The British Empire

Contents

Contents.................................................................................................................................................. 2 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 3 Chapter I Origins..................................................................................................................................................... 5 I.1 Origins (1497 1583) ........................................................................................................................ 5 I.1.1 Plantations of Ireland ................................................................................................................... 6 Chapter II First and Second British Empire .............................................................................................................. 6 I.1 First British Empire (1583 1783)...................................................................................................... 6 I.2 Second British Empire (1783 1815) ................................................................................................. 7 II.2.1 War with Napoleonic France ................................................................................................... 8 Chapter III Britain's imperial century ........................................................................................................................ 8 III.1 East India Company in Asia............................................................................................................ 9 III.2 Rivalry with Russia ...................................................................................................................... 10 Chapter IV World wars ........................................................................................................................................... 11 IV. First World War ............................................................................................................................ 11 IV.2 Inter-war period .......................................................................................................................... 12 IV.3 Second World War ...................................................................................................................... 14 Chapter V End of empire........................................................................................................................................ 15 Conclusion............................................................................................................................................. 16 Bibliography .......................................................................................................................................... 18 Appendix............................................................................................................................................... 19 fourteen British overseas territories .................................................................................................. 19

A series of wars in 17th and 18th centuries with Nerlands and France left England (Britain. conflict placed enormous financial strain on Britain.Introduction British Empire comprised dominions. for over a century. Britain granted independence to its most populous and valuable colony. Subsequent military and economic tensions between Britain and Germany were major causes of First World War. which damaged British prestige and accelerated decline of Empire. loss of Thirteen Colonies in North America in 1783 after a war of independence was a blow to Britain. and although Empire achieved its largest territorial extent immediately after war. in spite of British victory. During Age of Discovery in 15th and 16th centuries. . was foremost global power. Portugal and Spain pioneered European exploration of globe and in process. that had originated with overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in late 16th and early 17th centuries. England. Second World War saw Britain's colonies in South-East Asia occupied by Japan. Envious of great wealth se empires bestowed. British attention soon turned towards Africa. Britain enjoyed a century of effectively unchallenged dominance. Increasing degrees of autonomy were granted to its white settler colonies. following 1707 Act of Union with Scotland) dominant colonial power in North America and India. and expanded its imperial holdings across globe. Following defeat of Napoleonic France in 1815. it was no longer a peerless industrial or military power. established large overseas empires. Asia and Pacific. protectorates. and or territories ruled or administered by United Kingdom. growth of Germany and United States eroded Britain's economic lead by end of 19th century. However. colonies. Within two years of end of war. At its height it was largest empire in history and. Despite this setback. some of which were reclassified as dominions. depriving it of its most populous colonies. during which Britain relied heavily upon its Empire. India. mandates. France and Nerlands began to establish colonies and trade networks of ir own in Americas and Asia.

Queen Elizabeth II. many former British colonies joined Commonwealth of Nations. . a free association of independent states. British overseas territories. ending with return of Hong Kong to People's Republic of China in 1997. After independence. most of territories of Empire became independent as part of a larger global decolonization movement by European powers. as Commonwealth realms.During remainder of 20th century. Sixteen Commonwealth nations share ir head of state. Fourteen territories remain under British sovereignty.

during last decades of 16th century. and though he successfully made landfall on coast of Newfoundland (mistakenly believing. that he had reached Asia).Chapter I Origins I. like Christopher Columbus five years earlier. In 1562. Cabot sailed in 1497. Elizabeth lent her blessing to furr piratical raids against Spanish ports in Americas and shipping that was returning across Atlantic. This effort was rebuffed and later. later to become New France. At same time. commissioned John Cabot to lead a voyage to discover a route to Asia via North Atlantic. In 1496 King Henry VII of England. English Crown sanctioned privateers John Hawkins and Francis Drake to engage in slave-raiding attacks against African towns and Portuguese ships off coast of West Africa with aim of breaking into Atlantic trade system. Spain was firmly entrenched in Americas. Portugal had established a string of trading posts and forts from coasts of Africa and Brazil to China. No furr attempts to establish English colonies in Americas were made until well into reign of Elizabeth I. following successes of Portugal and Spain in overseas exploration. and France had begun to settle Saint Lawrence River.1 Origins (1497 1583) Foundation for British Empire was laid when England and Scotland were separate kingdoms. . laden with treasure from New World. By this time. as Anglo-Spanish Wars intensified. influential writers such as Richard Hakluyt and John Dee (who was first to use term "British Empire") were beginning to press for establishment of England's own empire. Cabot led anor voyage to Americas following year but nothing was heard from his ships again. to rival those of Spain and Portugal. Protestant Reformation had made enemies of England and Catholic Spain. re was no attempt to found a colony.

That year. England had been engaged in colonial settlement in Ireland. drawing on precedents dating back to Norman invasion in 1171. and was succeeded by his half-bror. 16th century Plantations of Ireland. particularly a group known as "West Country men". British Empire began to take shape during early 17th century. Later that year. Now at peace with its main rival. were a precursor to colonies established on North Atlantic seaboard. Raleigh founded colony of Roanoke on coast of present-day North Carolina. ending hostilities with Spain. King James VI of Scotland ascended to English throne and in 1604 negotiated Treaty of London.1 First British Empire (1583 1783) In 1578. Francis Drake. and establishment of a . In 1583 he embarked on a second attempt. English attention shifted from preying on or nations' colonial infrastructure to business of establishing its own overseas colonies. Richard Grenville and Ralph Lane. though no settlers were left behind.I. Walter Raleigh. Gilbert did not survive return journey to England. but lack of supplies caused colony to fail. Chapter II First and Second British Empire I. In 1603. John Hawkins. and several people involved in se projects also had a hand in early colonization of North America. on this occasion to island of Newfoundland whose harbor he formally claimed for England.1.1 Plantations of Ireland Though a relative late comer in comparison to Spain and Portugal. which included Humphrey Gilbert. run by English colonists. Walter Raleigh. Gilbert sailed for West Indies with intention of engaging in piracy and establishing a colony in North America. who was granted his own patent by Elizabeth in 1584. with English settlement of North America and smaller islands of Caribbean. Queen Elizabeth I granted a patent to Humphrey Gilbert for discovery and overseas exploration. but expedition was aborted before it had crossed Atlantic.

000. western coast of Australia had been discovered for Europeans by Dutch explorer Willem Jansz in 1606 and was later named by Dutch East India Company New Holland. In 1770 James Cook discovered eastern coast of Australia while on a scientific voyage to South Pacific Ocean. In 1778. but re was no attempt to colonies it. majority of whom were convicts. This period. Forced to find an alternative location after loss of Thirteen Colonies in 1783. claimed continent for Britain. first discovered by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642. Australian colonies became profitable exporters of wool and gold. Captain William Hobson and around 40 Maori chiefs signed Treaty of Waitangi. with numerous trading stations established. at which time colony's population numbered 56. During his voyage. British government turned to newly discovered lands of Australia. until loss of Thirteen Colonies after American War of Independence towards end of 18th century. ex-convicts or ir descendants. and named it New South Wales. to trade with Asia. Cook also visited New Zealand. European settlement increased through early decades of 19th century. and claimed North and South islands for British crown in 1769 and 1770 respectively. arriving in 1788. transportation to American colonies had been a penalty for various criminal offences in Britain. In 1839. but differing interpretations of Maori and English versions of text have meant that it continues to be a source of dispute.2 Second British Empire (1783 1815) Since 1718. Joseph Banks. interaction between native Maori population and Europeans was limited to trading of goods.private company. This treaty is considered by many to be New Zealand's founding document. Initially. English East India Company. I. Britain continued to transport convicts to New South Wales until 1840. . especially in North. and in 1787 first shipment of convicts set sail. New Zealand Company announced plans to buy large tracts of land and establish colonies in New Zealand. with approximately one thousand convicts transported per year across Atlantic. Cook's botanist on voyage. On 6 February 1840. has subsequently been referred to as "First British Empire". presented evidence to government on suitability of Botany Bay for establishment of a penal settlement.

and a foreign policy of "splendid isolation".II. including those of Nerlands. Britain adopted role of global policeman.899. such as China. just as his armies had overrun many countries of continental Europe. and Réunion to France. Overseas colonies were attacked and occupied. Martinique. in a struggle that. and Tobago. which was annexed by Napoleon in 1810. Mauritius. Britain was again beneficiary of peace treaties: France ceded Ionian Islands.2.000.000 square miles (25. Alongside formal control it exerted over its own colonies. and Suriname to Nerlands. French Guiana. Goree. France was finally defeated by a coalition of European armies in 1815. around 10. Britain's dominant position in world trade meant that it effectively controlled economies of many nominally independent countries. Seychelles. French ports were blockaded by Royal Navy. It was not only Britain's position on world stage that was threatened: Napoleon threatened to invade Britain itself. Unchallenged at sea. Napoleonic Wars were refore ones in which Britain invested large amounts of capital and resources to win. and Cape Colony. a state of affairs later known as Pax Britannica. which won a decisive victory over a Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in 1805. which has been characterized by some historians as "informal empire". Britain returned Guadeloupe. and Java. Malta (which it had occupied in 1797 and 1798 respectively). . represented a contest of ideologies between two nations. Chapter III Britain's imperial century Between 1815 and 1914. Argentina and Siam. or than Russia in central Asia.1 War with Napoleonic France Britain was challenged again by France under Napoleon. unlike previous wars. St Lucia. a period referred to as Britain's "imperial century" by some historians. Nerlands Guyana.881 km2) of territory and roughly 400 million people were added to British Empire. Spain ceded Trinidad. Victory over Napoleon left Britain without any serious international rival.

Company had also been engaged in an increasingly profitable opium export trade to China since 1730s.British imperial strength was underpinned by steamship and telegraph. and seizure by Britain of island of Hong Kong. leading to widespread famines in which at least 10 million people died. where an appointed governor-general administered India and Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India. This trade. capture of Java from Nerlands (1811). illegal since it was outlawed by Qing dynasty in 1729. Afterwards British government assumed direct control over India. due in part to tensions caused by British attempts to Westernise India. confiscation by Chinese authorities at Canton of 20. allowing it to control and defend Empire. East India Company was dissolved following year. so-called All Red Line. East India Company drove expansion of British Empire in Asia. In 1839. in 1858. III.000 chests of opium led Britain to attack China in First Opium War. which saw large outflows of silver from Britain to China. British Empire was linked toger by a network of telegraph cables. helped reverse trade imbalances resulting from British imports of tea. with heavy loss of life on both sides. India suffered a series of serious crop failures in late 19th century.1 East India Company in Asia British policy in Asia during 19th century was chiefly concerned with protecting and expanding India. end of Company was precipitated by a mutiny of sepoys against ir British commanders. . From its base in India. new technologies invented in second half of 19th century. By 1902. at that time a minor settlement. Company's army had first joined forces with Royal Navy during Seven Years' War. viewed as its most important colony and key to rest of Asia. Indian Rebellion took six months to suppress. acquisition of Singapore (1819) and Malacca (1824) and defeat of Burma (1826). ushering in period known as British Raj. and two continued to cooperate in arenas outside India: eviction of Napoleon from Egypt (1799).

Persian and Qing Chinese empires. but First Anglo-Afghan War was a disaster for Britain. destruction of Russian Navy at Battle of Port Arthur during Russo-Japanese War of 1904±05 also limited its threat to British. and stoked fears in Britain of an overland invasion of India. defeats inflicted by Russia on Persia and Turkey in Russo-Persian War (1826-1828) and Russo-Turkish War (1828±1829) demonstrated its imperial ambitions and capabilities.2 Rivalry with Russia During 19th century. This rivalry in Eurasia came to be known as "Great Game". Britain and Russia vied to fill power vacuums that had been left by declining Ottoman. and was only global war fought between Britain and anor imperial power during Pax Britannica. which involved new techniques of modern warfare. situation remained unresolved in Central Asia for two more decades. was a resounding defeat for Russia. and on all outstanding matters in 1907 with signing of Anglo-Russian Entente.III. As far as Britain was concerned. Britain moved to pre-empt this by invading Afghanistan. with Britain annexing Baluchistan in 1876 and Russia Kirghizia. . but two countries reached an agreement on ir respective spheres of influence in region in 1878. In 1839. When Russia invaded Turkish Balkans in 1853. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. ensuing Crimean War (1854±56). fears of Russian dominance in Mediterranean and Middle East led Britain and France to invade Crimean Peninsula in order to destroy Russian naval capabilities. For a while it appeared that anor war would be inevitable.

Most of Germany's overseas colonies in Africa were quickly invaded and occupied. Canadians viewed Battle of Vimy Ridge in a similar light. Iraq. Under terms of concluding Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919.000 square miles (4.662.5 million men served in armies of Dominions. parts of Cameroon and Togo. as well as many thousands of volunteers from Crown colonies.000 km2) and 13 million new subjects. Britain gained control of Palestine. Over 2. which provided invaluable military. Transjordan. countries continue to commemorate this occasion on ANZAC Day. contributions of Australian and New Zealand troops during 1915 Gallipoli Campaign against Ottoman Empire had a great impact on national consciousness at home. Dominions mselves also acquired mandates of ir own: South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) was given to Union of South Africa. Empire reached its greatest extent with addition of 1. financial and material support. and marked a watershed in transition of Australia and New Zealand from colonies to nations in ir own right. important contribution of Dominions to war effort was recognized in 1917 by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George when he invited each of Dominion Prime Ministers to join an Imperial War Cabinet to coordinate imperial policy. colonies of Germany and Ottoman Empire were distributed to Allied powers as League of Nations Mandates. British declaration of war on Germany and its allies also committed colonies and Dominions. Australia and New Zealand occupied German New Guinea and Samoa respectively.800. and in Pacific. First World War Britain's fears of war with Germany were realized in 1914 with outbreak of First World War. Australia gained .Chapter IV World wars IV. and Tanganyika.

In 1919. in particular growth of United States and Japan as naval powers. Norrn Ireland. Forced to choose between alignment with United States or Japan. This decision was source of much debate in Britain during 1930s as militaristic governments took hold in Japan and Germany helped in part by Great Depression. frustrations caused by delays to Irish home rule led members of Sinn Féin. to establish an Irish assembly in Dublin. Britain opted not to renew its Japanese alliance and instead signed 1922 Washington Naval Treaty.2 Inter-war period changing world order that war had brought about. for it was feared that Empire could not survive a simultaneous attack by both nations. and rise of independence movements in India and Ireland.German New Guinea. with but still independence constitutionally linked with British Crown. immediately exercised its option under treaty to retain its existing status within United Kingdom. and New Zealand Western Samoa. Nauru was made a combined mandate of Britain and two Pacific Dominions. creating Irish Free State. consisting of six of 32 Irish counties which had been established as a devolved region under 1920 Government of Ireland Act. at which Irish independence was declared. a pro-independence party that had won a majority of Irish seats at Westminster in 1918 British general election. IV. at same time Empire was vital to British economy: during inter-war period. and imports increased from 24 to 37 percent. Irish Republican Army simultaneously began a guerrilla war against British administration. where Britain accepted naval parity with United States. Although issue of Empire's security was a serious concern in Britain. caused a major reassessment of British imperial policy. . exports to colonies and Dominions increased from 32 to 39 percent of all exports overseas. a Dominion within effective internal British Empire. Anglo-Irish War ended in 1921 with a stalemate and signing of Anglo-Irish Treaty.

parliaments of Canada. though it continued to be a British client state until 1954. y could nullify British laws and Britain could no longer pass laws for m without ir consent. . After pressure from Ireland and South Africa. ability of recognized at Dominions to set ir own foreign policy. This declaration was given legal substance under 1931 Statute of Westminster. under which it was agreed that troops would withdraw but continue to occupy and defend Suez Canal zone. In 1922. also gained membership of independence from Britain in 1932. In Britain public opinion was divided over morality of event. Egypt. between those who saw it as having saved India from anarchy. Egypt was assisted to join League of Nations. and those who viewed it with revulsion. was granted formal independence. in no way subordinate one to anor" within a "British Commonwealth of Nations". equal in status. Union of South Africa. In return. a British mandate since 1919.A similar struggle began in India when Government of India Act 1919 failed to satisfy demand for independence. particularly in Punjab. Concerns over communist and foreign plots following Ghadar Conspiracy ensured that war-time strictures were renewed by Rowlatt Acts. creating tension. subsequent non-cooperation movement was called off in March 1922 following Chauri Chaura incident. was League in its own right after achieving 1923 Imperial Conference. Iraq. where repressive measures culminated in Amritsar Massacre. 1926 Imperial Conference issued Balfour Declaration. and Canada had refused to be bound by 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. independent of Britain. which had been declared a British protectorate at outbreak of First World War. and discontent continued to simmer for next 25 years. Australia. Britain's request for military assistance from Dominions at outbreak of Chanak crisis previous year had been turned down by Canada and South Africa. British troops remained stationed in Egypt until signing of Anglo-Egyptian Treaty in 1936. Irish Free State and Newfoundland were now independent of British legislative control. New Zealand. declaring Dominions to be "autonomous Communities within British Empire.

Most damaging of all was fall of Singapore. Churchill and Roosevelt met and signed Atlantic Charter. United States naval base at Pearl Harbor. realization that Britain could not defend entire Empire pushed Australia and New Zealand. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill successfully lobbied President Franklin D. In December 1941. but manner in which British rapidly surrendered in some of its colonies irreversibly altered Britain's standing and prestige as an imperial power. Britain and Empire were left standing alone against Germany. Roosevelt for military aid from United States. Australia and New Zealand all soon declared war on Germany. Japan launched in quick succession attacks on British Malaya. and Hong Kong. After German occupation of France in 1940. which after war eventually resulted in 1951 ANZUS Pact between Australia. Churchill's reaction to entry of United States into war was that Britain was now assured of victory and future of Empire was safe. into closer ties with United States. which had previously been hailed as an impregnable fortress and eastern equivalent of Gibraltar. South Africa.3 Second World War Britain's declaration of war against Nazi Germany in September 1939 included Crown colonies and India but did not automatically commit Dominions. which included statement that " rights of all peoples to choose form of government under which y live" should be respected. but Roosevelt was not yet ready to ask Congress to commit country to war. New Zealand and United States of America. until entry of Soviet Union to war in 1941. which now appeared threatened by Japanese forces. envisioning a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere under its leadership. Canada.IV. . Japanese attacks on British and American possessions in Pacific had an immediate and long-lasting impact on British Empire. but Irish Free State chose to remain legally neutral throughout war. Japan had steadily been growing as an imperial power in Far East since its defeat of China in First Sino-Japanese War in 1895. In August 1941.

Prince of Wales who was in attendance. Hong Kong Island itself had been ceded to Britain "in perpetuity". acting on a long-standing claim that dated back to Spanish Empire.Chapter V End of empire granting of independence to Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe) and New Hebrides (as Vanuatu) in 1980. Rockall). and Belize in 1981 meant that. Britain's ultimately successful military response to retake islands during ensuing Falklands War was viewed by many to have contributed to reversing downward trend in UK's status as a world power. In 1982. initially wished to hold Hong Kong and proposed British administration with Chinese sovereignty. Hong Kong would become a Special Administrative Region of People's Republic of China. aside from a scattering of islands and outposts (and acquisition in 1955 of an uninhabited rock in Atlantic Ocean. same year. but vast majority of colony was constituted by New Territories. including Charles. due to expire in 1997. In September 1982. Under terms of 1842 Treaty of Nanking. 1982 Canada Act passed by British parliament ended need for British involvement in changes to Canadian constitution. seeing parallels with Falkland Islands. though this was rejected by China. Thatcher. Canadian government severed its last legal link with Britain by patriating Canadian constitution from Britain. which had been acquired under a 99 year lease in 1898. handover ceremony in 1997 marked for many. process of decolonization that had begun after Second World War was largely complete. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher travelled to Beijing to negotiate with Chinese government on future of Britain's last major and most populous overseas territory. Equivalent acts were passed for Australia and New Zealand in 1986. maintaining its way of life for at least 50 years. . " end of Empire". Hong Kong. Britain's resolve to defend its remaining overseas territories was tested when Argentina invaded Falkland Islands. A deal was reached in 1984²under terms of Sino-British Joint Declaration.

voluntary association of equal members. which were renamed British overseas territories in 2002. English parliamentary system served as template for governments for many former colonies. British sovereignty of several of overseas territories is disputed by ir geographical neighbors: Gibraltar is claimed by Spain. itself a product of British Empire. Fifteen members of Commonwealth continue to share ir head of state with UK. still serves as highest court of appeal for several former colonies in Caribbean and Pacific. railway stations and government buildings. where that is an option. imperial system.Conclusion UK retains sovereignty over 14 territories outside British Isles. rugby. British Protestant missionaries who fanned out across globe often in advance of soldiers and civil servants spread Anglican Communion to all continents. British government has stated its willingness to assist any Overseas Territory that wishes to proceed to independence. Political boundaries drawn by British did not always reflect homogeneous ethnicities or religions. remainders are self-governing to varying degrees and are reliant on UK for foreign relations and defense. Sudan. British Antarctic Territory is subject to overlapping claims by Argentina and Chile. with . such as in churches. contributing to conflicts in Kashmir. lawn tennis and golf²were exported. Millions left British Isles. Palestine. Falkland Islands and South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands are claimed by Argentina. Most former British colonies are members of Commonwealth of Nations. in which UK has no privileged status. Ball games that were developed in Victorian Britain² football. and British convention of driving on left hand side of road. and English common law for legal systems. of British rule and emigration have left ir mark on independent nations that arose from British Empire. and British Indian Ocean Territory is claimed by Mauritius and Seychelles. one of UK's highest courts of appeal. and in some cases centuries. British colonial architecture. continues to stand in many cities that were once part of British Empire. as were British choice of system of measurement. British Judicial Committee of Privy Council. Decades. while many nations do not recognize any territorial claims to Antarctica. a non-political. as Commonwealth realms. cricket. Nigeria and Sri Lanka. helped in part by cultural influence of United States. Some are uninhabited except for transient military or scientific personnel. British Empire was also responsible for large migrations of peoples. English language is primary language of over 300 million people and secondary language of over 400 million.

and between settler minorities and indigenous majorities in South Africa and Zimbabwe. makeup of Britain itself was changed after Second World War with immigration to United Kingdom from colonies to which it was granting independence. with large numbers of Indians immigrating to or parts of Empire. Canada. primarily from Sourn China.founding settler populations of United States. led to creation of Chinese-majority Singapore and small Chinese minorities in Caribbean. Australia and New Zealand coming mainly from Britain and Ireland. Millions of people moved to and from British colonies. Chinese emigration. British settlement of Ireland has left its mark in form of divided Catholic and Protestant communities in Norrn Ireland. . Tensions remain between white settler populations of se countries and ir indigenous minorities.

Britain's Imperial Century. British Imperial Century. Nicholas (1998). 1815-1914: A Study of Empire and Expansion  James. 1815-1914: A World History Perspective. Oxford History of British Empire Volume I. Origins of Empire. Abacus. Old World. Rise and Fall of British Empire. . Rowman & Littlefield. Lawrence (2001). New World: Great Britain and America from Beginning.Bibliography  Burke. Timothy H (1999).  Hyam. Kathleen (2008).  Parsons. Atlantic Monthly Press  Canny. Oxford University Press. Ronald (2002).

Appendix fourteen British overseas territories .

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