Reasons for Migration - Economics and Commerce

Conquered and Conquerors

England was very prosperous in the middle ages, with english merchants sold many trade goods such as wool in European cities for a profit. This prosperity made England a target for the Vikings.

In 865 a large group of Vikings invaded England, where they gained large territories and made York a major trading centre. This encouraged the migration of the scandinavian people over to England.

In 1016 King Cnut conquered the entirity of England. He made England the centre of his North sea trading empire and trade between England, Norway and Denmark increased as a result. It also encouraged even more migration from Scandinavia.

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Looking West

From the 16th century, England established colonies in the Americas. During the Elizabethan times, England was a nation of ship builders and explorers as people sought fortune around the world:

  • Captains such as Sir Francis Drake were given permission to steal Spanish gold as it made its way back to Madrid.
  • Sir John Hawkins sold African slaves to work on plantations, bringing in large profits from the resulting crops.
  • Walter Raleigh established settlements in North America, leading many to migrate there from England in hopes of finding newfound wealth and prosperity.
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Expansion and Empire

In 1600 the East India Company was granted a monopoly of trade to East Asia, employing an army to guard their profits against the Indian royals and rival traders.

Many Britons left England in the 18th and 19th centuries to seek their fortune in India or help adminster the British India (British Raj.)Many of these individuals became very rich

Britain's presence in India allowed it to conquer parts of Africa, including the South where mining for gold and diamonds was popular. In the late 1800's the opening of the Suez canal connected both Britain's African and Indian territories together.

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The Great Irish Famine

In the 19th century, the British government believed that nations should trade with each other with minimal interference. This free trade policy led to the death, misery and ultimate migration of many Irish people who had suffered harshly in the Great Famine of the 1840's.

Ireland had the means of grain required to feed the starving, but the British Government insisted that it should be sold at a price that the Irish couldn't possibly afford

Therefore, in 1847 over one million Irishmen left the country and set sail to both England and the USA. By 1861, over 800,000 Irish migrants lived in Britain.

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Britain in the 20th Century

After some of British claimed colonies were granted their independenece in the mid-20th century, many people from those countries began to migrate over into Britain.

When Britain's power declined, we joined the European Common Market, in 1973, promoting trade between its members. By 1992 the member countries were intergrated into the European Union (EU.) 

People from these countries were free to work and study anywhere in the EU and migration increased when ten countries, including Eastern European countries, joined the EU in 2004. 

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