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Title: Civic thought in Britain, c.1820- c.1860
Author: Hunt, Tristram
ISNI:       0000 0001 3584 6207
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2000
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This thesis is a study in the ideological foundations of Victorian civic pride. It argues that the Victorian civic renaissance had an extensive intellectual genealogy. The thesis hopes to foster a reevaluation of the Victorian city in its intellectual context, and broaden the perimeters of enquiry within urban history. In doing so, it contributes to the debate over middle class identity in Victorian England. The four chapters indicate the dominant strands of thinking that determined the development of the Victorian city. The first chapter addresses the pre-Reformation ideal of civil society. It throws new light upon the work of Southey, Cobbett, Pugin, and Ruskin. By contrasting the edifices of the virtuous, medieval past against the civic symbols of the faithless and individualist present, they fostered a corporatist civic tradition which powerfully influenced the Victorian city. The second chapter describes the defence of the industrial city by liberal civic elites. Their rhetoric was as concerned with defending Nonconformity and the historical role of the middle class as the manufacturing city. Influenced by the French Doctrinaires, advocates of liberal civic thought championed the city, and its inhabitants, as the harbingers of liberty, prosperity and progress. Chapter three charts how Victorian 'merchant princes' looked to ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy to support their wealth and industry. It emphasises the draw of Periclean Athens and medieval Florence as potent civic ideals. Their successful combination of commerce and culture made the cities instrumental models in the development of Victorian civic pride. The final chapter explains how the Saxon spirit of local self-government became part of a national identity. The English polity based upon a system of decentralization and multiple municipal centres was contrasted against Norman centralization which resulted in Parisian despotism. _With the growth of statist legislation in the 1840s this narrative of local self-government was placed under strain. The chapter discusses how Saxon civic thought influenced central policy and urban identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Civic thought ; Britain ; c.1820- c.1860.