When did King Victoria die?

Queen Victoria

The completely inexperienced young Queen initially relies on the advice of the Liberal Prime Minister William Lamb Viscount Melbourne and that of her uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium. From 1839 onwards, however, the most important person in her life was her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Their wedding in 1840 is a love marriage that rarely occurs at European royal courts of that time. While Viktoria gives birth to nine children over the next 18 years, Albert takes care of official business. Their marriage is considered exemplary and happy.

The great sadness

Happy family life at the Court of London came to an abrupt end in December 1861 with the death of Prince Albert. Until her own death 40 years later, Viktoria cannot get over this loss.

For the first 20 years after Albert's death, she completely avoided the public. Her black mourning clothes became the public image of the era. At the same time, their virtuous conduct and conscientious fulfillment of their official duties corresponded completely to the bourgeois ideals of their time.

Queen Victoria's foreign policy influence is mainly due to her family ties to all the important rulers in Europe. Domestically, it stands for continuity in times of constant change. As the first ruler, she traveled extensively in her country, which she ruled for 63 years and had a decisive influence on it.

Victorian society

Perhaps one of the main reasons for Viktoria's popularity with her subjects lies in the fact that she as a person does not want to fit into the rapid development of the 19th century.

Many Britons, including intellectuals from all political backgrounds, wish to go back to the blissful pre-industrial times, when the world was still seemingly orderly and manageable. For them, Viktoria embodies exactly this tradition. In times of constant change, the family becomes the only reliable constant. The Queen turns out to be an exemplary family man.

On the surface, the epoch is considered optimistic and believing in progress, but a tendency towards melancholy, puritanism and prudery is unmistakable. Success and social advancement require strict adherence to social conventions.

Outwardly highly decent, behind the bourgeois Victorian facade a moral swamp of prostitution and pornography emerges, into which the queen's relatives occasionally immerse themselves. The public scourging of such lies and hypocrisy brings the poet Oscar Wilde to prison several times.

Literature in Victoria's time

In 19th century England, even the lowest classes could soon read thanks to the improved school system. But it was only with the abolition of the stamp tax in 1855 that books and especially newspapers became affordable for a mass audience. The market is flooded with novels, dime books and tabloids.

It is true that the style is changing from romanticism at the beginning of the century to ever stronger realism, but without giving up the romantic streak.

This is exemplified by the novels Jules Verne, who extensively describes futuristic technology in his books. But the thinking of his fictional characters is still romantically shaped, just as his books perfectly serve the readers' desire for a temporary escape from reality.

The increasing demand for entertainment reading encourages the emergence of historical novels ("Ivanhoe"), horror novels ("Dracula"), detective stories ("Sherlock Holmes") and sometimes even socially critical books ("Oliver Twist").