decolonization of the British empire

Essay by Edavie200College, UndergraduateA, November 2014

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3. Decolonisation

Analysing 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...