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Was trade the most important factor of british empire essay

Anyone who believes that history is not merely a series of accidents might well see God's hand behind the creation of an empire that, despite all the ills of an imperial system imposed on unwilling subjects, also left a cultural, literary, legal and political legacy that binds people of different religions and races together.

British Empire

Building on commercial links in the wool trade promoted during the reign of King Richard III of England, Henry established the modern English merchant marine system, which greatly expanded English shipbuilding and seafaring. The merchant fleet also supplied the basis for the mercantile institutions that would play such a crucial role in later British imperial ventures, such as the Massachusetts Bay Company and the British East India Company chartered by Henry's grand-daughter, Elizabeth I.

Henry's financial reforms made the English Exchequer solvent, which helped to underwrite the development of the Merchant Marine. Henry also ordered construction of the first English dry dock at Portsmouth, and made improvements to England's small Royal Navy.

Additionally, he sponsored the voyages of the Italian mariner John Cabot in 1496 and 1497 that established England's first overseas colony—a fishing settlement—in Newfoundland, which Cabot claimed on behalf of Henry. Henry VIII and the rise of the Royal Navy King Henry VIII founded the modern English navy though the plans to do so were put into motion during his father's reignmore than tripling the number of warships and constructing the first large vessels with heavy, long-range guns.

He initiated the Navy's formal, centralized administrative apparatus, built new docks, and constructed the network of beacons and lighthouses that made coastal navigation much easier for English and foreign merchant sailors.

Henry established the munitions-based Royal Navy that was able to hold off the Spanish Armada in 1588. Ireland The first substantial achievements of the colonial empire stem from the Act for Kingly Title, passed by the Irish parliament in 1541. This statute converted Ireland from a lordship under the authority of the English crown to a kingdom in its own right.

It was the starting point for the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland. By 1550 a committed policy of colonization of the country had been adopted, which culminated in the Plantation of Ulster in 1610, following the Nine Years War 1595-1603. These plantations would serve as templates for the empire. Several people involved in these projects also had a hand in the early colonization of North America, including Humphrey Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake.

The Plantations were large tracts of land granted to English and Scottish settlers, many of whom enjoyed newly created titles. The Elizabethan era Defeat of the Spanish Armada, by Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg 1796 During the reign of Queen Elizabeth ISir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe in the years 1577 to 1580, fleeing from the Spanishonly the second to accomplish this feat after Ferdinand Magellan's expedition. In 1579 Drake landed somewhere in northern California and claimed what he named Nova Albion for the English Crown Albion is an ancient name for England or Britainthough the claim was not followed by settlement.

Subsequent maps spell out Nova Albion to the north of all New Spain. England's interests outside Europe now grew steadily, promoted by John Dee 1527-1609who coined the phrase "British Empire. He was a Welshman, and his use of the term "British" fitted with the Welsh origins of Elizabeth's Tudor family, although his conception of empire was derived from Dante Alighieri 's book Monarchia.

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Sir Humphrey Gilbert 1537-1583 followed on Cabot's original claim when he sailed to Newfoundland in 1583 and declared it an English colony on August 5 at St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Both Gilbert's Newfoundland settlement and the Roanoke colony were short-lived, however, and had to be abandoned due to food shortages, severe weather, shipwrecks, and hostile encounters with indigenous tribes on the American continent.

The Elizabethan era built on the past century's imperial foundations by expanding Henry VIII 's navy, promoting Atlantic exploration by English sailors, and further encouraging maritime trade especially with the Netherlands and the Hanseatic League, a Baltic trading consortium. The nearly twenty year Anglo-Spanish War 1585-1604which started well for England with the sack of Cadiz and the repulse of the Spanish Armadasoon turned Spain's way with a number of serious defeats which sent the Royal Navy into decline and allowed Spain to retain effective control of the Atlantic sea lanes, thwarting English hopes of establishing colonies in North America.

However it did give English sailors and shipbuilders vital experience. Rivalry between the British, the Dutch and the Spanish reflected both commercial and territorial competition but also the Protestant-Catholic divide.

During the next three centuries, England extended its influence overseas and consolidated its political development at home. Scottish role There were several pre-union attempts at creating a Scottish Overseas Empire, with various Scottish settlements in North and South America. The most famous of these was the disastrous Darien scheme which attempted to establish a settlement colony and trading post in Panama to foster trade between Scotland and the Far East.

Symbiosis: Trade and the British Empire

After union many Scots, especially in CanadaJamaicaIndiaAustralia and New Zealandtook up posts as administrators, doctors, lawyers and teachers. Progressions in Scotland itself during the Scottish enlightenment led to advancements throughout the empire.

Scots settled across the Empire as it developed and built up their own communities such as Dunedin in New Zealand. Mainly Calvinist, the Scots had a strong work ethic which was accompanied by belief in philanthropy as a religious duty, all of which impacted on the education system that was developed throughout the empire.

Colonization Jamestown, under the leadership of Captain John Smith 1580-1631overcame the severe privations of the winter in 1607 to found England's first permanent overseas settlement. The empire thus took shape during the early seventeenth century, with the English settlement of the 13 colonies of North America, which would later become the original United States as well as Canada 's Atlantic provinces, and the colonization of the smaller islands of the Caribbean such as Jamaica and Barbados.

The sugar-producing colonies of the Caribbean, where slavery became the basis of the economy, were at first England's most important and lucrative colonies.

How significant was the slave trade in the growth of the British empire in the years 1680 1763?

The American colonies provided tobaccocottonand rice in the South and naval materiel military hardware and furs in the North were less financially successful, but had large areas of good agricultural land and attracted far larger numbers of English emigrants.

The growing American colonies pressed ever westward in search of new agricultural lands. Later, settlement of Australia starting with penal colonies from 1788 and New Zealand under the crown from 1840 created a major zone of British migration.

The entire Australian continent was claimed for Britain when Matthew Flinders 1774-1814 proved New Holland and New South Wales to be a single land mass by completing a circumnavigation of it in 1803.

The colonies later became self-governing colonies and became profitable exporters of wool and gold.

  1. Britain's declaration of hostilities against Germany in September 1939 did not automatically commit the dominions.
  2. The end of Britain's empire in Africa came with exceptional rapidity, often leaving the newly-independent states ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of sovereignty.
  3. During the next three centuries, England extended its influence overseas and consolidated its political development at home.
  4. This was mainly based around the activities of the East India Company, a large joint-stock company based in London. The many railways that were constructed improved communications and enabled people to develop a sense of national identity as well as a feeling of belonging to the wider civilized world.

The loss of the American colonies marked the end of the "first British Empire. During the long period of unbroken Whig dominance of domestic political life 1714—1762the empire became less important and less well-regarded, until an ill-fated attempt largely involving taxes, monopolies, and zoning to reverse the resulting "salutary neglect" or "benign neglect" provoked the American Revolutionary War 1775—1783depriving the empire of its most populous colonies.

The period is sometimes referred to as the end of the "first British Empire," indicating the shift of British expansion from the Americas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the "second British Empire" in Asia and later also Africa from the eighteenth century.

  1. The term Pax Britannica was later used to describe this period, drawing an obvious parallel with the Pax Romana.
  2. The British did not believe that Singapore would be large enough to defend itself against others alone.
  3. There can be little doubt that trade and empire gave a significant boost to the proliferation and sophistication of financial services, and that this was of considerable benefit to the long-term development of the British economy. There is little doubt, though, that many involved in acquiring the Mandate of Palestine, including General Edmund Allenby 1861-1936 thought that Britain had a special role to play in the Middle East, possibly as God's agent in the restoration of Israel.
  4. The most famous of these was the disastrous Darien scheme which attempted to establish a settlement colony and trading post in Panama to foster trade between Scotland and the Far East.
  5. Slavery itself was abolished in the British colonies in 1834, though the phenomenon of indentured labor retained much of its oppressive character until 1920.

The loss of the Thirteen Colonies showed that colonies were not necessarily particularly beneficial in economic terms, since Britain could still profit from trade with the ex-colonies without having to pay for their defense and administration. Mercantilism, the economic doctrine of competition between nations for a finite amount of wealth which had characterized the first period of colonial expansion, now gave way in Britain and elsewhere to the laissez-faire economic classical liberalism of Adam Smith and successors like Richard Cobden 1804-1865 a manufacturer, politician and anti-regulationist.

The lesson of Britain's North American loss—that trade might be profitable in the absence of colonial rule—contributed to the extension in the 1840s and 1850s of self-governing colony status to white settler colonies in Canada and Australasia whose British or European inhabitants were seen as outposts of the "mother country.

During this period, Britain also outlawed the slave trade 1807 and soon began enforcing this principle on other nations. By the mid-nineteenth-century Britain had largely eradicated the world slave trade. Slavery itself was abolished in the British colonies in 1834, though the phenomenon of indentured labor retained much of its oppressive character until 1920.

The end of the old colonial and slave systems was accompanied by the adoption of free trade, culminating in the repeal of the Corn Laws and Navigation Acts regulatory measures in the 1840s. Free trade opened the British market to unfettered competition, stimulating reciprocal action by other countries during the middle quarters of the nineteenth century.

The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the beginning of the Pax Britannica Some argue that the rise of free trade merely reflected Britain's economic position and was unconnected with any true philosophical conviction.

Despite the earlier loss of 13 of Britain's North American colonies, the final defeat in Europe of Napoleonic France in 1815 left Britain the most successful international power. While the Industrial Revolution at home gave Britain an unrivaled economic leadership, the Royal Navy dominated the seas. The distraction of rival powers by European matters enabled Britain to pursue a phase of expansion of its economic and political influence through "informal empire" underpinned by free trade and strategic pre-eminence.

Between the Congress of Vienna of 1815 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Britain was the world's sole industrialized power, with over 30 percent of the global industrial output in 1870.

As the "workshop of was trade the most important factor of british empire essay world," Britain could produce finished manufactures so efficiently and cheaply that they could undersell comparable locally produced goods in foreign markets.

Given stable political conditions in particular overseas markets, Britain could prosper through free trade alone without having to resort to formal rule. The Americas in particular especially in Argentina and the United States were seen as being well under the informal British trade empire due to Britain's enforcement of the Monroe Doctrinekeeping other European nations from establishing formal rule in the area.

However, free trade appears to have become imperial policy, since Britain found it convenient in many parts of the world to engage in trade and to negotiate trading rights without formally acquiring sovereignty, as in China, Iran, and the Gulf States. This went hand-in-hand with the belief that Britain now had a duty to police the world—that is, to protect trade.

  • In 1922 dominion reluctance to support British military action against Turkey influenced Britain's decision to seek a compromise settlement;
  • British East India Company Main article:

The term Pax Britannica was later used to describe this period, drawing an obvious parallel with the Pax Romana. Behind this term lies the idea that this type of imperial system benefits the ruled as well as the rulers.

British East India Company Main article: British East India Company The British East India Company was probably the most successful chapter in the British Empire's history as it was responsible for the annexation of the Indian subcontinent, which would become the empire's largest source of revenue, along with the conquest of Hong KongSingaporeCeylonMalaya which was also one of the largest sources of revenue and other surrounding Asian countries, and was thus responsible for establishing Britain's Asian empire, the most important component of the British Empire.

The British East India Company originally began as a joint-stock company of traders and investors based in Leadenhall Street, London, which was granted a Royal Charter by Elizabeth I in 1600, with the intent to favor trade privileges in India.

The company transformed from a commercial trading venture to one which virtually ruled India as it acquired auxiliary governmental and military functions, along with a very large private army consisting of local Indian sepoys soldierswho were loyal to their British commanders and were probably the most important factor in Britain's Asian conquest.

The British East India Company is regarded by some as the world's first multinational corporation. Its territorial holdings were subsumed by the British was trade the most important factor of british empire essay in 1858, in the aftermath of the events variously referred to as the Sepoy Rebellion or the Indian Mutiny. At that time there was no political entity called India. The Indian subcontinent was a patchwork of many kingdoms, and unlike in Europe there was no concept of the state as a political institution anywhere in this expanse of land.

It was indeed with the absorption of British and western ideas that the concept of India as a single nation arose, much later in time. Thus, until the establishment of a single administrative and gubernatorial entity by the British, the word India must be taken to represent nothing more than a catchall term for the peninsula south of the Himalayas.

The company also had interests along the routes to India from Great Britain. As early as 1620, the company attempted to lay claim to the Table Mountain region in South Africalater it occupied and ruled the island of Saint Helena.

  • Britain's 1882 military occupation of Egypt itself triggered by concern over the Suez Canal contributed to a preoccupation over securing control of the Nile valley, leading to the conquest of the neighboring Sudan in 1896—98 and confrontation with a French military expedition at Fashoda September 1898;
  • Although the white-dominated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland ended in the independence of Malawi formerly Nyasaland and Zambia the former Northern Rhodesia in 1964, Southern Rhodesia's white minority a self-governing colony since 1923 declared independence with their Unilateral Declaration of Independence rather than submit to equality with black Africans;
  • During the long period of unbroken Whig dominance of domestic political life 1714—1762 , the empire became less important and less well-regarded, until an ill-fated attempt largely involving taxes, monopolies, and zoning to reverse the resulting "salutary neglect" or "benign neglect" provoked the American Revolutionary War 1775—1783 , depriving the empire of its most populous colonies;
  • By 1914 only Ethiopia and the republic of Liberia remained outside formal European control.

The company also established Hong Kong and Singapore ; and cultivated the production of tea in India. Other notable events in the company's history were that it held Napoleon captive on Saint Helenaand made the fortune of Elihu Yale 1649-1721 the benefactor of Yale College, Boston.

In 1615 Sir Thomas Roe was instructed by James I to visit the Mughal emperor Jahangir who ruled over most of the Indian subcontinent at the time, along with parts of Afghanistan. The purpose of this mission was to arrange for a commercial treaty which would give the company exclusive rights to reside and build factories in Surat and other areas.

In return, the company offered to provide to the emperor goods was trade the most important factor of british empire essay rarities from the European market. This mission was highly successful and Jahangir sent a letter to the king through Roe. In 1634 the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan extended his hospitality to the English traders to the region of Bengal, which had the world's largest textile industry at the time.

In 1717 the Mughal Emperor at the time completely waived customs duties for the trade, giving the company a decided commercial advantage in the Indian trade. With the company's large revenues, it raised its own armed forces from the 1680s, mainly drawn from the indigenous local population, who were Indian sepoys under the command of British officers. Expansion Robert Clive's victory at the Battle of Plassey established the company as a military as well as commercial power The decline of the Mughal Empirewhich had separated into many smaller states controlled by local rulers who were often in conflict with one another, allowed the company to expand its territories, which began in 1757 when the company came into conflict with the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj Ud Daulah.

Under the leadership of Robert Clive, the company troops and their local allies defeated the Nawab on June 23, 1757, at the Battle of Plassey. The victory was mostly due to the treachery of the Nawab's former army chief, Mir Jafar. This victory, which resulted in the conquest of Bengal, established the British East India Company as a military as well as a commercial power, and marked the beginning of British rule in India. The wealth gained from the Bengal treasury allowed the company to significantly strengthen its military might and as a result, extend its territories, conquering most parts of India with the massive Indian army it had acquired.

There were a number of other states which the company couldn't conquer through military might, mostly in the North, where the company's presence was ever increasing amidst the internal conflict and dubious offers of protection against one another. Coercive action, threats and diplomacy aided the company in preventing the local rulers from putting up a united struggle against it.

  • The company was also responsible for the illegal opium trade with China against the Qing Emperor's will, which later led to the two Opium Wars between 1834 and 1860;
  • The slave trade stimulated British manufacturing production by the derived demand for goods such as plantation utensils, and clothing needed for slaves and estates;
  • The extent of economic change between 1688 and 1815 can be discerned through a glimpse at the state of economic and social conditions at home, and the growth of trade and empire at the beginning and end of that period;
  • Various Indian states were also subjugated;
  • On Easter Monday 1916, an initially unsuccessful armed uprising was staged in Dublin by a mixed group of nationalists, including Michael Collins.

By the 1850s the company ruled over most of the Indian subcontinent, and as a result, began to function more as a nation and less as a trading concern. The company was also responsible for the illegal opium trade with China against the Qing Emperor's will, which later led to the two Opium Wars between 1834 and 1860. The company also had a number of wars with other surrounding Asian countries, the most difficult probably being the three Anglo-Afghan Wars between 1839 and 1919 against Afghanistanwhich were mostly unsuccessful.

Collapse The company's rule effectively came to an end exactly a century after its victory at Plassey, when the anti-British rebellion broke out in 1857 which saw many of the Company's Indian sepoys begin an armed uprising against their British commanders after a period of political unrest triggered by a number of political events. One of the major factors was the company's introduction of the Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle.