The British Empire: Introduction (01:23)
During the 18th century, European powers explored the seas and British discoveries laid the foundation for its empire. This episode examines the rise and fall of the British Empire.
Sugar Mill, Barbados: 1705 (04:40)
The roots of British power lie in the Caribbean sugar colonies where West-African slaves harvested sugar cane. Crop time required an intense work pace and mill work was dangerous. By 1764, Barbados had over 260 windmills.
Rodney's Fort, St. Lucia: 1778 (01:36)
European powers competed to dominate the sugar and slave trades. British North American colonies provided critical support for sugar production in the Caribbean.
The City, London; 1565 (03:52)
West Indies sugar plantations were a source of wealth for some British citizens. The East India Company, vital to empirical growth, arrived in India at the height of Mughal power. Catherine of Braganza's dowry gave Britain control of Mumbai.
Kew Gardens, London: 1759 (03:25)
The gardens were a part of exploration and discovery; explorers and botanists redistributed the world's crops. Sir Joseph Banks had a vision of a self-sustaining empire. Britain became a global superpower.
HMS Victory, Portsmouth: 1755 (02:03)
Britain became the dominate power in the 19th century. Lord Nelson's ship had 104 guns and a black and ocher color scheme. Nelson died aboard ship during battle.
Apsley House, London: 1771-1778 (04:58)
The Duke of Wellington took all responsibility and never lost a battle. His home was a gift from the British nation; he died in 1852. British ships continued exploration and politicians established penal colonies in Australia.
Port Arthur, Tasmania: 1833-1853 (03:57)
All empires rely on some type of forced labor. The British colonial prison system experimented with new forms of punishment and housed the most hardened criminals. Britain developed mechanized processes to compete with cloth imports.
Albert Hall, London: 1871 (05:20)
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert viewed themselves as global imperial sovereigns. Albert was involved in many public causes, including the Great Exhibition and South Kensington. The hall opened in 1871.
Victoria Station, Mumbai: 1878-1888 (03:24)
The Heritage Mile showcased the British architecture of Colonial Bombay. The station, constructed in the High Victorian Gothic style, represented a peaceful coexistence; railways were more than just avenues of trade.
The Residency, Lucknow: 1780-1800 (03:39)
Traders of the East India Company built the complex in 1667. Indian soldiers seized it after several grievances; 250 people died. In other areas, the British Empire flourished.
Raffles Hotel, Singapore: 1887 (02:29)
Hotels were communication hubs and business centers for British politicians, businessmen, and adventurers; locals created rival hotels for the indigenous elite. The Sarkies brothers treated guests to unique comforts.
Viceroy's Palace, New Delhi: 1912-1929 (03:46)
Edwin Lutyens designed the building in a classical style with Hindu and Muslim elements. Rashtrapati Bhavan became the official home of India's president. The British Empire in India was unstable and the country eventually gained independence.
Imperial Hotel, New Delhi: 1931 (03:18)
Mahatma Gandhi revived the art of spinning and weaving, and pushed for Indian independence; he was assassinated in 1948. Statesmen and politicians gathered at the hotel to discuss the transfer of power.
British Raj (03:16)
Gandhi's memorial was established in New Delhi. British rule in India ended in 1947. The British Empire overestimated its power and eventually collapsed.
Credits: The British Empire (00:40)
Credits: The British Empire
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