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date: 27 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an anatomy of Home Rule politics in Britain and Ireland between the 1870s and the 1916 Rising. Home Rule’s ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’—nationalist, unionist, Irish, and British—are identified and the careers and thinking of the major protagonists are introduced. A national and an international context is provided and this allows Home Rule’s changing meanings over time to be explained. In particular, the development of Home Rule politics is considered in the context of the gradual democratization of UK politics and changing attitudes towards the British Empire. The findings of the recent monograph literature are integrated into this account and the main lines of historiographical dispute are evaluated. Particular emphasis is placed on the tendency of new liberal idealist thinking to regard Irish and British supporters of Home Rule as motivated more by principle than political calculation; a claim that can also be made of their opponents.

Keywords: Nationalism, Unionism, Liberalism, Separatism, Empire, Devolution

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