British Empire      
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Click on a link to view its information and pictures.
BRITISH/ENGLAND LINKS:
Significant Event:
    Battle for Britain in 1940 AD
    Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD
    Spanish Armada in 1588 AD

Main Cities: Edinburgh; London
Time: 1066 AD - present
Language: English; Gaelic; Welsh
Personage: Elizabeth I; Richard I; William the Conqueror; Winston Churchill
Religion: Anglo-Saxon Religion; Christianity
Related Country: England; United Kingdom

Map of British Empire
Click Map to Enlarge
Brief History:
      I have included only a few items concerning the history of this empire. A good source for more details can be found on Wikipedia or in history books.

EARLY YEARS AND ROME:
      Early inhabitants of the region were various Celtic groups: Britons; Gaels; Picts; Scots (a later amalgam of Gaels and Picts). In 53 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar staged two invasions into Britain at Kent in 53 BC and the following year Caesar defeated local forces and installed Manubracius as a client king. Rome controlled areas south of the Antonine (later called the Severus) and Hadrian walls. Rome also made Londinium (London) a major port city.

KING ARTHUR:
      Circa 410 AD, Rome withdrew its legions and left Roman citizens in Britain to manage their own affairs. The legendary Arthur seized power and led local forces against invading Saxons ( a confederation of north Germanic tribes) in 446 AD. Although legendary stories of Arthur exaggerated his "Round Table" and other accomplishments, he probably was an actual historical post-Roman figure who opposed the Saxons.

      Offa (575-796 AD), the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia, built a 150-mile Offa's Dyke along the eastern border of Wales to prevent incursions by forces from Powys.

VIKING INVADERS:
      In 787 AD, three, Viking ships from Norway raided Portland Bay. For many years thereafter, Vikings raided England for booty. In 865 AD, an army of Danish Vikings led by Guthrum, Halfdan and Ivar "the Boneless" Ragnarsson (Great Viking Army) invaded East Anglia. They conquered York and Mercia. In 871 AD, king Bagsecg brought reinforcements from Scandinavia. King Alfred the Great defeated the Danes at the Battle of Edington, but a treaty allowed them to control the Danelaw. Eric Bloodaxe led the last wave of invaders from Norway to England in 947 AD. He captured York, became king of Northumbria and probably ruled the Hebrides.

      After the death of Viking king Olaf II, Harald Sigurdsson (aka Harald Hardrada) reigned over the Norse kingdom (1046-1066 AD). Hardrada previously was head of the Varangian Guard at Constantinople. Under encouragement from Tostig Godwinson, Hardrada landed an army in Northumbria to seize kingship from Harold Godwinson of England. Hardrada died in the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066 AD.

WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR:
      William of Normandy (later called William the Conqueror) claimed right to the English throne and landed an invasion force near the old Roman fort at Pevensey. After defeating the Viking invaders at Stamford, King Godwinson force-marched his army to confront William. Both sides gathered at Hastings (aka Battle). Godwinson died on 14 October 1066 AD during the Battle of Hastings. William spent years consolidating control over England and expanding its borders. He also built numerous castles throughout his realm, such as those at Dover and London. By 1130 AD, Norman possessions reflected the beginnings of an ultimate British Empire. In 1169 and 1171 AD, Normans under King Henry II, launched a two-phase invasion of Ireland. Henry faced turmoil from instigating the murder of Thomas Becket (former friend and the Archbishop of Canterbury) in 1170 AD and a Great Revolt in 1173-1174 AD.

SCOTLAND:
      The Kingdom of Scotland (founded in 843 AD) often battled English forces, particularly under King Edward III. People rallied to Robert the Bruce in a war for Scottish independence. He was King of Scots from 1306 to his death in 1309 AD. In August 1327 AD, Scottish forces under James Douglas defeated Edward in the Battle of Stanhope Park.

ELIZABETH I AND WAR WITH SPAIN:
      The British Empire evolved following Henry VII's attempt to at exploration. In 1496 AD, he commissioned an expedition by John Cabot, who sailed in The Matthew and "discovered" Newfoundland.

      In 1588 AD, Queen Elizabeth I resisted an invasion from the Spanish Empire. A storm and sea captains such as Francis Drake destroyed much of the Spanish Armada. Between 1577 and 1580 AD, Drake successfully circumnavigated the world. During her reign, William Shakespeare wrote many of the world's most famous plays. Elizabeth had her rival, Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots), executed in 1587 AD to solidify her position.

WARS WITH FRANCE:
      Richard I, known as "Lionhearted" for his military prowess, ruled Norman lands and was a principle foe of Saladin (Salah ad-Din), the great leader of Islam during the Third Crusade. Richard mainly lived in France and only spent six months in England. England and France were frequent antagonists throughout much of their histories. In 1337 AD, King Edward III contested seizure of Aquitaine by French king, Philip VI, which precipitated the Hundred Years War. Among the famous battles and events were: Agincourt (1415 AD); Crécy (1346 AD); Siege of Orléans (1428-1429 AD), which ended via help from Joan of Arc. At Agincourt, the skill of English archers proved superior to armored French knights.

      In May 1754 AD, George Washington inadvertently ignited a war between England and France when his force ambushed and killed a French military officer during the Battle of Jumonville Glen. The French government claimed the officer was on a diplomatic mission and commenced the French and Indian War. Washington's mistake was mitigated after he extricated British forces under General Edward Braddock during the disastrous Battle of Monongahela in July of 1755 AD.

      British defeats (such as the Battle of Carillon) resulted in William Pitt becoming Prime Minister. He bolstered military forces in the Colonies, which led to the capture of Carillon (renamed Fort Ticonderoga) and a British victory at Québec in 1759 AD. A French victory near Québec (Sainte-Foy) failed to turn the tide, and France sued for peace. England received vast territory in North America, including Canada. French Acadians were deported to France or various of the 13 colonies.

      England was a key opponent to Napoléon Bonaparte. During his expedition in Egypt, the British navy crushed a French fleet in the Battle of the Nile. Later on 21 October 1805 AD, Admiral Horatio Nelson won a spectacular victory against the French at Trafalgar. During the Penisular War in Spain on 16 May 1811 AD, British and French forces fought a bloody but indecisive battle at Albuera. British troops played a key role in defeating Napoléon at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 AD. He eventually died in 1821 AD while in captivity on the small British island of Saint Helena.

COLONIES AND EMPIRE:
      Early in the 17th century AD, British forces and civilians colonized many settlements in North America and the Far East. In 1600 AD, two companies challenged Portugal's monopoly in the region. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) seized control over the Dutch East Indies while the British East India Company (1600-1874 AD) eventually accounted for one half of world trade and controlled India with a private army. Its rule effectively started in 1757 AD, following the Battle of Plassey, and ended after the Indian Rebellion of 1857-1858 AD. British highlanders and Gurkha troops defeated tribesmen at Dargai Heights in the Khyber area of Pakistan in 1897 AD.

      England and the Netherlands allied against France during the Nine Years' War (1688-1697 AD), which resulted in a stronger British Empire. British forces further expanded the empire in South Africa. However, Zulu tribesmen wiped out a 1,300-man British force in January 1879 at the Battle of Isandlwana. Immediately thereafter 155 British troops withstood assaults at Rorke's Drift by 3-4,000 Zulus. Also in South Africa, British forces defeated Dutch Boers after two wars between 1880 and 1902 AD, thereafter ruling the region until later in the twentieth century.

AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR: (1775-1783)
      A series of progressively draconian tax and control measures caused American colonials to resist British laws. The English mercantile economic system (similar to the so-called "free trade" practices of modern America) deliberately kept colonial lands underdeveloped and lacking important freedoms. One key event was the Boston Tea Party in December 1773 AD. King George III ordered a blockade of the port and quartered troops to ensure repayment of the destroyed tea. General Thomas Gage ordered troops on an expedition to confiscate weapons at Concord, Massachusetts. They fired upon local minutemen at Lexington, which precipitated open warfare with Great Britain. Local militia inflicted heavy casualties during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

      British forces won numerous battles, including Charleston, Long Island and Québec in Canada. However, they lost at Princeton, Saratoga and Trenton. The final crushing defeat was at Yorktown, where Cornwallis surrendered to American general, George Washington.

WORLD WAR I:
      The notorious Rothschild and other international bankers in Europe and the United States manipulated nations into starting World War I (28 July 1914-11 November 1918 AD). The war weakened England and onerous reparations on Germany set the stage for a Nazi rise in Germany. It also ended the empires of Austria-Hungary and Ottoman.

WORLD WAR II:
      In 1938 AD, German troops moved into Austria. Hitler claimed the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia the following year (and later seized the whole country in March 1939 AD). British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, bowed to Hitler and claimed to have achieved "peace for our time." His cowardice encouraged further Nazi expansionism. On 1 September 1939 AD, Hitler and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union invaded and partitioned Poland per a secret agreement, which also granted the Baltic States to the Soviets. Prior to the invasion, Britain promised to aid Poland.

BATTLE OF BRITAIN:
      British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, vowed to resist Hitler at all costs. The Battle for Britain was fought largely in the air. British Hurricanes and Spitfires fought German Stukas, Messerschmitts and other aircraft from winning the air war, despite devastating destruction from their bombs. Britain also suffered the loss of its most powerful ship, HMS Hood, in the Battle of Denmark Strait to the Battleship Bismarck. British aircraft and ships later sank the Bismarck on 24 May 1941 AD.

COUNTEROFFENSIVES:
      Field Marshal Erwin Rommel conducted a highly successful campaign in North Africa with his Afrika Korps. Major actions were at Gazala, Kasserine Pass and Tobruk. In November 1942 AD, Rommel lost the Second Battle of El Alamein against British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Significant joint British-USA operations included: Operation Torch; Sicily invasion; Italy invasion; D-Day invasion of France; Operation Dragoon; Battle of the Bulge; Germany invasion. The war further reduced England's overseas territory. It joined NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) to counter Soviet geopolitical moves. Britain continued a close alliance with the United States into the modern era.

© Page Publisher: Duane R. Hurst