Mighty Spain, having seized huge territories rich in silver and gold in the Americas (New World) in the sixteenth century, forbade all European ships (even merchants) to approach its colonies and trade with them. Such a non-commercial dictatorship of Catholic Madrid was provided by the strongest land army in Europe and the largest fleet of that time.
Almost in all parts of the world and on many trade routes, British merchants encountered a mighty Spanish power that dominated the seas and forbade them to participate in trade with the New World. The British, along with other Europeans (the French and especially the Dutch) defied the world Catholic empire of Philip II. The nature of this struggle immediately took for the British national-religious format: it was a struggle defending its right to exist Protestants of the British against dictates and attempts to establish a world Catholic empire of feudal-absolutist Spain.
Realizing its weakness at sea, and not having colonies in the New World, The British government began to widely use the practice of sea robbery in the struggle against the sea and colonial hegemony of Spain in the New World. Piracy soon acquired a truly national character and scope.
It is curious that The organization of pirate-commercial expeditions was shares of any "shareholders" who participated in the super-profitable business: from simple merchants and seamen to deputies of parliament, titled nobles, members of the government and, finally, the queen. Upon the completion of the expeditions, the shareholders received their share of the profit, depending on the contribution made. The desperate courage and military ingenuity of the English merchant corsairs side by side with the amazing enterprise in conducting their risky "business."
Especially famous for their courage and resourcefulness are "Cornish gentlemen of fortune." In 60-e - 70-th years the name of John Hawkins was thundering. The method of his trade was very simple: he suddenly appeared in the harbor and directed guns on the city. After that, "the trade went very smartly." (NA Erofeev) Other "gentlemen of fortune" were also reached behind Hawkins, combining in their activities sea robbery, trade and slave trade with geographical discoveries: F. Drake, T. Cavendish, M. Frobisher, W. Raleigh, etc.
Particularly famous Francis Drake, who made the second after Magellan round-the-world voyage in 1577-1580. When Drake's campaign was preparing, Queen Elizabeth, who secretly participated in the financing of his expedition, vowed to chop off the head to anyone who would notify the Spaniards about him. He managed to penetrate the Pacific through the Strait of Magellan and to rob Spanish colonies in Chile and Peru along with the rich galleons, capturing a lot of gold, silver and pearls. In his holds (F. Drake - VB) "Golden fallow" lay treasures, which in translation for modern money were from 2 to 3 million pounds (NA Erofeev).
Queen Elizabeth worthy of the "feats" of the pirate: she ascended the ship Drake and made him a knight of dignity. The profit of the shareholders who financed the most successful expedition of the board of Elizabeth I amounted to 4700%. Of the treasures captured by Drake, the queen (60% of production belonged to the state) could pay the entire foreign debt of England and covered the budget deficit.
The remaining 40 thousand pounds Elizabeth favorably invested in the Turkish company, founded for trade with the Ottoman Empire (EA Zaplava., JV Petrunina., AD Tabatsky). Successful investment of capital received is far from fair! Money is not wasted, they are all the time have to bring even more money - this is the law of capital accumulation. The British, and then the British Empire, were initially formed as a close alliance of private-commercial and state capital, as a kind of private-state megacorporation. This was its main difference from the "statist" empires of the East and Russia.
After such damage to the treasury, an open war with Spain became inevitable, and it began in 1585. Glittering navigator Walter Raleigh, part-time (poet, writer, historian and finally, the lover of Queen Elizabeth I herself) captures in 1585-1586. a lot of Spanish warships with notable Spanish officials on board. And the ransom for every noble captive Spaniard, he gets a huge, gold equal to the number of "live weight" of each of them. Overnight, getting rich, Raleigh generously shares with the queen, becoming at the same time her lover, and receives a noble title.
Hated by the Spaniards, Drake with a squadron at 21 ship devastates Spanish cities in the West Indies. And in 1587 year, breaking into the city of Cadiz, destroys up to 30 ships destined for the march of the "Invincible Armada" against England. Finally, in the general battle in the English Channel in 1588, the English fleet (one of the admirals in this battle was the ebullient F. Drake) meets with the heavy Spanish ships of the "Invincible Armada" as part of 130 ships.
Unlike the Spaniards, most of the English fleet consisted of private merchant and pirate ships, sent by various cities of England, with experienced and well-trained seamen. The power of Spanish sluggish galleons with a displacement of up to 1500 tons is inferior to the speed and maneuverability of English ships, besides having more guns. The rout of the Spanish fleet was impressive, and the severe sea storm completed its rout. The Spaniards thrown ashore by more than 5 thousand were captured by the British.
With the destruction of the armada, the sea power of Spain was undermined. Domination at sea began to shift to England and Holland, which opened up to them the opportunity to implement large colonial conquests and accelerate through the plundering of the colonies the process of the initial accumulation and development of capitalism. In 1596, English ships again defeated the Spanish fleet in the harbor of Cadiz.
In pirate-commercial trades during the war with Spain in 1585-1604, annually was equipped from 100 to 200 ships to attack the Spaniards in the seas and oceans. The annual production was at least 200000 pounds sterling (N. Ferguson). However, this business became more and more dangerous and less profitable: the Spaniards gradually learned to protect their fantastically rich galleons, sending for their protection entire military flotillas. In addition, in the reign of the English Catholic kings, James I (1603-1625), Charles I (1625-1649), England sought to refrain from an unfriendly policy towards Spain.
But from piracy the British were not going to refuse at all and, although its scales have decreased, This profitable "business" subsequently moved to the colonial periphery of England - the West Indies. There he was in the XVII century. prospered, and more and more on the fear and risk of individuals, not the crown. But as soon as the relations with Spain were again confrontational after the Stuarts were overthrown in England, the British government looked favorably at the pirate trade of its subjects, often criminals and under English law.
Suffice it to recall the famous leader of the British Caribbean pirates, Henry Morgan, who, for his "exploits" (the pillaging of the Spanish cities of Porto Bello, Maracaibo, Panama, etc.) was awarded the post of vice-admiral, commandant of the Port Royal garrison, judge of the Admiralty Court, judge and even the vice-governor of Jamaica. However, this was the last manifestation of a high monarch's mercy for the craft of sea robbery, the era of pirates left in the past and the era of more "lawful" armed entrepreneurship on the sea - private privatization, or privateering.
For example, even after two centuries, at the beginning of the XIX century, several hundred ships under the British flag were occupied with privatization. The reason why the British government circles lost interest in English maritime robbery against the hated Spain is simple. The English military and merchant fleet surpassed the Spanish, and in England itself the state and public-commercial interest turned out to be oriented towards the creation of its own colonies. And in this case, their own pirates were not needed, they only interfered with the construction of the greatest British colonial empire and sea trade.
Since the end of the XVII century, the British Royal Navy began to pursue everywhere and fight against pirates, including their subjects. They fulfilled their historic mission for England and were now outlawed.
By the beginning of the 17th century, all the convenient routes to India and trade with the colonies that lay along the way had been managed by the Iberian (Spanish-Portuguese) Union. And Britain, of course, did not like it. Of course, it was possible to start another war in the old manner, but the English were more cunning.
Trade campaign instead of war
Both the Portuguese and the Spaniards exploited the natives according to one system: only government led the trade, so the goods could be transported only on government ships, for which a large fee was charged. At the same time there were not a lot of ships, and in the metropolis the goods could be stored only in expensive government warehouses. As a result, Europe's needs were not met, and the prices of colonial goods were heavily inflated.
The new maritime powers Holland, France and England wanted to change the established order, but they did not enter into the war in their plans. Monarchies preferred to put the matter in the hands of their subjects, endowing them with broad powers for the time being and supporting them with military forces. So the East India Company originated first in England (1600), then in Holland (1602) and in France (1664). Of course, there were significantly more people willing to bite off Indian pie, but it was these three powers that led the main struggle.
The French left India already in 1769 year after the collision with the British East India Company. The Dutch company managed to visit the richest in 1669 and expel the Portuguese and the British from Indonesia, but after about a hundred years lost the war to the British Empire and eventually declared bankruptcy in 1798.
English (and after the British) The East India Company, established by Elizabeth I with the right of monopoly trade in the entire eastern space (from the Cape of Good Hope to the Straits of Magellan), lasted almost 300 years (until 1874), until it came under full control of the British crown. As a result, all the Anglo-Saxon crimes in the colonies are now associated not with the British Empire, but with the East India Company. Very profitable position.
Crime first: robbery
The British East India Company for the British has become a safe means of expansion. Expansion of the zone of influence was carried out in various formats: the Indian princes could conduct their activities only with the knowledge of the company, and the Indians kept the British army, for which the East India Company graciously protected the indigenous population. Princes were allowed not to pay subsidies only if the British were given the authority to collect tax from princely lands. However, here the British government was cunning and took away the land for "bad management" or non-payment of taxes. For refusal to fulfill a subsidiary contract, the Indian prince was threatened with war.
In general, after the conquest of most of India in just 15 years, the British took out a wealth of about a billion pounds. The money received by the East India Company went to loans for British parliamentarians, hence the loyalty of the parliament.
Now we know, at whose expense and on what money the industrial revolution in England was made.
Crime Two: Genocide
The leadership of the East India Company was very well versed in India's internal conflicts and understood that they weakened the unity of the country. The English were also aware of the high level of craftsmanship and trade, especially in Bengal. Therefore, it is not surprising that to expand the scale of production The army of the company under the leadership of Robert Clive attacked the Bengali territory.
Having won, The East India Company immediately appropriated all the money and jewelry from the treasury of the conquered country. This once again multiplied its capital and allowed it to engage in even larger trading operations.
In Bengal, the company, pursuing the same goals of increasing profits, distributed local artisans between all the possessions of the British and forced them to give their products at low prices, which, incidentally, did not save the population from paying an increased tax.
The terrible result of such a destructive policy was the death of millions of Bengalis. In 1769-1770 from malnutrition died from 7 to 10 million people, and ten years later, when the situation worsened again, the famine claimed the lives of several million more.
The activities of the British East India Company contributed only to the degradation of the Indians: they were ruined, their traditional crafts faded, agriculture declined. In total for the period of domination of the company in India 40 millions of local people died.
Crime Three: Opium Wars
However, the British East India Company destroyed not only India and its indigenous population.
In 1711, the company established its sales office in Guangzhou, China for tea purchases. However, it soon became unprofitable to buy something for silver from competitors in Asia. And then the East India Company founded the "Chinese internal mission," which pursued not a noble mission to preempt the Chinese peasants to opium, the plantations of which were cultivated in the captured company of Bengal.
As a result of the propaganda of opium smoking in China, a huge sales market appeared, which was flooded by the British East India Company. In 1799, the Chinese government banned the importation of opium, but the company continued to ship its smuggled, 900 tons per year. When by the end of the 1830 the imperial court was frightened by the fact that even policemen already used drugs, and opium supplies amounted to 1400 tons per year, then the death penalty was imposed for smuggling.
After the destruction of the opium consignment in 1188 tons (1839), the Chinese governor offered the British a deal: tea in exchange for a voluntarily given drug. Many agreed, and each gave a sign that it would no longer sell opium in China.
The drug trade scheme began to collapse, which affected the interests of not only individuals, but also throughout the British Empire. The reduction of English purses served as a pretext for the First Opium War, after which the import of the drug was legalized, and the degradation and large-scale extinction of the Chinese population continued.