Page 127. " oh dear me, what a Radical you are! "
Lord John Russell, 'son of a Duke but a crusading radical'
Public DomainLord John Russell, 'son of a Duke but a crusading radical' - Credit: Sir Francis Grant

The Radicals were a political group in the mid-18th century who supported parliamentary reform, together with Catholic Emancipation and free trade.

The Whig Reform Act of 1832 had enfranchised the middle classes, but failed to meet radical demands, particularly for universal male suffrage. The mainly aristocratic Whigs in the House of Commons were joined by a small number of parliamentary Radicals who insisted on the vote for working class men. 

These radicals were distinctly middle class. They opposed the political dominance and economic interests of the traditional British elites, and supported free trade and individual self-ownership.

The Radicals joined the Whigs to form the Liberal Party in 1859.

Page 142. " a private expedition to make excavations among the ruined cities of Central America "
Fragments of Mayan sculpture
Public DomainFragments of Mayan sculpture - Credit: Henry Sandham, Century Magazine, 1898

The ancient kingdom of the Mayans existed from the 5th century to the early 9th century.  The city of Copán, the capital of the Mayan civilisation, was located in what is now western Honduras.  The city began flourishing around 150 AD, and reached its height around 700-850 AD.  From Copán, the Mayans ruled a vast kingdom.

The Jaguar Stairway
Public DomainThe Jaguar Stairway - Credit: Henry Sandham, Century Magainze, 1898

Mayan civilisation suffered a marked decline during the 9th century, but there is evidence of people still living in and around the city until at least 1200. 

By the time the Spanish arrived in Honduras in 1502, the once great city-state of Copán was overrun by the jungle.

Page 142. " from the time of the landing in Honduras "
Honduras and Belize (1985)
Public DomainHonduras and Belize (1985) - Credit: US CIA

In 1524 the Spanish arrived in Honduras, led by Hernan Cortes. Within two decades, they had conquered most of the indigenous peoples and made the territory part of Spain's vast empire in the New World.  The Spanish ruled the region for the next three centuries, mining gold and silver using forced local labour, and, as indigenous populations were decimated, slaves from other parts of Central America, and eventually Africa.    

The Spanish conquered the southern part of Honduras fairly quickly, but were less successful in the north.  The Miskito Kingdom, in the northeast, was particularly effective in resisting conquest. The Miskitos found support from northern European privateers, pirates, and Britain, which placed much of it under protection after 1740.

British colonization was particularly evident in the Bay Islands, and alliances between the British and Miskito placed the area largely outside Spanish control, and made it a haven for pirates.

‘Spanish’ Honduras became independent from Spain in 1821, and was for a time under the Mexican Empire. From 1838 it was an independent republic.

In 1862, Britain declared the Settlement of Belize, in the Bay of Honduras, a British colony called ‘British’ Honduras.  British colonists established vast estates, while the indigenous Maya were forbidden from owning land, and were moved into ‘reserves.’ 

In 1964, Belize became a self-governing colony. It only became fully independent from Britain in 1981.