British Empire - Summary
- 1169. The first colony. England colonises Ireland. Indeed King Henry 2nd 1154-1189 was asked by an Irish King (they had many at the time) to send an army to Ireland to sort out inter regional royal disputes. The English liked Ireland and stayed until 1922 and are still rulers of the north of Ireland.
- Circa 1200. Christian Europe is continuously attacked on its eastern flank by Islamic forces where Jerusalem the spiritual city for both Jews and Christians is under the protection and defended by the Byzantiums. (The name given to the eastern Roman Empire which is still intact). The Byzantiums ask for help from the Pope in Rome and the Crusades commence.
- Finally in 1450, Constantinople the spiritual head of the eastern Christian Church falls to the powerful Islamic Ottomans and they block all trade routes to the east for silks, spices and porcelain(china). The Christian Europeans lead by Italians and Portuguese navigators are forced to look for alternative routes to China and the Spice Islands of Indonesia and find the Americas by mistake. Also by sailing round Africa they set up trading posts in India. The English, while not being first, are soon present in both continents.
- Elizabeth 1st Queen of England establishes England as a fiercely independent quasi Protestant nation and builds up her navy to keep invading, Pope supported, Catholic Armadas at bay. She also encourages English adventurers to sail west and pirate Catholic galleons and set up colonies in North America (but keeping well away from the more powerful Catholic Spanish in Mexico and South America).
- Circa 1600-50. Religious and economic turmoil in England. There is a huge incentive for English Protestant Fundamentalists to join Elizabethan adventurers and leave England and settle abroad where they can practice their particular version of Protestantism as they wish. English settlements appear in Boston, Virginia and the Caribbean together with Bombay and Calcutta in India. Poor harvests and a poor economy in England under both James 1st and Charles 1st also encourage an exodus. This was further exacerbated by the “land enclosures” policy in England when tenant farmers were forced off their land to make room for sheep. Wool was England’s top export earner at the time.
- 1650-1750 the English are almost continuously fighting the French in America and India as well as the high seas for global domination. However at the end of this period the English have built the most powerful navy in the world and has successfully eliminated any French resistance both in India, North America and the Caribbean. How did they do it? With a superior navy, and military and naval commanders plus a superior (Jewish) organised English financial system. The latter was not available to the Catholic French or Spanish because they hated the Jews and eliminated them from their countries.
- 1760 English armies defeat the French in both America at Quebec in 1759 under General Wolfe and in India at Pondicherry, 1761under Clive. Any pretensions the French have in competing with England on a world stage have been destroyed in a couple of years. (It will be another 50 years before the English destroyed the French European territorial ambitions, 1815)
- In America after the defeat of the French, the English divide North America into three. The new boarder run from the south up the Mississippi river then forks to make a Y where the Ohio river meets the Mississippi. The land in the north within the Y is ruled from Quebec. On the west side is Spanish territory but the east side is divided into two again, north south by the Appellation mountains. The 13 colonies on the east side and a native Indian reservation on the west. The English speaking relatively well populated 13 colonies are hemmed in and don’t like it and feel let down by their brothers in London.
- 1776 “English” settlers in North America are now large in number, 10 times larger than the French colony in Quebec Canada, are well educated and object to the new taxes placed on them by the English back home to finance a standing army in America, particularly as they have no representatives in the London Parliament. The American English declare themselves independent and achieve it after a four year battle plus a little help from the French. North America remains split in two but with a new much smaller Canada with its present boundaries which remains part of the British Empire. Many loyalist American English move north into Canada creating the current east west split of French and English speakers.
- Circa 1800 The English continue to expand what is already the largest Empire in the world with the help of a navy which knows no boundaries. Indeed the Pacific Ocean is called an English lake. Australia and New Zealand plus lands east of India including Burma and Malay are added to the Empire without opposition.
- Back at home the French declare war on England but the English show their supremacy in two famous battles; at sea in the famous battle of Trafalgar (off Cadiz in Spain) where the British Navy under Nelson makes a pre-emptive strike to take out the combined fleets of France and Spain as they plan under Napoleon to set sail and invade England; and on land where at Waterloo in Belgium the British under Wellington defeats Napoleon’s land army. From that date, 1815, the French and English have remained at peace but stay culturally very different.
- Circa 1850-1900. The English grab the lions share of Africa including Nigeria in the west and a huge swathe from Egypt south all the way to the tip of South Africa. The rest of Africa is divided up amongst the other European nations but England has all the best bits by far.
- 1918. World war two finishes with England on the winning side and the powerful Islamic Ottomans finally on the loosing side. The English take all the best bits of the old Ottoman Empire which includes Iraq (and Iran) and Palestine.
- 1918. The British Empire is now at its largest but England has lost the mantle of the most powerful nation on earth now to be only equal with up and coming nations like USA, Germany and Japan. World wide there is an anti colonial fever and freedom signals are being received by all the European colonial powers.
- 1922. The first to leave the British Empire is their oldest and perhaps their most troublesome colony Ireland. (The richer and mainly protestant north remains within the Empire)
- 1939-45 World War Two. It is now clear to all in the British Empire that England is no longer powerful enough to provide protection (defence) over the whole of the huge empire and indeed have lost the title of the most powerful nation on earth to the United States of America and perhaps communist Russia.
- 1948-2000 The British Empire is finished. Notable early leavers are Palestine/Israel and India both immediately subjecting themselves to horrific internal religious wars. India along with all the major English speaking nations remain in a loose federation bound together by the English Queen and the concept of personal freedom, responsibility and justice plus the very English summer game of cricket. Many of the non white peopled ex-colonies toy with communism but this does not produce the economic and social benefits originally hoped for. As communism dies, in some places, a developing Islamic fundamentalist movement takes its place particularly in old Ottoman territories. Their message being that the Christian colonialist stifled the economic and cultural development of their once at least equal Islamic states, which provides the excuse for Islamic holy wars (Jihads) against their previous Christian oppressors. (Or indeed any non Muslim)