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Title: Gladstone, Gordon and Sudan : 1883-5 : how British policy reated a Victorian icon
Author: Nicoll, Fergus
ISNI:       0000 0001 2017 4719
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis sets out the evolution of Britain's Sudan policy during a turbulent period from late 1883 to early 1885 through nine discrete phases: a refusal to engage; compelling Egypt to withdraw; the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Charles Gordon to manage the withdrawal; a partial evacuation of garrisons; British military intervention on the Red Sea coast; termination of evacuation forced by the encirclement of Khartoum; the despatch of the 'Gordon Relief Expedition'; the fall of Khartoum; and finally the abandonment of Sudan. Most of these phases resulted from Gladstone's unilateral executive decisions, in a climate where the public debate on policy was restricted by the active suppression of important evidence. Others were precipitated by the actions of an increasingly intransigent Gordon or by the interventions of critics at Westminster or in the British Army. Two key conclusions arise from this analysis. Firstly, Gladstone's policy was at no time one of' drift', even if his steely determination was manifested at times as passive resistance. Secondly, by the end of the final phase, he had achieved his stated objective: minimum engagement in and zero responsibility for Egypt's erstwhile colony. A policy victory, then, but also a pyrrhic victory: Gladstone's satisfaction, achieved despite well-organised opposition from an aggressively interventionist coalition of imperialist politicians, news editors, business interests and groups like the Patriotic Association. and Primrose League, was short-lived. As this thesis also makes clear in its analysis of the aftermath of the fall of Khartoum, the personal cost to Gladstone was great. The posthumous publication of Gordon's Khartoumjournal (presented here for the first time in unexpurgated form) was followed by its systematic use as a political weapon by the Conservatives in the 1885 election. Thus was established the image of 'Gordon the Hero' and 'Gladstone the Villain' that has been sustained in most of the subsequent historiography: a central aspect of the Sudan crisis that this thesis sets out to test, refute and invert.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available