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    The British Empire was economically, technologically , militarily  Superior to other European nations.  Technological advances contributed to a more cohesive society that helped to keep the British economy from collapsing during  times of economic change.  The 19th century was well endowed with the “tools of empire”such as the steamship, telegraphs and railroads.  These advancements, along with developments in medicine, allowed the British empire to expand into “dark contents”.   

    While power was carried out through a complex network from London, Parliament was not all very involved with  the day-to-day running of the Empire. The task of the workaday business was carried out by district offices in lower levels of the government.  The British government only tried to unite the empire during times of war.  During these  times the government would impose control over the  empire. When this was attempted during times of peace, pit showed the weakness in the cohesion of the British Empire.  There was never a single method of control or governance in the entire empire.  Despite this fact, management of the empire had an impact on every aspect of the British government.




    There were four main types of colonies, each governed in a a different method.  First there were the dominions which were colonies in the early 20th century.  There were also crown colonies who were under the direct rule of the British crown.  They were not ruled by representative bodies, but under the power of the monarch through a royal governor.  Direct rule eventually led to more resistance in the colonies so the British mostly left the people to own devices or “Salutary Neglect.” The British then resolved that they would only become involved in a conflict if it was to secure a frontier, defend a trade  route, or new revenue.

                                                     The British Army polo team in India

    Another type of colony was the protectorate.  In theory the British did not possess sovereignty in protectorates, the native monarchs retained sovereignty while placing themselves under the protection of the crown.  Practically, this gave the British a large measure of control in these territories.  After World War I mandates were also given to Britain.  These mandates, most of which had been part of the now dead Ottoman and German Empires, were theoretically given to Britain for protection and nurturement as they moved towards self governance.  Again, in practice this gave Britain new territory in which they had a large amount of influence and control.




    In India, the British officials living in the area directly administered the provinces. However, in the Princely States, which were governed by Indian rulers who swore allegiance to the crown, there was still a good deal of internal autonomy. In 1935, after years of varying governments in each province, unification prevailed and colonial services began to align themselves with each other. 














Stockwell, A. J. "Power, Authority, and Freedom." In The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, edited     by P. J. Marshall, 147-84. Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press, 1996.