Imperial-Possessions

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  • Europe June 1812

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    On the eve of his invasion of Russia, Napoleon was notionally at the height of his power, presiding over an empire of 130 departements and 70 million people, but ominous cracks were already appearing in his imperium. From 1811, France experienced a prolonged economic crisis exacerbated by Britain’s economic blockade,... More
  • Imperial Ambitions c. 1800

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    At the battle of Minorca (1756), the British Admiral John Byng’s excessive caution led to the loss of the island to the French. But his subsequent court-martial and execution – as Voltaire put it, ironically, ‘pour encourager les autres’ – was draconian. Duly encouraged, the surviving British admirals reeled off... More
  • The Angevin Empire 1150–1214

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    For the Angevin Empire inheritance and marriage were the primary means of acquiring territory. Before becoming king of England, Henry II (r. 1154–89) acquired Normandy through his mother and Brittany through his father. Marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine (1152) brought the duchy of Aquitaine, as well as Poitou, Gascony and... More
  • The British Empire in 1800

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    By 1800, the British had yet to achieve an empire on which ‘the sun never sets’, but British possessions were scattered across the globe. During the Napoleonic Wars, British naval supremacy enabled it to annex overseas territories from France, and by extension, its confederate, the Dutch. The strategic Cape of... More
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