10 – British Empire and the Commonwealth (Referat vom 26. Juni 2014)

Written by G.S. – all credits to him

—————

 

British Empire and the Commonwealth

Historical background:
16th century: Struggle between Spain, Portugal, Holland, France and England to get the power of the New World →England won
Main motivation of British colonization (from the 16th to the 19th century): economic interests

First British Empire (1607 – 1776):
Consisted of possessions in the West Indies, Canada, India, and especially of the North American colonies along the east coast
3 kinds of territories in North America:
The New England Colonies
Around Boston
Radical Protestants
The Middle Colonies
Around New York
European immigrants
Religious and political freedom
The Southern Colonies
Merchants
Tobacco- and cotton-culture + slave-labour
Seven Years’ War (1756 – 1763)
France lost parts of Canada to England, but: High financial costs for England
→Higher taxes
→Rebellion against England: “Boston Tea Party” (1773)
→War of American Independence (1776 – 1783)
→The end of the First British Empire

The Second British Empire:
England enlarged areas in Canada, West Indies, India + won important islands and ports (e.g. Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus)
19th century: Policy of imperialism
Main aim: To enlarge the British influence (political, military, economical)
As its peak: More than 1/3 of Africa, whole Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, Canada

From Empire to Commonwealth:
Decline of the British Empire, as a result in the colonies of:
Demands for self-government and sovereignty (Canada, Australia, New Zealand)
Unhappy about British rules (India)
More nationalism (African colonies)
Development of independent status: 3 major stages:
Crown colony → self-governing colony → dominion
1. Crown colony:
A governor administered the colony
He lost more and more power to legislative assembly
2. Self-governing colony:
Parties and local government was built up
They got more responsibility
But: Defence and foreign affairs belonged only to the mother country
3. Dominion status = completely free nation
After World War II:
England layed in ruins
Nationalism-movement in some colonies
So: Independence for almost all colonies of England

The Commonwealth:
1931: “The Statute of Westminster” replaced the term “Empire” by “The British Commonwealth of Nations”
It’s a voluntary association of 54 independent countries with a population of almost 1/3 of the world’s total
The most important members are: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and the UK
The principles of the Commonwealth are:
Democracy based on the British parliamentary system
Recognition of human rights and social justice
Economic and sporting links
Common language, culture and traditions
The Queen is recognized as the symbolic Head of the Commonwealth whereas 16 countries recognize the Queen as their Head of State

The Dependent Territories (“Dependencies”):
Most important territories: Falklands and Gibraltar
Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997

 

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3 thoughts on “10 – British Empire and the Commonwealth (Referat vom 26. Juni 2014)

  1. British Empire and the Commonwealth

    Historical background:
    16th century: Struggle between Spain, Portugal, Holland, France and England to get the power of the New World →England won
    Main motivation of British colonization (from the 16th to the 19th century): economic interests

    First British Empire (1607 – 1776):
    Consisted of possessions in the West Indies, Canada, India, and especially of the North American colonies along the east coast
    3 kinds of territories in North America:
    The New England Colonies
    Around Boston
    Radical Protestants
    The Middle Colonies
    Around New York
    European immigrants
    Religious and political freedom
    The Southern Colonies
    Merchants
    Tobacco- and cotton-culture + slave-labour
    Seven Years’ War (1756 – 1763)
    France lost parts of Canada to England, but: High financial costs for England
    →Higher taxes
    →Rebellion against England: “Boston Tea Party” (1773)
    →War of American Independence (1776 – 1783)
    →The end of the First British Empire

    The Second British Empire:
    England enlarged areas in Canada, West Indies, India + won important islands and ports (e.g. Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus)
    19th century: Policy of imperialism
    Main aim: To enlarge the British influence (political, military, economical)
    As its peak: More than 1/3 of Africa, whole Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, Canada

    From Empire to Commonwealth:
    Decline of the British Empire, as a result in the colonies of:
    Demands for self-government and sovereignty (Canada, Australia, New Zealand)
    Unhappy about British rules (India)
    More nationalism (African colonies)
    Development of independent status: 3 major stages:
    Crown colony → self-governing colony → dominion
    1. Crown colony:
    A governor administered the colony
    He lost more and more power to legislative assembly
    2. Self-governing colony:
    Parties and local government was built up
    They got more responsibility
    But: Defence and foreign affairs belonged only to the mother country
    3. Dominion status = completely free nation
    After World War II:
    England layed in ruins
    Nationalism-movement in some colonies
    So: Independence for almost all colonies of England

    The Commonwealth:
    1931: “The Statute of Westminster” replaced the term “Empire” by “The British Commonwealth of Nations”
    It’s a voluntary association of 54 independent countries with a population of almost 1/3 of the world’s total
    The most important members are: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and the UK
    The principles of the Commonwealth are:
    Democracy based on the British parliamentary system
    Recognition of human rights and social justice
    Economic and sporting links
    Common language, culture and traditions
    The Queen is recognized as the symbolic Head of the Commonwealth whereas 16 countries recognize the Queen as their Head of State

    The Dependent Territories (“Dependencies”):
    Most important territories: Falklands and Gibraltar
    Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997

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