Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

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Henry Palmerston, 3rd Viscount Palmerston
Signature Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston.PNG

Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (born October 20, 1784 in Broadlands , Hampshire , † October 18, 1865 on his estate Brocket Hall , Hertfordshire ) was a British peer , statesman and Prime Minister (1855-1858 and 1859-1865).

Youth and political advancement

Coat of arms of Henry Palmerston, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

He was the only son of the politician Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston from his marriage to Mary Mee. He visited with Lord Byron and Robert Peel the Harrow School and studied at the University of Edinburgh and at St John's College of Cambridge University .

When his father died in 1802, he inherited his title of nobility as 3rd Viscount Palmerston and 3rd Baron Temple . Since these titles, which belong to the Peerage of Ireland, did not have a seat in the British House of Lords , they did not stand in the way of a candidate for the election to the British House of Commons . For the first time on May 8, 1807 he moved into the House of Commons as a Tory MP for Newport . His first contribution to a parliamentary debate was recorded on June 26, 1807. He remained almost continuously until his death a member of the House of Commons, until 1811 as a member of Parliament for Newport, 1811 to 1831 for the University of Cambridge, 1832 to 1835 for the constituency of Hampshire Southern and from 1835 for Tiverton .

In 1807 he received the office of Lord of the Admiralty through William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland . On February 3, 1808, he gave his first lengthy speech in front of the House of Commons, justifying the bombing of Copenhagen by the Royal Navy in September 1807. In October 1809 he was given the post of State Secretary in the War Ministry .

Foreign policy successes

Portrait (attributed to: Franz Xaver Winterhalter )

After George Canning became Prime Minister in 1827, Palmerston was given a Cabinet seat. After Canning's death, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington , became Prime Minister, and as a result, Palmerston resigned from government in May 1828, along with some like-minded people for whom the Duke's Toryist views went too far. From then until 1830 he belonged to the opposition and attacked the government's conservative foreign policy in particular. When the Tories were replaced by the Whigs in 1830 as the ruling party, Palmerston switched to this party and joined the cabinet of Prime Minister Charles Gray, 2nd Earl Gray , as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs . His intermediate political position was also reflected in his membership in both the Athenaeum Club (conservative) and the Brooks’s and Reform Club (both liberal).

His foreign policy strategy was aimed at preventing rapprochement between France and Russia , which he regarded as the only powers of equal value to Great Britain. To do this, he made use of an alliance system that included agreements with and against these two powers. Palmerston first developed a greater diplomatic effect in 1830 when he convened the London Conference after the July and Belgian Revolutions , which clarified the status of Belgium. The quadruple alliance concluded on April 22, 1834 between these countries, Great Britain and France to protect British interests in Portugal and Spain was also based on his initiative . In 1839 he counteracted Russian expansion in the Orient through the treaty concluded with Austria and the Sublime Porte , but also took action against French influence in Syria and Egypt and put an end to Mehemed Ali's policy of conquest of Egypt in 1840.

Diplomatic failure of "Lord Firebrand"

When in August 1841 the liberal cabinet of Prime Minister William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne , no longer had a parliamentary majority, Palmerston had to resign and took over the leadership of the opposition in the House of Commons. After Prime Minister Peel submitted his dismissal on June 25, 1846, Palmerston joined Prime Minister John Russell's newly formed cabinet on July 3 as Secretary of State. He was given the name Lord Firebrand ( fire blight ) for his busy, meddling and often ill-considered policy . The disadvantages of this approach became increasingly apparent from 1846: France and Russia could hardly be involved diplomatically, but instead opted for an isolation course from Great Britain. Through his intervention in the Second Carlist War in Spain, military operations against Sardinia, the Rio Nunez incident , the suppression of the revolutions in Sicily , which he had favored, and support for the revolution in Hungary , Palmerston fell out with France, Spain and Belgium , Austria and Russia, while his partisanship for Denmark on the Schleswig-Holstein question brought him into opposition to Prussia .

Palmerston's foreign policy was increasingly disapproved of by Queen Victoria and Prime Minister Russell. After Palmerston had approved Charles-Louis Bonaparte's coup d'état of December 2, 1851 in France without the approval of the Queen or the Cabinet , both forced him to resign on December 22, 1851. Palmerston, however, had a power base in, mainly through his nationalist position Parliament and electorate built so that on February 20, 1852 he succeeded in overthrowing the Russell government.

When the coalition of Prime Minister George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen came to power, Palmerston took over the Ministry of the Interior on December 28, 1852, and in this role he expanded the health system in London .

Palmerston as Prime Minister

As Home Secretary, Palmerston retained great influence on British foreign policy and advocated the country's entry into the Crimean War . When the Aberdeen government was overthrown over this matter in 1855, Palmerston took over the formation of a new cabinet in which he himself was prime minister. The Indian uprising followed immediately after the Crimean War . After the assassination attempt on Napoléon III. through Felice Orsini , Palmerston tried to enforce a law that should prevent British attacks abroad being prepared. Since parliament rejected this proposal as being too Napoleon-friendly, the Palmerston government overthrew on February 20, 1858. Nonetheless, in 1859, after the rejection of Lord Derby's reform law, he took the lead for the second time. From 1860 he was also Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports . With his wait-and-see attitude he avoided Great Britain joining the southern states in the American Civil War in 1862 . Otherwise this would have become almost inevitable due to the Trent affair . Due to the armament of the French fleet under Napoleon III. and the ensuing fear of a French invasion, Palmerston convened the Royal Commission on the Defense of the United Kingdom in 1859 . Based on their recommendations, a total of 76 forts and coastal fortifications , known as Palmerston forts , were built from the 1860s to defend the British naval bases . However, since concerns about a French invasion later turned out to be unfounded, the fortresses built with considerable effort were mockingly called Palmerston's Follies . In the German-Danish War he advocated a friendly policy towards the Danes, but was unable to assert himself domestically against the German-friendly attitude of Queen Victoria and in foreign policy. His bon mot is handed down :

"Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business — the Prince Consort , who is dead — a German professor, who has gone mad — and I, who have forgotten all about it."

- Palmerston

Palmerston died on October 18, 1865 on his Brocket Hall estate . His body was buried in Westminster Abbey on October 27th . Since his marriage to the Hon. Emily Lamb , daughter of Peniston Lamb, 1st Viscount Melbourne , widow of Peter Cowper, 5th Earl Cowper , remained childless in 1839 , his titles of nobility expired on his death.


  • Karl Marx : Lord Palmerston . In: The People's Paper : October 22, 1853, October 29, 1853, November 5, 1853, November 12, 1853, November 19, 1853, December 10, 1853, December 17, 1853, and December 24, 1853, and the New York Daily Tribune October 19, 1853, November 4, 1853, November 21, 1853 and January 11, 1854 Marx-Engels-Werke. Volume 9, pp. 353-418
  • England's 19th century statesmen. Sir Robert Peel , Lord Aberdeen , Benjamin D'Israeli , Lord Palmerston, Sir James Graham , Lord John Russell , William Gladstone , with a sideways glance at Russia and its politics . Voigt, Weimar 1855 digitized
  • Lord Palmerston - a very critical appraisal in "The Gazebo" 1855
  • Theodor Bernhardt: Lord Palmerston. A lecture . Lüderitz, Berlin 1870 digitized
  • Henry Lytton Bulwer Dalling and Bulwer: The Life of Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston ... with Selections from His Diaries and Correspondence . (3rd edition. London 1871, 2 volumes, reaching up to 1846; completed by Ashley 1876, 2 vols.)
  • Anthony Trollope : Lord Palmerston . Wm. Isbister, London 1882. Digitized
  • Palmerston, Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount . In: Encyclopædia Britannica . 11th edition. tape 20 : Ode - Payment of Members . London 1911, p. 645 (English, full text [ Wikisource ]).
  • Karl Eckinger: Lord Palmerston and the Swiss Sonderbund War . Ebering, Berlin 1938 (Historical Studies 327)
  • Günther Gillessen : Lord Palmerston and the unification of Germany. English politics from the Paulskirche to the Dresden Conferences (1848-1851) . Matthiesen, Lübeck 1961 (Historical Studies 384)
  • Kurt Weisbrod: Lord Palmerston and the European Revolution of 1848 . o. O. 1967 (Heidelberg, Phil. Fak., diss. from July 9, 1968)

Web links

Commons : Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hansard : HC Deb June 26, 1807, Volume 9, § 655.
  2. ^ Crownhill Fort: History. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 26, 2013 ; Retrieved May 3, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.crownhillfort.co.uk
  3. The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History: Palmerston's Forts and Batteries. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on December 31, 2008 ; Retrieved May 3, 2013 .
  4. ^ Lytton Strachey, Queen Victoria , 1921.
  5. Only Three People Understood It: The Prince Consort Who is Dead, a German Professor Who Has Gone Mad, and I Who Have Forgotten All About It . Retrieved December 16, 2018.
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Henry Temple Viscount Palmerston
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