History of Global Empires
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The history of global empires begins with the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries, when Portugal and Spain explored the globe and established large overseas empires. With this, the great wealth these empires generated provoked the envy of the English, the French, and the Dutch, who began to establish their own colonies and trade in the Americas and Asia. Then, in a series of wars in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Netherlands and France, England emerged victorious and became the dominant colonial power in North America. In addition, it became the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent after the East India Company conquered the Mughal territory of Bengal in 1757.
The British Empire began with the overseas possessions and trade posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. This enabled the empire to become the largest empire in history and the foremost global power at its zenith. Indeed, by 1913 the British Empire held sway over 412 million people (then 23 per cent of the world population), and by 1920 it covered nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s total land area. In all, its constitutional, legal, linguistic, and cultural legacy was global, and it was described as “the empire on which the sun never sets”.
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Spanish Empire: New World • Philippines | British Empire: Australia • New Zealand • The Raj • Scramble for Africa: Belgian Congo | French Empire: New France • French North Africa • French Indochina | Dutch Empire: Dutch East Indies • Southern Africa • Malacca | Portuguese Empire in Brazil
Colonial Latin America: Index
Colonial Southeast Asia: Philippines
British Empire: Australia
British Empire: New Zealand
British Empire: The Raj
Scramble for Africa
French North Africa
Dutch East Indies
Dutch Empire: Southern Africa
Portuguese Empire in Brazil