British Empire

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The British Empire comprised the territories ruled or administered by England and subsequently by Great Britain. The earliest colony of England was probably Ireland. It also held parts of France, notably Aquitaine, Gascony and Calais. Its origins overseas began with possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. The mainland American colonies became the United States in 1776, after their revolution. From the 19th century onwards, Britain also gradually acquired several trading companies which had assumed quasi-overlordship of numerous territories, the most famous being the English East India Company.

At its height, the British Empire was the largest empire in history and, for well over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1922 the British Empire held sway over one-fifth of the world's population and covered almost a quarter of the earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. After World War II Britain slipped into rapid decline, politically and economically, and most of the colonies, dominions, and other territories, including British India, were given independence.

Jewish influence

A less often mentioned aspect is the large Jewish influence in England. Jews had been permitted to resettle in England by Oliver Cromwell in 1656, after having been expelled by King Edward I in 1290 (in one of the many European Jewish expulsions). It was one of the conditions the Jewish bankers in Amsterdam who funded Cromwell's 'New Model Army' demanded.

Jews then gained a large economic influence, despite being un-enfranchised. By the 20th century, despite comprising less than three tenths of 1% of the population, Jews constituted over 20% of non-landed British millionaires. All of these belonged to the "Cousinhood" which was an ethnic network of about twenty closely inter-related and mutually supportive Jewish families. The wealth was derived from the fields of "banking, finance, the stock markets and bullion trading".[1]

However, their political influence was limited until the lifting of legal restrictions on Jews in the middle of the 19th century, despite strong opposition, from King William and the aristocracy in particular.[1][2] Jewish political influence has been argued to have been used to support a variety of pro-Jewish activities such as placing Jews from the Cousinhood in many of the most significant administrative positions in the Empire, financial manipulations and scandals, support for the Second Boer War (highly beneficial to Jewish mining operations in South Africa), support for the Ottoman Empire (while it was persecuting Christians but was friendly to Jews), and using exaggerated pogrom propaganda and economic funding in order to support a large Jewish migration to and rising Jewish influence in the United States.[1][2]

Jewish influence has also been argued to have played a part in the Opium Wars, and, of course, the infamous Balfour Declaration.

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Free to Cheat: “Jewish Emancipation” and the Anglo-Jewish Cousinhood, Part 1
  2. 2.0 2.1 Free to Cheat: “Jewish Emancipation” and the Anglo-Jewish Cousinhood, Part 2
  • The British Colonies by Robert Montgomery Martin, Tallis & Co., London, 1837, multiple volumes.
  • The Story of the British Nation edited by Walter Hutchinson, M.A., F.R.G.S., F.R.A.I., 4 volumes, London, c1925.
  • The Life and Times of Queen Victoria by Messrs. Cassell and Company Ltd., 4 volumes, London, n/d.
  • India Britannica by Geoffrey Moorhouse, BCA, London, 1983.
  • The Honourable Company - The English East India Company, by John Keay, Harper-Collins, London, 1991, ISBN 0-00-217515-0
  • England's Colonial Wars 1550-1688 by Professor Bruce Lenman, Pearson, London, 2001, ISBN 0-582-06296-9
  • Blood in the Sand - Forgotten Wars of the Nineteenth Century, by Ian Hernon, Sutton, Glos., England, 2001, ISBN 0-7509-2614-7
  • The Colonial Wars Source Book by Philip J. Haythornthwaite, Caxton, London, 2000, ISBN 1-84067-231-5