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Decolonization Of The British Empire Essay

1888 words - 8 pages

3. DecolonisationAnalysing all the sources, discuss what was the most important factor in Britain's imperial decline?Decolonisation is the process in which a colony becomes independent or when they are granted independence. Arguably, the British imperial decline began in 1918, just after World War 1 came to a close and continued up until as recently as 1980, when Zimbabwe was released. What is so unusual about British decolonisation is that no empire has emerged to replace the one that fell. This essay will look at the process of decolonisation and analyse the contributing factors in the British imperial decline. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there would be no sense of decolonisation; there was no sense or discussion that the process was underway. Historians argue over the causes for this, Boyce argues that the loss of her empire was inevitable, that every great civilisation must fall. Louis argues that it was the rise of the US and the USSR as superpowers, whereas others argue it was the loss of Ireland and later India, which caused the rest of the empire to fall apart. Also, there was the argument that the empire was simply too expensive to sustain, and therefore Britain was cutting her losses by letting the empire go.From a British stand point, it was seen that "Ireland was too great to be unconnected with us, and too near us to be dependent on a foreign state, and too little to be independent." By 1916, Europe was engaged in a war that no one could have predicted the scale of, and the National Services Act which was threatening conscription was soon to be in place. In the same year, the first step towards Irish independence was with the Easter Rising. On April 24, a group of Irish nationalists called the Irish Republican Brotherhood staged a rebellion against the British government in Ireland and soon after, the leaders of the rebellion were killed in a two week period and soon after they were held as martyrs. To the more extreme right, there was no such thing as genuine politics in Ireland, only "flagrant disloyalty." In 1921, a ceasefire was called and a treaty was put in place that declared Ireland a self-governing nation of the British Commonwealth. Source 2 depicts a man doing the splits between a Republic and Dominion privileges. After Ireland was declared as an independent nation, many historians argued whether she was in fact a Republic in her own right or if she was a nation with dominion privileges. The source indicates that the British thought that giving Ireland Independence was not going to be an easy task. As well as Ireland, India was one of the first to establish independence movement within the empire. One of the biggest factors, in imperial decline, was the subsequent loss of India. Within the British Empire, India was seen as the crown jewel. According to Churchill, the possession of India made the difference from being first world power or a third. She was important in empire security - India provided men for...

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