British Empire

British Empire

By winning the sea battles against Spain and the Netherlands, England created the conditions for her extensive colonial empire, the British Empire.

Initially, English trading companies were founded, such as B. The East India Company in India, which quickly developed into colonial possessions. In 1876 Queen VICTORIA was crowned Empress of India and the whole of India was a British colony.

The British also settled in Africa and dragged the residents as slaves to the south of America and the Caribbean. In return, goods made there were brought back to England. This is how the Atlantic slave trade triangle came into being between England, Africa and America. Products made by slave labor, such as B. Tobacco, rum, cotton and sugar came through this type of economic colony on their way back to Britain. It became the largest trading state in Europe. Around the middle of the 18th century, around 6,000 ships under the British flag sailed the world’s seas.

North America served as an immigration country for several hundreds of thousands of English people in the early 17th century. The first settlement in America was founded as early as 1584 and the first British settlement colony followed in 1607 .
Australia was a British penal colony towards the end of the 18th century, ie the continent was home to convicts who later opened up the country.

New Zealand and a number of the islands of Oceania also became British colony in this way.

Canada had to be ceded after France’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War against England in 1763.

Fought particularly hard by France, Italy, Belgium and Germany, large parts of Africa fell to Great Britain when it was partitioned in the 19th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, however, when England already ruled 20 percent of the world’s population, voices for national liberation were heard. The British Empire faced decolonization. The British Commonwealth of Nations was created.


After the independence movements in the British colonies had shaken the British Empire, the British Commonwealth of Nations came into being.

Today it comprises 54 independent states, which are united with equal rights and in free association.

In the course of the enormous colonial expansion of England at the beginning of the 20th century, more and more areas were granted unrestricted independent self-government. Canada (1867), Australia (1901), New Zealand (1907), South Africa (1910) and Ireland (1921) became Dominions. A governor general exercised the rights of Great Britain within these dominions, so that questions of foreign policy and the constitution continued to be determined by the British crown. In 1926 and 1927, however, the Dominions’ dependence on the Empire Conferences was abolished precisely on these points. Now the Dominions were actually self-governing states.

The Commonwealth of Nations was enshrined in the Westminster Statute in 1931. The literal welfare of the international community was now in the foreground. The term Commonwealth was a common name for the English state in the 17th century. Since the Westminster Statute, however, it has been the official name for the community of states that emerged from the British Empire.

The British monarch ELIZABETH II is still today the nominal head of the Commonwealth of Nations. However, each of the countries is entitled to withdraw from the confederation or the members can also exclude countries.

The biennial Commonwealth Conference discusses foreign policy and economics, but does not determine a common policy. Nevertheless, the former colonies are influenced by the British. This is particularly evident in the area of ​​law and education.

In 1965 the member states established a secretariat in London to organize and coordinate joint activities.

Sports relationships are also cultivated: Every four years, the Commonwealth Games are held in an Olympic format.

Queen Victoria

* May 24th, 1819 in Kensington Palace (London)
† January 22nd, 1901 in Osborne (Isle of Wight)

On May 24th, 1819 Alexandrina Victoria became the German-British princess daughter of Duke Eduard von Kent and Princess Marie Louise Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha born.

As one of the most powerful rulers in the world, who at the height of the British Empire counted more than a fifth of the earth to her kingdom, she was the English head of state for 64 years.

VICTORIA helped the monarchy, which had not been particularly well respected until then, to regain its shine. During her tenure, the middle and upper classes strengthened as the general economy was boosted enormously. VICTORIA ran the monarchy in a very idiosyncratic way. She conducted her affairs of state with self-confidence and was aloof from Prime Ministers HENRY JOHN TEMPLE PALMERSTON and WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE.

However, she had particular sympathy for BENJAMIN DISRAELI, who was her premier from 1868. He was an ardent admirer of VICTORIA and arranged for her to be crowned Empress of India in 1876 . A short time later he was ennobled by her.

In 1840 VICTORIA married her cousin Prince ALBERT von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha. ALBERT did not support her insignificantly in her political life, but remained rather in the background. He became increasingly involved in the social sector . So were z. B. built workers’ apartments according to his concepts.

VICTORIA gave birth to nine children, whose upbringing and education were given priority by ALBERT.

During VICTORIA’s tenure, some colonies were self-governing in the British Empire. These Dominions were, however, represented by a Governor General who regulated foreign policy, and British law applied.

VICTORIA campaigned for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire and restricted child labor in England.

However, the women’s movement fell by the wayside under their rule . VICTORIA denied women any rights. She condemned equality and was firmly in favor of strict morals. The one named after herThe Victorian era is therefore also extremely prudish and anti-sexual.

VICTORIA died on the Isle of Wight in 1901.

British Empire