Pam Chessell focuses on four particular years in history – 1815, 1851, 1901, 1904, exploring the lasting, unpredicted and unprecedented impact of apparently disconnected events. events.
Each talk will provide general information and analyse the causal relationship between what may superficially seem to be disconnected events.
The British Empire was at its zenith. The Great Exhibition in London demonstrated that Britain was the richest nation in the world, and the most technologically advanced. How was this wealth created, and at what cost to various subject colonies? Within a few years Britain was fighting beside France (its arch enemy of nearly 800 years), in the Crimea against Russia and the Ottoman Empire. What prompted these changing alliances and what were the ramifications – seen and unforeseen? Why was Britain not caught up in the tumultuous revolutions of 1848 that wracked most of Europe? These events changed the social, political and economic map of Europe. What is the connection between mass migration (and the Irish Potato Famine) after these revolutions and the notion of ‘superpower’ Britain? Why was Britain impervious to the gale forces building around the Empire? Co-incidentally in 1851 gold was found in the British colonies of New South Wales and Victoria. The ‘rush’ of vast numbers of men seeking to make a quick fortune then return ‘home’ brought dramatic changes to the colonies and posed significant challenges to the Foreign Office.