Paxman on Empire

Short Videos on Empire and Slavery

Six Notable Individuals of the Empire

Here is a great account of Robert Clive, old Salopian (i.e. he was an alumnus of Shropshire School) who fought and won the decisive battle of Plassey, defeating 68,000 with an army of just 3,000:
BBC Shropshire on Robert Clive

Mary Kingsley is chiefly remembered for her explorations of Africa and educating British people about Africa but she is celebrated for her challenge to British imperialism and in particular to the church of England and their missionaries. Read more here

James Wolfe – Britain’s Greatest General – fought and defeated the French at Quebec on 13th September 1759, helping to unify Canada and the American colonies under the British crown. Find out more here.

Mungo Park was a Scottish explorer and expeditionary who discovered the Niger river. His exploits can be discovered at Spartacus history.

David Livingstone was a Scottish missionary and one of the greatest European explorers of Africa, whose opening up the interior of the continent contributed to the ‘Scramble for Africa’. Livingstone was a devout Christian who believed his duties were to take Christianity to the natives of Africa and to free them from slavery. His expeditions to Africa made him a national here. In 1849 and 1851, he travelled across the Kalahari, on the second trip sighting the upper Zambezi River. In 1852, he began a four year expedition to find a route from the upper Zambezi to the coast. This filled huge gaps in western knowledge of central and southern Africa. In 1855, Livingstone discovered a spectacular waterfall which he named ‘Victoria Falls’. He reached the mouth of the Zambezi on the Indian Ocean in May 1856, becoming the first European to cross the width of southern Africa. He went missing in 1871, during his final expedition to Africa until he was tracked down by journalist and explorer, Henry Stanely who, upon finding him, greeted him with the immortal words ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?’ He died two years later, in 1873.

General Gordon made his military reputation in China, where he was placed in command of the “Ever Victorious Army,” a force of Chinese soldiers led by European officers. In the early 1860s, Gordon and his men were instrumental in putting down the Taiping Rebellion, regularly defeating much larger forces. For these accomplishments, he was given the nickname “Chinese Gordon” and honours from both the Emperor of China and the British. He entered the service of the Khedive of Egypt in 1873 (with British government approval) and later became the Governor-General of the Sudan, where he did much to suppress revolts and the slave trade. Exhausted, he resigned and returned to Europe in 1880. A serious revolt then broke out in the Sudan, led by a Muslim religious leader and self-proclaimed Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad. In early 1884 Gordon had been sent to Khartoum with instructions to secure the evacuation of loyal soldiers and civilians and to depart with them. However, after evacuating about 2,500 British civilians, in defiance of those instructions, he retained a smaller group of soldiers and non-military men. In the buildup to battle, the two leaders corresponded, each attempting to convert the other to his faith, but neither would accede. Besieged by the Mahdi’s forces, Gordon organised a citywide defence lasting almost a year that gained him the admiration of the British public, but not of the government, which had wished him not to become entrenched. Only when public pressure to act had become irresistible did the government, with reluctance, send a relief force. It arrived two days after the city had fallen and Gordon had been killed.

And, for Mr T’s class…

Ranji, an Indian prince, was probably one of the finest batsmen of all time, not only in terms of runs scored but also because he brought new strokes to the game. His keen eye, unorthodoxy and speed of reaction meant that introduced the late cut and leg glance, as well as the art of back-foot defence. He arrived at Cambridge in 1891 (where he acquired the nickname “Smith”) never having played an organised game and won a Blue in his final summer. After serving his qualification, he marked his debut for Sussex at Lord’s in May 1895 with 77 and 150 against MCC. On his Test debut against Australia, at Old Trafford in 1896, he scored 62 and 154 not out. From 1895 he exceeded 1000 runs in 10 successive seasons, passing 3000 in 1899 and 1900. He was as prolific overseas, scoring 1157 runs at 60.89 on his one trip to Australia in 1897-98. In that Golden Age his name was synonymous with Sussex and his close friend, CB Fry. He led the county for five years (1899-1903) but at the end of 1904 he returned to India to deal with increasing domestic responsibilities, and played only two more complete summers (1908 and 1912), again passing 1000 runs each time. He last, and ill-advised – hurrah came in 1920 when he turned out three times for Sussex. But he was almost 48, overweight, and cruelly had lost an eye in a shooting accident. His 39 runs at 9.75 were a sad finale. Away from cricket, Ranji had become Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar in March 1907, and was by all accounts a popular and benevolent ruler. His work with the Chamber of Princes and in the League of Nations after the Great War was also vital. “When Ranji passed out of cricket,” wrote Sir Neville Cardus, “a wonder and a glory departed from the game forever.” In 1897 Ranji produced what is generally considered to be one of cricket’s classic works, The Jubilee Book of Cricket. His nephew, KS Duleepsinhji, also played for England.

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