British Empire - Referat
The British Empire
The B.E. was the largest colonial empire in history. In Britain were two empires, one of them was called “First Empire”
(1607-1776) and the other was called the “Victorian Empire”. It’s ending was in 1931,when it turned into the “British Commonwealth of Nations”.
The making of the Empire:
In the 16th century a fight between Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, France and England began. They all wanted the commercial and navel supremacy around the American continent. And after the ending of this struggle, England became the most important country. England had some important advantages.
e.g. she has a very good position as an island. Moreover she had along tradition as a seafaring nation and had a very modern war fleet. The reason why England wanted to get colonies was very simple:
England thought the colonies would give her raw materials and she could sell her manufactured products.
e.g. cotton, wheat, tea, oil or beef. But before England was able to
do that she had a lot to do:
First the colonies had to be discovered, there were two important explorers:
John Cabot: Newfoundland (1497)
Captain James Cook: Australia and New Zealand (1770)
After the discovery of the colonies, England established trading posts. The most important companies were the
“East India Company”, which had been found in 1600 and the “Virginia Company” in 1606. England was able to establish more colonies in the following 150 years .
Later many people immigrated to North America.
e.g. Puritans, Catholics and various sects. They thought they wouldn’t be persecuted for their faith.
The First Empire: (1607-1776)
The First British Empire consisted of conquered colonies in wars with France (Canada ; e.g. Newfoundland and the Hudson Bay territory) and with Spain (West India; e.g. Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Bermudas and Gibraltar in Europe).
The people who lived in the colonies, lived in three kinds of territories that were politically disunited.
- The New England Colonies: Territory around Boston; mostly strict Protestants from England
- The Middle Colonies : centred around New York, there lived all kinds of European immigrants
- The Southern Colonies : mainly settled by merchants.
England’s rise to world power happened during the 7 year war (1758-1763). France lost all her possessions to England.
But the end of the First British Empire came 20 years later.
After the War of American Independence (1775-1783) England lost the American colonies.
Though England wanted to establish a new Empire and therefore she expanded the colonies in Canada and West India.
Consequently she could enlarge her trading with this and other colonies.
The Victorian Empire
But in order to get a new empire, England had to expand the colonies in West India, India and Canada. She needs the raw materials to dominate the world market. And in order to do that, England exploit and murdered the conquered colonies. England protected the sea way to get important islands, like Gibraltar and Malta. This sea way via protected St. Helena, the Cape Colony and the Cape of Good Hope. In the 19th century England enlarged her Empire within a century to such a big Empire, that more than a third of Africa, the whole Indian subcontinent and the 5th continent belong to it. And here are some important colonies of the B.E.:
Cape Colony(1795), Malta(1800), Australia(1813), Singapore(1819), New Zealand(1839), Hong Kong(1841), Nigeria(1873), Suez Canal(1875), Rhodesia(1890),
>From Empire to Commonwealth:
The people who lived in the colonies wanted to get independent. They demanded for self- government and they disagreed with British rules and reforms in India. After many rebellions the former crown colonies, which were internal and external dependent from the mother country developed into self- governing colonies. They had the internal sovereignty. And at least they were dominions. That means they are completely independent. But they accept the Queen as head of the state. The first dominion colonies were Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ireland. After the 2nd World War all colonies, which had belonged to the B.E. have become Independent. In 1931 the Statue of Westminster became the charter of the Dominions. Now the B.E. was replaced by the British Commonwealth of Nations. And in 1951 the word “British” was dropped in “C.o.N.”
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