TIMELINE / Before 1800 to After 1930 / UNITED KINGDOM / POLITICAL CONTEXT
 
Date Country Theme
1800 United Kingdom Political Context
The Kingdom of Great Britain comes into being under the Treaty of Union of the kingdoms of England (which then included Wales) and Scotland on 1 May 1707. It lasts, controlled under a single parliament and government based at Westminster, up until 31 December 1800.
1801 United Kingdom Political Context
The Irish Rebellion of 1798, which was intended to put an end to what Irish nationalists perceived as the subordination and dependency of Ireland on the British crown, instead contributes to the Irish parliament’s vote to join the union between the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. On 1 January 1801, Britain, Scotland and Ireland sign the Act of Union and merge, to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
1829 United Kingdom Political Context
The poet Lord Byron epitomises Romantic support for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. Over the next century, British opinion wavers between seeing the Ottoman Empire as a force for stability or one oppressing Christian populations – the Armenians and Balkan Christians.
1829 United Kingdom Political Context
Irish lawyer Daniel O’Connell leads the campaign for concession of Catholic Emancipation, which will allow Roman Catholics to sit in the UK Parliament. The campaign is successful, helped along by the death of George III, but O’Connell’s long-term goal is to repeal Ireland’s Act of Union with Great Britain.
1834 United Kingdom Political Context
The development of steam power brings increased trade and travel to the eastern Mediterranean. This leads to the publication of travel literature and an interest in the archaeology of the Bible. A. W. Kinglake’s Eothen is the most widely read of the travel books.
1839 United Kingdom Political Context
British control of India is driven by trade. Steamships require fuelling stations. To this purpose Aden is occupied and controlled imperially from India for a century. Most British control of the Middle East is indirect and informal. Aden becomes a Crown Colony, with partial control of the Hinterland.
1842 United Kingdom Political Context
Evangelists in Britain and Germany found the Jerusalem Protestant bishopric. There is an idea of converting Jews – the first bishop is a converted Jew – and the bishopric establishes a British cultural and educational interest in the Levant. It also stimulates archaeological work.
1854 United Kingdom Political Context
Russia’s expansion to the Black Sea and the Caucasus encroach on, seize and annex Ottoman possessions. Britain and France support Ottoman resistance, targeting the Russian naval base in Crimea. Britain provides military and naval support to the Ottoman armed force.
1867 United Kingdom Political Context
The 1850s and 1860s sees close political, commercial and cultural relations between the Ottoman Empire and Britain. The zenith of this relationship is the state visit of Ottoman Sultan ‘Abd al-‘Aziz to France and then Britain. The Prince of Wales then reciprocates with a visit to Constantinople, Damascus and Jerusalem in 1869.
1869 United Kingdom Political Context
Built largely with French expertise and capital, the Suez Canal shortens the journey to India. The British government secures a major financial interest in the Canal in 1876, and its security becomes a major British interest for the following century.
1878 United Kingdom Political Context
Uprisings in the Balkan Ottoman territories lead to disproportionate reprisals. Popular protests in Britain oppose support for the Ottoman Empire. In contrast to the Crimean War, Britain provides no military aid to the Ottomans in their war with Russia. Diplomatic support is rewarded however, with Britain’s occupation of Cyprus confirmed at the Congress of Berlin.
1882 United Kingdom Political Context
Britain also acquires indirect control over Egypt, with an occupying army and control over Egyptian finances and administration. Egyptian tourism flourishes and with it a superficial economic development – an affluent class, construction of railways and building projects. However, European cultural influences in Egypt are mostly French.
1898 United Kingdom Political Context
Sudan is in possession of the Egyptians until a Sudanese revolt under the Mahdi severs the connection. It is brought back to Anglo-Egyptian rule with a military conquest led by an Egyptian army officered by the British. Control of Sudan facilitated British colonial expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
1901 United Kingdom Political Context
The British Viceroy, Lord Curzon, visits the sheikhdoms of the Gulf to confirm treaties of protection that exclude other European powers. Iraq and Arabia fall under a British- Indian sphere of influence with the Indian rupee as the principal currency. Curzon’s policy lasts until 1970.
1914 United Kingdom Political Context
War catches the people by surprise: British troops are fighting the Ottomans on three fronts. They are repelled at Gallipoli, pushed back in Southern Arabia, and British forces are captured in Iraq. By the end of the war these setbacks are reversed and Britain and her allies occupy Constantinople, Egypt, Iraq and the Levant.
1916 United Kingdom Political Context
British interests in the Middle East are driven partly by the British Indian administration and partly by the strategic alliance with France. Mark Sykes for Britain and George Picot for France come to a diplomatic agreement to divide the Ottoman Levantine possessions for their respective countries. This conflicts with an earlier British promise of independence.
1920 United Kingdom Political Context
The letter from the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, to Lord Rothschild in November 1917 offers British support to Zionist aspirations for Palestine to be a national home for Jews. This is internationally confirmed by the League of Nations handing over Palestine to Britain as a Mandate.
1922 United Kingdom Political Context
Of the 32 counties of Ireland, twenty-six southern counties vote to secede from the United Kingdom to become the Irish Free State.
1922 United Kingdom Political Context
Following Ireland’s decision to secede from the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland immediately exercises its right to opt out of the new dominion and remain one of the four countries of the United Kingdom.
1927 United Kingdom Political Context
The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act renames parliament to reflect the change following secession of Southern Ireland. The state is now known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.