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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
73
votes
3answers
65k views

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 ...
61
votes
8answers
30k views

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?
50
votes
2answers
12k views

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 ...
39
votes
4answers
9k views

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 ...
36
votes
3answers
3k views

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? ...
32
votes
2answers
30k views

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 ...
31
votes
10answers
18k views

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 ...
30
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
29
votes
3answers
14k views

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 ...
27
votes
4answers
12k views

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 ...
27
votes
5answers
18k views

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 ...
26
votes
5answers
10k views

Why did the Dutch, French & British acquire minor colonies in South America?

We know that South America was partitioned between Spain and Portugal in the early days of empire when Spain and Portugal were the major powers. Later, in the 19th century, when Spain and Portugal ...
25
votes
3answers
6k views

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 ...
24
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
24
votes
3answers
22k views

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?
23
votes
9answers
94k views

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 ...
23
votes
7answers
5k views

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?
23
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
22
votes
3answers
4k views

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 ...
21
votes
3answers
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. ...
20
votes
1answer
5k views

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 ...
19
votes
8answers
2k 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?
19
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
16
votes
7answers
7k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

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 ...
16
votes
3answers
2k 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 "...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
16
votes
1answer
311 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
8k views

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. ...
15
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

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, ...
15
votes
1answer
3k 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 (...
15
votes
1answer
425 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
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?
14
votes
2answers
2k views

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: ...
13
votes
7answers
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 ...
13
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
3k views

How severe was the 1943 Bengal Famine?

I read this in a comment to a newspaper article: By far the largest British empire human loss in the Second World War was the three million Bengalis who perished in a famine in 1943 that Churchill ...
12
votes
2answers
687 views

What are the immediate legal effects of rendering a royal branch illegitimate?

I recently came across this video which claims that Edward IV was probably illegitimate, effectively rendering the branch leading to the Windsors also illegitimate. That's quite a bold statement to ...
12
votes
2answers
5k views

Why weren't the Faroe Islands ever conquered by Britain?

Here are the Faroe Islands: According to the history I read, they've always been under Denmark's control except in the middle of WWII. Why weren't these ever conquered by Britain? They seem close ...
12
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Did WWII Delay Indian Independence?

During WWII, Gandhi said that Indians should adopt a compromising attitude towards the British due to the stresses of war. Did this prolong the (near) inactivity of the Indian National Movement? Or ...
12
votes
2answers
30k views

How many Britons lived in India during the British Raj (1858 - 1947)?

How many Britons lived (not just visited shortly) in India during the British Raj (1858 - 1947)? There might be two answers, both of them interesting: The amount of Britons in India over time - ...
12
votes
1answer
804 views

Did the British somehow imitate the Greek colonizers in India?

First of all I wonder whether the British headdress in India was somehow designed to resemble the headdress of the Indo-Greeks and Greco-Bactrians? For example, this is the image of Eucratides I, the ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

What weapons were manufactured in India by the British forces which were used during world wars?

Recently I came across references to a weapon called the Bangalore Torpedo, which was used in the world wars. These weapons were made in India by the British Indian Army. I also happened to see ...
12
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...