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大英帝国
British Empire
大英帝国 British Empire国旗
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
The British Empire.png
大英帝国统治范围地图,今英國海外領土的地名以红色下划线表示

大英帝国(英語:British Empire)由英国及其之前国家统治或管理的自治领殖民地保护国国际联盟托管地及其他属地组成。初期多为英国在海外的殖民地,之后是英格兰王国于16世纪末到18世纪初建立的贸易站英语trading post。从规模上看,大英帝国是历史上最大的帝国,一个多世纪以来都是世界上最重要的大国[1]。到1913年,大英帝国统领超过4.12亿人,占当时世界总人口的23%[2],到1920年国土面积达35,500,000平方公里(13,700,000平方英里)[3],占当时全球陆地面积的24%,对宪政体制法律语言文化产生深远影响。帝国到全盛时期被誉为“日不落帝国”,形容太阳必定会照耀到其中一个领土[4]

在15到16世纪的地理大发现时期,葡萄牙西班牙开创了欧洲人探索世界的历程,在过程中建立庞大的海外帝国。英国、法国荷兰羡慕两个帝国享有的巨额财富[5],在美洲和亚洲自行设立殖民地及贸易网络。但法国和荷兰在17到18世纪陷入连串战争,让英格兰(1707年联合法令颁布后与苏格兰结为大不列颠王国)成为北美的主要殖民势力,后来更在1757年普拉西之战英语Battle of Plassey中凭借不列颠东印度公司征服孟加拉苏巴,将势力范围拓展到印度次大陆

美国独立战争期间的1783年,英国失去北美洲这块殖民时间最长、人口最多的领土。之后,英国把目光投向亚洲、非洲和太平洋。拿破仑战争战胜法国后(1803–1815),英国凭借最强大的海军力量,发展成19世纪最强大的帝国。1815年到1914年的相对和平期期间,英国成为全球霸权,享有“不列颠治世”的美誉。除了正式控制的殖民地,英国还垄断各地的经济英语Informal Empire,亚洲、拉丁美洲尤甚[6][7]。白人移民殖民地英语Settler colonialism获得越来越多的自治权利,其中好些地区还被归类为自治领。

20世纪初,德国美国开始挑战英国的经济地位。英德两国的军事角力及经济冲突成为第一次世界大战的一大导火索,英国在战争期间严重仰赖帝国。这场冲突给英国的军事、财政及人力资源带来庞大压力。尽管一战结束后势力范围达到历史上最大,英国已经不是世界上超群绝伦的工业或军事强国。第二次世界大战期间,英国在东亚和东南亚的殖民地被大日本帝国占领。英国与盟友取得最终胜利,但名誉受损,加速推动英国的衰落。在英国给予大多数领土独立地位的去殖民化运动下,英国最具价值、人口最多的领土印度也获得独立第二次中东战争证实了英国大国地位衰老,而1997年香港移交中国在很多人眼中意味着大英帝国终结[8][9]。时至今日,英国仍持有14个海外领土的主权。独立后的英国前殖民地加入英联邦这个独立国家自由联盟。包括英国在内的15个英联邦国家共同将女皇伊丽莎白二世奉为共同的君主

1497–1583年:肇始[编辑]

乔瓦尼·卡博托第二次新大陆航行时乘坐的马修号英语Matthew (ship)。图为复制品

大英帝国成立时,英格兰苏格兰是两个独立的王国。1496年,英格兰国王亨利七世眼看西班牙葡萄牙的海外探险大获成功,委托乔瓦尼·卡博托率领探险队探索经北大西洋前往亚洲的航海路线[10]克里斯托弗·哥伦比亚首次航行英语Voyages of Christopher Columbus五年后的1497年,卡博托正式出发,最终在纽芬兰岛沿岸登陆。他认为已经抵达亚洲,没打算设立殖民地。次年,卡博托前往美洲,途中舰队遭遇未知变故,没有返航[11]

直到女皇伊丽莎白一世于1690年代在位,英格兰才打算在美洲设立殖民地[12]。与此同时《1533年上诉限制条例英语Statute in Restraint of Appeals》宣布“英格兰王国是帝国”[13]。之后的新教改革让英格兰和信奉天主教的西班牙水火不容[10]。1562年,伊丽莎白一世怂恿私掠约翰·霍金斯法兰西斯·德瑞克到西非沿岸,袭击西班牙和葡萄牙贩运奴隶的船只[14],打算建立大西洋奴隶贸易,被两人断然拒绝。后来英西战争白热化,伊丽莎白一世继续批准私掠突袭西班牙在美洲的港口,以及满载新大陆珍宝,经大西洋返航的西班牙船队。当时,理查德·哈克卢伊特约翰·迪伊等具影响力的作家开始推动英格兰设立自己的帝国,其中迪伊是首个使用“大英帝国”一词的人[15]。此时西班牙成为美洲的主要统治力量,并开始探索太平洋,葡萄牙则在非洲和巴西设立通往中国的贸易战和堡垒,法国开始在圣劳伦斯河地区定居,后来变为新法兰西[16]

英格兰尽管在建立海外殖民地方面远远落后葡萄牙、西班牙和法国,但于16世纪参考1169年诺曼征服爱尔兰,派英格兰的新教徒到爱尔兰定居,设立首个海外殖民地英语Plantations of Ireland[17][18]。部分协助建立爱尔兰殖民地的人士后来在殖民北美洲早期扮演重要角色,最为有名的是西部人英语West Country men[19]

1583–1707年:海外殖民地[编辑]

1578年,伊丽莎白一世向汉弗莱·吉尔伯特颁发发现与海外探勘专利[20][21]。同年,吉尔伯特出发前往加勒比地区,计划做海盗的生意,在北美设立殖民地,但探险队没穿过大西洋便返回[22][23]。1583年,吉尔伯特再度尝试,结果正式宣称纽芬兰岛港口的所有权,但没留下定居者。回国途中,吉尔伯特不幸殒命,同母异父的沃尔特·雷利继承衣钵,1584年获伊丽莎白授权,同年在今北卡罗来纳州沿岸建立罗阿诺克殖民地,但因缺乏补给丢掉殖民地[24]

1603年,苏格兰国王詹姆士六世以詹姆士一世之名继承英国王位,1604年与西班牙签订《伦敦条约英语Treaty of London (1604)》,结束敌对状态。与主要的对手和平共处下,英格兰将注意力从掠夺其他国家的殖民设施,转向设立自己的海外殖民地[25]。随着美洲及加勒比海小岛殖民地纷纷设立,负责管理殖民地及海外贸易的东印度公司股份有限公司不断涌现,大英帝国于17世纪初具规模。部分历史学家将这段时间到美国独立战争结束后十三殖民地丧失的18世纪末称为“第一大英帝国”[26]

美洲、非洲与奴隶贸易[编辑]

17世纪,非洲黑奴在弗吉尼亚劳作(作者不详,1670年)

加勒比海地区最初给英格兰提供最重要、最有利可图的殖民地[27],但殖民当地的活动历经多次尝试才获得成功。1604年,英格兰带着寻找金矿的目标,在圭亚那设立殖民地,结果没有找到金矿,只维持了两年[28]。之后圣卢西亚(1605年)和格林纳达(1609年)的殖民计划迅速告吹,后来圣基茨岛(1624年)、巴巴多斯(1627年)和尼维斯岛(1628年)的殖民地成功设立[29]。各殖民地不久后采用葡萄牙殖民巴西英语Colonial Brazil时利用成功的糖种植业体系。这项体系依靠奴隶工人运作,一开始被荷兰船队用来贩售奴隶、购买糖[30]。为确保日益增长的可观收入留在英格兰手中,议会于1651年通过《航海法案》,只允许英格兰船队在英格兰殖民地贸易,激怒了荷兰联合省,引爆英荷战争,最终让英格兰牺牲荷兰人,加强在美洲的地位[31]。1655年,英格兰从西班牙手中吞并牙买加,1666年成功殖民巴哈马[32]

1607年,在约翰·史密斯的带领下,英格兰在詹姆斯敦成立首个美洲永久定居点,由弗吉尼亚公司管理。Bermuda was settled and claimed by England as a result of the 1609 shipwreck of the Virginia Company's flagship英语Sea Venture, and in 1615 was turned over to the newly formed Somers Isles Company英语Somers Isles Company.[33] The Virginia Company's charter was revoked in 1624 and direct control of Virginia was assumed by the Crown, thereby founding the Colony of Virginia.[34] The London and Bristol Company英语London and Bristol Company was created in 1610 with the aim of creating a permanent settlement on Newfoundland, but was largely unsuccessful.[35] In 1620, Plymouth was founded as a haven for Puritan religious separatists, later known as the Pilgrims.[36] Fleeing from religious persecution would become the motive of many English would-be colonists to risk the arduous trans-Atlantic voyage英语Transatlantic crossing: Maryland was founded as a haven for Roman Catholics (1634), Rhode Island (1636) as a colony tolerant of all religions and Connecticut (1639) for Congregationalists. The Province of Carolina was founded in 1663. With the surrender of Fort Amsterdam in 1664, England gained control of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, renaming it New York. This was formalised in negotiations following the Second Anglo-Dutch War, in exchange for Suriname.[37] In 1681, the colony of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn. The American colonies were less financially successful than those of the Caribbean, but had large areas of good agricultural land and attracted far larger numbers of English emigrants who preferred their temperate climates.[38]

In 1670, Charles II incorporated by royal charter the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), granting it a monopoly on the fur trade英语North American fur trade in the area known as Rupert's Land, which would later form a large proportion of the Dominion of Canada. Forts and trading posts established by the HBC were frequently the subject of attacks by the French, who had established their own fur trading colony in adjacent New France.[39]

Two years later, the Royal African Company was inaugurated, receiving from King Charles a monopoly of the trade to supply slaves to the British colonies of the Caribbean.[40] From the outset, slavery was the basis of the Empire in the West Indies. Until the abolition of its slave trade in 1807, Britain transported a third of all slaves shipped across the Atlantic—3.5 million Africans.[41] To facilitate this trade, forts were established on the coast of West Africa, such as James Island, Accra英语Jamestown, Ghana and Bunce Island英语Bunce Island. In the British Caribbean, the percentage of the population of African descent rose from 25 per cent in 1650 to around 80 per cent in 1780, and in the Thirteen Colonies from 10 per cent to 40 per cent over the same period (the majority in the southern colonies).[42] For the slave traders, the trade was extremely profitable, and became a major economic mainstay for such western British cities as Bristol, Glasgow and Liverpool, which formed the third corner of the triangular trade with Africa and the Americas. For the transported, harsh and unhygienic conditions on the slaving ships and poor diets meant that the average mortality rate during the Middle Passage英语Middle Passage was one in seven.[43]

对抗欧洲其他帝国[编辑]

Fort St. George was founded at Madras in 1639.

At the end of the 16th century, England and the Netherlands began to challenge Portugal's monopoly of trade with Asia, forming private joint-stock companies to finance the voyages—the English, later British, East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, chartered in 1600 and 1602 respectively. The primary aim of these companies was to tap into the lucrative spice trade, an effort focused mainly on two regions: the East Indies archipelago, and an important hub in the trade network, India. There, they competed for trade supremacy with Portugal and with each other.[44] Although England eclipsed the Netherlands as a colonial power, in the short term the Netherlands' more advanced financial system[45] and the three Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century left it with a stronger position in Asia. Hostilities ceased after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 when the Dutch William of Orange ascended the English throne, bringing peace between the Netherlands and England. A deal between the two nations left the spice trade of the East Indies archipelago to the Netherlands and the textiles industry of India to England, but textiles soon overtook spices in terms of profitability.[45]

Peace between England and the Netherlands in 1688 meant that the two countries entered the Nine Years' War as allies, but the conflict—waged in Europe and overseas between France, Spain and the Anglo-Dutch alliance—left the English a stronger colonial power than the Dutch, who were forced to devote a larger proportion of their military budget to the costly land war in Europe.[46] The death of Charles II of Spain in 1700 and his bequeathal of Spain and its colonial empire to Philip V of Spain, a grandson of the King of France, raised the prospect of the unification of France, Spain and their respective colonies, an unacceptable state of affairs for England and the other powers of Europe.[47] In 1701, England, Portugal and the Netherlands sided with the Holy Roman Empire against Spain and France in the War of the Spanish Succession, which lasted for thirteen years.[47]

苏格兰的海外扩张计划[编辑]

In 1695, the Parliament of Scotland granted a charter to the Company of Scotland, which established a settlement in 1698 on the Isthmus of Panama. Besieged by neighbouring Spanish colonists of New Granada英语New Kingdom of Granada, and afflicted by malaria, the colony was abandoned two years later. The Darien scheme was a financial disaster for Scotland—a quarter of Scottish capital[48] was lost in the enterprise—and ended Scottish hopes of establishing its own overseas empire. The episode had major political consequences, helping to persuade the government of Scotland of the merits of turning the personal union with England into a political and economic one.[49]

1707–1783年:“第一”大英帝国[编辑]

Robert Clive's victory at the Battle of Plassey英语Battle of Plassey established the East India Company as a military as well as a commercial power.

The 18th century saw the newly united Great Britain rise to be the world's dominant colonial power, with France becoming its main rival on the imperial stage.[50] Great Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Empire continued the War of the Spanish Succession, which lasted until 1714 and was concluded by the Treaty of Utrecht. Philip V of Spain renounced his and his descendants' claim to the French throne, and Spain lost its empire in Europe.[47] The British Empire was territorially enlarged: from France, Britain gained Newfoundland and Acadia, and from Spain Gibraltar and Menorca. Gibraltar became a critical naval base and allowed Britain to control the Atlantic entry and exit point to the Mediterranean. Spain ceded the rights to the lucrative asiento英语asiento (permission to sell African slaves in Spanish America) to Britain.[51] With the outbreak of the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear in 1739, Spanish privateers attacked British merchant shipping along the Triangle Trade routes. In 1746, the Spanish and British began peace talks, with the King of Spain agreeing to stop all attacks on British shipping; however, in the Treaty of Madrid英语Treaty of Madrid (5 October 1750) Britain lost its slave-trading rights in South and Central America.[52]

In the East Indies, British and Dutch merchants continued to compete in spices and textiles. With textiles becoming the larger trade, by 1720, in terms of sales, the British company had overtaken the Dutch.[45] During the middle decades of the 18th century, there were several outbreaks of military conflict on the Indian subcontinent, as the English East India Company and its French counterpart, struggled alongside local rulers to fill the vacuum that had been left by the decline of the Mughal Empire. The Battle of Plassey英语Battle of Plassey in 1757, in which the British defeated the Nawab of Bengal英语Nawab of Bengal and his French allies, left the British East India Company in control of Bengal and as the major military and political power in India.[53] France was left control of its enclaves but with military restrictions and an obligation to support British client states, ending French hopes of controlling India.[54] In the following decades the British East India Company gradually increased the size of the territories under its control, either ruling directly or via local rulers under the threat of force from the Presidency Armies英语Presidency Armies, the vast majority of which was composed of Indian sepoys, led by British officers.[55] The British and French struggles in India became but one theatre of the global Seven Years' War (1756–1763) involving France, Britain, and the other major European powers.[39]

The signing of the Treaty of Paris of 1763 had important consequences for the future of the British Empire. In North America, France's future as a colonial power effectively ended with the recognition of British claims to Rupert's Land,[39] and the ceding of New France to Britain (leaving a sizeable French-speaking population under British control) and Louisiana to Spain. Spain ceded Florida to Britain. Along with its victory over France in India, the Seven Years' War therefore left Britain as the world's most powerful maritime power英语maritime power.[56]

丧失十三殖民地[编辑]

British territories in the Americas, 1763–1776, extending much further than the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic coast

During the 1760s and early 1770s, relations between the Thirteen Colonies and Britain became increasingly strained, primarily because of resentment of the British Parliament's attempts to govern and tax American colonists without their consent.[57] This was summarised at the time by the slogan "No taxation without representation", a perceived violation of the guaranteed Rights of Englishmen英语Rights of Englishmen. The American Revolution began with a rejection of Parliamentary authority and moves towards self-government. In response, Britain sent troops to reimpose direct rule, leading to the outbreak of war in 1775. The following year, in 1776, the United States declared independence. The entry of French英语France in the American Revolutionary War and Spanish forces英语Spain and the American Revolutionary War into the war tipped the military balance in the Americans' favour and after a decisive defeat at Yorktown in 1781, Britain began negotiating peace terms. American independence was acknowledged at the Peace of Paris英语Peace of Paris (1783) in 1783.[58]

The loss of such a large portion of British America, at the time Britain's most populous overseas possession, is seen by some historians as the event defining the transition between the "first" and "second" empires,[59] in which Britain shifted its attention away from the Americas to Asia, the Pacific and later Africa. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, had argued that colonies were redundant, and that free trade should replace the old mercantilist policies that had characterised the first period of colonial expansion, dating back to the protectionism of Spain and Portugal.[56][60] The growth of trade between the newly independent United States and Britain after 1783 seemed to confirm Smith's view that political control was not necessary for economic success.[61][62]

The war to the south influenced British policy in Canada, where between 40,000 and 100,000[63] defeated Loyalists had migrated from the new United States following independence.[64] The 14,000 Loyalists who went to the Saint John英语Saint John River (New Brunswick) and Saint Croix river英语Saint Croix River (Maine – New Brunswick) valleys, then part of Nova Scotia, felt too far removed from the provincial government in Halifax, so London split off New Brunswick as a separate colony in 1784.[65] The Constitutional Act of 1791英语Constitutional Act of 1791 created the provinces of Upper Canada (mainly English speaking) and Lower Canada (mainly French-speaking) to defuse tensions between the French and British communities, and implemented governmental systems similar to those employed in Britain, with the intention of asserting imperial authority and not allowing the sort of popular control of government that was perceived to have led to the American Revolution.[66]

Tensions between Britain and the United States escalated again during the Napoleonic Wars, as Britain tried to cut off American trade with France and boarded American ships to impress英语Impressment men into the Royal Navy. The US declared war, the War of 1812, and invaded Canadian territory. In response, Britain invaded the US, but the pre-war boundaries were reaffirmed by the 1814 Treaty of Ghent, ensuring Canada's future would be separate from that of the United States.[67][68]

1783–1815年:“第二”大英帝国崛起[编辑]

探索太平洋[编辑]

James Cook's mission was to find the alleged southern continent Terra Australis.

Since 1718, transportation to the American colonies had been a penalty for various offences in Britain, with approximately one thousand convicts transported per year.[69] Forced to find an alternative location after the loss of the Thirteen Colonies in 1783, the British government turned to Australia.[70] The coast of Australia英语New Holland (Australia) had been discovered for Europeans by the Dutch in 1606英语Janszoon voyage of 1605–06,[71] but there was no attempt to colonise it. In 1770 James Cook charted the eastern coast while on a scientific voyage英语First voyage of James Cook, claimed the continent for Britain, and named it New South Wales.[72] In 1778, Joseph Banks, Cook's botanist on the voyage, presented evidence to the government on the suitability of Botany Bay for the establishment of a penal settlement, and in 1787 the first shipment of convicts英语Convicts in Australia set sail, arriving in 1788.[73] Unusually, Australia was claimed through proclamation. Indigenous Australians were considered too uncivilised to require treaties,[74][75] and colonisation brought disease and violence that together with the deliberate dispossession of land and culture were devastating to these peoples.[76][77] Britain continued to transport convicts to New South Wales until 1840, to Tasmania until 1853 and to Western Australia until 1868.[78] The Australian colonies became profitable exporters of wool and gold,[79] mainly because of gold rushes in Victoria, making its capital Melbourne for a time the richest city in the world.[80]

During his voyage, Cook visited New Zealand, known to Europeans due to the 1642 voyage of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, and claimed both the North and the South islands for the British crown in 1769 and 1770 respectively. Initially, interaction between the indigenous Māori population and Europeans was limited to the trading of goods. European settlement increased through the early decades of the 19th century, with numerous trading stations established, especially in the North. In 1839, the New Zealand Company英语New Zealand Company announced plans to buy large tracts of land and establish colonies in New Zealand. On 6 February 1840, Captain William Hobson英语William Hobson and around 40 Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi.[81] This treaty is considered to be New Zealand's founding document,[82] but differing interpretations of the Maori and English versions of the text[83] have meant that it continues to be a source of dispute.[84]

拿破仑战争[编辑]

The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 ended in the defeat of Napoleon and marked the beginning of Pax Britannica.

Britain was challenged again by France under Napoleon, in a struggle that, unlike previous wars, represented a contest of ideologies between the two nations.[85] It was not only Britain's position on the world stage that was at risk: Napoleon threatened to invade Britain itself, just as his armies had overrun many countries of continental Europe.[86]

The Napoleonic Wars were therefore ones in which Britain invested large amounts of capital and resources to win. French ports were blockaded by the Royal Navy, which won a decisive victory over a Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in 1805. Overseas colonies were attacked and occupied, including those of the Netherlands, which was annexed by Napoleon in 1810. France was finally defeated by a coalition of European armies in 1815.[87] Britain was again the beneficiary of peace treaties: France ceded the Ionian Islands, Malta英语Malta Protectorate (which it had occupied in 1797 and 1798 respectively), Mauritius, St Lucia, the Seychelles, and Tobago; Spain ceded Trinidad; the Netherlands ceded Guyana and the Cape Colony. Britain returned Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Réunion to France, and Java and Suriname to the Netherlands, while gaining control of Ceylon (1795–1815) and Heligoland.[88]

奴隶制废除[编辑]

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, goods produced by slavery became less important to the British economy.[89] Added to this was the cost of suppressing regular slave rebellion英语slave rebellions. With support from the British abolitionist英语Abolitionism in the United Kingdom movement, Parliament enacted the Slave Trade Act英语Slave Trade Act 1807 in 1807, which abolished the slave trade in the empire. In 1808, Sierra Leone Colony英语Sierra Leone Colony was designated an official British colony for freed slaves.[90] Parliamentary reform in 1832 saw the influence of the West India Committee英语West India Committee decline. The Slavery Abolition Act英语Slavery Abolition Act 1833, passed the following year, abolished slavery in the British Empire on 1 August 1834, finally bringing the Empire into line with the law in the UK (with the exception of the territories administered by the East India Company and Ceylon, where slavery was ended in 1844). Under the Act, slaves were granted full emancipation after a period of four to six years of "apprenticeship".[91] Facing further opposition from abolitionists, the apprenticeship system was abolished in 1838.[92] The British government compensated slave-owners.[93][94]

1815–1914年:大英帝国世纪[编辑]

Between 1815 and 1914, a period referred to as Britain's "imperial century" by some historians,[95][96] around 10 × 106 sq mi(26 × 106 km2) of territory and roughly 400 million people were added to the British Empire.[97] Victory over Napoleon left Britain without any serious international rival, other than Russia in Central Asia.[98] Unchallenged at sea, Britain adopted the role of global policeman, a state of affairs later known as the Pax Britannica,[99][100][101] and a foreign policy of "splendid isolation".[102] Alongside the formal control it exerted over its own colonies, Britain's dominant position in world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many countries, such as China, Argentina and Siam, which has been described by some historians as an "Informal Empire英语Informal empire".[6][7]

An 1876 political cartoon of Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881) making Queen Victoria Empress of India. The caption reads "New crowns for old ones!"

British imperial strength was underpinned by the steamship and the telegraph, new technologies invented in the second half of the 19th century, allowing it to control and defend the empire. By 1902, the British Empire was linked together by a network of telegraph cables, called the All Red Line英语All Red Line.[103]

东印度公司与英属印度[编辑]

The East India Company drove the expansion of the British Empire in Asia. The Company's army had first joined forces with the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War, and the two continued to co-operate in arenas outside India: the eviction of the French from Egypt (1799),[104] the capture of Java from the Netherlands (1811), the acquisition of Penang Island英语History of Penang#Founding of penang (1786), Singapore (1819) and Malacca (1824), and the defeat of Burma (1826).[98]

From its base in India, the Company had been engaged in an increasingly profitable opium export trade to China since the 1730s. This trade, illegal since it was outlawed by the Qing dynasty in 1729, helped reverse the trade imbalances resulting from the British imports of tea, which saw large outflows of silver from Britain to China.[105] In 1839, the confiscation by the Chinese authorities at Canton of 20,000 chests of opium led Britain to attack China in the First Opium War, and resulted in the seizure by Britain of Hong Kong Island, at that time a minor settlement, and other Treaty Ports including Shanghai.[106]

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the British Crown began to assume an increasingly large role in the affairs of the Company. A series of Acts of Parliament were passed, including the Regulating Act of 1773英语Regulating Act of 1773, Pitt's India Act of 1784 and the Charter Act of 1813英语Charter Act of 1813 which regulated the Company's affairs and established the sovereignty of the Crown over the territories that it had acquired.[107] The Company's eventual end was precipitated by the Indian Rebellion in 1857, a conflict that had begun with the mutiny of sepoys, Indian troops under British officers and discipline.[108] The rebellion took six months to suppress, with heavy loss of life on both sides. The following year the British government dissolved the Company and assumed direct control over India through the Government of India Act 1858英语Government of India Act 1858, establishing the British Raj, where an appointed governor-general administered India and Queen Victoria was crowned the Empress of India.[109] India became the empire's most valuable possession, "the Jewel in the Crown", and was the most important source of Britain's strength.[110]

A series of serious crop failures in the late 19th century led to widespread famines英语Famine in India on the subcontinent in which it is estimated that over 15 million people died. The East India Company had failed to implement any coordinated policy to deal with the famines during its period of rule. Later, under direct British rule, commissions were set up after each famine to investigate the causes and implement new policies, which took until the early 1900s to have an effect.[111]

挑战俄罗斯[编辑]

British cavalry charging against Russian forces at Balaclava英语Battle of Balaclava in 1854

During the 19th century, Britain and the Russian Empire vied to fill the power vacuums that had been left by the declining Ottoman Empire, Qajar dynasty and Qing dynasty. This rivalry in Central Asia came to be known as the "Great Game".[112] As far as Britain was concerned, defeats inflicted by Russia on Persia and Turkey demonstrated its imperial ambitions and capabilities and stoked fears in Britain of an overland invasion of India.[113] In 1839, Britain moved to pre-empt this by invading Afghanistan, but the First Anglo-Afghan War was a disaster for Britain.[114]

When Russia invaded the Turkish Balkans in 1853, fears of Russian dominance in the Mediterranean and the Middle East led Britain and France to invade the Crimean Peninsula to destroy Russian naval capabilities.[114] The ensuing Crimean War (1854–1856), which involved new techniques of modern warfare,[115] was the only global war fought between Britain and another imperial power during the Pax Britannica and was a resounding defeat for Russia.[114] The situation remained unresolved in Central Asia for two more decades, with Britain annexing Baluchistan in 1876 and Russia annexing Kirghizia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. For a while, it appeared that another war would be inevitable, but the two countries reached an agreement on their respective spheres of influence in the region in 1878 and on all outstanding matters in 1907 with the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente.[116] The destruction of the Russian Navy by the Japanese at the Battle of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905 limited its threat to the British.[117]

开普到开罗[编辑]

The Rhodes Colossus英语The Rhodes ColossusCecil Rhodes spanning "Cape to Cairo"

The Dutch East India Company had founded the Cape Colony on the southern tip of Africa in 1652 as a way station for its ships travelling to and from its colonies in the East Indies. Britain formally acquired the colony, and its large Afrikaner (or Boer) population in 1806, having occupied it in 1795 to prevent its falling into French hands during the Flanders Campaign英语Flanders Campaign.[118] British immigration began to rise after 1820, and pushed thousands of Boers, resentful of British rule, northwards to found their own—mostly short-lived—independent republics, during the Great Trek of the late 1830s and early 1840s.[119] In the process the Voortrekkers clashed repeatedly with the British, who had their own agenda with regard to colonial expansion in South Africa and to the various native African polities, including those of the Sotho and the Zulu nations. Eventually, the Boers established two republics that had a longer lifespan: the South African Republic or Transvaal Republic (1852–1877; 1881–1902) and the Orange Free State (1854–1902).[120] In 1902 Britain occupied both republics, concluding a treaty with the two Boer Republics英语Boer Republics following the Second Boer War (1899–1902).[121]

In 1869 the Suez Canal opened under Napoleon III, linking the Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean. Initially the Canal was opposed by the British;[122] but once opened, its strategic value was quickly recognised and became the "jugular vein of the Empire".[123] In 1875, the Conservative government of Benjamin Disraeli bought the indebted Egyptian ruler Isma'il Pasha's 44 per cent shareholding in the Suez Canal for £4 million (equivalent to £3.7億 in 2018). Although this did not grant outright control of the strategic waterway, it did give Britain leverage. Joint Anglo-French financial control over Egypt ended in outright British occupation in 1882.[124] Although Britain controlled Egypt into the 20th century, it was officially part of the Ottoman Empire and not part of the British Empire. The French were still majority shareholders and attempted to weaken the British position,[125] but a compromise was reached with the 1888 Convention of Constantinople英语Convention of Constantinople, which made the Canal officially neutral territory.[126]

With competitive French, Belgian and Portuguese activity in the lower Congo River region undermining orderly colonisation of tropical Africa, the Berlin Conference of 1884–85 was held to regulate the competition between the European powers in what was called the "Scramble for Africa" by defining "effective occupation" as the criterion for international recognition of territorial claims.[127] The scramble continued into the 1890s, and caused Britain to reconsider its decision in 1885 to withdraw from Sudan. A joint force of British and Egyptian troops defeated the Mahdist Army in 1896 and rebuffed an attempted French invasion at Fashoda in 1898. Sudan was nominally made an Anglo-Egyptian condominium, but a British colony in reality.[128]

British gains in Southern and East Africa prompted Cecil Rhodes, pioneer of British expansion in Southern Africa, to urge a "Cape to Cairo" railway linking the strategically important Suez Canal to the mineral-rich south of the continent.[129] During the 1880s and 1890s, Rhodes, with his privately owned British South Africa Company, occupied and annexed英语company rule in Rhodesia territories named after him, Rhodesia英语Rhodesia (name).[130]

白人殖民地状态变更[编辑]

The path to independence for the white colonies of the British Empire began with the 1839 Durham Report英语Report on the Affairs of British North America, which proposed unification and self-government for Upper and Lower Canada, as a solution to political unrest which had erupted in armed rebellions in 1837.[131] This began with the passing of the Act of Union英语Act of Union 1840 in 1840, which created the Province of Canada. Responsible government was first granted to Nova Scotia in 1848, and was soon extended to the other British North American colonies. With the passage of the British North America Act, 1867 by the British Parliament, the Province of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were formed into Canada, a confederation enjoying full self-government with the exception of international relations.[132] Australia and New Zealand achieved similar levels of self-government after 1900, with the Australian colonies federating in 1901英语federation of Australia.[133] The term "dominion status" was officially introduced at the Colonial Conference of 1907.[134]

The last decades of the 19th century saw concerted political campaign英语political campaigns for Irish home rule英语home rule. Ireland had been united with Britain into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with the Act of Union 1800 after the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and had suffered a severe famine between 1845 and 1852. Home rule was supported by the British Prime minister, William Gladstone, who hoped that Ireland might follow in Canada's footsteps as a Dominion within the empire, but his 1886 Home Rule bill英语Government of Ireland Bill 1886 was defeated in Parliament. Although the bill, if passed, would have granted Ireland less autonomy within the UK than the Canadian provinces had within their own federation,[135] many MPs feared that a partially independent Ireland might pose a security threat to Great Britain or mark the beginning of the break-up of the empire.[136] A second Home Rule bill英语Irish Government Bill 1893 was defeated for similar reasons.[136] A third bill英语Home Rule Act 1914 was passed by Parliament in 1914, but not implemented because of the outbreak of the First World War leading to the 1916 Easter Rising.[137]

1914–1945年:世界大战[编辑]

一张督促大英帝国的國民入伍海报

到20世纪初,英国开始担心它不再能够捍卫美托波尔英语Metropole和整个帝国,並同时保持“辉煌的孤立”政策。[138]當时德国正在迅速崛起为军事和工业强国,並被视为未来任何战争中最可能的对手。也令英国认识到它在太平洋地区的勢力增长[139]。大英帝国因受到德国帝国海军的威胁,于1902年与日本结盟,并于1904年和1907年与其宿敌法国和俄罗斯结盟。[140]

第一次世界大战[编辑]

1914 年,隨著第一次世界大戰的爆發,英國對與德國開戰的恐懼成為現實。英國迅速入侵並佔領了德國在非洲的大部分海外殖民地。在太平洋,澳大利亞和新西蘭分別佔領了德屬新幾內亞德屬薩摩亞。根據 1916 年的賽克斯-皮科協定,英國和法國秘密製定了戰後分裂奧斯曼帝國的計劃,原因是奧斯曼帝國曾站在德國一邊加入戰爭。該協議沒有透露給麥加謝里夫。由於英國一直鼓勵阿拉伯人反對鄂圖曼統治者,因此被其他國家認為英國是一個是支持建立一個獨立阿拉伯國家的國家[141]

英國對德國及其盟國宣戰,對殖民地和自治領作出承諾,提供了寶貴的軍事、財政和物質支持。超過 250 萬人在自治領的軍隊中服役,還有來自皇家殖民地的數千名志願者[142] 。 The contributions of Australian and New Zealand troops during the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign against the Ottoman Empire had a great impact on the national consciousness at home and marked a watershed in the transition of Australia and New Zealand from colonies to nations in their own right. The countries continue to commemorate this occasion on Anzac Day. Canadians viewed the Battle of Vimy Ridge in a similar light.[143] The important contribution of the Dominions to the war effort英语war effort was recognised in 1917 by the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George when he invited each of the Dominion Prime Ministers to join an Imperial War Cabinet to co-ordinate imperial policy.[144]

Under the terms of the concluding Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919, the empire reached its greatest extent with the addition of 1,800,000平方英里(4,700,000平方公里) and 13 million new subjects.[145] The colonies of Germany and the Ottoman Empire were distributed to the Allied powers as League of Nations mandates. Britain gained control of Palestine, Transjordan, Iraq, parts of Cameroon and Togoland英语British Togoland, and Tanganyika英语Tanganyika (territory). The Dominions themselves acquired mandates of their own: the Union of South Africa gained South West Africa (modern-day Namibia), Australia gained New Guinea, and New Zealand Western Samoa英语Western Samoa Trust Territory. Nauru was made a combined mandate of Britain and the two Pacific Dominions.[146]

战间期[编辑]

The British Empire at its territorial peak in 1921

The changing world order that the war had brought about, in particular the growth of the United States and Japan as naval powers, and the rise of independence movements in India and Ireland, caused a major reassessment of British imperial policy.[147] Forced to choose between alignment with the United States or Japan, Britain opted not to renew its Japanese alliance and instead signed the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, where Britain accepted naval parity with the United States.[148] This decision was the source of much debate in Britain during the 1930s[149] as militaristic governments took hold in Germany and Japan helped in part by the Great Depression, for it was feared that the empire could not survive a simultaneous attack by both nations.[150] The issue of the empire's security was a serious concern in Britain, as it was vital to the British economy.[151]

In 1919, the frustrations caused by delays to Irish home rule英语Irish Home Rule movement led the MPs of Sinn Féin, a pro-independence party that had won a majority of the Irish seats in the 1918 British general election英语1918 Irish general election, to establish an independent parliament in Dublin, at which Irish independence was declared英语Irish Declaration of Independence. The Irish Republican Army simultaneously began a guerrilla war against the British administration.[152] The Irish War of Independence ended in 1921 with a stalemate and the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, creating the Irish Free State, a Dominion within the British Empire, with effective internal independence but still constitutionally linked with the British Crown.[153] Northern Ireland, consisting of six of the 32 Irish counties which had been established as a devolved region under the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, immediately exercised its option under the treaty to retain its existing status within the United Kingdom.[154]

George V with British and Dominion prime ministers at the 1926 Imperial Conference英语1926 Imperial Conference

A similar struggle began in India when the Government of India Act 1919英语Government of India Act 1919 failed to satisfy the demand for independence.[155] Concerns over communist and foreign plots following the Ghadar conspiracy英语Ghadar conspiracy ensured that war-time strictures were renewed by the Rowlatt Acts. This led to tension,[156] particularly in the Punjab region, where repressive measures culminated in the Amritsar Massacre. In Britain, public opinion was divided over the morality of the massacre, between those who saw it as having saved India from anarchy, and those who viewed it with revulsion.[156] The non-cooperation movement was called off in March 1922 following the Chauri Chaura incident, and discontent continued to simmer for the next 25 years.[157]

In 1922, Egypt, which had been declared a British protectorate at the outbreak of the First World War, was granted formal independence英语Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence, though it continued to be a British client state until 1954. British troops remained stationed in Egypt until the signing of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty英语Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936 in 1936,[158] under which it was agreed that the troops would withdraw but continue to occupy and defend the Suez Canal zone. In return, Egypt was assisted in joining the League of Nations.[159] Iraq, a British mandate since 1920, gained membership of the League in its own right after achieving independence from Britain in 1932.[160] In Palestine, Britain was presented with the problem of mediating between the Arabs and increasing numbers of Jews. The 1917 Balfour Declaration, which had been incorporated into the terms of the mandate, stated that a national home for the Jewish people would be established in Palestine, and Jewish immigration allowed up to a limit that would be determined by the mandatory power.[161] This led to increasing conflict with the Arab population, who openly revolted in 1936英语1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. As the threat of war with Germany increased during the 1930s, Britain judged the support of Arabs as more important than the establishment of a Jewish homeland, and shifted to a pro-Arab stance, limiting Jewish immigration and in turn triggering a Jewish insurgency英语Jewish insurgency in Palestine.[141]

The right of the Dominions to set their own foreign policy, independent of Britain, was recognised at the 1923 Imperial Conference英语1923 Imperial Conference.[162] Britain's request for military assistance from the Dominions at the outbreak of the Chanak Crisis英语Chanak Crisis the previous year had been turned down by Canada and South Africa, and Canada had refused to be bound by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.[163][164] After pressure from the Irish Free State and South Africa, the 1926 Imperial Conference英语1926 Imperial Conference issued the Balfour Declaration of 1926英语Balfour Declaration of 1926, declaring the Dominions to be "autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another" within a "British Commonwealth of Nations".[165] This declaration was given legal substance under the 1931 Statute of Westminster.[134] The parliaments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and Newfoundland were now independent of British legislative control, they could nullify British laws英语Law of the United Kingdom and Britain could no longer pass laws for them without their consent.[166] Newfoundland reverted to colonial status in 1933, suffering from financial difficulties during the Great Depression.[167] In 1937 the Irish Free State introduced a republican constitution renaming itself Ireland.[168]

第二次世界大战[编辑]

During the Second World War, the Eighth Army英语Eighth Army (United Kingdom) was made up of units from many different countries in the British Empire and Commonwealth; it fought in North African and Italian campaigns.

Britain's declaration of war against Nazi Germany in September 1939 included the Crown colonies and India but did not automatically commit the Dominions of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Newfoundland and South Africa. All soon declared war on Germany. While Britain continued to regard Ireland as still within the British Commonwealth, Ireland chose to remain legally neutral英语Irish neutrality during World War II throughout the war.[169]

After the Fall of France in June 1940, Britain and the empire stood alone against Germany, until the German invasion of Greece on 7 April 1941. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill successfully lobbied President Franklin D. Roosevelt for military aid英语military aid from the United States, but Roosevelt was not yet ready to ask Congress to commit the country to war.[170] In August 1941, Churchill and Roosevelt met and signed the Atlantic Charter, which included the statement that "the rights of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they live" should be respected. This wording was ambiguous as to whether it referred to European countries invaded by Germany and Italy, or the peoples colonised by European nations, and would later be interpreted differently by the British, Americans, and nationalist movements.[171][172]

For Churchill, the entry of the United States into the war was the "greatest joy".[173] He felt that Britain was now assured of victory,[174] but failed to recognise that the "many disasters, immeasurable costs and tribulations [which he knew] lay ahead"[175] in December 1941 would have permanent consequences for the future of the empire. The manner in which British forces were rapidly defeated in the Far East irreversibly harmed Britain's standing and prestige as an imperial power,[176][177] including, particularly, the Fall of Singapore, which had previously been hailed as an impregnable fortress and the eastern equivalent of Gibraltar.[178] The realisation that Britain could not defend its entire empire pushed Australia and New Zealand, which now appeared threatened by Japanese forces, into closer ties with the United States and, ultimately, the 1951 ANZUS Pact.[171] The war weakened the empire in other ways: undermining Britain's control of politics in India, inflicting long term economic damage, and irrevocably changing geopolitics by pushing the Soviet Union and the United States to the centre of the global stage.[179]

1945–1997年:去殖民化运动与陨落[编辑]

Though Britain and the empire emerged victorious from the Second World War, the effects of the conflict were profound, both at home and abroad. Much of Europe, a continent that had dominated the world for several centuries, was in ruins, and host to the armies of the United States and the Soviet Union, who now held the balance of global power.[180] Britain was left essentially bankrupt, with insolvency only averted in 1946 after the negotiation of a $US 4.33 billion loan英语Anglo-American loan from the United States,[181] the last installment of which was repaid in 2006.[182] At the same time, anti-colonial movements were on the rise in the colonies of European nations. The situation was complicated further by the increasing Cold War rivalry of the United States and the Soviet Union. In principle, both nations were opposed to European colonialism. In practice, American anti-communism prevailed over anti-imperialism, and therefore the United States supported the continued existence of the British Empire to keep Communist expansion in check.[183] At first British politicians believed it would be possible to maintain Britain's role as a world power at the head of a re-imagined Commonwealth,[184] but by 1960 they were forced to recognise that there was an irresistible "wind of change英语Wind of Change (speech)" blowing. Their priorities changed to maintaining an extensive zone of British influence[185] and ensuring that stable, non-Communist governments were established in former colonies. In this context, while other European powers such as France and Portugal[186] waged costly and unsuccessful wars to keep their empires intact, Britain generally adopted a policy of peaceful disengagement from its colonies. In reality, this was rarely peaceable or altruistic. Between 1945 and 1965, the number of people under British rule outside the UK itself fell from 700 million to 5 million, 3 million of whom were in Hong Kong.[187]

首波脱离[编辑]

About 14.5 million people lost their homes as a result of the partition of India in 1947.

The pro-decolonisation Labour government, elected at the 1945 general election and led by Clement Attlee, moved quickly to tackle the most pressing issue facing the empire: Indian independence.[188] India's two major political parties—the Indian National Congress (led by Mahatma Gandhi) and the Muslim League (led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah)—had been campaigning for independence for decades, but disagreed as to how it should be implemented. Congress favoured a unified secular Indian state, whereas the League, fearing domination by the Hindu majority, desired a separate Islamic state for Muslim-majority regions. Increasing civil unrest英语Civil disorder and the mutiny of the Royal Indian Navy英语History of the Indian Navy during 1946 led Attlee to promise independence no later than 30 June 1948. When the urgency of the situation and risk of civil war became apparent, the newly appointed (and last) Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, hastily brought forward the date to 15 August 1947.[189] The borders drawn by the British to broadly partition India into Hindu and Muslim areas left tens of millions as minorities in the newly independent states of India and Pakistan.[190] Millions of Muslims crossed from India to Pakistan and Hindus vice versa, and violence between the two communities cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Burma, which had been administered as part of the British Raj, and Sri Lanka gained their independence the following year in 1948. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka became members of the Commonwealth, while Burma chose not to join.[191]

The British Mandate in Palestine, where an Arab majority lived alongside a Jewish minority, presented the British with a similar problem to that of India.[192] The matter was complicated by large numbers of Jewish refugees英语Jewish refugees seeking to be admitted to Palestine following the Holocaust, while Arabs were opposed to the creation of a Jewish state. Frustrated by the intractability of the problem, attacks by Jewish paramilitary organisations and the increasing cost of maintaining its military presence, Britain announced in 1947 that it would withdraw in 1948 and leave the matter to the United Nations to solve.[193] The UN General Assembly subsequently voted for a plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. It was immediately followed by the outbreak of a civil war between the Arabs and Jews of Palestine, and British forces withdrew amid the fighting. The British Mandate for Palestine officially terminated at midnight on 15 May 1948 as the State of Israel declared independence and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War broke out, during which the territory of the former Mandate was partitioned between Israel and the surrounding Arab states. Amid the fighting, British forces continued to withdraw from Israel, with the last British troops departing from Haifa on 30 June 1948.[194]

Following the surrender of Japan in the Second World War, anti-Japanese resistance movements in Malaya turned their attention towards the British, who had moved to quickly retake control of the colony, valuing it as a source of rubber and tin.[195] The fact that the guerrillas were primarily Malayan-Chinese Communists meant that the British attempt to quell the uprising was supported by the Muslim Malay majority, on the understanding that once the insurgency had been quelled, independence would be granted.[195] The Malayan Emergency, as it was called, began in 1948 and lasted until 1960, but by 1957, Britain felt confident enough to grant independence to the Federation of Malaya within the Commonwealth. In 1963, the 11 states of the federation together with Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo joined to form Malaysia, but in 1965 Chinese-majority Singapore was expelled from the union following tensions between the Malay and Chinese populations and became an independent city-state.[196] Brunei, which had been a British protectorate since 1888, declined to join the union.[197]

第二次中东战争[编辑]

Eden's decision to invade Egypt in 1956 revealed Britain's post-war weaknesses.

In 1951, the Conservative Party returned to power in Britain, under the leadership of Winston Churchill. Churchill and the Conservatives believed that Britain's position as a world power relied on the continued existence of the empire, with the base at the Suez Canal allowing Britain to maintain its pre-eminent position in the Middle East in spite of the loss of India. Churchill could not ignore Gamal Abdul Nasser's new revolutionary government of Egypt that had taken power in 1952, and the following year it was agreed that British troops would withdraw from the Suez Canal zone and that Sudan would be granted self-determination by 1955, with independence to follow.[198] Sudan was granted independence英语History of Sudan (1956–69) on 1 January 1956.[199]

In July 1956, Nasser unilaterally nationalised the Suez Canal. The response of Anthony Eden, who had succeeded Churchill as Prime Minister, was to collude with France to engineer an Israeli attack on Egypt英语Republic of Egypt (1953–58) that would give Britain and France an excuse to intervene militarily and retake the canal.[200] Eden infuriated US President Dwight D. Eisenhower by his lack of consultation, and Eisenhower refused to back the invasion.[201] Another of Eisenhower's concerns was the possibility of a wider war with the Soviet Union after it threatened to intervene on the Egyptian side. Eisenhower applied financial leverage by threatening to sell US reserves of the British pound and thereby precipitate a collapse of the British currency.[202] Though the invasion force was militarily successful in its objectives,[203] UN intervention and US pressure forced Britain into a humiliating withdrawal of its forces, and Eden resigned.[204][205]

The Suez Crisis very publicly exposed Britain's limitations to the world and confirmed Britain's decline on the world stage and its end as a first-rate power,[206][207] demonstrating that henceforth it could no longer act without at least the acquiescence, if not the full support, of the United States.[208][209][210] The events at Suez wounded British national pride, leading one Member of Parliament (MP) to describe it as "Britain's Waterloo"[211] and another to suggest that the country had become an "American satellite".[212] Margaret Thatcher later described the mindset she believed had befallen Britain's political leaders after Suez where they "went from believing that Britain could do anything to an almost neurotic belief that Britain could do nothing", from which Britain did not recover until the successful recapture of the Falkland Islands from Argentina in 1982.[213]

While the Suez Crisis caused British power in the Middle East to weaken, it did not collapse.[214] Britain again deployed its armed forces to the region, intervening in Oman英语Muscat and Oman (1957), Jordan (1958英语United Nations Security Council Resolution 127) and Kuwait英语Sheikhdom of Kuwait (1961英语Operation Vantage), though on these occasions with American approval,[215] as the new Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's foreign policy was to remain firmly aligned with the United States.[211] Although Britain granted Kuwait independence in 1961, it continued to maintain a military presence in the Middle East for another decade. On 16 January 1968, a few weeks after the devaluation of the pound, Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his Defence Secretary Denis Healey announced that British troops would be withdrawn from major military bases East of Suez英语East of Suez, which included the ones in the Middle East, and primarily from Malaysia and Singapore by the end of 1971, instead of 1975 as earlier planned.[216] By that time over 50,000 British military personnel were still stationed in the Far East, including 30,000 in Singapore.[217] The British granted independence to the Maldives in 1965 but continued to station a garrison there until 1976, withdrew from Aden in 1967, and granted independence to Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates in 1971.[218]

风云变幻[编辑]

British decolonisation in Africa. By the end of the 1960s, all but Rhodesia (the future Zimbabwe) and the South African mandate of South West Africa (Namibia) had achieved recognised independence.

Macmillan gave a speech in Cape Town, South Africa in February 1960 where he spoke of "the wind of change英语Wind of Change (speech) blowing through this continent".[219] Macmillan wished to avoid the same kind of colonial war that France was fighting in Algeria, and under his premiership decolonisation proceeded rapidly.[220] To the three colonies that had been granted independence in the 1950s—Sudan, the Gold Coast and Malaya—were added nearly ten times that number during the 1960s.[221]

Britain's remaining colonies in Africa, except for self-governing英语self-governing colony Southern Rhodesia, were all granted independence by 1968. British withdrawal from the southern and eastern parts of Africa was not a peaceful process. Kenyan independence was preceded by the eight-year Mau Mau uprising, in which tens of thousands of suspected rebels were interned by the colonial government in detention camps.[222] In Rhodesia, the 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence英语Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the white minority resulted in a civil war that lasted until the Lancaster House Agreement英语Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, which set the terms for recognised independence in 1980, as the new nation of Zimbabwe.[223]

In Cyprus, a guerrilla war waged by the Greek Cypriot organisation EOKA英语EOKA against British rule, was ended in 1959 by the London and Zürich Agreements英语London and Zürich Agreements, which resulted in Cyprus being granted independence in 1960. The UK retained the military bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia as sovereign base areas. The Mediterranean colony of Malta was amicably granted independence from the UK in 1964 and became the country of Malta, though the idea had been raised in 1955 of integration with Britain英语1956 Maltese United Kingdom integration referendum.[224]

Most of the UK's Caribbean territories achieved independence after the departure in 1961 and 1962 of Jamaica and Trinidad from the West Indies Federation, established in 1958 in an attempt to unite the British Caribbean colonies under one government, but which collapsed following the loss of its two largest members.[225] Jamaica attained independence in 1962, as did Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados achieved independence in 1966 and the remainder of the eastern Caribbean islands, including the Bahamas, in the 1970s and 1980s,[225] but Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands opted to revert to British rule after they had already started on the path to independence.[226] The British Virgin Islands,[227] The Cayman Islands and Montserrat opted to retain ties with Britain,[228] while Guyana achieved independence in 1966. Britain's last colony on the American mainland, British Honduras, became a self-governing colony in 1964 and was renamed Belize in 1973, achieving full independence in 1981. A dispute with Guatemala英语Belizean-Guatemalan territorial dispute over claims to Belize was left unresolved.[229]

British territories in the Pacific acquired independence in the 1970s beginning with Fiji in 1970 and ending with Vanuatu in 1980. Vanuatu's independence was delayed because of political conflict between English and French-speaking communities, as the islands had been jointly administered as a condominium with France.[230] Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu became Commonwealth realms.[231]

帝国终结[编辑]

By 1981, aside from a scattering of islands and outposts, the process of decolonisation that had begun after the Second World War was largely complete. In 1982, Britain's resolve in defending its remaining overseas territories was tested when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, acting on a long-standing claim that dated back to the Spanish Empire.[232] Britain's successful military response to retake the islands during the ensuing Falklands War contributed to reversing the downward trend in Britain's status as a world power.[233]

The 1980s saw Canada, Australia, and New Zealand sever their final constitutional links with Britain. Although granted legislative independence by the Statute of Westminster 1931, vestigial constitutional links had remained in place. The British Parliament retained the power to amend key Canadian constitutional statutes, meaning that effectively an act of the British Parliament was required to make certain changes to the Canadian Constitution.[234] The British Parliament had the power to pass laws extending to Canada at Canadian request. Although no longer able to pass any laws that would apply as Australian Commonwealth law, the British Parliament retained the power to legislate for the individual Australian states. With regard to New Zealand, the British Parliament retained the power to pass legislation applying to New Zealand with the New Zealand Parliament's consent. In 1982, the last legal link between Canada and Britain was severed by the Canada Act 1982英语Canada Act 1982, which was passed by the British parliament, formally patriating英语patriation the Canadian Constitution. The act ended the need for British involvement in changes to the Canadian constitution.[9] Similarly, the Australia Act 1986英语Australia Act 1986 (effective 3 March 1986) severed the constitutional link between Britain and the Australian states, while New Zealand's Constitution Act 1986英语Constitution Act 1986 (effective 1 January 1987) reformed the constitution of New Zealand to sever its constitutional link with Britain.[235]

On 1 January 1984, Brunei, Britain's last remaining Asian protectorate, was granted independence.[236] Independence had been delayed due to the opposition of the Sultan, who had preferred British protection.[237]

In September 1982 the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, travelled to Beijing to negotiate with the Chinese government, on the future of Britain's last major and most populous overseas territory, Hong Kong.[238] Under the terms of the 1842 Treaty of Nanking and 1860 Convention of Peking, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula had been respectively ceded to Britain in perpetuity, but the majority of the colony consisted of the New Territories, which had been acquired under a 99-year lease in 1898, due to expire in 1997.[239][240] Thatcher, seeing parallels with the Falkland Islands, initially wished to hold Hong Kong and proposed British administration with Chinese sovereignty, though this was rejected by China.[241] A deal was reached in 1984—under the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong would become a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China, maintaining its way of life for at least 50 years.[242] The handover ceremony in 1997 marked for many,[8] including Charles, Prince of Wales, who was in attendance, "the end of Empire".[9]

影响[编辑]

Britain retains sovereignty over 14 territories outside the British Isles. In 1983, the British Nationality Act 1981 renamed the existing Crown Colonies as "British Dependent Territories",[註 1] and in 2002 they were renamed the British Overseas Territories.[245] Most former British colonies and protectorates are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of equal members, comprising a population of around 2.2 billion people.[246] Sixteen Commonwealth realms voluntarily continue to share the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as their head of state. These sixteen nations are distinct and equal legal entities – the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.[247]

Decades, and in some cases centuries, of British rule and emigration have left their mark on the independent nations that arose from the British Empire. The empire established the use of the English language in regions around the world. Today it is the primary language of up to 460 million people and is spoken by about 1.5 billion as a first, second or foreign language.[248] Individual and team sports developed in Britain; particularly football, cricket, lawn tennis, and golf were exported.[249] British missionaries who travelled around the globe often in advance of soldiers and civil servants spread Protestantism (including Anglicanism) to all continents. The British Empire provided refuge for religiously persecuted continental Europeans for hundreds of years.[250]

Cricket being played in India. Sports developed in Britain or the former empire continue to be viewed and played.

Political boundaries drawn by the British did not always reflect homogeneous ethnicities or religions, contributing to conflicts in formerly colonised areas. The British Empire was responsible for large migrations of peoples. Millions left the British Isles, with the founding settler populations of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand coming mainly from Britain and Ireland. Tensions remain between the white settler populations of these countries and their indigenous minorities, and between white settler minorities and indigenous majorities in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Settlers in Ireland from Great Britain have left their mark in the form of divided nationalist and unionist communities in Northern Ireland. Millions of people moved to and from British colonies, with large numbers of Indians emigrating to other parts of the empire, such as Malaysia and Fiji, and Chinese people to Malaysia, Singapore and the Caribbean.[251] The demographics of Britain itself were changed after the Second World War owing to immigration to Britain英语Immigration to the United Kingdom since 1922#Post-war immigration (1945–1983) from its former colonies.[252]

In the 19th century, innovation in Britain英语List of British innovations and discoveries led to revolutionary changes in manufacturing, the development of factory system英语factory systems, and the growth of transportation by railway and steam ship.[253] British colonial architecture, such as in churches, railway stations and government buildings, can be seen in many cities that were once part of the British Empire.[254] The British choice of system of measurement, the imperial system, continues to be used in some countries in various ways. The convention of driving on the left hand side of the road has been retained in much of the former empire.[255]

The Westminster system of parliamentary democracy has served as the template for the governments for many former colonies,[256][257] and English common law for legal systems.[258] International commercial contracts are often based on English common law.[259] The British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council still serves as the highest court of appeal for twelve former colonies.[260]

注释[编辑]

  1. ^ Schedule 6 of the British Nationality Act 1981[243] reclassified the remaining Crown colonies as "British Dependent Territories". The Act entered into force on 1 January 1983[244]

参见[编辑]

脚注[编辑]

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参考文献[编辑]

外部链接[编辑]

Category:1583 establishments in the British Empire英语Category:1583 establishments in the British Empire Category:States and territories established in 1583英语Category:States and territories established in 1583 Category:Former countries in Ireland英语Category:Former countries in Ireland Category:Historical transcontinental empires英语Category:Historical transcontinental empires