Why did the British Empire come to an end?

Even at the peak of Britain’s imperial might, which many historians place around the mid to late nineteenth century, the whole thing was run with a skeleton crew. Sudan, nearly one million square miles in size, was only administered by little over one hundred colonial administrators at any one time. Of course, these administrators were aided by the hard power of soldiers and policemen and, some have argued, the soft power of missionaries and teachers. Also Britain was the strongest economic force in the world in the nineteenth century. Nevertheless we have to consider the sheer size of the empire. The British couldn’t police everywhere intensively all of the time. At its geographical height, just after the First World War, the empire strecthed across one quarter of the world’s land mass. So the empire could be vulnerable.

Dr Christopher Prior

In a podcast for the History Hub.ie podcast series, Dr Christopher Prior (University of Southampton) explores why the British Empire came to an end. He also explores the associated question of why the British Empire didn’t come to an end earlier.

Why did the British Empire come to an end?

To subscribe to the History Hub.ie podcast series just follow the links below (iTunes/RSS).

Image: Detail from 1886 map of the world. Walter Crane [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons