The British Empire
At its peak, the British Empire was the vastest empire historically, which was a product of the European age of discovery that was directed by the start of exploration in the late 15th century.
Geographical Coverage of the Empire
The geographical extend of the British Empire at the start of the 19th century was approximately 14.3 million square miles. This translates to about a quarter of the total earth coverage, thus their influences was vast (Jackson, 2013).
The British Military was sub-divided into several sub-sections, and are historically recorded as having the highest number and organized military (Samson, 2001). One branch of their military was the Royal navy, which had superiority in the sea at that period. The period of nineteenth century saw a superior British royal navy that could deliver its soldiers anywhere in the world and at the same time restrict any enemy movement on water. It is the reason why the British Empire was able to conquer vast regions and at the same time defend the new territories. One feature of the navy ships was the floating gun that was too intimidating to any resistance both on land or sea.
Another branch of the British military was the army that served in the Empire, although their number was quite low as compared to the other branches. The trend of having few military forces on British soil has always been there from time and again since the seventeenth century. The reason behind it is to maintain independence of the army against political inclination thus prevent a coup, which has been effective over the last many years (Jackson, 2013).
Another branch of the military was the royal air force that was redesigned from the Royal flying corps of World War I. The projection of the power of the weapons and assistance it provided grew over the years, giving the British Empire the power to control the air. It was a great boost towards the prowess of the Empire’s military force, but it required all hands for great results to be seen.
The wide range of the British Empire made it impossible to keep up with well-coordinated and homogeneous institutions (Samson, 2001). At the initial stages after conquering most parts, the governance and administrative duties were delegated to boards and trustee companies. However, over time, resistance and wars stretched financial abilities for these companies to continue ruling on behalf of the Empire. Over time with decolonization of most of the conquered states, the administrations changed and evolved with each state depending on themselves to police and develop their own governance structure.
The British Empire was ruled by a King and Queen, initially regarded as Emperors, assisted by the parliamentary body together with the lucrative companies in administrative duties of the Empire (Jackson, 2013).
Religion in the region during the time was Christianity, mainly dominated by Catholics and Protestant churches. Some of the nations within the British Empire were Catholics such as France, Portugal and Spain whereas other states were dominated by Protestants.
The empire was sourced and managed through trade, which brought about dominant trade companies like the East Indian Company (Samson, 2001). Additionally, slave trade boosted the growth of the British Empire, specifically conducted in the Southern American colonies and in the Caribbean. The slaves provided sufficient man power for the high demand of products transported overseas.
The empire majorly used ships to conduct their trades, mostly overseas. All products including slaves and materials exported to other regions using ships, including the military that was used for exploration purposes.
Trade was the main backbone of the economy of the British Empire, and it was one of the largest trade routes ever (Samson, 2001). With its prowess in the sea, the British Empire was able to sail anywhere in the world. Historically, countries that participated in trade with the British Empire have recognized ports to date, with great economic opportunities.
The dominance in many states forced the British to influence both the social and religious reforms in most of these countries. Additionally, education system was introduced in most countries to increase intellectual dominance to assist in governance.
Culture dominated the British Empire and it formed a strong bond with its colonies. Various arts and exhibitions were used to illustrate what the empire was all about so as to limit resistance.
The British Empire rule over its colonies left behind some permanent paths in regards to political, cultural and socio-economic way of life. Additionally, modernization is traced back to the British Empire, which was the driving force behind revolution in the early centuries.
(2013). In A. Jackson, The British Empire: A Very Short Introduction (pp. 45-77). England: OUP Oxford.
(2001). In J. Samson, The British Empire (pp. 120-167). England: Oxford University Press.
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