Spring 2023

HIST 461 Rise and Fall of British Empire 1600-1947 [CRN 21029]

Overview of Course

The death of Elizabeth I in 1601 ended not just a dynasty but also ushered in a new era in British history. Within a decade the rise of the British Empire had started with the British plantation of Ulster in Ireland and significant portions of North America. These events would lead to dynamic changes for both the old and new worlds. This course will attempt to demonstrate the myriad ways in which the empire affected not only those subjected to British hegemony but also the British domestic economy and political life as well. Special attention will be paid to venues on our voyage that have strong legacy ties to the empire, such as Hong Kong and the Pacific Rim, India, Malaysia, Oman, and Jordan. What took centuries to assemble seemed to contract and largely crumble over a relatively short period that was accelerated, of course, by two horrific world wars in which Britain was a major participant. Also critical was a widespread nationalist impulse leading to the anti-colonial struggles that hastened the fall of the empire, sometimes in an evolutionary manner but all too often accompanied by widespread violence.