The British Empire

United Kingdom is not a very large place. It would fit neatly inside the majority of the United States with room on the sides yet for centuries it was the seat of one of the world’s largest empires. This essay will look into some of the reasons that this took place.

Discovery of a new world

Although many hang onto the misconception that prior to Columbus Europeans thought the world was flat, by then that misconception had been all but eradicated. Sailors were constantly returning with tales of the Indies and the treasures they contained so when the Spanish Queen Isabella and her husband King Ferdinand became the ‘owners’ of several new land masses, the British rulers felt obligated to join in. This of course does not consider the rights of the people who already occupied those lands but rest assured that they were thoroughly trampled with little regard to any concept such as human rights. The French had not yet overthrown their rulers in pursuit of those.

Expanding the Monarchy

Britain is a Monarchy. What that means is that it is rules by a family that passes the leadership from one member to the next based on bloodlines rather than anything remotely meritocratic. In fact, lesser mobility were prone to leaving the entire fortune to the oldest male heir and none to the younger sons so that the family fortune would remain large and the name powerful. Lesser sons were encouraged to join the priesthood or go to the New World where they could establish a new nobility on those shores. People with lesser titles could be treated as royals again. With more to share, more ‘princes’ could be appointed.

Modern Remnants

This system was grossly unfair to indigenous people as well as Africans and Asians who were later forced or duped into migrating to these colonies. The extent of this process can be seen in the sheer volume of English speakers worldwide. The entire United States of America. Most of the islands (though not the occupants) of the Caribbean are English Speaking. Until Mandarin officially takes over, it is considered the language of commerce.

Although not the only player in the colonization game by a long shot, the British Isles are perhaps the most successful in terms of colonies held in relation to size. Thankfully this process has gone out of fashion somewhat.

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