House of Saxe-coburg

House of Saxe-Coburg.—Victoria died January 22, 1901, and was succeeded by her eldest son, Edward VII., who proved himself to be an active promoter of peaceful relations with other countries.

The Boer war was concluded in the middle of 1902 by the treaty of Vereeniging, and almost immediately afterward Lord Salisbury retired from office, being succeeded in the premiership by his nephew, Mr. A. J. Balfour. The education act of 1902 did away with school boards where they existed, bringing the voluntary and former board schools alike under education committees in England and Wales, and the same change was made in London in 1903. The Irish land act of 1903 was a measure of the first importance, its object, being to transfer practically all the agricultural land of Ireland to farmers or peasant proprietors. In the autumn of 1903 Mr. Chamberlain resigned office in order to be free to advocate a change in the country's fiscal policy, intended to unite the colonies more closely with the mother country—a change which many have regarded as meaning a return to protection.

In 1905 the Liberal party returned to power under the leadership of Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman, who was succeeded after his death in 1908 by H. H. Asquith.

On May 5, 1910, the illness of King Edward was announced, followed by that of his death the next day. His son, George V., succeeded to the throne May 6, 1910.

A lengthy battle had begun to be waged against the hereditary prerogatives of the House of Lords, to which the death of the king caused a temporary cessation, but, in August, 1911, the Upper House was finally shorn of its permanent veto. In September, 1910, the fisheries dispute with the United States, which had remained unsettled for more than a hundred years, was decided at the Hague.

Early in 1913 the Irish home rule question became the dominant issue and a bill favoring it was passed by the House of Commons by a large majority, only to be overwhelmingly rejected in the House of Lords. In February, 1914, King George urged mutual concessions in the controversy, and in the same year the Home Rule bill became a law without the approval of the Lords, but practically non-operative. Today (1917) home rule for Ireland is still the great unsolved problem of British domestic policy.

The year 1914 also marked the entrance of Great Britain into the great European war that has since engulfed practically the whole of Europe and one-third of the civilized world. England's history since has been almost wholly bound up with the diplomatic, economic, and military aspects of that titanic struggle, the real facts of which it will require more than a generation of dispassionate minds to verify, sift and assess at their true values.