Aristocratic, witty, eccentric, brilliant and ruthless, Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury was three times Queen Victoria’s Prime Minister and the genius behind her Empire. It was Salisbury who masterminded the campaigns, ‘ententes’, treaties and pageantries which raised the British Empire to its zenith in terms of power and prestige at the end of the nineteenth century. It was Salisbury who, from his Jacobean palace at Hatfield, coordinated the policies which brought a quarter of the globe under British sway.
Writing with complete access to Salisbury’s archive at Hatfield House, as well as using papers of more than 140 of Salisbury’s contemporaries, Andrew Roberts explores every aspect of the man; his marriage for love, his caustic journalism, his distinctive political philosophy and his depression, humour and dazzling intellect.
Salisbury’s was a turbulent fifty-year career, during which he won over Disraeli, destroyed Lord Randolph Churchill, brought Edward VII to heel, wrecked Gladstone’s hopes for Irish Home Rule, offered secret deals to Tsar Nicholas II, saw off Otto von Bismarck and saw through Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Andrew Roberts’s masterly new biography is the first all-encompassing life of Salisbury for almost half a century. The Marquess at last receives his due as a titan of late-Victorian politics – fully the equal of Disraeli and Gladstone.
‘This is a biography of quite unusual quality and insight, tautly organised yet flowing easily, with years of research behind it to reinforce its authority. While not seeking to diminish either Gladstone or Disraeli, it restores Salisbury to the commanding position he rightfully occupied in Victorian politics.’ Peter Clarke, Sunday Times