Salisbury as Premier

Graham Goodlad asks whether Lord Salisbury deserves his reputation as one of the great Victorian Prime Ministers.

For two generations after his death, Robert Cecil, third Marquess of Salisbury (1830-1903) was neglected by historians of the Victorian political scene. Although several learned monographs on aspects of his foreign policy appeared, Salisbury's role on the domestic stage received little academic attention until the 1970s. This situation began to change with the publication of selections from Salisbury's political writings, followed in 1978 by the appearance of Peter Marsh's major study, The Discipline of Popular Government. During the Thatcher and Major years, Salisbury was the beneficiary of a notable upsurge of interest in the history of the Conservative party. Then in 1999 two heavyweight biographies, by Andrew Roberts and David Steele, appeared. Two years later, as the centenary of Salisbury's retirement approached, the historian Michael Bentley produced a detailed and innovative study of the statesman's world-view.

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