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Sir Robert Walpole: scoundrel, genius & Britain’s first Prime Minister

26 Apr 2011
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Edward Pearce
Sir Robert Walpole: scoundrel, genius & Britain's first Prime Minister

Event Information

Sir Robert Walpole: scoundrel, genius & Britain’s first Prime Minister

Edward Pearce – political journalist and author

Lecture sponsored by University of York, Senior Common Room, King’s Manor

by Carole Smith

In 1832 the Reform Act undid some of the worst elements of the political corruption begun a century earlier by Robert Walpole, himself a product of the 17th century. Under his influence it became normal for politicians to embezzle state funds, take bribes and sweeteners, betray each other (often literally), as well as carrying on the business of state more or (mostly) less competently. Walpole did all of these things, but managed also to diminish the violence and destructive effects of the Stuart period, laying the foundations for more stable government. He had other personally redeeming characteristics, such as a hatred of war, which he saw as a stupid waste of money and life, and very bad for the country. He survived the crisis of the South Sea Bubble, incarceration in the Tower (for embezzlement), and was good at persuading people to do what they had no wish to do.

The speaker’s laid-back, discursive style needed a sharper sound system: many anecdotes were missed by this audience.


Edward Pearce is author of the following book which is realted to the subject of this lecture.
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