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Lord Lansdowne and British Foreign Policy 1900-1917

Richard Wilkinson argues that, for all his faults, a case can be made for the aloof aristocrat at the Foreign Office in 1900-1905.

Who is the most neglected statesman in modern British history? Austen Chamberlain? Arthur Henderson? Alec Douglas-Home? Step forward Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, fifth Marquess of Lansdowne (1845-1927), the Foreign Secretary who abandoned isolation. He has been consistently ignored and under- estimated. Historians have shown far greater interest in his monumental predecessor Lord Salisbury and in his charismatic successor, Sir Edward Grey. As for Lansdowne's role in the development of the Tory Party, he is not even mentioned by Lord Blake in his Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher. Amazingly, no biography of him has appeared since Lord Newton's in 1929 - and it is not as if Newton said all there was to he said. Owing to the release of documents and the researches of scholars since 1929, his book is out of date. Furthermore it is far too uncritical, He was a close friend of Lansdowne and even praises his hero for never falling asleep in the House of Lords! Yet since Lord Newton, nothing.

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