Colonial politics of European countries

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Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan

L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University 

Faculty of  International Relations

Department of  International Relations 




Colonial politics of European countries 

                                                                                 Done by: Sanat.A, IR-13

                                                                  Checked by: Akhmetzhanova L.K., c.h.s.



Astana, 2011




Main part…………………………………..4

    1. The British Empire…………………
    2. French colonial empire
    3. German colonial empire


List of references…………………………..12 


   Colonial politics, like most politics, was based on differences of opinion about the concepts of economics and social relation that formed the background of the time. After the land was tamed and most of the native people expelled or killed, the average English settler considered himself an Englishman (male land owners only) with all of the prerogatives of his native land. The problem was that the New World was not the Old, and a layer of governors had been introduced that hadn't existed in England. That is where colonial politics began.

   Many settlers who came to the New World were not educated people. Those few governors and land owners who were educated were the result of homeschooling with a bit of Oxford liberal arts education. The property owners and merchants who came to the colonies looking to make their fortunes considered education a way to level the playing field with the nobility, and established local colleges like Harvard, Yale, and William and Mary College based on the models in Cambridge. Unlike Cambridge, however, they staffed their new schools not only with masters of the classics but with contemporaries of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Adam Smith---modern philosophers in the social sciences whose ideas were changing the world. Of the founding fathers, all but George Washington, who had a traditional English military education, were educated in these new colleges.

   The issues of colonial politics---powers of government, executive authority and natural human rights---are listed in the Declaration of Independence. These became the basis of the Articles of Confederation in 1781 and its successor, the U.S. Constitution.

   The word Colony comes from the Latin word colōnia. This in turn derives from the word colōnus, which means colonist but also implies a farmer. Cologne is an example of a settlement preserving this etymology. Other, less obvious settlements that began as Roman colonia include cities from Belgrade to York. A telltale sign of a settlement once being a Roman Colony is a city centre with a grid pattern.[4] The terminology is taken from architectural analogy, where a column pillar is beneath the (often stylized) head capital, which is also a biological analog of the body as subservient beneath the controlling head (with 'capital' coming from the Latin caput, meaning 'head'). So colonies are not independently self-controlled, but rather are controlled from a separate entity that serves the capital function.

   Roman colonies first appeared when the Romans conquered neighbouring italic peoples. These were small farming settlements that appeared when the Romans had subdued an enemy in war. A colony could take many forms, as a trade outpost or a military base in enemy territory, but its original definition as a settlement created by people migrating from a home territory became the modern definition. 

Main part

    1. The British Empire

   The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-quarter of the world's population at the time, and covered more than 33,700,000 km2 (13,012,000 sq mi), almost a quarter of the Earth's total land area.As a result, its political, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, it was often said that "the sun never sets on the British Empire" because its span across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous territories.

   During the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal and Spain pioneered European exploration of the globe, and in the process established large overseas empires. Envious of the great wealth these empires bestowed, England, France and the Netherlands began to establish colonies and trade networks of their own in the Americas and Asia.A series of wars in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Netherlands and France left England (Britain, following the 1707 Act of Union with Scotland) the dominant colonial power in North America and India. The loss of the Thirteen Colonies in North America in 1783 after a war of independence deprived Britain of some of its oldest and most populous colonies. British attention soon turned towards Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Following the defeat of Napoleonic France in 1815, Britain enjoyed a century of almost unchallenged dominance, and expanded its imperial holdings across the globe. Increasing degrees of autonomy were granted to its white settler colonies, some of which were reclassified as dominions.

   The growth of Germany and the United States had eroded Britain's economic lead by the end of the 19th century. Subsequent military and economic tensions between Britain and Germany were major causes of the First World War, during which Britain relied heavily upon its empire. The conflict placed enormous financial strain on Britain, and although the empire achieved its largest territorial extent immediately after the war, it was no longer a peerless industrial or military power. The Second World War saw Britain's colonies in South-East Asia occupied by Japan, which damaged British prestige and accelerated the decline of the empire, despite the eventual victory of Britain and its allies. India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession, was given independence two years after the end of the war.

   After the end of the Second World War, as part of a larger decolonisation movement by European powers, most of the territories of the British Empire were granted independence, ending with the handover of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China in 1997. 14 territories remain under British sovereignty, the British Overseas Territories. After independence, many former British colonies joined the Commonwealth of Nations, a free association of independent states. 16 Commonwealth nations share their head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, as Commonwealth realms. 

   First British Empire (1583–1783)

   In 1578, Queen Elizabeth I granted a patent to Humphrey Gilbert for discovery and overseas exploration. That year, Gilbert sailed for the West Indies with the intention of engaging in piracy and establishing a colony in North America, but the expedition was aborted before it had crossed the Atlantic.[18][19] In 1583 he embarked on a second attempt, on this occasion to the island of Newfoundland whose harbour he formally claimed for England, although no settlers were left behind. Gilbert did not survive the return journey to England, and was succeeded by his half-brother, Walter Raleigh, who was granted his own patent by Elizabeth in 1584. Later that year, Raleigh founded the colony of Roanoke on the coast of present-day North Carolina, but lack of supplies caused the colony to fail.

   In 1603, King James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne and in 1604 negotiated the Treaty of London, ending hostilities with Spain. Now at peace with its main rival, English attention shifted from preying on other nations' colonial infrastructure to the business of establishing its own overseas colonies.[21] The British Empire began to take shape during the early 17th century, with the English settlement of North America and the smaller islands of the Caribbean, and the establishment of private companies, most notably the English East India Company, to administer colonies and overseas trade. This period, until the loss of the Thirteen Colonies after the American War of Independence towards the end of the 18th century, has subsequently been referred to as the "First British Empire". 

   Rise of the Second British Empire (1783–1815)

   During its first century of operation, the English East India Company focused on trade with the Indian subcontinent, as it was not in a position to challenge the powerful Mughal Empire, which had granted it trading rights in 1617. This changed in the 18th century as the Mughals declined in power and the East India Company struggled with its French counterpart, the Compagnie française des Indes orientales, during the Carnatic Wars in the 1740s and 1750s. The Battle of Plassey in 1757, which saw the British, led by Robert Clive, defeat the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies, left the Company in control of Bengal and as the major military and political power in India.[51] In the following decades it gradually increased the size of the territories under its control, either ruling directly or via local rulers under the threat of force from the British Indian Army, the vast majority of which was composed of Indian sepoys.[52] British India eventually grew into the empire's most valuable possession, "the Jewel in the Crown"; covering a territory greater than that of the Roman Empire, it was the most important source of Britain's strength, defining its status as the world's greatest power.  

     Britain's imperial century (1815–1914)

     Between 1815 and 1914, a period referred to as Britain's "imperial century" by some historians,[82][83] around 10,000,000 square miles (26,000,000 km2) of territory and roughly 400 million people were added to the British Empire.[84] Victory over Napoleon left Britain without any serious international rival, other than Russia in central Asia.[85] Unchallenged at sea, Britain adopted the role of global policeman, a state of affairs later known as the Pax Britannica,[86] and a foreign policy of "splendid isolation".[87] Alongside the formal control it exerted over its own colonies, Britain's dominant position in world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many countries, such as China, Argentina and Siam, which has been characterised by some historians as "informal empire".[88][89]

   British imperial strength was underpinned by the steamship and the telegraph, new technologies invented in the second half of the 19th century, allowing it to control and defend the empire. By 1902, the British Empire was linked together by a network of telegraph cables, the so-called All Red Line.[90] 

    1. French colonial empire

   The French colonial empire was the set of territories outside Europe that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire. The French colonial empire extended over 12,347,000 km² (4,767,000 sq. miles) of land at its height in the 1920s and 1930s. Including metropolitan France, the total amount of land under French sovereignty reached 13,018,575 km² (4,980,000 sq. miles) at the time, almost 1/10 of the Earth's total land area. Its influence made French a widely-spoken colonial European language, along with English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

   France, in rivalry with Britain for supremacy, began to establish colonies in North America, the Caribbean and India, following Spanish and Portuguese successes during the Age of Discovery. A series of wars with Britain during the 18th century and early to mid-19th century, which France lost, ended its colonial ambitions in these places, and with it what some historians term the "first" French colonial empire. In the 19th century, France established a new empire in Africa and Southeast Asia. In this period France's conquest of Empire in Africa was dressed up as a moral crusade. In 1886 Jules Ferry declared; "The higher races have a right over the lower races, they have a duty to civilize the inferior races." Full citizenship rights - assimilation - was offered, though in reality "assimilation was always receding [and] the colonial populations treated like subjects not citizens." [1]

   Following World War I and especially World War II, anti-colonial movements began to challenge French authority. France unsuccessfully fought bitter wars in Vietnam and Algeria to keep its empire intact. By the end of the 1960s, many of France's colonies had gained independence, although some territories – especially islands and archipelagos – were integrated into France as overseas departments and territories. These total altogether 123,150 km² (47,548 sq. miles), which amounts to only 1% of the pre-1939 French colonial empire's area, with 2,685,705 people living in them in 2011. All of them enjoy full political representation at the national level, as well as varying degrees of legislative autonomy. (See Administrative divisions of France.)

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Описание работы
Colonial politics, like most politics, was based on differences of opinion about the concepts of economics and social relation that formed the background of the time. After the land was tamed and most of the native people expelled or killed, the average English settler considered himself an Englishman (male land owners only) with all of the prerogatives of his native land.

Main part…………………………………..4
The British Empire…………………
French colonial empire
German colonial empire


List of references…………………………..12