Castlereagh, Robert Stewart, Viscount


Castlereagh, Robert Stewart, Viscount
(1769–1823)
   An Anglo-Irish politician and British Foreign Secretary, Castlereagh, a courtesy title he assumed in 1796 owing to his father’s Irish marquisate, was initially a Whig, but the events of the French Revolution drove him to the Tories. Elected to the Irish Parliament in 1790, to Westminster in 1794, and sitting for several years in both Parliaments, he was a supporter of William Pitt the Younger’s Irish Union, and like Pitt he insisted on the need for the redress of Catholic disabilities. This latter cause earned him the displeasure of George III, which complicated his political career. He was at the War Office during the early years of the Peninsular campaign, when it was not popular, and resigned as a result of a series of complicated machinations by Canning coincident with the failure of the 1809 Walcheren expedition. The dispute with Canning led to a duel that both men survived and that did not prevent Castlereagh becoming foreign secretary under Spencer Perceval in 1812.
   After the assassination of Perceval, Castlereagh kept his office under the premiership of Lord Liverpool and became known for his deft and moderate diplomacy. In the complicated and many-sided negotiations surrounding the defeat of Napoleonic France, Castlereagh was a consistent opponent of a vindictive peace, and he opposed the counter-revolutionary Holy Alliance. In domestic politics, however, Castlereagh was an equally consistent opponent of parliamentary reform and a supporter of repression, especially in the aftermath of the 1819 “Peterloo massacre,” at St. Peter’s fields, Manchester. Castlereagh did not believe that the government could or should remedy the commercial depression and widespread suffering that came with the peace. His reputation as a reactionary inspired Shelley’s famous lines, “I met death on the way/he had a mask like Castlereagh.” Increasingly depressed and unstable, Castlereagh committed suicide in 1823.
   See also <>; <>; <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Hinde, Wendy. Castlereagh. London: Collins, 1981;
    Kissinger, Henry. A World Restored. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1957.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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  • Castlereagh, Robert Stewart, Viscount — born June 18, 1769, Dublin, Ire. died Aug. 12, 1822, London, Eng. British politician. He was elected to the Irish Parliament in 1790 and later served in the British Parliament (1794–1805, 1806–22). As chief secretary for Ireland (1798–1801),… …   Universalium

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  • Robert Stewart, 1st Marquess of Londonderry — (September 27, 1739–April 6, 1821), an Irish politician and landowner, was the father of the famous politician Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh.Born in 1739, nephew to Robert Cowan, the wealthy Governor of Bombay, [… …   Wikipedia

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  • viscount — /vuy kownt /, n. 1. a nobleman next below an earl or count and next above a baron. 2. Hist. a deputy of a count or earl. 3. (in England) a sheriff. [1350 1400; ME viscounte < AF; OF visconte (F vicomte), equiv. to vis VICE3 + counte COUNT2, trans …   Universalium

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