Salisbury, Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3d marquess of
Salisbury, Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3d marquess of(sôlz`bərē), 1830–1903, British statesman. He entered Parliament in 1853 as a Conservative and devoted himself for 50 years to a program of cautious imperialism and resourceful resistance to sweeping parliamentary and franchise reforms. He became (1866) secretary for India in Lord Derby's government but resigned (1867) in protest against the Reform Bill (see Reform ActsReform Acts
or Reform Bills,
in British history, name given to three major measures that liberalized representation in Parliament in the 19th cent. Representation of the counties and boroughs in the House of Commons had not, except for the effects of parliamentary
..... Click the link for more information. ) sponsored and passed by Benjamin DisraeliDisraeli, Benjamin, 1st earl of Beaconsfield
, 1804–81, British statesman and author. He is regarded as the founder of the modern Conservative party.
..... Click the link for more information. . Salisbury (who succeeded to his father's title in 1868) returned to the India Office in 1874 and in 1878 became Disraeli's foreign secretary. His "Salisbury Circular" outlined British policy concerning the Eastern QuestionEastern Question,
term designating the problem of European territory controlled by the decaying Ottoman Empire in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th cent. The Turkish threat to Europe was checked by the Hapsburgs in the 16th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. and led to the Congress of Berlin (1878), which he attended with Disraeli. The Conservatives lost office in 1880, and on Disraeli's death (1881) Salisbury became leader of the opposition to the administration of William GladstoneGladstone, William Ewart,
1809–98, British statesman, the dominant personality of the Liberal party from 1868 until 1894. A great orator and a master of finance, he was deeply religious and brought a highly moralistic tone to politics.
..... Click the link for more information. . In 1885 he entered upon the first of his three ministries. His government fell early in 1886, but Salisbury returned to power within the year, following the defeat of Gladstone's bill for Irish Home RuleHome Rule,
in Irish and English history, political slogan adopted by Irish nationalists in the 19th cent. to describe their objective of self-government for Ireland. Origins of the Home Rule Movement
..... Click the link for more information. . Salisbury's second government lasted six years (until 1892); his third, seven years (1895–1902). In each of his ministries he acted as his own foreign minister. Salisbury avoided alignments in European affairs, maintaining the policy of what was later called "splendid isolation." Colonial affairs, however, brought difficulties with some of the European powers. An Anglo-German agreement (1890) resolved conflicting claims in East Africa; Great Britain received Zanzibar and Uganda in exchange for Helgoland. A treaty with Portugal (1891) gave Britain further rights in E Africa. The Fashoda IncidentFashoda Incident
, 1898, diplomatic dispute between France and Great Britain. Toward the end of the 19th cent., while Britain was seeking to establish a continuous strip of territory from Cape Town to Cairo, France desired to establish an overland route from the Red Sea to the
..... Click the link for more information. (1898) brought Britain and France to the verge of war but ended in a diplomatic victory for Britain. Difficulties with the Boers, however, resulted in the South African WarSouth African War
or Boer War,
1899–1902, war of the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State against Great Britain. Background
..... Click the link for more information. (1899–1902). Salisbury conciliated the United States at the time of the Venezuela Boundary Dispute, in the Spanish-American War, and in the Panama negotiations. He attempted with some success to maintain the Open Door in China. Although preoccupied largely with foreign affairs, Salisbury did carry several land purchase acts for Ireland. His governments were also responsible for such reforms as the reorganization of local government (1888), free public education (1891), and workmen's compensation (1897). He relinquished the foreign office in 1900 and resigned as prime minister after the conclusion of the South African War in 1902. Salisbury designated his nephew, Arthur Balfour, as his successor.
See biographies by his daughter, G. Cecil (4 vol., 1921–32, repr. 1971), A. L. Kennedy (1953), R. G. Taylor (1975), and P. Marsh (1978).