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Title: Lord Lansdowne at the War Office (1895-1900)
Author: Kerry, Simon
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis investigates Lord Lansdowne’s career at the War Office (1895-1900). At its core, however, is not a traditional biographical quest, but what does his career at the War Office tell us about late Victorian politics, civil-military relations, the reform discourse, the late Victorian Army and the war in South Africa? This is an especially relevant subject of historical study for two reasons: firstly Lansdowne as Secretary of State for War and a representative of his class, time and party epitomised late Victorian politics; secondly as Secretary of State he has been found wanting. The thesis aims to re-examine these questions and force those who have written on the problems Lansdowne encountered to rethink their conclusions. By portraying Lansdowne as a man of his time and returning him to his proper position this thesis demonstrates that it is possible to reinterpret the career of a historical figure. The main part of the thesis looks at how Lansdowne operated at the War Office and the complex inheritance he dealt with. It explores the political rivalries of those with power to influence military policy in Britain and the lack of interest in military matters both in and out of Parliament. Given these dynamics the thesis argues that the War Office and Army were unreformable. The thesis also examines Lansdowne’s legacy in relation to his three immediate successors. Despite the differences in the structure and professionalism of the British Expeditionary Force which performed in Flanders in 1914 and the Army Corps which embarked for South Africa in 1899 the social composition of both forces had not significantly changed. As the best equipped and trained Army to leave Britain for war the BEF vindicated the attempts of Lansdowne and his successors to provide the country with an Army fit for war.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available