Definitions

Baroness

Baroness

[bar-uh-nis]
Thatcher, Margaret Hilda Roberts Thatcher, Baroness, 1925-, British political leader. Great Britain's first woman prime minister, Thatcher served longer than any other British prime minister in the 20th cent. In office she initiated what became known as the "Thatcher Revolution," a series of social and economic changes that dismantled many aspects of Britain's postwar welfare state.

Thatcher studied chemistry at Oxford and later became a lawyer. Elected to Parliament as a Conservative in 1959, she held junior ministerial posts (1961-64) before serving (1970-74) as secretary of state for education and science in Edward Heath's cabinet. After two defeats in general elections, the Conservative party elected her its first woman leader in 1975.

After leading the Conservatives to an electoral victory in 1979, Thatcher became prime minister. She had pledged to reduce the influence of the trade unions and combat inflation, and her economic policy rested on the introduction of broad changes along free-market lines. She attacked inflation by controlling the money supply and sharply reduced government spending and taxes for higher-income individuals. Although unemployment continued to rise to postwar highs, the declining economic output was reversed. In 1982, when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a British colony, Britain's successful prosecution of the subsequent war contributed to the Conservatives' win at the polls in 1983.

Thatcher's second government privatized national industries and utilities, including British Gas and British Telecommunications. Her antiunion policies forced coal miners to return to work after a year on strike. In foreign affairs, Thatcher was a close ally of President Ronald Reagan and shared his antipathy to Communism. She allowed the United States to station (1980) nuclear cruise missiles in Britain and to use its air bases to bomb Libya in 1986. She forged (1985) a historic accord with Ireland, giving it a consulting role in governing Northern Ireland.

In 1987 Thatcher led the Conservatives to a third consecutive electoral victory, although with a reduced majority. She proposed free-market changes to the national health and education systems and introduced a controversial per capita "poll tax" to pay for local government, which fueled criticisms that she had no compassion for the poor. Her refusal to support a common European currency and integrated economic policies led to the resignation of her treasury minister in 1989 and her deputy prime minister in 1990.

Disputes over the poll tax, which took effect in 1990, and over European integration led to a leadership challenge (1990) from within her party. She resigned as prime minister, and John Major emerged as her successor. In 1992 Thatcher retired from the House of Commons and was created Baroness Thatcher. In the mid-1990s Thatcher was publicly critical of Major's more moderate policies, and she has continued to criticize publicly Conservative and Labour positions she disagrees with.

See her memoirs, The Downing Street Years (1993) and The Path to Power (1995), and her collected speeches in The Revival of Britain, compiled by A. Cooke (1989); studies by R. Lewis (1984), P. Jenkins (1987), and H. Young (1989).

Title of nobility, ranking in modern times immediately below a viscount or a count (in countries without viscounts). The wife of a baron is a baroness. Originally, in the early Middle Ages, the term designated a tenant of whatever rank who held a tenure of barony direct from the king. Gradually, it came to mean a powerful personage, and therefore a magnate. The rights and h1 may be conferred for military or other honorable service.

Learn more about baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born July 11, 1890, Glenguin, Stirling, Scot.—died June 3, 1967, Banstead, Surrey, Eng.) British air marshal. He joined the British army in 1913, transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916, and after World War I commanded a branch of the Royal Air Force (RAF). As head of the RAF Middle East Command in World War II, he commanded Allied air operations in North Africa and Italy, and in 1944 he was appointed head of Allied air operations in western Europe. His policy of bombing German communications and providing close air support of ground operations contributed significantly to the success of the Normandy Campaign and the Allied advance into Germany. He later became the first peacetime chief of the air staff (1946–50).

Learn more about Tedder (of Glenguin), Arthur William Tedder, 1st Baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Ernest Rutherford, oil painting by J. Dunn, 1932; in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

(born Aug. 30, 1871, Spring Grove, N.Z.—died Oct. 19, 1937, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Eng.) New Zealand-born British physicist. After studies at Canterbury College, he moved to Britain to attend Cambridge University, where he worked with J.J. Thomson at the Cavendish Laboratory. He would later teach at McGill University in Montreal (1898–1907) and Victoria University in Manchester (1907–19) before becoming chair of the Cavendish Laboratory (from 1919). At the laboratory in the years 1895–97 he discovered and named two types of radioactivity, alpha decay and beta decay. He later identified the alpha particle as a helium atom and used it in postulating the existence of the atomic nucleus. With Frederick Soddy he formulated the transformation theory of radioactivity (1902). In 1919 he became the first person to disintegrate an element artificially, and in 1920 he hypothesized the existence of the neutron. His work contributed greatly to understanding the disintegration and transmutation of radioactive elements and became fundamental to much of 20th-century physics. In 1908 he was awarded the Nobel Prize. He was knighted in 1914 and ennobled in 1931. Element 104, rutherfordium, is named in his honour.

Learn more about Rutherford of Nelson, Ernest Rutherford, Baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Jan. 6, 1861, Ghent, Belg.—died Sept. 8, 1947, Brussels) Belgian architect. From 1892 he designed numerous buildings in Brussels, becoming a leading exponent of the Art Nouveau style. His Hôtel Tassel (1892–93) was a pioneering example of the new style. His chief work was the Maison du Peuple (1896–99), the first structure in Belgium to have a largely iron-and-glass facade. From 1912 he directed the Académie des Beaux-Arts, and he designed the Palais des Beaux-Arts (1922–28).

Learn more about Horta, Victor, Baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born , March 10, 1788, near Ratibor, Prussia—died Nov. 26, 1857, Neisse) German poet and novelist. Born to the nobility, he and his family lost their castle in the Napoleonic Wars, and he later worked in the Prussian civil service. He became associated with the national leaders of the Romantic movement while studying in Berlin. His most important prose work, Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing (1826), is considered a high point of Romantic fiction. In the 1830s he wrote poetry that achieved the popularity of folk songs and inspired such composers as Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf, and Richard Strauss.

Learn more about Eichendorff, Joseph, Baron von with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or Baron Delaware

(born July 9, 1577—died June 7, 1618, at sea off the coast of Virginia or New England) English founder of Virginia. After serving under the earl of Essex in the Netherlands and Ireland, he became a member of the Virginia Company and was appointed governor of the colony in 1610. He and 150 settlers arrived at Jamestown as another group was abandoning it. He established two forts at the mouth of the James River and rebuilt Jamestown. Delaware Bay, the Delaware River, and the state of Delaware were named for him.

Learn more about De La Warr, Thomas West, 12th Baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Sept. 13, 1520, Bourne, Lincolnshire, Eng.—died Aug. 5, 1598, London) English statesman, principal adviser to Elizabeth I through most of her reign and a master of Renaissance statecraft. Having served as a councillor and cosecretary to Edward VI, he was appointed Elizabeth's sole secretary when she became queen in 1558. A dedicated and skillful adviser to the queen, Cecil was created Baron Burghley in 1571 and appointed lord high treasurer (1572–98). He obtained the trial and execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, thus securing the Protestant succession, and his preparations enabled England to survive the Spanish Armada. But he failed to induce Elizabeth to marry or to reform her church along more Protestant lines.

Learn more about Cecil, William, 1st Baron Burghley with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Feb. 9, 1854, Dublin, Ire.—died Oct. 22, 1935, Minster, Kent, Eng.) Irish lawyer and politician. In 1892 he was elected to the British House of Commons and was appointed Irish solicitor general. He served as British solicitor general (1900–05), attorney general (1915), first lord of the Admiralty (1916–17), and lord of appeal (1921–29). Known as the “uncrowned king of Ulster,” he successfully led Northern Irish resistance to the British government's attempts to introduce Home Rule for all of Ireland.

Learn more about Carson (of Duncairn), Edward Henry, Baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born circa 1748, Noyelles, Flanders—died Aug. 10, 1807, Quito, Viceroyalty of New Granada) Spanish governor of the territory of Louisiana and western Florida (1791–97). When he arrived in New Orleans, he formed alliances with local Indian tribes to defend disputed territory north of the 31st parallel of latitude against U.S. settlers. He negotiated with Gen. James Wilkinson to effect the secession of the trans-Appalachian territories from the U.S. and to secure their alliance with Spain. These efforts were terminated in 1795 with the signing of Pinckney's Treaty (see Thomas Pinckney). Carondelet was recalled in 1797 and went to South America to become governor-general of Quito.

Learn more about Carondelet, (Francisco Luis) Hector, baron de with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Nov. 18, 1897, London, Eng.—died July 13, 1974, London) British physicist. He graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1921 and spent 10 years at the Cavendish Laboratory, where he developed the Wilson cloud chamber into an instrument for the study of cosmic radiation. He was awarded a 1948 Nobel Prize for his discoveries and was made a life peer in 1969.

Learn more about Blackett (of Chelsea), Patrick M(aynard) S(tuart), Baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Feb. 9, 1854, Dublin, Ire.—died Oct. 22, 1935, Minster, Kent, Eng.) Irish lawyer and politician. In 1892 he was elected to the British House of Commons and was appointed Irish solicitor general. He served as British solicitor general (1900–05), attorney general (1915), first lord of the Admiralty (1916–17), and lord of appeal (1921–29). Known as the “uncrowned king of Ulster,” he successfully led Northern Irish resistance to the British government's attempts to introduce Home Rule for all of Ireland.

Learn more about Carson (of Duncairn), Edward Henry, Baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born 1578/79, Kipling, Yorkshire, Eng.—died April 15, 1632) English colonialist. He served in the House of Commons from 1621; charged with communicating the policy of James I, he was distrusted by Parliament. After declaring himself a Roman Catholic (1625), he gave up his office and was created Baron Baltimore, receiving land grants in Ireland. To assure the prosperity of his New World holdings, he took his family to his Newfoundland colony in 1628. Because of conflict over his Catholicism and the severe climate, he petitioned Charles I for a land grant in the Chesapeake Bay area. He died before the charter was granted, and his son Cecil became proprietor of the colony of Maryland.

Learn more about Baltimore (of Baltimore), George Calvert, 1st Baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Feb. 22, 1857, London, Eng.—died Jan. 8, 1941, Nyeri, Kenya) British army officer and founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides (later Girl Scouts; see scouting). He was noted for his use of observation balloons in warfare in Africa (1884–85). In the South African War, he became a national hero in the Siege of Mafikeng. Having learned that his military textbook Aids to Scouting (1899) was being used to train boys in woodcraft, he wrote Scouting for Boys (1908) and that same year established the Boy Scout movement. In 1910, with his sister Agnes and his wife, Olave, he founded the Girl Guides.

Learn more about Baden-Powell (of Gilwell), Robert Stephenson Smyth, 1st Baron with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Search another word or see baronesson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature