The Open Door Web Site
Colonies and Empires Index
European Settlement in North America
The Origins of Canada
The Struggle between France and Britain
The American War of Independence
BRITAIN : ISLAND STATE TO EMPIRE
Colonies and Empires
Exploration in the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries
The 16th Century
The 16th century saw the Portuguese and the Spaniards establish important and profitable empires in India, Africa and America. Other countries in Europe seemed little interested. Corsairs, such as Feury de Honfleur and Francis Drake, attacked the Spanish treasure-ships, but both France and England were preoccupied by problems nearer to home. Although Jacques Cartier had reached Labrador in 1534 and had tried to establish settlements along the St. Lawrence, but by 1545 there were no Frenchmen left in North America. The English attempt to found a colony in North America, in 1588 at Roanoke had failed.
The 17th Century
It was the 17th century which was to witness the beginning of rapid European colonisation. In addition to the Portuguese and the Spanish, the Dutch, the French and the English entered into the ring.
By 1700, it was evident that two countries were in competition for the mastership of Europe: France and England. This rivalry in Europe led to rivalry in the colonies.
Dutch Asian Empire in the mid 17th century
The 18th Century
The 18th century was one of wars. France lost most of its colonial empire to the British: The War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713), The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and, above all, the "Seven Years' War" (1756-1763) gave to Britain the greatest empire the world had ever seen, after taking much of France's colonies, especially Canada and India.
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