What was the role of money and trade in the British Empire?
The Empire wasn’t just about conquest; it was also about money, profit and trade.
British traders made fortunes from ships freighted with opium off the coast of China. They helped themselves to the riches of India. They planted new crops in their expanding colonies, like rubber in Malaysia. The key factor in the development of the Empire however, was the demand for sugar.
Britain became the world capital of money. On London’s trading floors, speculators bought and sold commodities from all corners of the Empire. By the end of the 19th century, more than half the world’s trade was financed with British pounds.