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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What did the British Empire mean by “Free Trade” in reference to the colonies?

Background: This feels like sort of a silly question for me to be asking after reading about the Victorian Age and the British Empire for several months, but here goes. As I've read about the ...
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How have terms of English governance of Ireland been viewed in history?

The following Treaty of Mellifont, made with Hugh O'Neill, England's most hard-core opponent, is reasonably representative. Under the treaty, after the Irish lost a war, were the following key terms: ...
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Did the British East India Company operate in the West Indies? [duplicate]

This question in the Science Fiction and fantasy stack exchange asks about the British East India Company operating in the West Indies. According to Wikipedia, there were a number of East India ...
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Why did the US have a plan for the event of war against Britain in the 1920s?

By pure chance, I found out there was a Plan red for the event of war between the states and Britain. The plan was conceived in the late 20s and early 30s of the previous century. It seems the article ...
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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 ...
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How did Victorian British conservatives resolve the tension between valuing tradition and spreading empire?

I've started reading about British Victorian politics, and I have a question about an apparent tension in Victorian conservatism. I'd like to get a better understanding of it so I can have a framework ...
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During the Peninsula War, what British material aid was given to Spain/Portugal?

The Peninsular War saw France intervene on the Iberian Peninsula, first against Portugal, then against Spain. It lasted roughly from 1808 - 1814. I would like to know what material Britain gave to ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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How did the primary means of communication between the British government in Delhi and UK change during WW2?

During WW2, India faced a lot of violence from the side of the Japanese. During the Burma campaign, the British would have (sometimes I suppose) asked the British government what was actually going or ...
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What was the outcome of the first tank battle?

Today, April 24th, is the anniversary of the first tank battle. As noted on this Wikipedia page, it was three British tanks against three German tanks, but there is no mention of the outcome in ...
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Why did the British Empire manage to conquer huge swaths of land abroad but couldn't supress nationalism within the British Isles?

The British Empire was extremely successful in the 19th century, to the point where for a few decades they were the largest empire in human history. But for some reason London never really managed to ...
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Identifying the Soldier in this minature painting

I bought a minature painting in a wooden / gilt frame. The portrait is signed Lila Sampson. Inside the frame was another miniature painting of a man in uniform. I am trying to find out more about both ...
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Who would qualify as British subject during the Victorian age of the Empire?

This has come up in another question regarding nationalism, and limiting inheritance based on whether a spouse is a British subject. My question is - was anyone in the Empire such a subject? Or was ...
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Racism, or Nationalism, represented in 19th century English Wills?

Lucy Monoux, 1777-1843, was the daughter of a baronet, and rich, owning at least one farm and a large house with its own land. She wrote a will in 1841 leaving ownership of most of her estate to ...
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What are the full names of the discoverers of the Seria oil field?

History books and the Brunei Shell Petroleum page say that the Seria oil field was jointly discovered by F.F. Marriot (British Malayan Petroleum Company) and by T.G. Cochrane (Sarawak Oilfields ...
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Has any country, other than Britain, given away its empire?

King Mithridates VI of Pontus started a fashion when he left his country to Rome in his will. One can argue (very weakly, but it helps this narrative ;-)) that Britain began to emerge as a country (...
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Why did some colonies of the British Empire have their own currencies?

For example, South Africa used the South African pound; Canada used the Canadian pound/dollar; Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia used the Malaya and British Borneo dollar. Why did they not use the ...
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Did the HEIC operate in the West Indies as well as the East Indies

Did the HEIC (Honorable Eeast India Company) operate in the West Indies as well as the East Indies and if so, did they face competition from other English or British chartered companies?
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What was the size of the British East India fleet at the end of the War of 1812?

There was a recent quote from the television show Taboo, set in 1814, that "The British East India Company has more ships than the combined fleets of all the nations of the world" I know that ...
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Why were Indians able to free themselves of the European Colonialists unlike South Africans? [closed]

About 8 months back, I went to South Africa. I did try to learn a bit about the country before going there. I was very much surprised to learn that 'Apartheid' was a thing/practice till Nelson Mandela'...
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Britain's Vietnam - the US Revolt?

When Great Britain brought its land and naval forces to the American shores to enforce its rule there, before and after the American's declaration of independence, Great Britain's motives seem clear: ...
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Why the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–55) was “the last of the old sieges”?

During the Crimean War (1853–56), Charles George Gordon took part in the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–55), calling it "the last of the old sieges". What made Sevastopol so "old fashioned" for a comment ...
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Is there anywhere that has not been at war with Britain? [closed]

Is there anywhere that has not been at war with Britain? "Anywhere" would mean "a contemporary country that was part of an empire or state that was at war with the United Kingdom or one of the ...
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Was there anyone involved in the negotiations of New Territories (Hong Kong) lease still alive at the time of the negotiations of its return to China?

As well explained by this answer, I know the usual confusion among the previous cession in perpetuity of Hong Kong versus the lease of the neighboring New Territories. For all effects, China got the ...
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What was the geopolitical status of Newfoundland prior to 1949? [closed]

Newfoundland "only" became part of Canada on March 31, 1949. What was the geopolitical status of Newfoundland prior to its annexation to Canada (or however it fused with the rest of Canada, if "...
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Why did Bakht Khan switch sides in Indian War of Independence 1857?

Bakht Khan was one of the key commanders of the Indian Liberation Forces fighting against the British for independence of India. From his early life, It is known that he was enlisted in British ...
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What is the history behind the stripes on the East India Company's flag?

Having stumbled across the East India Company's flag, I couldn't help but notice the similarity to the US flag. However, I would like to know what the history of the stripes on the Company's flag was ...
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What's paradoxical about British free trade in 20th century partitioning of Africa?

I'm having trouble understanding the following passage. What is the paradox/contradiction in Britain advocating for free trade, then emerging with greatest gains in the partitioning of Africa by ...
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How harmful was the Tea Act of 1773 to the American colonies?

The Tea Act of 1773 was passed by the Parliament to rescue the East India Company. However, I read somewhere that it would have actually made tea cheaper everywhere in the Empire1. By this argument, ...
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South China Sea Territorial Dispute and US Colonial Legacy

In recent years, the South China Sea has become somewhat important from a geo-political standpoint. China is building military bases, among many other things, and the US has been speaking about ...
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How did the British and French train their troops during the colonial eras?

From what I saw in movies, during many battles throughout the 1700s to early 1800s involving the French or British armies, rows of troops from both sides would fire volleys of bullets into each other ...
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What Were the Primary Causes of 15th to 19th Century British Chartered Companies' Failures?

A Wikipedia list suggests that the earliest deemed English chartered trade monopoly organization was The Company of Merchant Adventurers of London in 1407 and presumably most, if not nearly all, ...
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Why was Calcutta a node in the opium smuggling network prior to the Opium Wars in China?

As per Wikipedia's History of Kolkata page: After the territorial conquest of Bengal in 1757, the British East India Company pursued a monopoly on production and export of opium from India. The ...
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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 ...
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How would British counterfeiting efforts in the revolutionary war have inflated the American currency? [closed]

During the revolutionary war one of the British's espionage tactics was to flood the American market with counterfeit currency to cause mass runaway inflation. But how would that have worked? I don't ...
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Where were the British Forces located during Napoleon's Egypt Campaign?

During Napoleon's Campaign in Egypt 1798-1803, the British destroyed the French fleet near the Abu-Qir bay and had a fleet blockade there. Where did the men on the British fleet get supply from in all ...
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What happened to the other European residents in Khartoum in 1885?

Some sources mention Gordon running into the Austrian consulate to save himself from the Mahdi, which implies that there were other Europeans in Khartoum during the siege. What happened to them?
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Why did the British leave Kohima and Imphal “lightly” defended in 1944?

In 1942, the answer would have been, "because Britain didn't have enough troops." They were then weak "everywhere" along the line. But by early 1944, after two years of the Burma Campaign, Britain ...
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Was Baker Island ever claimed by the United Kingdom?

The Wikipedia article and Encyclopedia Britannica article for Baker Island agree that the United States claimed Baker Island in 1857, under the Guano Islands Act. The Wikipedia article also makes an ...
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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 ...
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How did Britain rule Sri Lanka? [closed]

How did Britain rule Sri Lanka. Apart from the Great Rebellion, in which the British Empire brutally repressed the Kandy kingdom, there isn't a lot of info on how life was really like under foreign ...
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How did WWII change the GDPs of the great empires of the world?

According to wikipedia some of the greatest European empires seemed to peak in GDP in 1938. I assume that it was WWII that caused declines in the GDPs of these empires. If this indeed the case, then ...
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To what extent is the independence of India a result of Indian Independence Movement?

India received independence from the British Empire in 1947. It had a long history of independence movement, stretching from 19th century, but it had gained a massive support only from 1910-1920. The ...
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Was there a policy of preemptive attack on foreign fleets in the British Empire?

I heard many times that the British Empire had an official policy to attack anyone who was close to having a great flotilla able to challenge their sea dominance. I cannot find any sources about who ...
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Where can I find history of Pune or `Peshwa's`? [closed]

Where can I find the history of pune or Peshwa's? Links on Wikipedia are not enough, Please explain or paste link in answers. To be more descriptive : 1. Who were peshwas ? 2. When did they exist? ...
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What would the Royal Sussex Regiment have been doing in South Africa between 1900-1902?

My 2x Great Grandfather, James Walter Juden, served in the Royal Sussex Regiment from 1889 to 1902. I have a copy of his service records. Which I have downloaded from FindMyPast, the images can be ...
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What did the Royal Sussex Regiment do in India between 1891-1897?

My 2x Great Grandfather, James Walter Juden, served in the Royal Sussex Regiment from 1889 to 1902. I have a copy of his service records, which I have downloaded from FindMyPast; the images can be ...
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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 ...
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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 ...