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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1answer
545 views

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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1answer
479 views

Did the HEIC operate in the West Indies as well as the East Indies?

Did the Honorable East India Company (HEIC) 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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644 views

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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367 views

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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2answers
618 views

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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1answer
405 views

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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1answer
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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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1answer
659 views

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 ...
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320 views

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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1answer
757 views

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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4answers
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What impact does colonial legacy have on current US presence in the South China Sea dispute?

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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3answers
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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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1answer
236 views

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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4answers
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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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6answers
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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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1answer
216 views

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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3answers
689 views

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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2answers
388 views

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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1answer
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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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1answer
431 views

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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1answer
222 views

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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1answer
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Why did United Kingdom not keep the colonies after Napoleon's defeat?

During the Napoleonic Wars the British occupied some French, Dutch and Danish colonies mainly in the Caribbean like: Dutch Surinam, Danish West Indies, French Martinique. I have 2 questions: Why ...
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1answer
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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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1answer
163 views

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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1answer
460 views

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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2answers
673 views

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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1answer
459 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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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2answers
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Why does the Star of David feature on these African coins from 20th century?

Why does the Star of David feature on these African coins from 1936 and 1959?
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2answers
221 views

British royal titles for regions not in Britain

Royal titles for the British aristocracy seem to be associated with regions within Britain, particularly England; such as the Duke of Cambridge or the Princess of York. Were there ever royal titles ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
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Did Britain send convicts to Canada during the colonial era?

During the colonial era before the American War of Independence, Britain sent convicts to its North American colonies which eventually became the USA, but did Britain also send convicts to those ...
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2answers
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Why did the British “Indian” army come disproportionately from particular regions?

During World War II, the British field several armies that included Indians, but the most "Indian" of these, was the 14th Army, in which 8 of 13 divisions were predominantly "Indian." Of the ...
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1answer
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What were the major strategies/ideas Britain exerted against Indian Independence movement?

The first flames of freedom were lighted in the 1857 revolt in India. After that in 1900s, the movements became stronger and spread over the country. There was diverse political, economic, military, ...
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5answers
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Why hire Hessian troops?

During the American Independence War the British army made use of mercenaries hired from various German state (About 30,000 German soldiers fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War,...
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Why did the Government of India Act create separate electorates for the depressed classes?

The Communal Award, in 1932, conceded to the demands of B.R. Ambedkar and the ilk to have separate electorates for depressed classes. But Gandhji held fast unto death to undo this. So, Poona Pact ...
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Scaffoldings on Taj Mahal?

I recently came across this picture (removed now, look at wiki article instead), saying that it is a scaffolding erected during WW2 over Taj Mahal to protect it from Japanese Air Force. Even the ...
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1answer
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What was Ghulam Ahmad's relationship with the British authorities in India?

An answer on Islam.SE claims, Ghulam Ahmad came out at a time when the British were trying to take over India, and they needed someone to stop the Muslims from fighting, and so bribed this man to ...
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6answers
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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 ...
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3answers
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What class / type of ship was the “Dragon” from Rotterdam c. 1732?

I am attempting to determine the class, size, features, history of the British ship "Dragon" c. 1732 that was known to arrive in Philadelphia on September 30, 1732 with 173 men, women and children ...
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1answer
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How large were the East India Company armed forces?

The British East India Company maintained an armed force large and competent enough to subdue and control Mughal India, but just how large was it? How comparable was it to contemporary national ...
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8answers
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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?
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1answer
430 views

Did the British government oppose racial segregation in South Africa from 1815-1931?

In South Africa, the Afrikaners' political movements, including the National Party, took the lead in extending segregation in the first half of the 20th-century. Anglo-Africans were less enthusiastic ...