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 France and continental Europe. In terms of moral sensibilities and political reforms, period began with the passage of the Reform Act 1832. There was a strong religious drive for higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodist, and the Evangelical wing of the established Church of England. Moral standards improved very dramatically, especially for the middle class. The period was peaceful among the Great Powers, with only one mid-sized international war. Britain enjoyed strong naval superiority, leadership worldwide in manufacturing, finance, railways, shipping, and entrepreneurship. Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history. National self-confidence peaked.