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The pith helmet, an icon of colonialism in tropical lands. This one was used during the Second French Colonial Empire.

Colonialism is the policy of a polity seeking to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories, generally with the aim of developing or exploiting them to the benefit of the colonizing country and of helping the colonies modernize in terms defined by the colonizers, especially in economics, religion and health.

The European colonial period was the era from the 15th century to 1914 when countries such as Spain, Portugal, Britain, Russia, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Belgium established colonies outside Europe. Philip T. Hoffman calculated that by 1914, Europeans had gained control of 84% of the globe, and by 1800, before the Industrial Revolution had taken hold, they already controlled at least 35% (excluding Antarctica). The archetypal European colonial system practically ended between 1945–1975, when nearly all Europe's colonies gained political independence. At first, European colonizing countries followed policies of mercantilism, designed[by whom?] to strengthen the home economy at the expense of rivals, so regulations usually restricted the colonies to trading only with the mother country. By the mid-19th century, however, the powerful British Empire gave up mercantilism and trade restrictions and adopted the principle of free trade, with few restrictions or tariffs. Christian missionaries were active in practically all of Europe's colonies. The 15th century also saw the emergence of the West Asian Ottoman Empire which would go on to be the last colonizer of Europe. Asian colonization of Europe came to an end with Istanbul's loss of most of European Turkey in 1913. By the late-19th century Japan had become an active colonizer. Some Russian and Spanish colonies came United States control in the same period.

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"Capture of the Maria Riggersbergen, 18 October 1806" Thomas Whitcombe, 1817.

The Java campaign of 1806–1807 was a minor campaign during the Napoleonic Wars by British Royal Navy forces against a naval squadron of the Kingdom of Holland, a client state of the French Empire, based on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies. Seeking to eliminate any threat to valuable British merchant convoys passing through the Malacca Straits, Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew determined in early 1806 that the Dutch naval forces based at Java, which included several ships of the line and three frigates, had to be defeated to ensure British dominance in the region. Lacking the forces to effect an invasion of the Dutch colony, Pellew instead sought to isolate and blockade the Dutch squadron based at Batavia in preparation for raids specifically targeting the Dutch ships with his main force. Although his plans were delayed by inadequate resources and the Vellore Mutiny in India, Pellew sent the frigate HMS Greyhound to the Java Sea in July 1806. Greyhound intercepted and defeated a Dutch convoy off the coast of Celebes on 25 July and three months later the frigate HMS Caroline managed to capture the Dutch frigate Maria Riggersbergen at the entrance to Batavia harbour. Following these successes, Pellew was able to bring his main force to bear on the island and in November 1806 launched a major raid on Batavia, destroying the remaining frigate and a number of minor warships from the Dutch squadron. The Dutch ships of the line had escaped prior to Pellew's attack to the harbour of Griessie near Surabaya, and Pellew was forced to lead a second operation to Java in October 1807, capturing the port and eliminating the last Dutch naval forces in the east. The victory gave Britain dominance over its European rivals in the eastern Pacific and western Indian Ocean, allowing British forces to focus on the one remaining threat to their merchant convoys in the Indian Ocean: the French islands of Île Bonaparte and Île de France.


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Selassie restored.jpg
Credit: American Colony (Jerusalem). Photo Dept., photographer.

Italy, upon invading Ethiopia, declared a new "Italian Empire". The League of Nations afforded Haile Selassie the opportunity to address the assembly, causing Italy to withdraw its League delegation, on 12 May 1936.

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John Horden

Selected biography

Memorial stone in Oude Kerk indicating a burial date.

Kiliaen van Rensselaer (before 1596 – after 1642) was a Dutch diamond and pearl merchant from Amsterdam who was one of the founders and directors of the Dutch West India Company and was instrumental in the establishment of New Netherland. He became one of the first patroons and ended up being the only successful one, having founded the Manor of Rensselaerswyck in what is now mainly New York's Capital District. His estate lasted as a legal entity until the 1840s, having lived through Dutch and British colonial times, the American Revolution, and eventually coming to an end during the Anti-Rent War. Van Rensselaer was born in the province of Gelderland to a soldier and a homemaker. To keep him from risking his life in the army like his father, he apprenticed under his uncle, a successful Amsterdam jeweler. He too became a successful jeweler and was one of the first subscribers to the Dutch West India Company upon its conception. He may very well be the source of the idea of patroonships and was probably the leading proponent of the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions, the document that established the patroon system. His patroonship became the most successful to exist, with van Rensselaer making full use of his business tactics and advantages, such as his connection to the Director of New Netherland, his confidantes at the West India Company, and his extended family members that were more than happy to emigrate to a better place to farm. He was married twice and had at least eleven children, two of whom succeeded him as patroons of Rensselaerswyck. Van Rensselaer died sometime after 1642.


Colonialism's rise and fall over the past 500 years.


This map shows Colonization's rise and fall over the past 500 years.


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