the working class, but it wasn't before the ThirdReform Bill (1884) that it was obtained for the male workers.
FREE TRADE AND THE GREAT EXHIBITION
After 1846 England enjoyed a period of economic prosperity, partly because free trade policies tookthe place of protectionism. This contributed to avoid the revolutionary movements that caused many conflicts all over continental Europe. In 1851 the Great International Exhibition of London wasopened by the Queen and her husband, showing Britain's world political and economic leadership.
In 1862 the employment of women and children in mines was banned. In 1871 Catholics wereallowed to work for the government and to enter the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 1875 the activities of the unions of workers were legalized.
THE NEW POLITICAL PARTIES
The modernparties took their origins in this period. The Conservatives (the old Tories) and the Liberals (the old Whigs) led alternatively the Parliament and had both great prime ministers. In the meanwhile, the voteof the working class raised the importance of the Labour party that is the political alternative to the Conservatives since the 1920's.
THE IRISH QUESTION
Despite the relative wellness ofBritain, Irish economy, still based on agriculture, was very weak. By the half of the century emigration to the U.S.A. or to England was the only alternative to starvation. Charles S. Parnell was the leaderof a movement for the Irish Independence and convinced the Liberal prime minister W. Gladstone to propose the Home Rule for Ireland to the Houses of Parliament in 1886, but it was twice rejected....