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Imperialism-Doomed to Collapse under Its Own Weight - Essay Example

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The British Empire was the world's foremost global authority and the biggest empire in history. It was a creation of the European Age of Discovery that began with the global maritime empires of Portugal and Spain in the late 15th century. By 1921 the British Empire held over a population of about 470-570 million people-roughly a quarter of the world's population-and covered about 14.3 million square miles (more than 37 million km), almost a third of the world's total land area (British Empire, 2006)…
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Imperialism-Doomed to Collapse under Its Own Weight
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Imperialism-Doomed to Collapse under Its Own Weight

Download file to see previous pages... The differences in of time and seasons of these territories, and the variety of soils and climates, are believe to have an ever more significant effect upon the material and industrial, as well as upon the social and political expansion of the British Empire (British Empire, 2004). Although the British Empire has since almost completely disappeared, its tough influence all over the world, such as in economic practice, legal and government systems, the spread of many traditionally British sports (such as cricket) and also the spread of the English language still remains (British Empire, 2006).
The failure of English territorial ambitions in continental Europe impelled the kingdom's rulers to look further afield, creating the foundations of the mercantile and colonial network that was later to become the British Empire. The chaos of the Reformation entangled England in religious wars with Europe's Catholic powers, particularly Spain, however, the kingdom preserved its independence as much through luck as through the skill of charismatic rulers such as Elizabeth I. Elizabeth's successor, James I was already king of Scotland (as James VI); and this personal union of the two crowns into the crown of Great Britain was followed a century later by the Act of Union 1707, which formally unified England, Scotland and Wales into the Kingdom of Great Britain. This later became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801 to 1927) and then the modern state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1927 to present) (England, 2006). The overseas British Empire - in the sense of British oceanic exploration and settlement outside of Europe and the British Isles - was rooted in the revolutionary maritime policies of King Henry VII, who reigned 1485-1509. Building on commercial links in the wool trade promoted during the reign of his predecessor King Richard III, (British Empire, 2006). The fundamentals of sea power, having been laid during Henry VII's reign, were slowly extended to defend English trade and open up new routes. King Henry VIII founded the modern English navy (though the plans to do so were put into motion during his father's reign), more than tripling the number of warships and constructing the first large vessels with heavy, long-range guns. He initiated the Navy's formal, centralized administrative apparatus, built new docks, and constructed the network of beacons and lighthouses that greatly facilitated coastal navigation for English and foreign merchant sailors. Henry thus established the munitions-based Royal Navy that was able to repulse the Spanish Armada in 1588, and his innovations provided the seed for the imperial navy of later centuries (British Empire, 2006).

In 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed the island of Newfoundland as England's for Elizabeth I, reinforcing John Cabot's prior claim to the island in 1497, for Henry VII, as England's first overseas colony. Gilbert's shipwreck prevented ensuing settlement in Newfoundland, other than the seasonal cod fishermen who had frequented the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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