Private school «Vzmakh»
Rise and fall of British Empire
Written by: Nikita Miskovets
English supervisor: Kate Gamaleeva
Russian supervisor: Julia Oseeva
Table of contents
Table of contents 3
I part. History of gaining colonies. 5
2 Part. History of losing colonies. 9
2.1. Decolonization (1945—1997) 9
2.2. The independence beginning 10
2.3. Suez and consequences 11
2.4.Wind of changes 12
2.5. The end of Empire 13
Part 3. Reasons of fall. 14
The list of literature 17
My topic is Rise and fall of British Empire. I've chosen this topic because I like history of England and I also want to know about British Empire because it is the most famous part of British history. Also I’ve read some books about British history and it attracted me. I’ve already known about exploration of America, Australia, New Zealand, about journeys of James Cook, Christopher Columbus and other explorers. About wars between England and Spain, France, Russia, Portugal. I think this theme is actual and important now because England is one of the leader countries and it would be useful to know about it’s past and present to compare it. It was the largest empire in the world. My target is to know why colonies have been separated from British Empire and could British people stop it or not.
British Empire is designation of Great Britain (including Ireland) and British colonies.
The first colonial captures of England concern a feudalism epoch. In 12 century the gain of Ireland has begun. During later period, with ripening in bowels of English feudalism of capitalist relations, the beginning actually was necessary to a colonial policy of England. In 1583 the island Newfoundland has been grasped, and in 1607 the first English colony in the North America (Virginia) is based. In wars of the end 16 - the beginnings 17 centuries England has put a number of hard blows of Spain, the main competitor by the sea and the largest colonial power of that time. In England there were large exclusive trading companies, including the East Indian company (1600). These companies not only did business "the overseas" countries, but also have begun capture of strong points in Asia and Africa. During this period the English policy of colonial captures though has been directly connected with trade and industry development, was defined mainly by interests of the aristocracy aspiring to acquisition of transatlantic territories for strengthening of the feudal earthen monopoly.
With the statement of a capitalist system in England as a result of bourgeois revolution 17 century English colonies expansion has amplified. In wars 1652-54, 1665-67 and 1672 England has won a victory over Holland and has grasped a number of territories in the North America. From the middle 17 century Portugal and its big colonial empire has got to dependence on England. During war for the Spanish inheritance Great Britain (the name which has affirmed after 1707 behind incorporated kingdom of England and Scotland) has grasped Gibraltar and new territories in the North America. In Seven-year war 1756-63 Great Britain has put a hard blow of feudal-absolutist France which has become by this time by its main competitor in struggle for trading and colonial hegemony, and has definitively undermined colonial power of Spain. Englishmen have grasped the French Canada and have established the domination in the North America. The gain of India was developed, - the East Indian company has seized Bengal (1757). « Events of Seven-year war have transformed the East Indian company from trading power into power military and territorial. Then the basis of present British Empire in the east » has been put.
Formation of the British colonial empire was a component of uniform world-wide and historical process of the statement of capitalism which most quickly passed in Great Britain. The robbery of colonies (especially India) along with a slave-trade was one of the main moments of initial accumulation in this country and substantially promoted industrial revolution. Development of capitalist relations in colonies (first of all in India) was braked by a policy of the mother country, aspiring to keep feudal and prefeudal forms of the landed property. Position of English colonies in the North America was different. These colonies were occupied by English immigrants while American Indian tribes were expelled from the earths and exterminated. In North American colonies, despite mother country counteraction, capitalist relations rather quickly developed.
In last quarter 18th century British Empire has endured the first crisis. As a result of war for independence in the North America 1775-83 Great Britain has lost 13 North American colonies. This crisis has overcome English capitalism rather easily. As a result of wars with Napoleonic France Great Britain has won a victory in struggle for colonial and trading superiority. The Viennese congress 1814-15 has assigned it the Cape colony (Southern Africa), Malta, Ceylon, etc. territories which it has grasped in the end of 18 - the beginning the Victory over France and an establishment of sea domination of Great Britain promoted 19 centuries of its colonial expansion in all parts of the world. In 1st half 19 century Great Britain basically has finished a gain of India, spent colonization of Australia, New Zealand and Southern Africa. As a result of the English-Chinese war 1840-42 and English-Franco-Chinese war 1856-60 the first unequal contracts have been imposed China, a number of the Chinese ports has been violently opened for English trade. Great Britain has grasped Siangtan (Hong Kong) transformed subsequently in basic base of English expansion in China.
From the middle 19 century in Great Britain were showed two distinctive features of imperialism: enormous colonial possession and a monopoly position in the world market. During this period there was a system of economic relations inside British Empire based on domination of mother country, an using colony as sources of raw materials and commodity markets. The growing competition of the English industry is more and more disastrous affected economy of colonies. Import of the English industrial goods conducted to ruin of local cottage industry (especially in India where cheap English fabrics caused not less destructive consequences, than military expeditions of colonizers) and to union destruction between craft and agriculture on which in the majority of colonies the rural community was based. Leaning against support exploiter (more often feudal) classes of colonies, English colonizers widely carried out in them a principle «divide and dominate»; In India it is artificial enmity between Hindus and Moslems, between separate provinces and princedoms was kindled.
Strengthening of English colonial oppression has caused a number of anticolonial revolts. Largest of them was the Indian popular uprising 1857-59 which has threatened English domination in India and has compelled colonizers to change a control system of India. In 1858 the East Indian company has been liquidated; India became a colony of empire, in 1876 English queen Victoria has been proclaimed by the empress of India.
In special position there were resettlement colonies (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) which most part of the population natives of Great Britain (in Canada - from Great Britain and France) made. Already in the middle of 19 century during persistent struggle (revolt in Canada in 1837-38, in Australia in 1854) these colonies have achieved internal self-management (in 1867 Canada became the first British dominion) and have started to develop as transatlantic branches of English capitalism, ruling which circles considered other colonies as the general with English bourgeoisie the property.
In last quarter 19th century Great Britain, despite loss of world industrial monopoly, not only has kept, but also has considerably expanded colonial empire. Struggle for capture of the yet not divided territories and for strengthening British Empire was a core of English foreign policy. Using the superiority on the sea and an extensive network of naval bases and strong points, English colonizers waged numerous colonial wars. In 80-90th huge territories at the western and east coast of Africa have been won. With capture of Cyprus (1878), a control establishment over Suez canal (1875) and dominations in Egypt (1882), with end of a gain of Burma (1885) have been strengthened positions of Great Britain in extensive areas of Asia and Africa. After bloody wars Great Britain has established actual protectorate over Afghanistan. In 1898 under the pretext of "rent" it has grasped port Vejhajvej in China and has finished capture peninsulas Jiulongs (Kowloon).
Great Britain has entered an imperialism epoch, being the owner of huge colonial empire who provided to it the exclusive markets and spheres for capital investments. «Huge export of the capital, - specified V.I.Lenin, - is most closely connected here with huge colonies...» It was necessary on the countries British Empires pressing of colonies conducted to strengthening of lines of parasitism and rotting in English economy. The aspiration of English capitalists to keep and expand British Empire remains to one of defining factors of foreign policy of Great Britain. This purpose was served by race of sea arms, growth of number of army and colonial bureaucracy. British Empire represented the difficult political-economical system which all members have been closely connected with mother country and submitted to it. Such position, besides direct political and military compulsion, appreciably was promoted by the developed system of economic communications which put the empire countries in a complete dependence from Great Britain.
Despite persistent counteraction of mother country, in the countries British Empires (especially in resettlement colonies and India) developed the industry, there was a national bourgeoisie and proletariat which became more and more serious force in political life. The great influence on development of national-liberation movement in British Empire was rendered by Russian Revolution 1905-07. The Indian national congress in 1906 has made the demand of self-management for India. However the English authorities have cruelly suppressed anticolonial performances.
In the first decades 20 century have been formed dominions the Australian Union (1901), New Zealand (1907), the South African Union (1910), Newfoundland (1917). The governments of dominions began to be involved in discussion of questions of foreign policy and defense of British Empire at imperial conferences. Capitalists of dominions together with English capitalists participated in operation of a colonial part British Empire By V.I.Lenin's definition, it was participation of dominions in imperialism of mother country. Along with it «the local imperialism» the dominions, expressed at that time in their aspiration to subordinate to the influence separate parts British Empire developed
In the end of 19 - the beginning 20 centuries special value have got the English-German imperialistic contradictions (in Their colonial and sea rivalry), played a leading role in occurrence of 1st world war 1914-18. The introduction of Great Britain into war has automatically entailed participation in it and dominions. [Domination of Great Britain actually extended also to Egypt (995 thousand square км2, the population over 11 million people), Nepal (the 140 thousand area км2, the population about 5 million people), Afghanistan (the 650 thousand area км2, the population about 6 million people) and on sawn-off from China Siangan (Hong Kong) with the population of 457 thousand people and Vejhajvej with the population of 147 thousand people].
1st world war has broken developed economic communications in British Empire It promoted the accelerated economic development of dominions. Great Britain has been compelled to recognize their rights to conducting independent foreign policy. Their participation in signing of the Versailles peace treaty (1919) was debut of dominions and India on the world scene. As independent members dominions have entered League of the Nations.
As a result of 1st world war there was an expansion British Empire Imperialists of Great Britain and dominions have grasped at the contenders a number of possession. In British Empire have entered subordinated territories. Great Britain (Iraq, Palestin, Transjordan, Tanganyika, a part of That and Cameroon), the South African Union (South West Africa), the Australian Union (a part of New Guinea and adjoining islands of Ocenia), New Zealand (Western Samoa island). The English imperialism has expanded the positions around Near and Middle East. Many states of this area, formally not a part British Empire (for example, the states of Arabian peninsula), in practice were semicolonies of Great Britain.
2.1. Decolonization (1945—1997)
Though British Empire also has won the Second World War, results of this war were terrifying. Europe lay in ruins. Now it has been occupied by armies of the USA and the USSR to which the balance of force was displaced. Britain has appeared on the verge of bankruptcy which was possible to avoid only thanks to the American loan in 3.5 billion dollars Last payment under this loan has been spent only in 2006.
In colonies anticolonial movement has sharply amplified. Despite the begun Cold war between the USA and the USSR, both parties resisted to the European colonialism.
Expression «a wind of changes» meant that days of British Empire are considered. Britain has preferred to leave peacefully the colonies, having delegated the power stable not-communistic to the governments whereas France and Portugal have begun expensive, and unsuccessful wars, trying to keep the empires. During 1945—1965 quantity imperial people outside of mother country has fallen from 700 million to 5 million 3 million from which lived in Hong Kong.
Mahatma Gandi and Muhammad Ali of the Genie, leaders of induist and Muslim communities during struggle for independence of India
On elections of 1945 the Labour party supporting idea of decolonization has won. The labor government led by Klementom Ettli has addressed to the most painful for empire to a question — independence of India. In this colony the conflict between two basic forces which demanded independence — the Indian national congress, and Muslim league accrued. The congress demanded creation of the unitary secular state. League, being afraid that Moslems will appear in it in minority, demanded creation of the separate Islamic state for regions with the Islamic majority. Accruing disorders, and mutiny of Royal Indian Fleet in 1946 has forced the prime minister to promise India independence not later than 1948.
Extremality situations, and real danger of civil war have forced new (and the last) the vice-king of India, lord Mauntbettona to put into practice the plan of division of India on August, 15th 1947. British have spent borders between induist and Islamic regions, having left ten millions persons as minority in again formed states India and Pakistan. Millions persons have crossed border in both directions, and victims of intercommunal violence of a steel of hundred thousand. The former princedom of Jammu and Kashmir attached to India in spite of the fact that the majority of the population became a stumbling-block poisoning the relations of India and Pakistan till now, Moslems made.
Burma and Ceylon which British operated, as a part of India, have received independence in the following, 1948. Pakistan and Ceylon have joined Commonwealth whereas Burma has refused.
In Subordinated to the British Palestine there were similar problems. Here the colonial authorities have faced the conflict between Jews and the Arabian majority. However here complexities was more — the set of the Jewish refugees from Europe was searched in Palestine by refuges whereas Arabs demanded the termination of the Jewish immigration. In 1947 the empire declared that in 1948 will disengage armies, and will refuse the mandate, having left to a question on the further destiny of the country of the successor of League of the Nations — the United Nations. The United Nations accepts the resolution № 181 about section of Palestine on the independent Jewish and Arabian states at the international protectorate over the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
During war in Malaya there was a powerful anti-Japanese resistance. With defeat of Japan it has turned the weapon against the British colonizers who have immediately returned control over a colony, as a valuable source of resources. Movement consisted basically of communists of the Chinese nationality, and Britain has decided to suppress revolt, leaning against the Muslim Malayan majority. Thus meant that after definitive suppression of revolt the country will receive independence.
War in Malaya proceeded with 1948 to 1960, however already in 1957 Britain has decided to give independence of Federation Malaya as a part of Commonwealth. In 1963 11 states of federation together with Singapore, Saravakom and the British Northern Borneo, have joined federation, having formed Malaysia. However to 1965 Singapore which was a city with the Chinese majority, has been excluded from the union because of friction between the Chinese and Malayan communities. Brunei which was the British protectorate with 1888, has refused to join federation, and kept the status up to independence reception in 1984.
In 1951 to the power the government of conservatives led by Churchill has returned. Conservatives believed that as world power, still it is possible to keep position of Britain, leaning against Suez canal allowing empire to dominate in the Near East, despite loss of India. However it was impossible to ignore government Gamalja Abduly Nasera which has come to power in Egypt in 1952. Next year the agreement on a withdrawal of British troops from a zone of Suez canal, and a recognition of independence of Sudan in 1955 has been entered into.
In 1956 president Naser has nationalized Suez canal. In the answer new British prime minister Anthony Eden has made the secret agreement on that during attack of Israel to Egypt to interfere, and to occupy the channel. However it hasn't considered reaction of the USA. The American president Eisenhower has refused to support operation. The USA also were afraid of the beginning of large-scale war from the USSR after Nikita Khruschev has promised to interfere with a situation on the party of Egypt.
Americans have resorted to financial pressure, threatening to sell the reserves in the British pounds, and to bring down thus English currency. As a result, though military operations were successful, and the channel has been grasped, pressure of the United Nations and the USA has compelled Britain to disengage armies, and Eden has resigned.
Suez crisis has publicly shown full breakdown of Britain as world power. National pride has been wounded, having forced one of deputies of parliament to describe an event as «Waterloo Britain», and another to name Britain «the satellite of America». Margaret Thatcher named mood of minds «the Suez syndrome» from which Britain managed to recover only after successful for Englishmen of the conflict of 1982 with Argentina because of the Falkland islands.
Though Suez crisis has strongly weakened the British influence in the Near East, it hasn't destroyed it definitively. The British army interfered in Oman (1957), Jordan (1958), already from approval of Americans, and also has been entered into Kuwait in 1961 for protection of the country against possible Iraq aggression.
In 1967 armies are deduced from Aden, in 1971 from Bahrain
In February 1960 British prime minister MakMillan delivers a speech in Cape Town, the republic of South Africa where he says that «the wind of changes blows over this continent». He wanted to avoid the colonial wars similar to those that Frenchmen conducted in Algeria, and supported decolonization. If in 1950е independence have received three colonies — Sudan, Gold Coast (Ghana) and Malaya, in 1960е this quantity has sharply increased.
To 1968 independence have received all British colonies in Africa, except for Southern Rhodesia. Leaving of the British colonial empire from region has created the big problems for white settlers, in particular, in Rhodesia. In 1965 leader white, prime minister Jan Smith has unilaterally proclaimed independence of Rhodesia of British Empire. The country has plunged into civil war between black and white up to 1979 when Rhodesia has temporarily returned under English colonial management up to elections under the British supervision. The next year an election on which Robert Mugabe who has become by the prime minister of again formed country Zimbabwe has won have been held.
In the Mediterranean British have faced the guerrilla war begun by Greeks-Cypriotes. War has ended to 1960 with the announcement of independence of Cyprus, and the United Kingdom has kept control over military bases of Akrotiri and Dekelija. Islands Malta and Gozo receive independence in 1964.
In 1958 the Federation of West Indies which collapses in 1962 after declaration of independence to Jamaica and Trinidad is formed. Barbados receives independence in 1966, the remained Caribbean islands — in 1970х and 1980х years. Under the power of Britain there is Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman islands and Montserrat. Gyana receives independence in 1966. Last British possession in continental America, British Honduras, becomes a homing colony under the name Belize in 1973, receives full independence in 1981. Territorial dispute of Belize with Guatemala remains till now unresolved.
The British possession on Pacific ocean receive independence between 1970 (Fidji) and 1980 (Vanuatus). Declaration of independence of Vanuatu was late because of the conflict between English- and frenchspeakers the communities, arisen that the colony was joint possession of England and France.
Fidji, Tuvalu, the islands Solomonovy, Papua-new Guinea become Commonwealth Kingdoms.
In 1980 independence receive Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and New Hebrides (now Vanuatu); in 1981 independence receives Belize. Decolonization process, thus, in general comes to an end. From empire there are only scattered islands and outposts.
In 1982 Britain defends one of the last colonies — the Falkland islands for which Argentina applies, being based on claims of times of the Spanish empire. Successful military operation of Englishmen has allowed much to say that Britain becomes again world power.
The same year Canada breaks last legal communication with mother country. The certificate about Canada of 1982, the last British parliament, says that for modification of the constitution of Canada any coordination with Britain aren't required any more. Similar certificates are accepted in 1986 concerning Australia and New Zealand.
In September 1982 Prime minister Margaret Thatcher undertakes travel to Beijing for discussion with the government of the Peoples Republic of China of the future of the most important and occupied colony — Hong Kong. According to Nanking agreement 1842, the island Hong Kong has been conceded Britain «in termless possession», however the colony most part has settled down in the New Territories rented in 1898 for the term of 99 years which expired in 1997. Attempts to keep the British administration have failed. In 1984 under the joint Britano-Chinese statement Hong Kong becomes Special Administrative area Peoples Republic of China, keeping the system on the following of 50 years.
Solemn ceremony of transfer of the sovereignty over Hong Kong to the Republic of China, taken place in 1997, became for many, including for Charles participating in it, the prince Welsh, «the Empire end».
After signing of the peace treaty with Germany, British Empire has appeared in the hardest position. Foggy Albion managed to defend the independence, but it was unique positive result of war. The destroyed economy, mass unemployment, constant mutinies in the remained colonies - here what was necessary to face to K.Ettli's come to power government. About economy we will tell in corresponding heads, and now we will consider position in colonies and dominions.
India which is torn apart by national and confessional conflicts, has received independence in 1945. In it civil war (de facto going many years, but now "officially issued"), led to formation of the independent Muslim state Pakistan has immediately begun.
It was not better position and in the Near East. If still it was possible to Churchill's government to keep order in "Fortress Palestajn" at labourites of business have come to a perfect disorder. Eventually the British government has decided to fix independence of Transjordan and to proclaim in territory of the British Palestin two states - Arabian and Jewish, having kept behind empire only Sinai, "Near-Eastern Gibraltar". But the offered borders haven't satisfied neither Arabs, nor Jews - so one more war which has become history as Palestinian, or the War for independence of Israel has flashed. The British army receiving from London absolutely ridiculous instructions which even lord Kentervill, "the gentleman number one", named not differently as "idiotic", behaved as a whole passively though separate British officers gave the weapon to belligerent parties and even participated in operations. Absurd top became notorious battle for Latrun whom the same lord Kentervill has christened "Fight for Britain". During fight five British officers - one were lost from Israelis and four from Arabs.
Practical Germans have counted up quantity of the lost Englishmen and have decided to add fuel to the fire - actually, they never ceased to do it. Under same Latrunom from both parties "Mausers" and "шмайсеры" shot. Now the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs has declared that all Jews living in territory of the Reich and in the dependent states, can free go abroad. As wallowed in the isolationism of the USA weren't ready to accept such weight of people, and the Siberian border has been still closed, at escaped by the end of war of the European Jews there was only one road - to the Near East. As Goering has cynically noticed in private conversation, "the vital space too is necessary for Jews".
Anyhow, but influence of Britain in the Near East has been definitively undermined, and soon pro-German groupings have come to power in Iraq and Syria.
Disintegration of empire and trade liberalization: causes and effects. Some historians explain disintegration of British Empire by international trade liberalization. So, Liven writes:" The empire has economic sense in zones of protectionism and the closed trading associations... After 1945 the world economy in which the United States dominated, has made free trade in a reality and in this sense has taken a hand in business of abolition of empires ". Other authors, for example R.Kameron, express concerning the reasons of disintegration of empires more carefully. They specify that their own post-war weakness, growing force of movements for national independence and an ambivalent position of the United States" were the loss reason the European powers of control over colonies ". In these conditions" imperialistic powers came to understanding of that is better to concede voluntary control more and more, than to go on costs and risks of war ". In particular, Great Britain has begun preparation of colonies for self-management, and then has been compelled to concede to movement for independence.
In this report I’ve analyzed the colonization of America, India, Australia e. t. c.
I learned that British Empire was the largest country in the world. At now it still has 14 colonies so some people think that it can rise again. I’ve learned reasons of it’s fall. They won WW2 but they lost too much soldiers so they couldn’t control all of their colonies. People in colonies were pressed by evaders and many people were killed. It wasn’t anything good for colonies only metropoly earned money so it’s another reason of revolution. And the last reason was politics of new leader countries, they wanted decolonization and Britain had to decolonize colonies. So I think that no empire could last forever if it press on people and if they will be kind with them they won’t revolt.
Ю.А.Матюхина, Т.Б.Царева. Великие Империи мира.
Маклинн Фрэнк. 1759. Год завоевания Британией мирового господства.
Брендон Пирс. Упадок и разрушение Британской империи. 1781-1997.
Current overseas territories
The 14 British overseas territories are (today):
List of Former British Dominions, Colonies, Protectorates, Protected and Associated States
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