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The Rise and Fall of The British Empire Britain began to become an empire as early as the seventeenth century and it lasted until the mid nineteenth century The Empire survived many obstacles and rulers Some rulers however strengthened the Empire and Britain in general During the seventeenth century Britain fought several very successful wars against the Dutch French and Spanish As Kelley Ross claims in her article The Worlds Greatest Empires these campaigns left Britain with much of the eastern coast of North America the St Lawrence Basin in Canada parts of Africa for slave acquisition areas of the Caribbean and political interests in India 24 At this point the British Empire had begun formation The Empire lasted through many rulers gathering more colonies and power with the passage of time However no ruler controlled and caused as much growth in the vast empire as Queen Victoria The British Empire was formed with mercantilist ideas headed by Cromwell and the Stuarts however the empire was at its peak during the reign of Queen Victoria But because of twentieth century superpowers like Germany and the USSR as well as uprisings in attempts at independence by many of Britains colonies the Empire fell in the mid twentieth century The growth of the British Empire was due in large part to the ongoing competition for resources and markets which existed over a period of centuries between England and her Continental rivals Spain France and Holland Sears 23 Englands first empire was a mercantilist one led by both Cromwell and the Stuarts They outlined ideas for the further colonization of Europe and their mercantilist views held true until the late eighteenth century As RA Huttenback author of The British Imperial Experience writes the first British Empire came to an end after the American Revolution However the purpose and policies of the Empire stayed the same 26-27 They were to gain as much foreign territory as possible
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