The British Empire from Waterloo to the Boer War
Pax Britannica ("the British Peace”) was the period of relative peace in Europe when the British Empire controlled most of the key naval trade routes and enjoyed unchallenged sea power. It refers to a period of British imperialism after the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, which led to a period ofoverseas British expansionism. Britain dominated overseas markets and managed to influence and almost dominate Chinese markets after the Opium Wars.
The Empire's strength was guaranteed by dominance of a Europe lacking in strong nation states, and the presence of the Royal Navy on all of the world's oceans and seas.
This led to the spread of the English language, the British Imperial systemof measures, and rules for commodity markets based on English common law.
The Pax Britannica was weakened by the breakdown of the continental order which had been established by the Congress of Vienna. Relations between the Great Powers of Europe were strained to breaking point by issues such as the decline of the Ottoman Empire, which lead to the Crimean War, and later the emergence of new nationstates in the form of Italy and Germany after the Franco-Prussian War. Both of these two wars involved Europe's largest states and armies. The industrialisation of Germany, the Empire of Japan, and the United States of America further contributed to the decline of British industrial supremacy following the 1870s.
The Congress system 1815-46
The Congress System
The Congress System was anattempt to maintain peace and order through the combined influence and actions of the major states. Some historians believe that the term 'System' is inaccurate because there was nothing systematic about the meetings and that they were individual responses to crises. Others see the congresses as a significant attempt to resolve tensions.
Austria, Britain, Prussia and Russia formed the QuadrupleAlliance and agreed to maintain peace (the Concert of Europe). But the major powers had different aims. Austria and Russia favoured intervention against revolutions; Britain did not wish to intervene in internal disputes.
‘Balance of power’ as a concept
Distribution of power in which no single nation is able to dominate or interfere with others. In international relations, an equilibrium of powersufficient to discourage or prevent one nation or party from imposing its will on or interfering with the interests of another. The term came into use at the end of the Napoleonic Wars to denote the power relationships in the European state system. Until World War I, Britain played the role of balancer in a number of shifting alliances.
Emergence of Germany as a country and an industrial power(Bismarck)
Britain’s relationship with ‘the bear’ (Russia)
The two countries fought each other during the Anglo-Russian War (1807-1812), after which Britain and Russia became allies against Napoleon in the Napoleonic Wars.
The Eastern Question and the fate of the Ottoman Empire became of interest to both countries, and they both intervened in the Greek War of Independence (1821—1829), eventuallyforcing the London peace treaty on the belligerents.
The issues surrounding the Ottomans were not resolved, however, and lead to the Crimean War (1853—1856) fought by Britain, France, and the Ottomans against Russia.
Rivalry between Britain and Russia developed over Central Asia in the Great Game of the late nineteenth century, as Russia desired warm-water ports on the Indian Ocean while Britainwanted to prevent Russian troops from gaining a potential invasion route to India. The Pandjeh Incident caused a war scare in 1885. There was cooperation in Asia, however, as the two countries intervened in China during the Boxer Rebellion (1899—1901).
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of semi-autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty,...