Questions tagged [british-empire]

For questions regarding the overseas empire established by Britain, beginning with England's overseas colonies and trading posts in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and reaching a quarter of the Earth's land surface by 1922. Domestic British questions should be directed as United-Kingdom, Britain, England, Scotland, Wales, or Ireland depending on the subject.

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Why did Canada not join the American Revolution?

America declared independence from Britain and fought a war of independence. Several states joined the fight, however, Canada remained British. Why did the American rebellion and war of independence ...
Rincewind42's user avatar
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63 votes
8 answers
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Why was Britain willing to return Hong Kong but not Gibraltar?

Why was Britain willing to return Hong Kong to China, but not Gibraltar to Spain? Was it because Gibraltar has more strategic value than Hong Kong?
user8781's user avatar
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50 votes
2 answers
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Why did a young George Washington sign a document admitting to assassinating a French military officer?

On May 28, 1754, a young Lt. Colonel named George Washington ambushed a French force at Jumonville Glen with assistance from a Iroquois leader named Tanacharison. One of the casualties was the French ...
RichS's user avatar
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48 votes
4 answers
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Is the photograph "England’s Revenge in India" real, staged, or fake?

Might have an interesting puzzle for you here… This picture, titled "England's Revenge in India", appeared in a Nazi propaganda book against Britain published in 1941: The propaganda book claims ...
Jansky's user avatar
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38 votes
3 answers
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Did the end of the British Raj in India create an economic loss for Britain?

I know the economic downturn of the World War and the victory of the Labour Party played some role in Britain deciding to quit India. Did GB have any serious economic implications because of this? ...
Bravo's user avatar
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34 votes
10 answers
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Why does Latin America have a higher number of surviving Native Americans than North America?

Despite having the same disease susceptibility and technological inferiority against the Europeans, it seems that Native Americans have much more surviving descendants in Latin America compared to ...
user69715's user avatar
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34 votes
8 answers
106k views

What were the main causes of successful take over of India by Britain?

The East India Company ruled an entire country of huge size for 101 years (1757–1858). During this time they did almost everything they wanted to do and won almost every battle in India. What was ...
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33 votes
2 answers
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When did Canada become truly independent?

I see that Canada became independent in 1867. But someone told me it wasn't truly independent until the 1980s. Is that true? In what sense is it true? I don't see anything about it in that article or ...
canada's user avatar
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30 votes
3 answers
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What were the reasons that the British colonies in North America rebelled but not others?

I know more about the American War of Independence than about other British colonies, but I have begun to wonder why was it just America. The British had colonies in other places but there doesn't ...
MichaelF's user avatar
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29 votes
4 answers
8k views

Why didn't the British Grand Fleet force an engagement with the German Imperial Navy in WW1?

I'm watching the channel The Great War on YouTube, which documents the goings on of the First World War week by week (careful, it's addictive and there are literally hundreds of episodes). It is my ...
fgysin's user avatar
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28 votes
5 answers
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Why were slave owners even offered compensation via the 1837 Act if they'd lost the power in parliament to stop abolition in 1833?

The British government paid out £20 million to slave owners in 1837 as compensation for the loss of the slaves as business assets to the registered owners of the freed slaves. There seems to be plenty ...
ian's user avatar
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27 votes
4 answers
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Why did the East India Company accept the Government of India Act 1858?

In 1858, the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act which contained provisions of liquidation of the Company and transfer of assets and governance to the British Crown. The Act was ...
Time Portal's user avatar
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27 votes
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How heavily were the British taxing their American colonies?

The British levied several taxes on the American Colonists (13), which were at least part of the reason for the American Revolution. Were the British taxing the 13 colonies for more money than was ...
Dale's user avatar
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26 votes
5 answers
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Why did it take over 100 years for Britain to begin seriously colonising America?

After the New World was discovered, it didn't take long for Spain, and relatively soon after, Portugal, to begin permanent colonisation there. It took over 100 years after the New World's discovery ...
Alister Sinclair's user avatar
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3 answers
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Why did the UK allow India to be a republic rather than a democratic parliament under the British Monarch?

In the UK, there is a democratically elected prime minister but the Monarch is the Head of State, although the latter is not (directly) involved in government. Likewise, the UK could have done the ...
Selva's user avatar
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3 answers
8k views

How did the British Navy pass orders to its fleet before radio?

During the 18th and 19th century, the British Navy had ships all over the world, and communicating with them had to be difficult. After all, the Battle of New Orleans happened after the British had ...
Bruce James's user avatar
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Why did Mozambique join the British Commonwealth?

In short, the Commonwealth originated in the British Empire, as an association of Britain and its former colonies. Why did Mozambique (a former Portuguese colony) join?
Joe's user avatar
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Who was responsible for the partition of India?

Who was responsible for the partition of India? Did it happen due to Mohammed Ali Jinnah or Mahatma Gandhi? Or were the British of the view that the country needed to be divided?
bhuwansahni's user avatar
23 votes
6 answers
3k views

Why were the British so reluctant to allow Jewish migration to Palestine?

Not sure if this is the correct forum to ask this, but I'm currently reading 'Exodus' by Leon Uris, and I'm curious as to why the British were so reluctant in letting Jewish people in Palestine. ...
user1021138's user avatar
23 votes
4 answers
3k views

Why did the British not introduce the sterling in India?

The question is about the adoption of currency during imperialist rule. Why did the British persist with the local currency, the rupee? What impediments did the British face in implementing the ...
Bravo's user avatar
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22 votes
9 answers
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Why did Canada, Australia and New Zealand separate from the UK?

I asked this question in various places on the Web. I haven't received a clear answer. The USA separated from the UK because the people felt that they were not British, and they weren't. Weren't ...
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22 votes
2 answers
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Had there been instances of national states banning harmful imports before the mid-19th C Opium Wars?

Background To my current understanding, James Matheson in his »The British trade with China« argued that China might have originally had the right to refuse trading with Britain, but that they lost ...
Ludi's user avatar
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22 votes
3 answers
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World War 1 Indian propaganda posters

In World War 1, because war broke out between the triple entente and the central powers (and they happened to have a lot of foreign colonies), the allies made posters to recruit soldiers from all ...
clickonMe's user avatar
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21 votes
1 answer
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Was the British Army a millionaire factory in the early 20th century?

I'm reading "Kenya Diary" by Richard Meinertzhagen where he relates his experiences as a junior officer in the British army around 1902. At one point he states that during his 5 year service in East ...
Johnny's user avatar
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19 votes
2 answers
2k views

What was used instead of toilet paper in the US and the UK prior to 1900?

I read in this Wikipedia article that toilet paper came to be available only around 1920. On the other hand, this article says bidets were never popular in the UK and the US. Moreover, colonies of ...
Sultan's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
780 views

Were British fears of Russia using Afghanistan as a staging post for an invasion of India unfounded?

I know that "The Great Game" was originally concerned with Russian-British competition in Central Asia, but my question is was this competition and British fear founded on anything? My understanding ...
ihtkwot's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
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English monarchs on the battlefield

It seems that in English 'older times' it was expected for the King or monarch to lead the armies in battle. My research suggests that this was the case in the 12th century in the civil war between ...
Andrew Thompson's user avatar
17 votes
9 answers
3k views

When did the British monarch become an emperor?

When did the British monarch become an Emperor? I know that Queen Victoria became Empress of India, that there is an order of the British Empire, but is there such a thing as a British Emperor?
Jean-Christophe Dubacq's user avatar
17 votes
4 answers
9k views

How does the amount of equipment carried by various historical infantries compare?

I've heard many statements amount the weight of supplies and munition carried by soldiers of various historical forces. In particular, I've heard many comments about the amount that the British ...
Canageek's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
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In Britain, what was the "Junior Service" in 1913?

I read a marriage notice from 1913, which noted that the father of the groom "has four sons abroad, three having served with distinction in the junior Service". (West Sussex Gazette, Thu 13 Feb 1913, ...
AndyW's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
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In 19th century India, pre and post Raj, did any private British citizens actually own land in India?

I've never been able to clarify this question. From what I can tell, the land that the British occupied in India was either "owned" (if this is the right term) by the Company during the time of its ...
EndlessLoop's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
2k views

What was the role of Indian princes and aristocratic landowners under British colonial rule?

I am currently reading Ludwig von Mises' Human Action and find it rewarding in various ways. For instance, von Mises points out the following about volunteers' roles even around autocratic rulers: ...
Drux's user avatar
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16 votes
4 answers
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How long would it take to travel from England to western Africa in the late 1890's?

I am trying to do some research for a book I am planning to write, and I would like to know how long it would take for a troop transport ship to travel from England to the Gold Coast region of Africa. ...
Steven Drennon's user avatar
16 votes
6 answers
9k views

Was democracy present in India before British colonization?

My friend claims that India had democracy before the British colonized it. I am skeptical and have failed to find any references to democracy in India within the last thousand years. I found one weak ...
Dale's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
4k views

How profitable was India for the British Empire in the 1800s?

I recently read Imperial Twilight, an excellent history of the opium wars. The author claims several times that while the British trade with China was very lucrative, India was by contrast "...
Random's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
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Did Britain look into taking California?

The Spanish colonized California in part to forestall the expansion of other empires. The territory was in danger of invasion throughout the Spanish and Mexican eras (1769-1846). Visitors and ...
Aaron Brick's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
476 views

Was there a social stigma for British born/living in India prior to WW2/Indian independence?

My father (1926 - 2007) always said he was born and raised in England until immigrating to Australia in 1947 after being discharged from the army. I have now found out through his army records that ...
David's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
369 views

Whig party identification in the House of Lords

After the Whigs became subsumed into the Liberal party, did the label survive in the House of Lords? As of today, the longest serving current peer began his tenure during the Second World War. It ...
Ne Mo's user avatar
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15 votes
7 answers
6k views

Is there a correlation between the colonial power and the stability/success of the post colonial state?

Looking at the history of Ghana relative to many post-colonial African states, it appears to be quite a successful and stable nation-state, both politically and economically, compared to many other ...
15 votes
4 answers
4k views

Was the Somerset Decision in 1772 in England the real underlying cause of the American Revolutionary war?

I had a discussion with a Brit the other day and naturally the topic drifted to our historic break from the UK in 1776 and I boasted of our noble fight for liberation and freedom. The Brit was amused ...
0tyranny0poverty's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
8k views

Has the sun ever set on the British Empire? If so when?

Referring to the expression, "The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire"... Was there any period of time when this was literally true? If so, what was the first sunset on the Empire after this ceased ...
StayOnTarget's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
2k views

How could temporary surrender of self-government help Newfoundland with its debts?

According to Wikipedia, Newfoundland had accumulated a significant amount of debt by building a railway across the island, which was completed in the 1890s, and by raising its own regiment during ...
Michael Hardy's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
4k views

What happened to the British convicts transported to America after the American Revolution?

From the early 1600s until the American Revolution of 1776, the British colonies in North America received transported British criminals for, what I have read, a term of 6 to 14 years. I have read (...
beetle120's user avatar
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14 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why was the Irish War of Independence in 1918 successful when other revolts failed?

In a nutshell, what events, occurrences, or mishaps took place that allowed the Irish to win the war of Independence over what could arguably be the most powerful nation of the time, when they were ...
canadiancreed's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
2k views

When did navies stop giving out a drink ration to their sailors?

I seem to remember that the British Navy, and the US Navy maybe, used to give out a ration of alcohol to sailors each day. When did this practice stop, and why?
ihtkwot's user avatar
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14 votes
6 answers
5k views

Was the British Empire financially capable of maintaining India as a colony after WW2?

In India, it is generally accepted that Indian Independence from the British was the culmination of the 190 year long freedom struggle; from the armed conflicts of the mid-1800s to the more peaceful ...
UrsinusTheStrong's user avatar
13 votes
6 answers
31k views

Why did Nepal and Bhutan not become a part of India like other princely states when colonial rule ended?

During the period around Independence, India, under Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel's program to unite the subcontinent, was getting Princely states to accede to Union of India. There were around 570 ...
Rohit's user avatar
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13 votes
3 answers
6k views

Was the British Empire bigger than the combined empires of the Iberian Union in terms of claimed land area?

The Iberian Empire (1580-1640 AD), under Phillip II, a Habsburg, was a period when there was only one crown in the Iberian Peninsula. The 16th Century had been an Age of Discovery and Exploration for ...
Centaurus's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
4k views

When did the use of "Contact!" by soldiers emerge?

I was recently watching a World War One docudrama-esque show (Our World War (BBC)) and, while patrolling and fighting to control Trones Wood, some British troops unexpectedly encounter the German ...
Dan's user avatar
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13 votes
1 answer
5k views

How much tax revenue did the British Empire receive from its colonies in a given year?

I have heard that India at least was quite profitable for the United Kingdom. However, I do not know of any exact numbers for the annual tax revenue of the colonies in any given year. This book on the ...
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