The British Empire

  1. British Empire started with settlement of the Germanic people settling in England between 500 AD and 1000 AD. The 1066 AD  French Norman conquest of Britain pushed the local population into the West part of England. England annexed Wales on 1535, Scotland in about 1707, Northern Ireland in about 1800. The overseas expansion started with improved naval capability of United Kingdom and when Royal Charter was granted by Elizabeth I in 1600 to East India Company, and Hudson Bay Company in 1670.

  2. The most important colony established abroad by Britain was India at the time and it was first a trading territory for Britain first but was later turned into a colony by East India Company. At the height of the British Raj as it was called around 1900 there were about 60 colonies established under the Empire. 13 colonies of Great Britain in United States became independent by declaration of 1776. Canada was granted independence by British Parliament in 1867. India became independent in 1947 by an Act of British Parliament.

  3. Anglo Saxons came to Engalnd from Juteland, Saxony and Angels part of North Germany and Southern Denmark after the withdrawal of Romans from England during the period of about 500 AD to 1000 AD. Their courage, determination and tenacity and innovation on the island nation of England developed the culture, industrialization and social organization that was later brought to the colonies and influenced significantly the world culture. The common law legal system gradually replaced the dominance of religion as the dominant mode of social organization.  

  4. Henry VIII is significant as the ruler of Britain in the changes he brought to Britain. He had had a total of six wives, and in 1527 petitioned to Pope Clement VII to annual his marriage to Catherine so he could marry Ann Boleyn at the time when Pope governed religious lives from Rome even for Monarchs.  Pope denied his petition under the Catholic Christian Religion, so Henry VIII established the Church of England and declared himself as the head of the Church of England. He removed the authority of the Pope. It enhanced the development civilian legal authority in governance. Today for all practical purposes Archbishop of Canterbury carries out all the formal and ceremonial religious functions of the state. The Church became separated from State authority.

  5. Tower of London symbolizes the centre and the beginning of the power of Britain in England and abroad.  Ann Boleyn was tried for treason and adultery by Henry VIII and was beheaded at Tower of London on 17 May 1536. The execution was carried out by a French swordsman who was specially brought to England from France. Tower of London is also the site of the Crown Jewels which include the Kohinoor which was an Indian diamond for centuries in possession from Hindu to Muslim elite of India for centuries. Indians lay claim to this diamond which was found in India.

  6. Much of the British Empire was built on the land, labour and raw materials of the colonies and the ingenuity of the British which they used for the benefit of motherland England. Salt laws in India during the British Raj illustrate the total economic and social subjugation of the people in the colony.  This subjugation created colour coding of the world society in which  whites came to the top, the Indians and Asian in the middle and black at the bottom. Black slavery which preceded colonial rule reinforced these colour boundaries.  Slavery was indeed abolished by the British Parliament for the Empire 1833 as inhumane, but just within three years in 1836l the Indentured labour concept was developed to send Indians out of the hughe population of India to other colonies of England. India, impoverished by British Rule started migration to  East Africa, Natal South Africa, Mauritius, Guayana, Trinidad, Fiji and many other countries in search of jobs.     

  7. The front page cover of the novel illustrates how we have come to perceive others in the modern world. We perceive through colour of the skin and even their abilities and moral values. Much of the world is struggling to overcome this perception created during the Empire period. Shashi Tharoor, a parliamentarian in South India argued at the Oxford union debate in recent years that England ought to pay reparation for the colonial rule even if it is modest so we can move forward the world culture like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa.


Share this free instant preview with:

Copy link: