Examine the socioeconomic classes of the Victorian era (e.g., middle and upper classes). Learn about the social changes that occurred in England during the Victorian era.

Examine the socioeconomic classes of the Victorian era (e.g., middle and upper classes). Learn about the social changes that occurred in England during the Victorian era.

Table of Contents

 

 Victorian England

 

The reign of Queen Victoria of Great Britain is known as the Victorian era. This era, which lasted from 1837 to 1901, was named after the king and its influence was felt everywhere.

After the passing of her grandfather King George III and his four prospective heirs, including her short reigning uncle King George IV, Queen Victoria ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1837. Victoria studied with a number of tutors during the reign of King George IV, who was without heirs of his own, and gained knowledge of politics, governance, and the monarchy’s functions in society. She and her mother, Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, had some disagreements during this time regarding her upcoming throne, and the two spent many years apart.

Queen Victoria was a very conservative and refined social symbol who modelled her graces after those of the previous Queen Elizabeth I. Victoria was a strong advocate of the traditional roles of a wife and mother. She also took her status as a social symbol very seriously. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was married by Queen Victoria three years after she ascended to the throne. The couple had nine kids together. She co-ruled with her husband, who she largely leaned on.

Throughout her 64-year reign, Queen Victoria’s popularity fluctuated. She withdrew from the public eye and neglected many of her responsibilities as queen as a result of a slew of family deaths in the middle and late 19th century, including that of her mother and, most tragically, her husband. When she was crowned Empress of India in 1876, following the British invasion of the nation, her popularity increased. She established the social norms of the day with her conventional, conservative family values throughout her reign. Victoria’s introduction of the new social class system during the Victorian era was one of the most talked-about developments throughout her reign.

Victorian Era Society

Because of the Industrial Revolution and the monarchy’s continued instability, Victorian society has long been viewed as a time when traditional social and political hierarchies in England underwent significant change. The upper class at the time was made up of royalty and the very wealthy. The middle class was made up of professionals with advanced degrees. The working class was made up of people with little to no formal education. And the underclass, which included the very poor, was represented by those with little to no formal education. At the time, British citizens had very little opportunity to rise in social class.

The Upper Class

Prior to the Victorian era, only members of the British royal families could claim membership in the highest social class. The Industrial Revolution was fuelled by scientific developments, which meant that people of noble birth were no longer the only ones who could become wealthy and powerful. The royal dynasties of England and extremely affluent families who amassed their enormous fortunes via astute business investments and successful farms were included in the newly designated upper class of the Victorian era.

The upper class in Britain did not involve in manual labor; instead, they spent money on technological developments that increased production for their companies. The upper class possessed enormous political and social authority in addition to economic domination. The British upper class dominated the political system at the time since it was a requirement to own land in order to vote or run for office.

The Middle Class

The middle class evolved during the Victorian era as a direct result of the Industrial Revolution, despite having the smallest population of the four primary social groupings. Those who worked in white-collar positions, among them doctors, factory managers, or small-business owners, were referred to as middle class. The Victorian middle class had access to education for themselves and future generations, much like the upper class. But unlike those in the top class, the middle-class people had to labour for their money. When compared to the upper class, their political influence was modest.

The Working Class

In the nineteenth century, the majority of people in Britain belonged to the working class. They shared the underclass’ lack of representation in politics and almost little economic or social influence. The working class was the descendants of the peasant class, which was previously identified, and their living and working conditions were just as poor as those of earlier generations.