Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

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Lord Salisbury, photograph from 1886

Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (born February 3, 1830 in Hatfield , Hertfordshire , † August 22, 1903 ibid), was a British statesman and Prime Minister .

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Cecil was the third son of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Salisbury , from his first marriage to Frances Gascoyne. As the younger son of a marquess , he used the courtesy address "Lord" Robert Gascoyne-Cecil from birth . After an unhappy childhood education at Eton College and studying at Christ Church College of Oxford University was called in 1853 as a Conservative MP in the House of Commons , elected, the lower house of the British Parliament.

In 1857 Cecil married Georgina Alderson. His father tried to prevent his son's marriage because, in his opinion, the bride was "improper" due to her lower social rank. Married life itself was happy, however, with five sons, including politician Hugh Cecil , and two daughters.

Since his eldest brother James died childless in 1865, Cecil's apparently new marriage to his father was Viscount Cranborne . The second-born brother Arthur had already died as an infant.

In 1866 he entered the third government of Lord Derby as India Minister ; he succeeded the Marquess of Ripon in this position . But just seven months later he left the cabinet because of the rejection of the Reform Bill , which he considered too democratic .

In 1868, when his father died, he inherited his title of nobility as 3rd Marquess of Salisbury and thus became a member of the House of Lords . In 1870 he was appointed Chancellor of Oxford University.

In 1874 he returned to the government of Benjamin Disraeli as India Minister . Salisbury gradually developed a good relationship with Disraeli, whom he initially disliked and initially distrusted, at least in part because of Disraeli's Jewish origins. At the Conference of Constantinople convened by Great Britain (December 1876 to January 1877), at which, among other things, the future of the Balkans was discussed, Salisbury led the British delegation. There he managed to preserve the Ottoman Empire for the time being, to slow down Russian expansion efforts in the Balkans and Asia Minor and to win Cyprus over to Great Britain. In 1878 Salisbury succeeded Lord Derby (son of the former Prime Minister) as Foreign Minister . For his services at the Berlin Congress he was awarded the Order of the Garter .

After Disraeli's death in 1881, a tumultuous time began for the Conservatives. Salisbury became Chairman of the Conservatives in the House of Lords and fought for supremacy in the party with the Conservative Chairman of the House of Commons, Sir Stafford Northcote . Salisbury eventually emerged victorious and was Prime Minister of a minority government from 1885 to 1886 . The split in the liberals over the question of Irish self-government brought him a parliamentary majority in 1886, and with one interruption (1892–1895) he formed the government from 1886 to 1902. From 1895 he was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports .

Salisbury was also its own foreign secretary for most of his tenures as prime minister. He pursued a policy of splendid isolation and imperialism , especially in Africa, where the Faschoda crisis and the Boer War fell into his tenure. He expanded the British colonial empire especially in East and South Africa. Domestically, he rejected the self-government of Ireland, but was otherwise hardly active.

On July 11, 1902, Salisbury resigned for health reasons. His nephew Arthur Balfour succeeded him. Salisbury was the last member of the House of Lords to be Prime Minister (with the temporary exception of Alec Douglas-Home , who gave up his earl dignity shortly after being appointed Prime Minister).

Salisbury dealt intensively with theology and philosophy as well as with chemical experiments.

Gascoyne-Cecil found it difficult to see the faces of others, even his relatives, when he met them in unexpected circumstances. Once, while standing behind the throne during an official court ceremony, he saw a young man smiling at him. "Who is my young friend?" He whispered to his neighbor. "Your oldest son," answered the neighbor. Apparently he was suffering from some form of prosopagnosia .


What is now Harare , the capital of Zimbabwe, was named Salisbury after Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury , between 1890 and 1980 .


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James Gascoyne-Cecil
Marquess of Salisbury

James Gascoyne-Cecil
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Earl of Derby
Earl Granville
Earl of Iddesleigh
Earl of Kimberley
British Foreign Secretary

Earl Granville
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Earl of Rosebery
Marquess of Landsdowne

William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
Earl of Rosebery
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William Ewart Gladstone
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Marquess of Dufferin and Ava
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Arthur Balfour