VICTORIA I. Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, daughter and only child of Edward, duke of Kent, 4th son of George III., was born at Kensing ton palace, May 24, 1819. Her mother, Victoria Mary Louisa, was 4th daughter of Fran cis, duke of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld, and sister of Leopold, late king of the Belgians. Her first husband, the prince of Leiningen, died in 1814; and on July 11, 1818, she married, at Kew, the duke of Kent. The duke died Jan. 23, 1820, leaving his widow in charge of an infant daughter only eight months old, who had been baptized with the names of Alex andrina Victoria. The duchess of Kent fulfilled the important duties which devolved upon her with more than maternal solicitude, and with admirable care and prudence. The infant princess, as she grew up, was taught to seek health by exercise and temperance, to acquire fearlessness even from her amusements, such as riding and sailing, and to practice a wise economy united to a discriminating charity. After a few years the duchess of Northumberland was ais:.,ociated with her mother in her nurture and educa tion. The princess Victoria became accomplished in music, drawing, and the continental languages; and acquired a knowledge of some of the sciences, particularly botany. Her father having belonged to the whigs, her political education was naturally derived from the members of that party; and to viscount Melbourne (q.v.) belongs the credit of having thoroughly instructed her in the principles of the British constitution. She ascended the throne of the United Kingdom on the demise of her uncle, William IV. (q.v.), June 20, 1837; her uncle, the duke of Cumberland becoming king of Hanover in virtue of the law which excludes females from that throne. By this event, the connection which had lasted for 123 years between the crowns of England and Hanover was terminated. Vic toria was proclaimed, June 21, 1837, and crowned at Westminster, June 28, 1838. She found on her accession viscount Melbourne at the head of the government; and during his premiership and with the Cordial assent of her subjects, the young queen was married at St. James's palace (Feb. 10, 1840) to prince Albert (q.v.), prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and second son of the then reigning duke. Her majesty has had issue-four sons and five daughters: the princess royal, Victoria, b. Nov. 21, 1840, married Jan. 25, 1858, to Frederick William, now crown prince of Prussia and heir-apparent to the throne of Prussia; Albert Edward, prince of Wales, heir-apparent to the throne of the United Kingdom, b. Nov. 9, 1841, married Mar. 10, 1863, princess Alexandra of Denmark, eldest daughter of Christian IX., king of Denmark; princess Alice, b. April 25, 1843, married July 1, 1862, prince Frederick William of Hesse; prince Alfred, b. Aug. 6, 1844, created duke of Edinburgh, 1866, married Jan. 23, 1874, Marie, only daughter of the emperor of Russia; princess Helena, b. May 25, 1846, married in 1866 to prince Christian of Den mark; princess Louisa, b. Mar. 18, 1848, married in 1871 to the marquis of Lorne; prince Arthur, b. May 1, 1850, created duke of Connaught, 1874, married in 1879 princess Louise Marguerite of Prussia; prince Leopold, b. April 7, 1853; princess Beatrice, b. April 14, 1857.
It will be sufficient to mention here a few of the more memorable eVents of this event nil reign. The changes of administration may be traced in the articles GREAT BRITAIN, MELBOURNE, PEEL, RUSSELL, DERBY, ABERDEEN, PALMERSTO2c, GLADSTONE, DIS RAELI. The legislative measures of greatest importance were the establishment (1840) of the penny-postage (see PosT-oFFIcE); the amendment of the poor-laws (q.v.) in Scotland (1845) and Ireland (1847); the abolition (1846) of the corn laws (q.v.), and (1849) of the navigation laws (q.v.); the Irish encumbered estates act (see TITLE, etc.); the transfer
(1858) of the Indian possessions from The East India company to the crown (see INDIA); the admission (1858) of Jews into the house of commons; the reform act, of 1867; the disestablishment of the Irish church (1869); the Irish land act (1870); the abolition of purchase in the army (1871); the elementary education act for England (1870), and the Scotch education act (1872). See NATIONAL EDUC-ATION. Other events which will sig nalize this period of British history were the formation of the free church (q.v.) of Scot land (1843); the discovery of the northwest passage (q.v.) by sir Robert M'Clure (1850); the exhibitions (q.v.) of 1851 and 1862; the discovery of gold in Australia (q.v.) and in British Columbia ; the war (1854-56) with Russia (q.v.) in defense of Turkey (q.v.), in which the siege of Sevastopol was the chief item; the Indian mutiny in 1857 (see INDIA); the volunteer (q.v.) movement (1859); the establishment (1866) of telegraphic communi cation with America (see TELEGRAPH); the Abyssinian war, 1867 (see THEODORE); the formation of the dominion of Canada, 1867 (see CANADA); the Ashantee (q.v.) war (1873-74); the Afghan war (1878-79); and the Zulu war (1879). The same period has witnessed the most signal changes among surrounding nations; 1848 was a year of Euro pean revolutions, during which the only disturbance in Great Britain was an abortive chartist demonstration (see CHARTISM). The constitutional monarchy of France (q.v.) fell, and was succeeded by a republic, which soon gave place (1852) to the second empire under Louis Napoleon (q.v.), followed again by a republic in 1870. The great civil war in the United States of America (q.v.) has resulted in the extinction of slavery; the for minion of the of Italy (q.v.) has been completed by the acquisition of Venetia and Rome; the unification of Germany, begun by the formatioh of the North German confederation, as the result of the war between Prussia and Austria in 1866, has been consummated by the events of the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71); and the ever formid able "eastern question," raised again in 1876 by the insurrection in Herzegovina, led in 1877 to war between Russia and Turkey, and to sweeping changes in the Balkan penin sula (see TURKEY).
In 1876 " Empress of India " was added to the royal titles of queen Victoria. The premature death of the prince-consort (see ALBERT) on Dec. 14, 1861, caused the queen to seclude herself for several years from public life. Queen Victoria has published two volumes—The Early Days of His Royal Highness, the Prince Consort; and Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands (1869).
"In queen Victoria," according to Macaulay, "her subjects have found a wiser, gentler, happier Elizateth." No former monarch has so thoroughly comprehended the great truth that the powers of the crown are held in trust for the people, and are the means, and not the end of government. This enlightened policy has entitled her to the glorious distinction of having been the most constitutional monarch England has ever seen. Not less important and beneficial has been the example set by her majesty and her late consort in the practice of every domestic virtue. Their stainless lives, their unobtrusive piety, and their careful education of the royal children have borne rich fruit in the stability of the- throne, and have obtained for the royal family of England the respect and admiration of the civilized world. See Theodore Martin's Life of the Prince Consort (vols. 1.-iv. 1873-79).
The progress made by the nation in the various elements of civilization, especially in that Of material prosperity, has been unparalled (see GREAT BRITAIN); and perhaps dur ing no reign has a greater measure of political contentment been enjoyed.