The government at the time of Victoria's accession was led by the Whig prime minister Lord Melbourne, but within two years he had resigned, and the Tory politician Sir Robert Peel formed a new ministry.
In the same year, a seizure of British opium exports to China prompted the First Opium War against the Qing dynasty, and British imperial India initiated the First Anglo-Afghan War—one of the first major conflicts of the Great Game between Britain and Russia.
The New Dissenters (and also the Anglican evangelicals) stressed personal morality issues, including sexuality, temperance, family values, and Sabbath-keeping.
Both factions were politically active, but until the mid-19th century, the Old group supported mostly Whigs and Liberals in politics, while the New—like most Anglicans—generally supported Conservatives.
In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901.
The era followed the Georgian period and preceded the Edwardian period, and its later half overlaps with the first part of the Belle Époque era of continental Europe.
Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history.
Domestically, the political agenda was increasingly liberal, with a number of shifts in the direction of gradual political reform, industrial reform, and the widening of the voting franchise.
Ideologically, the Victorian era witnessed resistance to the rationalism that defined the Georgian period and an increasing turn towards romanticism and mysticism with regard to religion, social values, and arts.
In international relations, the supremacy of the Royal Navy helped maintain a period of relative peace among the great powers (Pax Britannica) as well as economic, colonial, and industrial consolidation and expansion, a notable exception being the Crimean War (1853–56).
In the late 19th century, the New Dissenters mostly switched to the Liberal Party.