Castlereagh: Enlightened Conservative

Few figures in British political history have endured such lingering hostility as the statesman who did so much to forge Europe’s post-Napoleonic settlement, says John Bew.

'Killing no murder, or a new ministerial way of settling the affairs of a nation!', a satire by Isaac Cruickshank of the duel between Castlereagh (l) and Canning that took place on September 21st, 1809No British statesman of the 19th century reached the same level of international influence as Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (1769-1822), or, at least, none won as much respect from the great powers of Europe or in the United States. But very few have been so maligned by their own countrymen and so abused in history. This shy and handsome Ulsterman is perhaps the most hated domestic political figure in both modern British and Irish political history.

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