This chapter presents a study of the influences which mid-Victorian Britain brought to bear on its embryonic universities and of the position which the universities assumed in Victorian society. The influences were often dissimilar to those which have shaped more universities. There was no large-scale demand for university places, nor was there a large pool of qualified candidates for admission. Some succeeded and became the “redbrick” or “civic” universities of 20th Century Britain. By 1900 the originally tiny civic colleges of Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool had formed a respected federal institution and were almost ready to dissolve it and stand as independent universities. Universities play an important role in most modern societies, and historians have come to appreciate that fact. The complexity of the university and its purposes, and of the motives and needs of its supporters, directors, members, and users, is enormous. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.