Topic: British Empire

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Anglo-Zanzibar War

Military history Africa United Kingdom Military history/African military history Africa/Tanzania British Empire Military history/European military history Military history/British military history

The Anglo-Zanzibar War was a military conflict fought between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate on 27 August 1896. The conflict lasted between 38 and 45 minutes, marking it as the shortest recorded war in history. The immediate cause of the war was the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini on 25 August 1896 and the subsequent succession of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash. The British authorities preferred Hamud bin Muhammed, who was more favourable to British interests, as sultan. In accordance with a treaty signed in 1886, a condition for accession to the sultanate was that the candidate obtain the permission of the British consul, and Khalid had not fulfilled this requirement. The British considered this a casus belli and sent an ultimatum to Khalid demanding that he order his forces to stand down and leave the palace. In response, Khalid called up his palace guard and barricaded himself inside the palace.

The ultimatum expired at 09:00 East Africa Time (EAT) on 27 August, by which time the British had gathered three cruisers, two gunboats, 150 marines and sailors, and 900 Zanzibaris in the harbour area. The Royal Navy contingent were under the command of Rear-Admiral Harry Rawson and the pro-Anglo Zanzibaris were commanded by Brigadier-General Lloyd Mathews of the Zanzibar army (who was also the First Minister of Zanzibar). Around 2,800 Zanzibaris defended the palace; most were recruited from the civilian population, but they also included the sultan's palace guard and several hundred of his servants and slaves. The defenders had several artillery pieces and machine guns, which were set in front of the palace sighted at the British ships. A bombardment, opened at 09:02, set the palace on fire and disabled the defending artillery. A small naval action took place, with the British sinking the Zanzibari royal yacht HHS Glasgow and two smaller vessels. Some shots were also fired ineffectually at the pro-British Zanzibari troops as they approached the palace. The flag at the palace was shot down and fire ceased at 09:40.

The sultan's forces sustained roughly 500 casualties, while only one British sailor was injured. Sultan Khalid received asylum in the German consulate before escaping to German East Africa (in the mainland part of present Tanzania). The British quickly placed Sultan Hamud in power at the head of a puppet government. The war marked the end of the Zanzibar Sultanate as a sovereign state and the start of a period of heavy British influence.

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Imperial Airship Scheme

Aviation Aviation/aircraft project United Kingdom British Empire Aviation/Defunct Airlines

The British Imperial Airship Scheme was a 1920s project to improve communication between Britain and the distant countries of the British Empire by establishing air routes using airships. This led to the construction of two large and technically advanced airships, the R100 and the R101. The scheme was terminated in 1931 following the crash of R101 in October 1930 while attempting its first flight to India.

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Scramble for Africa

International relations History Military history Africa Europe Military history/African military history British Empire Military history/World War II Colonialism Countering systemic bias

The Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa or the Conquest of Africa, was the invasion, occupation, division, and colonisation of African territory by European powers during a short period known to historians as the New Imperialism (between 1881 and 1914). In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under formal European control; by 1914 this had increased to almost 90 percent of the continent, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia), the Dervish state (a portion of present-day Somalia) and Liberia still being independent. There were multiple motivations for European colonizers, including desire for valuable resources available throughout the continent, the quest for national prestige, tensions between pairs of European powers, religious missionary zeal and internal African native politics.

The Berlin Conference of 1884, which regulated European colonisation and trade in Africa, is usually referred to as the ultimate point of the Scramble for Africa. Consequent to the political and economic rivalries among the European empires in the last quarter of the 19th century, the partitioning, or splitting up of Africa was how the Europeans avoided warring amongst themselves over Africa. The later years of the 19th century saw the transition from "informal imperialism" by military influence and economic dominance, to direct rule, bringing about colonial imperialism.

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Strauss–Howe Generational Theory

United States History Philosophy Philosophy/Social and political philosophy British Empire Sociology United States History United States/U.S. history

The Strauss–Howe generational theory, also known as the Fourth Turning theory or simply the Fourth Turning, which was created by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, describes a theorized recurring generation cycle in American history. According to the theory, historical events are associated with recurring generational personas (archetypes). Each generational persona unleashes a new era (called a turning) lasting around 20–22 years, in which a new social, political, and economic climate exists. They are part of a larger cyclical "saeculum" (a long human life, which usually spans between 80 and 90 years, although some saecula have lasted longer). The theory states that after every saeculum, a crisis recurs in American history, which is followed by a recovery (high). During this recovery, institutions and communitarian values are strong. Ultimately, succeeding generational archetypes attack and weaken institutions in the name of autonomy and individualism, which ultimately creates a tumultuous political environment that ripens conditions for another crisis.

Strauss and Howe laid the groundwork for their theory in their 1991 book Generations, which discusses the history of the United States as a series of generational biographies going back to 1584. In their 1997 book The Fourth Turning, the authors expanded the theory to focus on a fourfold cycle of generational types and recurring mood eras to describe the history of the United States, including the Thirteen Colonies and their British antecedents. However, the authors have also examined generational trends elsewhere in the world and described similar cycles in several developed countries.

Academic response to the theory has been mixed—some applauding Strauss and Howe for their "bold and imaginative thesis" and others criticizing the theory as being overly-deterministic, non-falsifiable, and unsupported by rigorous evidence, "about as scientific as astrology or a Nostradamus text." Strauss–Howe generational theory has also been described by some historians and journalists as a "pseudoscience" "kooky", and "an elaborate historical horoscope that will never withstand scholarly scrutiny."

Academic criticism has focused on the lack of rigorous empirical evidence for their claims, and the authors' view that generational groupings are far more powerful than other social groupings such as economic class, race, sex, religion and political parties.

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Operation Legacy

International relations Military history British Empire Military history/Cold War Military history/European military history Military history/British military history Commonwealth

Operation Legacy was a British Colonial Office (later Foreign Office) programme to destroy or hide files, to prevent them being inherited by its ex-colonies. It ran from the 1950s until the 1970s, when the decolonisation of the British Empire was at its height.

MI5 or Special Branch agents vetted all secret documents in the colonial administrations to find those that those that could embarrass the British government—for instance by showing racial or religious bias. They identified 8,800 files to conceal from at least 23 countries and territories in the 1950s and 1960s, and destroyed them or sent them to the United Kingdom. Precise instructions were given for methods to be used for destruction, including burning and dumping at sea. Some of the files detailed torture methods used against opponents of the colonial administrations, such as during the Mau Mau Uprising.

As decolonisation progressed, British officials were keen to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment that had been caused by the overt burning of documents that took place in New Delhi in 1947, which had been covered by Indian news sources. On 3 May 1961, Iain Macleod, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote a telegram to all British embassies to advise them on the best way to retrieve and dispose of sensitive documents. To prevent post-colonial governments from ever learning about Operation Legacy, officials were required to dispatch "destruction certificates" to London. In some cases, as the handover date approached, the immolation task proved so huge that colonial administrators warned the Foreign Office that there was a danger of "celebrating Independence Day with smoke."

Academic study of the end of the British Empire has been assisted in recent years by the declassification of the migrated archives in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 141 series. After the UK government admitted in 2011 that it had secret documents related to the Mau Mau Uprising, it began to declassify documents and by November 2013 some 20,000 files had been declassified. These documents can now be accessed at the National Archives in Kew, London.