Prophets, Classics and Philosopher Kings

Richard Symonds

in Oxford and Empire

Published in print June 1992 | ISBN: 9780198203001
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191675645 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Prophets, Classics and Philosopher Kings

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter examines the influence of the University of Oxford in the kind of imperialism which developed in Britain during the late 19th century. It suggests that imperialism can be best understood in light of two earlier events, which many Oxonians considered cataclysmic. These are the birth of the Tractarian or Oxford Movement in the 1830s and 1840s which involved bitter theological feuds and Charles Darwin's publication of the Origin of the Species and the Descent of Man which caused a general questioning of the truths of the Bible. Some Oxonians believed that imperialism has all the depth and significance of a religious faith and its significance was moral to them rather than material.

Keywords: University of Oxford; imperialism; Britain; Oxford Movement; theological feud; Charles Darwin; Origin of the Species; Descent of Man

Chapter.  9478 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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