James Anthony Froude, who occupied the Regius chair between 1892 and his death two years later, had been his predecessor’s great rival. Upon returning to Oriel, his undergraduate college, he expressed a hope not to be ‘haunted by Freeman’s ghost.’
Froude’s major work, the History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Death of Elizabeth had been published in twelve volumes between 1856 and 1870. He worked from original manuscripts, and read widely in several European languages, but he had his critics, and some were offended by the mildly anti-clerical tone of his history. He also wrote on the English in Ireland, and produced a biography of his friend Thomas Carlyle.
Froude was an apologist for ‘an enormous and coherent’ British Empire, proposing harsh measures for the African populations of the West Indies, and working towards the confederation of white colonies in southern Africa. He believed that an education in British history was essential to maintaining imperial unity and preventing cultural fragmentation.