The British Empire may not have technically ruled the world.
But it was in fact the largest Empire to exist at any point throughout history.
reaching across the globe and carrying on over multiple centuries the British Empire owes it’s success and ability to expand so widely.
The geographical position of Great Britain served as a major advantage to the growing Empire.
Given that the nation was in Island, the likelihood of being invaded or conquered was somewhat lower than a country that was surrounded on all sides by foreign powers.
Although Britain was not completely immune to incursions, it definitely benefited geographically both in terms of the external threats and when it came to any border disputes.
Britain had a pretty clear and straightforward border between itself and any other nations.
While Scotland and England split the landmarks, that was bilaterally united with the Ascension of Scotland King James VI, to the throne of England in 1603, both States with together make up the nation of Great Britain by 1707.
Sharing their outward borders with nothing but the North Atlantic ocean and the North Sea.
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This open position with easy access for maritime expeditions also gave Great Britain an upper hand when it came to reaching other countries and continents.
Meeting only to cross over for Inland when they wished to reach countries more inward on their continent, the Brits were able to sail to just about any coastal nation without much resistance.
Still oceanic Adventures would not have been so effortless for the British Empire without a strong naval fleet.
This is where the size and power of the Royal Navy, became a Centre point of British success.
While Great Britain did not always control the world’s oceans, the reason may begin to Skyrocket as an ignorable maritime Power by the 18th century is largely due to the fact that they invested more money and ships and guns than other naval forces.
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The government and citizens of the British Empire truly believed that, the future of their wealth was to be found through the ocean.
Recognising the importance of overseas trade, as well as a fleet that could also defend their land if ever required.
The British made sure to adequately fund the Royal Navy.
The Empire focused on trade;
Additionally contributed vastly to its truimphant Trans-continental growth.
Intend more on gaining wealth and increasing trade than consolidating power through conquest, the British were able to create a more desirable environment, for others to become a part of.
After the successful attempts in the colonization in North America and the West Indies during the 1600s, the British began to establish commercial system that allowed for exponential success within Great Britain and its overseas territories.
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Colonies were granted monopolies for their products in the British market.
And therefore would conduct trade with their British ships.
In 1651, the Navigation Act would prompt the development of a closed economy between the Empire and its colonies.
That’s creating a system where all colonial imports were required to come from Great Britain. And Colonial exports were to be sent directly to the British market by the way of British ships.
During the same century, the British East India Company was established. This is as a means of trade between Great Britain, East Asia, Southeast Asia and India.
Initially focused on the Spice trade, the East India Company later Incorporated other goods such as silk, cotton, tea and opium.
Politics made its way into the company later on;
Despite the origin being purely based on establishing trade opportunities driven limitlessly by the concept of controlling a global trade market, the British Empire continued to extend it’s reach across the continent of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the America’s.
While the process of colonization vary from territory to territory, one thing that remains consistent was the form in which these expeditions began.
Unlike other Empires who chose to expand through the use of military might and sovereign claims to power, the British facilitated most of their expansion through the establishment of trading post and Systems.
Nonetheless, the British Empire was not a completely non-violent authority.
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On top of the anglo-dutch and Anglo Spanish wars, near the start of British expansion, the Empire also engaged in conflict with its American colonies during the American Revolutionary War.
Later followed by the dissension in India; succeeding the decline of the mughal Empire and leaving the British East India Company as a prominent political power in the region.
The presence of Britain in India was also notably more forceful than some of their other trade Focus enclaves.
Demonstrated by the expansion of the east India company’s power through violence against those who protested.
The continued tension between the British and French, were no longer secluded in India either as the 7 years War erupted in 1756.
Lasting until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763; Leaving Britain as the leading power across India and the world’s oceans.
When the American Revolutionary War came in 1775, after the British Empire responded to the no taxation without representation movement of the Americans, by sending troops to try and subdue the colonies;
France and Spain chose once again to go to war with Britain.
Now as allies of the United States.
In 1783, at The Peace of Paris, the British Empire was forced to acknowledge American Independence.
In turn, relinquishing any any control over their former colonies.
BRITS NEW STRATEGY
Devising a new strategy after such a drastic loss of territory, Great Britain now turned it’s attention toward the continent of Asia, Africa and Australia.
Marketing with what some historians call, the beginning of the second British Empire.
The trade between the United States and Great Britain actually continued after the installation of independence, the Empire chose to utilise the uncolonised coast of Australia.
Which had been discovered by a Dutch Explorer William Janszoon in 1606. And later claimed to the British crown by James Cook in 1770 under the name of New South Wales.
Still feeding their fresh craving for expansion in South Asia, the British suddenly engaged in a series of conflicts after the Battle of Plassey which had occurred in 1757.
By 1774, for the British Empire took on a chain of attacks.
The Anglo Boer Wars were fought until 1799.
Followed by clashes with the Pandora’s.
Attacks on places like Sined and Berma, also accelerated the new consolidation efforts of the British East India Company.
On top of what was referred to as ‘the doctrine lamps’
Where the British forbids the ascension to the throne of any Hindu ruler, if they were not the natural heir.
Once the current Hindu leader either died, or was removed in some way, the British would occupy his state and Gain control.
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These acts by the British Empire combined with other forms of first westernization of the Hindus fled to the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 to 1859.
Tired of the heavy-handed British rule, the Indian troops of Meru, sparked the rebellion that would spread throughout the nation.
Peace was finally declared in July of 1859. And the British East India Company was scrapped.
Although the Empire maintained a level of control under the crown until 1947.
GREAT BRITAIN IN AFRICA
During the span of time, Great Britain set about making it’s presence better known in Africa as well.
Although the royal African company had been established back in the 17th century.
Finding ample profit in the slave trade until its abolition in 1807.
It was not until the 19th century, that the Brits realized the potential benefits of forming a trade route across Africa.
With excise Set on establishing outposts, expanding from Egypt down to the Southern half of the Continent;
The British Empire founded itself in a race against the other growing European powers.
Such as Italy and Germany.
Which eventually led to the Berlin conference.
The conference which occurred in 1884, was intended to create some harmony between the competing colonizers.
Great Britain was ultimately awarded most of North-Eastern Africa and all of Southern Africa.
Meaning that, at the peak in the continent, the British Empire ruled over approximately 30% of the African population.
Globally at the height of Britain’s domination, it controlled roughly 22 to 25% of the Worlds land surface.
And by 1938, governing around 20% of the world’s population.
This remarkable prosperity was accomplished through a geographical advantage, supreme naval might, the strategic focus on trade and wealth, over bullish sovereign power for the sake of an emperor.
Source : Knowledgia
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