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Political faction and the formulation of foreign policy: Britain, 1806-7

Hole, Toby Kenton (1995) Political faction and the formulation of foreign policy: Britain, 1806-7. Masters thesis, Durham University.



In 1801, William Pitt the Younger, resigned as prime minister after seventeen years in office, to be replaced by Henry Addington, whose most notable act in office was to conclude peace with France. Pitt's resignation and the Peace of Amiens destroyed the huge majority that had characterised Pittite government, as four major political factions developed where there had previously only been the rump of an opposition. Pitt's cousin. Lord Grenville, angered at the terms of the peace, strongly opposed Addington, and eventually concerted with Charles Fox in an anti- Addingtonian 'junction'. Following Pitt's death in January 1806, Grenville was invited by the king to form a ministry, and in forming the Ministry of All the Talents, he combined his own supporters with those of Fox and Addington, to form a broad- based administration. Central to the problems facing the Talents was that of foreign policy, an issue on which the component factions had hitherto disagreed violently. Fox, now Foreign Secretary, made a concerted effort to conclude peace with France, and a British representative was present in Paris for this purpose from June to October 1806. These negotiations failed for reasons outside of the government’s control, but serious divisions were later to emerge over policy to\yards the Continent, where war was resumed in October 1806. Two conflicting strategies of colonial conquest and Continental engagement were put forward by their protagonists, resulting in deadlock and disharmony. This thesis will argue that despite the incongruous mixture of men who made up the Ministry of All the Talents, factional divisions were not primarily responsible for the lack of a vigorous and aggressive foreign policy. Instead, the pre-1806 stances of the Foxites and Grenvillites were forced to be remoulded by the changing European situation, and their eventual policy was not based on ideological considerations, but rather an uncertain and confused reaction to events that they could only dimly comprehend.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1995
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Oct 2012 11:51

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