Discuss Why 18th Century Britain Is Known As "The Age Of Aristocracy"


Following essay discusses, why 18th century Britain is known as the age of aristocracy, in relation to this analytical discussion following book has been taken as a main source for this essay Age of Aristocracy 1688-1830 8th edition by William B. Willcox and Walter L. Arnstein. According to William and Walter at the end of 17 century a state-political, system was installed in England that was a constitutional monarchy and it defined the branches of relationship; an important feature of these relationships were the trend in the past century and strengthens the "Bill of Rights" complex interplay of legislative, executive and judicial functions (p. 191). Parliament was the supreme legislative and judicial authority of the country, while maintaining the previous structure: it included the upper House of Lords, consisting of peers (who were on their inheritance, by purpose or by post) and senior representatives of the clergy, as well as the lower house election (William and Walter 89).

The judicial functions of the upper chamber were distributed to the most important state affairs (cheating, abuse crown) bottom - civil matters (matters of inheritance, divorce, etc.). Parliament approves the budget and passed laws. Bills discussed in the lower house three times, if approved separately considered each item, and amendments thereto, and then it was passed in the House of Lords, which is also seen it three times; only after three statements, he did to the king for his signature. Such a long passage of bills politicians and thinkers interpreted ambiguously. In this case, the “crown and the upper chamber had the right to veto adoption” (p. 289) of any acts that allowed the aristocracy to maintain power and control over the decision of questions of national importance. This remained an important feature of the British Parliament, which consisted in the fact that the House is not formed based on the sharp demarcation classes. Addition of the upper chamber passed not only in connection with the death of a member, when his place was taken by the nearest male relative, but also due to appointments king. Lords could be famous people who have distinguished themselves in military or diplomatic service, or judicial activities characterized by the upper house due to the gentry and wealthy financiers. However, over the centuries it remained caste legislature in the hands of the aristocracy and the higher clergy, embodying the preponderance of their influence and interests in the country, aided by the medieval system of elections to the lower house, restored during the restoration.

Reasons for why 18th century Britain is known as the age of Aristocracy; the major reason for this is known the mass expropriation of the peasantry, the beginning of the industrial revolution. Lower House, House of Commons was composed of representatives of counties and some cities (p. 55). Such a system of representation has developed in the 13th century and remained unchanged during the 18th century. Suffrage enjoyed less than 5-7 percent of the population. The very way of election of deputies - the open voting system - giving many opportunities to exercise control over the progress and results of voting and to exert pressure on voters, which are widely practiced in small constituencies (Burgo), dubbed the "pocket" or "rotten" boroughs.

There were cases when voters chose not to participate in elections. This was dictated by the desire to avoid possible unpleasant consequences of his choice when he did not coincide with the wishes of the local patron. Of the 204 seats from these districts and 22 cities of more than 1,000 voters, 33 - from 500 to 1000, in the rest of their number was low: 40% of districts and not recruited 100 people eligible to vote. A significant number of seats in parliament from them disposed crown, large landowners, and government. Tycoons valued control over place, bring them political influence and economic benefits. Seats in parliament openly bought and sold. In most cities, suffrage used only a few dozen residents - urban privileged corporate elite. Magnates, on land, which had several constituencies, disposed seats in Parliament at its discretion. As later noted in his memoirs, Lord Russell, these districts have become a very valuable property (William and Walter 233).

Government and crown were usually reserve the right number of such constituencies to support the government or his party in parliament, the owners sold the towns voters for office or an important official patronage. Thereby "pocket" boroughs were as an important tool of political influence of the ruling class, and a means of its enrichment.

Since the end of 17th and throughout the 18th century, the parliamentary system has not undergone external changes, however, in this period to improve the mechanism of its activity. The old form is gradually filled with new content, dying or earlier was fixed and new traditions were born and trends (William and Walter 122). These include, above all, should be attributed to restrict further the prerogatives of the crown, strengthening governance through the cabinet, working out the principles of responsibility forms, inter-party struggle.

To convert the parliamentary groups of the clan character in political parties took more than a century. However, the process of disengagement camp aristocracy began during the restoration of the Stuarts, when the watershed was the different attitude to the crown, its prerogatives, the rights of Parliament and popular representation. The Tories defended the divine origin of royal power. Therefore, passive obedience to it, the Whigs believed that it came from the people's will, and defended the disposition of Parliament, allowing for the possibility of resistance to the will of the monarch in case of violation of the laws of the ruler of the country (William and Walter 255). What unites them is that both groups had aristocratic origins and were committed to constitutional monarchy.

Glorious Revolution contributed to the deepening of the process of formulating principles and those and others. The Whigs are increasingly becoming advocates of the principle of limited monarchy constitution than its divine origin. Viggizm increasingly associated with the aristocracy, landowners associated with new forms of management, major financiers and rich layers of the middle class. In the late 80s - early 90s of the Tories were in a rather difficult position. In general, they adopted a new monarch, but not able to connect with him his old notion of inheritance of royal power. They remained a church party, opposed to both Catholics and Dissenters. Tory ideology is increasingly associated with the interests of landowners, not drawn into a variety of businesses. However, it would be a mistake to equate the Whigs and entrepreneurs, or Tory landowners. In addition, they both were on one side or another.