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England Under Edward VII (Classic Reprint)

England Under Edward VII (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from England Under Edward VII

A period of eight centuries divides the reign of William the Conqueror from that of Edward VII, and in that space of time as many as thirty-four Sovereigns ruled, yet Sir William Harcourt once made bold to say that since the Conqueror the seventh Edward was the greatest of all. Whether by greatest he meant the greatest politically or morally, or from both points of view combined, Sir William did not explain, but in any case it is best to leave his judgment Undisputed, and to let the chief events of the King's reign produce what impression they may on the minds of those who may care to remember them.

In our domestic politics the King constitutionally played little but an acquiescent part; his duty was mainly to assent to and sign such laws as were passed. Hence in the story of his reign the legislation of the period from 1901 to 1910 only calls for rather summary treatment. But in foreign politics the King availed himself to the full of the freedom of action which the Constitution still allows to a monarch, and it is in his action in this field that the interest of his reign mainly lies. And, though some have contended that at all times he was the mere servant of the foreign policy of his Foreign Ministers, first of Lord Lansdowne, and after 1905 of Sir Edward (lord) Grey, the balance of the best contemporary evidence, both English and foreign, is to the effect that he was in the main his own Foreign Minister, initiating, commanding, and controlling all our policy towards other Powers.

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