The beginnings of the British Empire can be traced back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and the continuing competition for markets and resources which existed between England and the continental countries of France, Spain and Holland. In 1578, Elizabeth I granted Humphrey Gilbert a patent for overseas exploration and discovery. Although he claimed the island of Newfoundland for England in 1583, it was his half-brother Walter Raleigh who established the first overseas colony for England, called Roanoke, in 1584 on the coast of modern-day North Carolina.Continue Reading
The reign of Elizabeth I saw England setting up trading companies in the East Indies, Russia and Turkey while colonies were also being established on the newly explored North American coast. During the early 1600s, these colonies were expanded and the colonization of Ulster in Ireland began. The British Empire then began to grow with the formation of private companies, such as the English East India Company, which was designed to manage the colonies and control overseas trade. This period of time, ending with England's loss of the American colonies in the American War of Independence, is referred to as the "First British Empire."
During its height, the British Empire was history's largest empire and the foremost global power. The empire controlled the affairs of about one-fifth of the world's population in 1922 and covered almost one-quarter of the world's land mass.Learn more about Modern Europe
Elizabeth Tudor was queen of England for 45 years, and her reign is referred to as the Elizabethan era or the Golden Age of England. When she first ascended to the throne, Elizabeth inherited a bankrupt nation, torn by religious strife and threatened by the military power of France and Spain. By her death on March 24, 1603, England had become a major world power in every respect.Full Answer >
Offa, King of Mercia, is historically recognized as the first King of England. Anglo-Saxon monarchs ruled from 787-1066, when King William I successfully invaded England and launched the Norman dynasty. This dynasty was succeeded by the Angevin dynasty, after Henry II assumed the throne in 1154. The Angevins were followed by the Plantagenets, the Lancastrians, the Yorkists and the Tudors. The Stuarts united Scotland and England in 1603, then gave way to the Hanoverians, the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and finally the Windsors.Full Answer >
The three main reasons for European exploration of the North American continent were finding an alternate passageway to China and the eastern trade markets, the exploitation of labor and resources in the new world and spreading European-style civilization. In addition to building colonial empires in North America, the European powers were able to use the wealth extracted from those colonies to finance building empires elsewhere. Europeans also obtained new foods from North America, such as tomatoes, beans, squash and corn.Full Answer >
The Industrial Revolution began in England because by the end of the 19th century, Britain was one of the most powerful countries in the world and had a head start in technology and commerce. Some of the factors that contributed to the start of the Industrial Revolution in England included population growth, financial innovations, the agricultural revolution, government policies and more.Full Answer >