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Introduction

The pith helmet, an icon of colonialism in tropical lands. This one was used during the Second French colonial empire.

Colonialism is the policy of a nation seeking to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories, generally with the aim of opening trade opportunities. The colonising country seeks to benefit from the colonised country or land mass. In the process, colonisers imposed their religion, economics, and medicinal practices on the natives. Some argue this was a positive move toward modernisation, while other scholars counter that this is an intrinsically Eurocentric rationalisation, given that modernisation is itself a concept introduced by Europeans. Colonialism is largely regarded as a relationship of domination of an indigenous majority by a minority of foreign invaders where the latter rule in pursuit of its interests.

Early records of colonisation go as far back as Phoenicians, an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550 BC to 300 BC and later the Greeks and Persians continued on this line of setting up colonies. The Romans would soon follow, setting up colonies throughout the Mediterranean, Northern Africa, and Western Asia. In the 9th century a new wave of Mediterranean colonisation had begun between competing states such as the Venetians, Genovese and Amalfians, invading the wealthy previously Byzantine or Eastern Roman islands and lands. Venice began with the conquest of Dalmatia and reached its greatest nominal extent at the conclusion of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, with the declaration of the acquisition of three octaves of the Byzantine Empire.

Later, in the 15th century some European states established their own empires during the European colonial period. The Belgian, British, Danish, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish empires established colonies across large areas. Imperial Japan, the Ottoman Empire and the United States also acquired colonies, as did imperialist China and finally in the late 19th century the German and the Italian.

Selected article

A painting by Thomas Whitcombe depicting Batavia harbour in 1806.

The Raid on Batavia of 27 November 1806 was an attempt by a large British naval force to destroy the Dutch squadron based on Java in the Dutch East Indies that posed a threat to British shipping in the Straits of Malacca. The British admiral in command of the eastern Indian Ocean, Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew, led a force of four ships of the line, two frigates and brig to the capital of Java at Batavia (later renamed Djakarta), in search of the squadron, which was reported to consist of a number of Dutch ships of the line and several smaller vessels. However the largest Dutch ships had already sailed eastwards towards Griessie over a month earlier, and Pellew only discovered the frigate Phoenix and a number of smaller warships in the bay, all of which were driven ashore by their crews rather than engage Pellew's force. The wrecks were subsequently burnt and Pellew, unaware of the whereabouts of the main Dutch squadron, returned to his base at Madras for the winter.

The raid was the third of series of actions intended to eliminate the threat posed to British trade routes by the Dutch squadron: at the Action of 26 July 1806 and the Action of 18 October 1806, British frigates sent on reconnaissance missions to the region succeeded in attacking and capturing two Dutch frigates and a number of other vessels. The raid reduced the effectiveness of Batavia as a Dutch base, but the continued presence of the main Dutch squadron at Griessie concerned Pellew and he led a second operation the following year to complete his defeat of the Dutch. Three years later, with the French driven out of the western Indian Ocean, British forces in the region were strong enough to prepare an expeditionary force against the Dutch East Indies, which effectively ended the war in the east.

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Selected biography

Queen Victoria photograph by Alexander Bassano, 1882

Queen Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was the sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837, and the first Empress of India of the British Raj from 1 May 1876, until her death. At 63 years and 7 months, her reign lasted longer than that of any other British monarch, and is the longest of any female monarch in history. Her reign is known as the Victorian era, and was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military progress within the United Kingdom.

Victoria was of mostly German descent; she was the daughter of the fourth son of George III, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn. Both the Duke of Kent and George III died a year after her birth, and she inherited the throne at the age of 18 after her father's three elder brothers died without surviving legitimate issue. She ascended the throne when the United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the king or queen held relatively few direct political powers and exercised influence by the prime minister's advice; but she became the iconic symbol of the nation and empire. She had strict standards of personal morality. Her reign was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire, which reached its zenith and became the foremost global power. Her 9 children and 42 grandchildren married into royal families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the nickname "the grandmother of Europe". She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover; her son King Edward VII belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

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Selected images

Colonialism's rise and fall over the past 500 years.

Colonisation2.gif

This map shows Colonization's rise and fall over the past 500 years.

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