Empire

Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay, 1770, by E. Phillips Fox, 1902. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Gilbee Bequest, 1902.

The concept of terra nullius has long been at the heart of explanations of why the British did not treat with Aboriginal people following Cook’s arrival in Australia. But should it be?

Mahomed’s Baths on Brighton seafront, c.1820 © Hulton Getty Images.

Shampooing was brought to Britain by a Bengali immigrant who knew his craft – and how to sell it.

Ben Jones

What did it mean to be black and British in the Caribbean in the 20th century?

 Field Marshal Sir Jeffery Amherst, by Joshua Reynolds, 1765 © Bridgeman Images.

Three lives from Britain’s 18th-century global empire speak of collaboration, resistance and ambivalence.

iIlustrations from Fashions and Customs of Marie Antoinette and her Times, by Gustave de Reiset, 1885 © Bridgeman Images.

In the 18th century, celebrity culture helped make the British Empire seem both a part of everyday life and a place of fantasy.

Caravel from 'Atlas of Lázaro Luis (detail), 1563. Bridgeman Images.

The first ‘New World’ reached by Europeans was not in the Americas, but in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where previously uninhabited islands were transformed forever.

Three Indian men on a verandah pulling punkha strings, c.1900 © Royal Society for Asian Affairs, London/Bridgeman Images

Sweltering British imperialists relied on an army of fan bearers, whose stories are as invisible as the air they circulated.

The Course of Empire: Destruction by Thomas Cole

Empires have been part of human history for millennia. Are they, of necessity, a bad thing?

Mosaic from Hagia Sofia depicting Constantine I with a representation of the city of Constantinople

Though the beginnings of the Byzantine Empire are unclear, its demise is not. The history of the Eastern Roman Empire, from its foundation in 324 to its conquest in 1453, is one of war, plague, architectural triumphs and fear of God's wrath.

‘Grover Cleveland Taming the British Lion’, Joseph Keppler, Puck, 1888.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 16 empires of varying size and reach. At the end of the century, there was just one: the United States. How did this happen and what role did Britain play in smoothing America’s path to global hegemony?