Pax Britannica (Latin for "the British Peace", modeled after "Pax Romana") refers to a period of British imperialism after the Battle of Waterloo and the War of 1812, which led to a period of overseas British expansionism. The term is derived from, during this period, Europe being relatively peaceful and the British Empire controlling most key naval trade routes and enjoying unchallenged sea power. Britain dominated overseas markets and favored a strategy of informal colonialism: controlling markets like China's without direct formal colonial administration.
This led to the spread of the English language, the British Imperial system of measures, and rules for commodity markets based on English common law. 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 also contributed to the decline of British industrial supremacy following the 1870s.
Other uses of the phrase
The phrase was used as the title of a 1985 Charles Roberts/Origins Award-winning board wargame which, while out of print, is still popular as a play by mail game.
The phrase was used by the British author James Morris as the title of the middle volume of his trilogy about the rise and decay of the British Empire. The book surveyed the Empire at the time of the old Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in June 1897. The first volume of the trilogy was Heaven's Command, the last Farewell the Trumpets.
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Last updated: 08-18-2005 05:46:41