Revision Notes on British Empire

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Frankie
  • Created on: 11-05-15 21:02
Preview of Revision Notes on British Empire

First 564 words of the document:

The British Empire ­ Revision Notes
The Characterists of a superpower is an ability to invest in new technology to
help maintain power. In the 19th century the British Empire was the innovative
core of the rapidly expanding Industrial Revolution. The empire was maintained
by force and the threat of force. During the period 1815-1905, Britain followed a
policy of "Pax Britannica", which literally means "British Peace". A global Royal
Navy protected trade routes and dispersed troops and arms to trouble spots. The
navy operated the "two-power rule", meaning the Naval strength had to exceed
the strength of the next two largest navies in the world. Britain ruled a unipolar
world for most of the 19th century.
The British Empire was the first truly global superpower empire. As the empire
expanded, the challenge of maintaining global connections grew. The perfection
of the ocean-going steamship in the 1860s using triple expansion steam engines
and screw propellers greatly assisted trade and communication but it was the
international telegraph system that finally connected the empire. From the late
1850s, Britain undertook to connect its empire using undersea telegraph cables
to transmit messages around the world using Morse code. The cables, weighing
up to 2 tonnes per mile, were laid on the seabed from steamships. The first
reliable transatlantic cables were laid in 1866. By 1872, a telegraph message
could be sent from London to Australia and by 1876 to New Zealand. The scale of
the imperial telegraph system is staggering ­ in terms of technological
innovation and cost it should perhaps be compared to the race to the moon in the
1960s. British imperialists had created a kind of "Victorian Empire".
End of the empire:
The Roman and British empires eventually collapsed, despite their technological
sophistication and military and economy power. For Britain, it is easy to blame
the second world war for the collapse. In 1946, the UK was lent $3.5 billion by
the USA, which prevented national bankruptcy (the last repayment to the USA
was made in 2006) but it was clear that the UK could no longer afford its empire.
Over the next 20 years most colonies were giving independence.
However, the seeds of the empire's collapse were present long before 1946 as
internal and external forces undermined the imperial system of government.
The British Empire was affected by a number of factors that undermined its
Pressure for greater independence in the "white" colonies of Canada and
Australia, followed by open revolt in India in the 1920s and 1930s.
Internal pressures at home, such as the demand for female suffrage
around 1900 and public debate over the morality of the Boer Wars
(1899-1902) in South Africa, and the Amritsar massacre in India in 1919
The rising power of the USA, Russia and Germany leading to arms races in
the build up to both wars. From 1900, Britain had to focus far greater
political and economic resources on Europe compared to the Pax
Britannica period
There is a built-in paradox to empire building. As empires develop and wealth
increases, colonial people are exposed to the wealth, power and ideas of the

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

emerging powers begin gradually to obtain the technology and ideas that
originated in the imperial superpower. This can happen through change and
exchange, copying and even espionage. Emerging powers and colonial people
begin to threaten the stability of the empire. Perhaps this explains why some
imperial powers maintained their colonial possessions in a state of
underdevelopment to prevent new economic and political ideas taking root.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Geography resources:

See all Geography resources »See all resources »