Critically Compare the British Rule in India to the French One in Algeria.

Topics: British Empire, French colonial empire, Colonialism Pages: 5 (1755 words) Published: January 19, 2013
Critically Compare the British Rule in India to the French one in Algeria. Throughout the nineteenth century, the rivalling countries of Britain and France were both looking to expand into different continents and build a successful empire. There are many reasons for this thirst for expansion, including economic growth and territorial gains. According to Gildea the emergence of non-European countries such as United States and Japan as great powers fuelled the nationalistic appetite for the extension of borders and influence. The British rule in India; later coined the ‘British Raj’, began in 1858 and although coming under much strain in periods throughout, lasted until 1947 when they were finally given their independence. The French rule in Algeria spanned from 1830 to 1962 following the conclusion of the Algerian War and the signing of the Evian agreements. It is clear when examining both the rules of Great Britain in India and France in Algeria that there were significant differences in the ways the two countries were ran. The French used military might to control the population and quell any uprisings; one instigator of such revolts was Abd al-Kader. These heavy handed tactics seemed to be less successful when compared to how the British reacted to Indian violence. Great Britain decided to grant concessions when faced by fierce opposition limiting the amount turmoil and essentially making it easier to diplomatically push western ideas upon them. France’s colonisation of Algeria was not the first time that they had tried to expand their borders and compete on a world stage with the other world powers, infact before looking to Africa France had the second largest empire in the world, second only to Great Britain. In 1605 France had secured a territory in what is now Nova Scotia in Canada. Throughout the 17th century they had been highly successful in adding much of the North American continent, also the West Indies. However after a string of conflicts such the ‘Seven Years War (1756-1763)’ and the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) the other world powers had been successful in annexing these territories from France. The end of what has been labelled the ‘First French Empire’ was now coming to an end. In 1830 during a meeting between the French ambassador and the Algerian Dey regarding loans and trade the Dey struck the French ambassador with a fly whip. This act is said to be the final trigger cause which lead to the French occupation. However it is a wider known fact that there was a distinct lack of political support for the new monarchy and this act of war would help stir up national pride and increase confidence. Whilst appearing on the front of it a petty reason for declaring war on a country and occupying it for 132 years, there are other motives behind the bold political decision to initiate a ‘Second French Empire’. Algeria was seen to be of high strategic significance as it offered a springboard into the rest of Africa, including such nations as Tunisia, Libya and Niger. Gildea agrees with this argument noting “Algeria, which it [France] occupied in 1830, was the cornerstone of her Mediterranean and African ambitions”. Therefore, by occupying Algeria and furthermore Congo and Niger in 1880 they had secured themselves once more as a successful Empire capable of competing in the world stage. In 1869 the Suez Canal was officially opened for traffic, this narrow strip of water dissecting what is now Saudi Arabia on one side and Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, offered a significantly faster shipping route into the East. It also eradicated the need for trading ships to visit the perilous coastline of Cape Horn in South Africa where piracy was rife. This vital water passage was also utilised by the British in order to transport good to India. The East India Trading Company was founded in 1600 with the purpose of travelling to Asia in search of previously unsourced trading links. They operated under the authority of...
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