Eighteenth-century Britain and its Empire


By P.J. Marshall, published 1st December 2000

The concept of an ‘English’ or even of a ‘British’ empire has been in use at least from the sixteenth century. What the term then conveyed was of course very different from what it was to convey in modern times. By the mid-eighteenth century, however, contemporaries were beginning to envisage empire in the way that it was to be envisaged by the Victorians or in the twentieth century. Empire for late eighteenth century opinion, as for later generations of British people, meant British rule exercised over a great extent of territory and a very wide variety of peoples all over the globe.

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