All nations expand, die or prosper due to the environment of their geography, which we call geopolitics, which affects how policies are made and what countries can practically accomplish.
For instance, if a nation historically did not have access to coal and steel, it would not industrialise.
For England and the greater United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland and Wales, its geography does not give a fantastic advantage that enabled the British to build the world’s largest empire ever or will ever be.
For the British Isles, half of its landmarks are mountainous, particularly in Wales and Scotland, which is why, even to this day, they have lower populations than different parts of the United Kingdom.
England’s biggest county, Yorkshire, has over 5.4 million people, a larger population than Scotland and the principality of Wales, with Wales’s population of over 3.1 million and Scotland’s population of just under 5.4 million.
Overall, the English population is over 55 million, which dominates the political union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
This is one reason why federalism will never work for the English constitution because for that system to work, England must be suppressed, according to the historian David Starkey.
This is all related to geopolitics because the much smaller population in England and Wales is because, in the case of Wales, it is much smaller than England, and both kingdom and principality are mountainous, making it much harder for agriculture.
It was not until the Industrial Revolution that the population in England reached over 6 million, and it was not until the Napoleonic wars that inflation went into two digits.
The demographic change was due to the Industrial Revolution, and the agricultural revolution of the 18th century meant that England could sustain a much larger population.
The Politics of Great Britain
When reading this, you may wonder why I write about England and Great Britain as two different entities; the truth of the matter is that the English constitution is not a union of nations but a union of Parliament with the act of Union in 1707.
The Scottish were given higher representation in Parliament and maintained a separate legal system based on Roman law and not English common law, an education system, a Presbyterian church and, in contrast, the Anglian Church.
This was because the Scottish nobility failed in building their colonial empire and needed England to pay off their debts.
The second reason was that the Scottish population in 1707 was around 400,000, compared to 6 million people in England.
The final reason the English were so interested in pursuing a Parliamentary union with the Scots was because, historically, Scotland was the back door and invasion route into England.
The Scots had invaded northern England before the Norman conquest in 1066 and historically allied with the French to force England to spread its resources by fighting two-front wars with France and Scotland.
On a final note, people within and without Great Britain often forget that to the rest of the world, the British are British.
Still, within the union itself, its peoples are Welsh, Northern Irish, Scottish and English, with separate histories, languages and cultures.
There is a political reckoning that needs to happen for the regions of Great Britain to understand their place within the British constitution and where they stand culturally.
The people of Scotland have a choice regarding how much they wish to be English or Scottish, which is a significant factor in the Scottish National party’s and the fight for independence for the Scots.
According to the geopolitical analyst Peter Zilhen, they have a choice to make regarding the cultural union within Great Britain.
British Geopolitical Advantage
Within the island of Great Britain, you are never more than 70 miles away from the coast; this has historically meant that England had access to capable seamen that could be used for international trade and the defence of England.
Historically, from the Norman conquest in 1066 until the rain of England’s 1st Tudor king, King Henry VII, from 1485 to 1509, the English navy only existed as a means of transportation between the kings of England and their much richer continental holdings in France.
What this meant geopolitically was that English kings, until the rain of the Tudor dynasty from 1485 to 1603, were not interested in developing their navies to defend the English coast, which enabled during the Hundred Years War from 1337 to 1453 French armies to attack and invade English coastal cities and towns at least 50 times.
The Hundred Years War and England’s defeat in the conflict in 1453 meant that England became untethered to the European continent, and it took until the rain of King Charles II of England and the brief English Commonwealth in the 17th century for England to focus on naval power.
British policies focused on the high seas provided a quantitative and qualitative advantage for British power. For instance, Louis XIV of France’s 400,000-man army could not invade England due to security provided by the English navy that was not even 80,000 strong.
Furthermore, English sailors could fire three shots per Spanish or French gunners, effectively doubling English firepower.
As continental armies got bigger, reaching the Hundred thousand mark in the 16th century, England, with a much smaller population than France at over 25 million, was larger than Russia in the early 19th century and had the largest population in the European continent.
The British were not able to compete on the European continent or willing to invest in its land-based military due to the army being seen as a force of tyranny that suppressed the freedom of the English people, which was used by Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, King Charles II and King James II to suppress English freedoms.
What this meant for the British was that rather than pursuing continental holdings, the English opted for colonialism, control of the world seas and trade routes to enrich themselves.
The wealth extracted from England’s colonial empire could fund the enlargement of the British Navy and keep France contained to the European and African continent in the 19th century.
The English in the 18th century successfully removed French influence from North America, the Indian subcontinent and the Far East; this was possible because England was primarily a maritime power; in contrast, France was tied to the European continent.
Throughout the 18th century, France spent 45 years at War and had to maintain an army of over 400,000 and, during peacetime, at least 150,000, making France priority on maintaining its army at the expense of naval development.
The Industrial Revolution
The home of Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in 1769 with the implementation of the first steam engine.
Britain would create wealth through the technology of steam and the development of manufacturing.
Historically, economics was the process of household management, according to philosopher Aristotle or the administration of limited and finite resources.
What the British could do with the Industrial Revolution was to create continuous wealth, which meant it could improve its prosperity and had the cash to finance the enemies of France, building its empire and using geographical and industrial advantages.
The British Empire was able to do this because the Empire reached the height of its power in the late 18th and early 19th century due to this process happening during the Industrial Revolution.
In contrast, the Spanish Empire built its empire from the 16th to the early 18th century with gold and silver from South America.
The Spanish bought the goods and services it needed by giving precious metals in exchange, which destroyed the European gold and silver markets and led to high inflation, and that’s how the Spanish destroyed their economy.
In contrast, the British Empire began to rise to power in the 18th century in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, which meant that its economy was based upon liberalism, free markets and the creation of wealth, which was the first time this happened in human history where peoples became more prosperous.
Since the Industrial Revolution, life expectancy, technological advancement and the ability to generate wealth through specialisation enabled the British Empire to be the first nation to industrialise, which was a massive quantitative and qualitative advantage.
Economically and in some cases literally, the British were bringing guns to a knife fight.