Britain's colonial past: Spices

In 1600 the East India Company was formed under Elizabeth I to compete with Dutch traders in the oriental spice trade. The company was given a monopoly on all goods imported to England from Asia. From the 1750s the company became more ambitious, starting to invade and conquer parts of India. It was now the biggest company in the world, and also an unofficial arm of the British government. When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, the whole of India was under British rule, and she was made Empress of India. When she died in 1901, the British Empire had expanded so much that it included one-fifth of the total population of the world.

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