British history contains thousands of different valid term paper topics. Material ranging from the Saxon period to the 21st century are valid, and a rich variety of literature is available for almost every topic because primary source documents are extremely well-preserved. Obvious topics for term papers include Churchill's response to the Germans during World War II, Britain's decolonization and King George III. However, there is more to British history than topics directly relevant to American relations.
Seven Years' War in Europe
Although Americans call this conflict the French and Indian War, most of the fighting took place in Europe. Britain and its traditional 18th century allies, Prussia and Portugal, fought against a coalition led by France which consisted of Austria, Russia, Spain and Sweden. Britain blockaded the French coast, supplied the Prussians with thousands of soldiers to assist with the land war, and engaged in a direct conflict with Spain in 1762 after Portugal was invaded by its larger Iberian neighbor. Britain's efforts in the Seven Years' War were largely successful not only in North America, but in Europe.
Henry VIII is more well-known to the public, but his father, Henry VII, was easily as influential. Henry VII, also known as Henry Tudor, was one of the most successful nobles from Lancaster and brought an end to the Wars of the Roses which was fought over competing claims from Henry's Lancastrian line and the House of York, headed by Richard III. Henry's victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, resulting in Richard III's death, and his marriage to Elizabeth of York effectively consolidated the throne and brought the Tudors to power. Henry VII's greatest accomplishment as king was establishing a large system of Justices of the Peace, which helped enforce royal law and ensured that jury trials were free of as much corruption as possible.
Disraeli and Gladstone
Benjamin Disraeli and William E. Gladstone were the political figures that truly commanded the power of the British Empire during Queen Victoria's reign. Disraeli represented conservative interests and supported policies such as free trade, while Gladstone, a former conservative turned liberal, supported the growing union movement. Gladstone was elected Prime Minister four times while Disraeli held the office twice, defeating Gladstone for his second term. From 1868 to 1885, Gladstone and Disraeli were the only two Prime Ministers, each having held the office twice during that period. These two figures established a left-right political axis in British politics that still exists to the present day.
The Corn Laws
The Corn Laws were a protectionist measure that passed Parliament in 1815. They were designed to keep agricultural prices high so farmers could sell their crops, specifically wheat and corn, for a profit. The Corn Laws forbade the importation of agricultural products from outside British-controlled territory due to the fact that prices for corn and wheat were lower in the United States and the rest of Europe. The law became extremely unpopular after 1815 due to industrialization and the resulting population explosion in Britain, which caused corn and wheat prices to spike as demand outstripped supply. In 1846, Parliament, led by Robert Peel, a Conservative Prime Minister, successfully repealed the Corn Laws and created one of the first free trade measures in history by allowing foreign farmers to sell their goods to Britain.
- The Wars of the Roses and Henry VII: Turbulence, Tyranny and Tradition in England; Colin Pendrill
- London School of Economics Review of Books: The Great Rivalry: Gladstone and Disraeli: A Dual Biography by Dick Leonard
- England, Prussia and the Seven Years' War; Karl W. Schweizer
- Harvard University: Free Trade: The Repeal of the Corn Laws
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