Pax Britannica  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Pax Britannica (Latin for "the British Peace", modelled after Pax Romana) refers to a period of British imperialism after the 1815 battle of Waterloo, which led to a period of overseas British expansionism. The term is derived from, during this period, the relative peace in Europe and the British Empire controlling most key naval trade routes and enjoying unchallenged sea power. Britain dominated overseas markets and managed to influence and almost dominate Chinese markets after the Opium Wars.

The Empire's strength was guaranteed by dominance of a Europe lacking in strong nation states, and the presence of the Royal Navy on all of the world's oceans and seas. In 1905, the Royal Navy was superior in strength to the next two largest navies combined (known as the 'two power rule'). It provided services such as suppression of piracy and slavery. Britain also went beyond the seas and developed and funded a universal mail system.

This led to the spread of the English language, parliamentary democracy, technology, the British Imperial system of measures, and rules for commodity markets based on English common law.

The Pax Britannica was weakened by the breakdown of the continental order established by the Congress of Vienna and the consequent establishment of new nation-states in Italy and Germany after the Franco-Prussian War. The industrialization of Germany and the United States further contributed to the decline of British industrial supremacy following the 1870s. The First World War seriously dented Britain's global position, and arguably ended the Pax Britannica, but the Second World War can be said to have brought this period to a close.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pax Britannica" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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