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Colonies and Empires Index

15th Century 'Voyages of Discovery'

European Settlement in North America

Introduction
The First Colony : Virginia
The Pilgrim Fathers
The Mayflower and the Mayflower Compact
Plymouth Settlement
The First Thanksgiving
Massachusetts
Other Colonies

The Origins of Canada

Introduction : New France
The Hudson Bay Company
France Claims the Mississippi River

The Struggle between France and Britain
for North America

Introduction
The Seven Years' War
The Fall of Quebec
The Treaty of Paris

The American War of Independence

Introduction
Britain Taxes its Colonies
The Boston Massacre
The "Boston Tea Party"
The First Continental Congress
The War for Independence Begins
The Second Continental Congress
American Victories
The Declaration of Independence

History Chapters Main Index

 

Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake

 

 

BRITAIN : ISLAND STATE TO EMPIRE

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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

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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© Shirley Burchill, Nigel Hughes, Richard Gale, Peter Price and Keith Woodall 2017

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