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Parliament and Empire

Learn about the role of Parliament in the growth of the British Empire, from the American Revolution to decolonisation

The British Empire was founded haphazardly, through trade, war and treaty. For 400 years Parliament responded to these imperial developments mainly through passing new laws, setting up commissions, and holding enquiries.

This extended the reach of Parliament far beyond the British Isles, affecting the lives of millions across the globe.  In so doing it shaped the modern world in a way that still has repercussions today.

Parliament and Empire 1660-1815
Image of UK Parliament portcullis

See at a glance how Parliament was involved in America and India in the late 18th century

Parliament and the American Colonies before 1765
Image of UK Parliament portcullis

Parliament and the American Colonies before 1765: When did Parliament first start taking an interest in the American colonies? And what were its main concerns?

Parliament and Empire 1815-1970
Image of UK Parliament portcullis

Trace the rapid growth of the British Empire in the 19th century, and decolonisation in the 20th century