“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do,

She gave them some broth without any bread;

And whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed”.


Turn a map of Great Britain 90 degrees and it looks like a SHOE ! 

This nursery rhyme recorded in 1794 is about English politics. England in the 1700’s was very much like, ‘an old woman’ and all her children representing the English Colonies, at that time, ‘there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn’t know what to do”.

Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, with all England’s colonies and trading posts, she was the largest empire, in the history of the world. For over 100 years she held global power.

By 1913 the British Empire had control over 412 million people, (23% of the world’s population), at that time. She covered 13,700,000 sq, miles, (24% of the total of the world’s land terrain).

It was said ‘ The British Empire is a place where the sun never sets’ because somewhere amongst all her people, at any one given minute, the sun shone brightly. After the Napoleonic Wars, Britain’s naval force added to this feat by being ‘unchallenged at sea’.

This was known as ‘Britain’s First Empire’.

Did she get greedy ? Or was it just the cost of holding on to such a vast enterprise. During the mid 1700’s, after decades of sitting on their laurels, the British Parliament decided to tax their American colonies without their consent ‘she gave them some broth without any bread’. “No taxation without Representation”, became the cry.

The British Whig Party (who had control over the Government) took no heed ‘she whipped them all soundly and put them to bed’. This led to the American Revolution and when it was over, the British loyalists fled north to Canada and the thirteen American British colonies were lost.

Britain turned her attention to Asia to establish her keen interests there and further her trading possibilities. This worked until Japan, seeing Britain’s dominance there, stepped in to quell the tide, at the beginning of the First World War.

This was now recognized as ‘Britain’s Second Empire’.






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