Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the British government department responsible for implementing the defence policy set by Her Majesty's Government and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces. The MOD states that its principal objectives are to defend the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and its interests and to strengthen international peace and stability. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the MOD does not foresee any short-term conventional military threat; the MOD manages day-to-day running of the armed forces, contingency planning and defence procurement. During the 1920s and 1930s, British civil servants and politicians, looking back at the performance of the state during the First World War, concluded that there was a need for greater co-ordination between the three services that made up the armed forces of the United Kingdom—the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force; the formation of a united ministry of defence was rejected by David Lloyd George's coalition government in 1921.
As rearmament became a concern during the 1930s, Stanley Baldwin created the position of Minister for Co-ordination of Defence. Lord Chatfield held the post until the fall of Neville Chamberlain's government in 1940. Winston Churchill, on forming his government in 1940, created the office of Minister of Defence to exercise ministerial control over the Chiefs of Staff Committee and to co-ordinate defence matters; the post was held by the Prime Minister of the day until Clement Attlee's government introduced the Ministry of Defence Act of 1946. The new ministry was headed by a Minister of Defence; the three existing service Ministers—the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for Air—remained in direct operational control of their respective services, but ceased to attend Cabinet. From 1946 to 1964 five Departments of State did the work of the modern Ministry of Defence: the Admiralty, the War Office, the Air Ministry, the Ministry of Aviation, an earlier form of the Ministry of Defence.
These departments merged in 1964. The Ministers in the Ministry of Defence are as follows: The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the British Armed Forces and the most senior uniformed military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister; the CDS is supported by the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff who deputises and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the armed services aspect of the MOD through the Central Staff, working alongside the Permanent Secretary. They are joined by the professional heads of the three British armed services and the Commander of Joint Forces Command. All personnel sit at OF-9 rank in the NATO rank system. Together the Chiefs of Staff form the Chiefs of Staff Committee with responsibility for providing advice on operational military matters and the preparation and conduct of military operations; the current Chiefs of Staff are as follows. Chief of the Defence Staff – General Sir Nick Carter Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff – General Sir Gordon Messenger First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff – Admiral Sir Philip Jones Chief of the General Staff – General Mark Carleton-Smith Chief of the Air Staff – Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier Commander of Joint Forces Command – General Sir Christopher Deverell The Chief of Staff is supported by several other senior military personnel at OF-8 rank.
Chief of Defence People – Lieutenant General Richard Nugee Deputy Chief of Defence Staff – Lieutenant-General Douglas Chalmers Deputy Chief of Defence Staff – Lieutenant-General Mark Poffley Chief of Joint Operations - Vice-Admiral Timothy Fraser Defence Senior Adviser Middle East - Lieutenant-General John LorimerAdditionally, there are a number of Assistant Chiefs of Defence Staff, including the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff and the Defence Services Secretary in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff. Permanent Secretary and other senior officials The Ministers and Chiefs of the Defence Staff are supported by several civilian and professional military advisors; the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence is the senior civil servant at the MOD. Their role is to ensure that it operates as a government department and has responsibility for the strategy, reform and the finances of the MOD; the role works with the Chief of the Defence Staff in leading the organisation and supporting Ministers in the conduct of business in the Department across the full range of responsibilities.
Permanent Under-Secretary of State – Stephen Lovegrove Director General Finance – Cat Little Director General Head Office and Commissioning Services – Julie Taylor Director General Nuclear – Julian Kelly Director General Security Policy – Peter Watkins MOD Chief Scientific Adviser – Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte MOD Chief Scientific Adviser – Professor Robin Grimes Lead Non-Executive Board Member – Sir Gerry Gri
Neanderthals in Gibraltar
The Neanderthals in Gibraltar were among the first to be discovered by modern scientists and have been among the most well studied of their species according to a number of extinction studies which emphasize regional differences claiming the Iberian Peninsula acted as a “refuge” for the shrinking Neanderthal populations and the Gibraltar community of Neanderthals as having been one of many dwindling communities of archaic human populations, existing just until around 42,000 years ago. Many other Neanderthal communities went extinct around the same time; the skull of a Neanderthal woman, discovered in a quarry in 1848, was only the second Neanderthal skull found and the first adult Neanderthal skull to be discovered, eight years before the discovery of the skull for which the species was named in Neandertal, Germany. The skull of a Neanderthal child was discovered nearby in 1926; the Neanderthals are known to have occupied ten sites on the Gibraltar peninsula at the southern tip of Iberia, which may have had one of the densest areas of Neanderthal settlement of anywhere in Europe, although not the last place of possible habitation.
The caves in the Rock of Gibraltar that the Neanderthals inhabited have been excavated and have revealed a wealth of information about their lifestyle and the prehistoric landscape of the area. The peninsula stood on the edge of a fertile coastal plain, now submerged, that supported a wide variety of animals and plants which the Neanderthals exploited to provide a varied diet. Unlike northern Europe, which underwent massive swings in its climate and was uninhabitable for long periods, the far south of Iberia enjoyed a stable and mild climate for over 125,000 years, it became a refuge from the ice ages for animals and Neanderthals, the latter of which most did not survive there for thousand years longer than any other habitation site. Around 42,000 years ago, the climate underwent cycles of abrupt change which would have disrupt the Gibraltar Neanderthals' food supply and may have stressed their population beyond recovery, leading to their aggregated extinction in areas of Europe with similar climates.
In Gibraltar, but in other less well studied areas, did the Homo Neanderthalensis leave its last footprint of existence circa 40,000 BCE. The Gibraltar Neanderthals first came to light in 1848 during excavations in the course of the construction of a fortification called Forbes' Barrier at the northern end of the Rock of Gibraltar; the skull of a Neanderthal was discovered in Forbes' Quarry by Lieutenant Edmund Flint, though its exact provenance is unknown, was the subject of a presentation to the Gibraltar Scientific Society by Lieutenant Flint in March 1848. It was not realised at the time that the skull, now known as Gibraltar 1, was of a separate species and it was not until 1862 that it was studied by palaeontologists George Busk and Hugh Falconer during a visit to Gibraltar, they gave a report on it to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1864 and proposed that the species be called Homo calpicus after Mons Calpe, the ancient name for Gibraltar. It was only realised that the skull was a specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, named for the Neanderthal 1 skull found in Germany in 1856.
Busk described it as "characteristic of a race extending from the Rhine to the Pillars of Hercules", highlighting its importance as confirmation that the Neanderthal 1 specimen was genuinely a member of a distinct species and not a deformed Homo sapiens. The skull was the first Neanderthal adult cranium to be discovered and, although small, is nearly complete. In 1926, a second Neanderthal skull was found by Dorothy Garrod at a rock shelter named Devil's Tower close to Forbes' Quarry; this fossil, known as Gibraltar 2, is much less complete than the Gibraltar 1 skull and has been identified as that of a four-year-old child. Further excavations at the two sites are infeasible. Quarrying at Forbes' Quarry has meant that it has been denuded of Pleistocene sediments while Devil's Tower is directly under the North Front of the Rock of Gibraltar and is one of the most dangerous places on the entire peninsula due to frequent rockfalls; the limestone massif of the Rock of Gibraltar is riddled with caves – its ancient name, means "hollow" – and it was here that archaeologists focused their efforts to find sites of Neanderthal occupation.
Ten such sites have been discovered so far, of which the most important are five caves on the eastern side of the Rock: Ibex Cave, high up on the east side, only discovered in 1975 due to being buried under the wind-blown sands of the Great Gibraltar Sand Dune, four sea caves near sea level on the south-eastern flank, Boathoist Cave, Vanguard Cave, Gorham's Cave and Bennett's Cave. Large-scale excavations in 1947–54 by John d'Arcy Waechter showed that Gorham's Cave had been occupied for over 100,000 years during the Middle Palaeolithic, Upper Palaeolithic and Holocene epochs. Further excavations have been carried out in Gorham's, Vanguard and Ibex Caves since 1994 as part of the Gibraltar Museum's Gibraltar Caves Project; the excavations have revealed the best evidence of a Neanderthal landscape found anywhere, buried under many metres of sand, fallen stalactites, bat guano and other debris that has fortuitously preserved an abundance of palaeontological evidence on the cave floors. The finds have enabled palaeontologists to reconstruct the lifestyles of the occupants and their environment in considerable detail.
The finds in Gorham's Cave include charcoal, stone tools and burnt
Bermuda Police Service
The Bermuda Police Service is the law enforcement agency of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. It is responsible for policing the entire archipelago, including incorporated municipalities, the surrounding waters, it is part of, funded by, the Government of Bermuda. Like the Royal Bermuda Regiment, it is under the nominal control of the territory's Governor and Commander in Chief, for day-to-day purposes, control is delegated to a minister of the local government, it was created as Bermuda's first professional police service. In organisation and dress, it was created and has developed in line with the patterns established by British police services, such as the City of Glasgow Police, the Metropolitan Police Service. Bermuda's first police, from settlement until 1879, had been nine Parish constables; as had been the case in England, these positions were filled by men appointed for twelve months, unpaid service, until pay was introduced in the 19th Century. These appointments were akin to jury service.
Dissatisfaction with the quality of this part-time constabulary led to the formation of the Bermuda Police Force under the Police Establishment Act, 1879. The new body consisted of ten full-time constables under Superintendent J. C. B. Clarke. Three of the constables were based in Hamilton, with Clarke, three in St. George's, with Chief Constable H. Dunkley, two in Somerset, there were still twenty-one part-time parish constables; the size of the police force was trebled in 1901. The first detective was appointed in 1919, the force was reorganised again in 1920, with eighteen constables recruited from the UK raising its strength to forty-six; the size of the force grew over the following decades. The Bermuda Reserve Constabulary was created in 1951. After the closure of Bermuda's Royal Naval Dockyard and associated military garrison in 1958, Police Headquarters and other elements relocated to Prospect Camp, the former military headquarters. A Women's Department was established in 1961 with the first five female police officers.
A marine section was formed in 1962, with its first large boat, the Heron, being built by police officers in their spare time. In the 1960s the Bermuda Police performed a new role: internal security, dealing with riots resulting from the struggle for racial equality; this culminated in 1977 with riots following the hanging of two members of the Black Beret Cadre convicted of five murders, including those of Governor Richard Sharples, his Aide-de-camp Captain Hugh Sayers, the Commissioner of Police George Duckett. The death penalty had not been used in Bermuda for three decades; as the two men convicted were black, many blacks saw the death sentences as racially motivated. In 1995 the Bermuda Police Force was renamed the Bermuda Police Service as it was thought that the word "force" had unsavoury connotations; the Reserve Constabulary was renamed the Bermuda Reserve Police and adopted the same uniform as the full-time police officers. This was meant to address the common misconception they had suffered from, that they were not "real" police officers.
In 1995, the United States Navy withdrew from Bermuda, leaving the Bermuda Government responsible for policing the whole of what was now Bermuda International Airport. Bermuda was still feeling the effects of the recession of the early 1990s, this had led to a reduction in the number of officers of the Bermuda Police Service. At the same time, the new Police Commissioner, Colin Coxall, was determined to modernise the Bermuda Police Service by returning it to its roots, it was felt that the service had lost familiarity with the community it was policing, with constables waiting in police stations to react to situations, rather than walking the beat and preventing them. As the Bermuda Police Service attempted to redirect its efforts to more traditional "community policing", which required more officers, it found itself short of personnel. Many non-policing roles within the service were reassigned to civilians in order to place more police officers on the street, but it was decided to withdraw most of the detachment from the airport in order to make-up the shortfall elsewhere.
Policing of the airport, split between the US Navy and the Bermuda Police, was divided between the new Airport Security Police, on the airside, the Bermuda Police Service, which maintained a small detachment at its Airport Police Station, supplied from the complement of the St. George's Police Station, on the landside; that part of the former US Naval Air Station Bermuda, not required for the operation of the airfield was fenced off and patrolled, until final decisions on the disposal of the land were made, by the Baselands Security. This was a unit of security guards recruited and operated by the Bermuda Police Service, which wore Bermuda Police uniforms, drove Bermuda Police cars, but whose personnel were civilians, without police powers; as of 2009, the current strength of the Service is 468 officers, operating from four police stations in Hamilton, St. George's, Southside and Somerset, along with the Headquarters at Prospect Camp, a small Marine Police Station on Barr's Bay, in Hamilton.
Following the closure of the US Naval Air Station in Bermuda, the Scenes Of Crimes officers have moved to a building there. Plans to create a single, new building to house both the Hamilton Police Station and the Magistrates Court on the corner of Court Street and Victoria Street have
The Crown dependencies are three island territories off the coast of Great Britain that are self-governing possessions of the Crown: the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Isle of Man. They do not form part of either the British Overseas Territories. Internationally, the dependencies are considered "territories for which the United Kingdom is responsible", rather than sovereign states; as a result, they are not member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. However, they do have relationships with the Commonwealth, the European Union, other international organisations, are members of the British–Irish Council, they have their own teams in the Commonwealth Games. They are not part of the European Union; the Isle of Man is within the EU's VAT area. As the Crown dependencies are not sovereign states, the power to pass legislation affecting the islands rests with the government of the United Kingdom; however they each have their own legislative assembly, with the power to legislate on many local matters with the assent of the Crown.
In each case, the head of government is referred to as the Chief Minister. "The Crown" is defined differently in each Crown Dependency. In Jersey, statements in the 21st century of the constitutional position by the Law Officers of the Crown define it as the "Crown in right of Jersey", with all Crown land in the Bailiwick of Jersey belonging to the Crown in right of Jersey and not to the Crown Estate of the United Kingdom. Legislation of the Isle of Man defines the "Crown in right of the Isle of Man" as being separate from the "Crown in right of the United Kingdom". In Guernsey, legislation refers to the "Crown in right of the Bailiwick", the Law Officers of the Crown of Guernsey submitted that "The Crown in this context ordinarily means the Crown in right of the république of the Bailiwick of Guernsey" and that this comprises "the collective governmental and civic institutions, established by and under the authority of the Monarch, for the governance of these Islands, including the States of Guernsey and legislatures in the other Islands, the Royal Court and other courts, the Lieutenant Governor, Parish authorities, the Crown acting in and through the Privy Council."
This constitutional concept is worded as the "Crown in right of the Bailiwick of Guernsey". Since 1290, the Channel Islands have been governed as the Bailiwick of Jersey, comprising the island of Jersey and uninhabited islets such as the Minquiers and Écréhous the Bailiwick of Guernsey, comprising the islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Herm and Lihou; each Bailiwick is a Crown dependency and each is headed by a Bailiff, with a Lieutenant Governor representing the Crown in each Bailiwick. Each Bailiwick has its own legal and healthcare systems, its own separate immigration policies, with "local status" in one Bailiwick having no jurisdiction in the other; the two Bailiwicks exercise bilateral double taxation treaties. Since 1961, the Bailiwicks have had separate courts of appeal, but the Bailiff of each Bailiwick has been appointed to serve on the panel of appellate judges for the other Bailiwick; the Bailiwick of Guernsey comprises three separate jurisdictions: Guernsey, which includes the nearby islands of Herm and Jethou, other smaller uninhabited islands.
Sark, which includes the nearby island of Brecqhou, other smaller uninhabited islands. Alderney, including smaller surrounding uninhabited islands; the parliament of Guernsey is the States of Deliberation, the parliament of Sark is called the Chief Pleas, the parliament of Alderney is called the States of Alderney. The three parliaments together can approve joint Bailiwick-wide legislation that applies in those parts of the Bailiwick whose parliaments approve it. Guernsey issues its own coins and banknotes: Guernsey banknotes Coins of the Guernsey poundThese circulate in both Bailiwicks alongside UK coinage and English and Scottish banknotes, they are not legal tender within the UK. There are no political parties in any of the parliaments. Guernsey has its own separate international vehicle registrations, internet domain, ISO 3166-2 codes, first reserved on behalf of the Universal Postal Union and added by the International Organization for Standardization on 29 March 2006. In any case the GBG on a numberplate is only put on the number plate of a car or motorbike at the request of the vehicle owner and is not compulsory, however a motorbike/scooter can have an identical number to a car, e.g. 5432 on 2 wheels and on 4 wheels.
The Bailiwick of Jersey consists of the island of Jersey and a number of surrounding uninhabited islands. The parliament is the States of Jersey, the first known mention of, in a document of 1497; the States of Jersey Law 2005 introduced the post of Chief Minister of Jersey, abolished the Bailiff's power of dissent to a resolution of the States and the Lieutenant Governor's power of veto over a resolution of the States, established that any Order in Council or Act of the United Kingdom proposed to apply to Jersey must be referred to the States so that the States can express their views on it. Jersey issues its own coins and banknotes: Jersey banknotes Coins of the Jersey poundThese circulate in both Bailiwicks alongside UK coinage and English and Scottish banknotes, they are not legal tender within
History of Gibraltar
The history of Gibraltar, a small peninsula on the southern Iberian coast near the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea, spans over 2,900 years. The peninsula has evolved from a place of reverence in ancient times into "one of the most densely fortified and fought-over places in Europe", as one historian has put it. Gibraltar's location has given it an outsized significance in the history of Europe and its fortified town, established in medieval times, has hosted garrisons that sustained numerous sieges and battles over the centuries. Gibraltar was first inhabited over 50,000 years ago by Neanderthals and may have been one of their last places of habitation before they died out around 24,000 years ago. Gibraltar's recorded history began around 950 BC with the Phoenicians; the Carthaginians and Romans worshipped Hercules in shrines said to have been built on the Rock of Gibraltar, which they called Mons Calpe, the "Hollow Mountain", which they regarded as one of the twin Pillars of Hercules. Gibraltar became part of the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania following the collapse of the Roman Empire and came under Muslim Moorish rule in 711 AD.
It was permanently settled for the first time by the Moors and was renamed Jebel Tariq – the Mount of Tariq corrupted into Gibraltar. The Christian Crown of Castile annexed it in 1309, lost it again to the Moors in 1333 and regained it in 1462. Gibraltar became part of the unified Kingdom of Spain and remained under Spanish rule until 1704, it was captured during the War of the Spanish Succession by an Anglo-Dutch fleet in the name of Charles VI of Austria, the Habsburg contender to the Spanish throne. At the war's end, Spain ceded the territory to Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. Spain tried to regain control of Gibraltar, which Britain had declared a Crown colony, through military and economic pressure. Gibraltar was besieged and bombarded during three wars between Britain and Spain but the attacks were repulsed on each occasion. By the end of the last siege, in the late 18th century, Gibraltar had faced fourteen sieges in 500 years. In the years after Trafalgar, Gibraltar became a major base in the Peninsular War.
The colony grew during the 19th and early 20th centuries, becoming a key British possession in the Mediterranean. It was a key stopping point for vessels en route to India via the Suez Canal. A large British naval base was constructed there at great expense at the end of the 19th century and became the backbone of Gibraltar's economy. British control of Gibraltar enabled the Allies to control the entrance to the Mediterranean during the Second World War, it was attacked on several occasions by German and Vichy French forces, though without causing much damage. The Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco declined to join a Nazi plan to occupy Gibraltar but revived Spain's claim to the territory after the war; as the territorial dispute intensified, Spain closed its border with Gibraltar between 1969 and 1985 and communications links were severed. Spain's position was supported by Latin American countries but was rejected by Britain and the Gibraltarians themselves, who vigorously asserted their right to self-determination.
Discussions of Gibraltar's status have continued between Britain and Spain but have not reached any conclusion. Since 1985, Gibraltar has undergone major changes as a result of reductions in Britain's overseas defence commitments. Most British forces have left the territory, no longer seen as a place of major military importance, its economy is now based on tourism, financial services and Internet gambling. Gibraltar is self-governed, with its own parliament and government, though the UK maintains responsibility for defence and foreign policy, its economic success has made it one of the wealthiest areas of the European Union. The history of Gibraltar has been driven by its strategic position near the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea, it is a narrow peninsula at the eastern side of the Bay of Gibraltar, 6 kilometres from the city of Algeciras. Gibraltar is on the far south coast of Spain at one of the narrowest points in the Mediterranean, only 24 kilometres from the coast of Morocco in North Africa.
Its position on the bay makes it an advantageous natural anchorage for ships. As one writer has put it, "whoever controls Gibraltar controls the movement of ships into and out of the Mediterranean. In terms of military and naval power, few places have a more strategic location than Gibraltar."The territory's area measures only 6.7 square kilometres. Most of the land area is occupied by the steeply sloping Rock of Gibraltar which reaches a height of 426 metres; the town of Gibraltar lies at the base of the Rock on the west side of the peninsula. A narrow, low-lying isthmus connects the peninsula to the Spanish mainland; the North Face of the Rock is a nearly vertical cliff 396 metres high overlooking the isthmus. Gibraltar's geography has thus given it considerable natural defensive advantages, it is impossible to scale the eastern or northern sides of the Rock, which are either vertical or nearly so. To the south, the flat area around Europa Point is surrounded by cliffs which are up to 30 metres high.
The western side is the only practicable area for a landing, but here the steep slopes on which the town is built work to the advantage of a defender. These factors have given it an enormous military significance over the centuries. Gibraltar's appearance in prehistory was different. Whereas today it is surrounded by sea, th
The British Empire comprised the dominions, protectorates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2, 24% of the Earth's total land area; as a result, its political, legal and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories. During the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries and Spain pioneered European exploration of the globe, in the process established large overseas empires.
Envious of the great wealth these empires generated, England and the Netherlands began to establish colonies and trade networks of their own in the Americas and Asia. A series of wars in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Netherlands and France left England and following union between England and Scotland in 1707, Great Britain, the dominant colonial power in North America, it became the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent after the East India Company's conquest of Mughal Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The independence of the Thirteen Colonies in North America in 1783 after the American War of Independence caused Britain to lose some of its oldest and most populous colonies. British attention soon turned towards Asia and the Pacific. After the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Britain emerged as the principal naval and imperial power of the 19th century. Unchallenged at sea, British dominance was described as Pax Britannica, a period of relative peace in Europe and the world during which the British Empire became the global hegemon and adopted the role of global policeman.
In the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution began to transform Britain. The British Empire expanded to include most of India, large parts of Africa and many other territories throughout the world. Alongside the formal control that Britain exerted over its own colonies, its dominance of much of world trade meant that it controlled the economies of many regions, such as Asia and Latin America. During the 19th century, Britain's population increased at a dramatic rate, accompanied by rapid urbanisation, which caused significant social and economic stresses. To seek new markets and sources of raw materials, the British government under Benjamin Disraeli initiated a period of imperial expansion in Egypt, South Africa, elsewhere. Canada and New Zealand became self-governing dominions. By the start of the 20th century and the United States had begun to challenge Britain's economic lead. Subsequent military and economic tensions between Britain and Germany were major causes of the First World War, during which Britain relied upon its empire.
The conflict placed enormous strain on the military and manpower resources of Britain. Although the British Empire achieved its largest territorial extent after World War I, Britain was no longer the world's pre-eminent industrial or military power. In the Second World War, Britain's colonies in East and Southeast Asia were occupied by Japan. Despite the final victory of Britain and its allies, the damage to British prestige helped to accelerate the decline of the empire. India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence as part of a larger decolonisation movement in which Britain granted independence to most territories of the empire; the Suez Crisis confirmed Britain's decline as a global power. The transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 marked for many the end of the British Empire. Fourteen overseas territories remain under British sovereignty. After independence, many former British colonies joined the Commonwealth of Nations, a free association of independent states.
The United Kingdom is now one of 16 Commonwealth nations, a grouping known informally as the Commonwealth realms, that share a monarch Queen Elizabeth II. The foundations of the British Empire were laid when Scotland were separate kingdoms. In 1496, King Henry VII of England, following the successes of Spain and Portugal in overseas exploration, commissioned John Cabot to lead a voyage to discover a route to Asia via the North Atlantic. Cabot sailed in 1497, five years after the European discovery of America, but he made landfall on the coast of Newfoundland, mistakenly believing that he had reached Asia, there was no attempt to found a colony. Cabot led another voyage to the Americas the following year but nothing was heard of his ships again. No further attempts to establish English colonies in the Americas were made until well into the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, during the last decades of the 16th century. In the meantime, the 1533 Statute in Restraint of Appeals had declared "that this realm of England is an Empire".
The subsequent Protestant Reformation turned Catholic Spain into implacable enemies. In 1562, the English Crown encouraged the privateers John Hawkins and Francis Drake to engage in slave-raiding attacks against Spanish and Portuguese ships off the coast of West Africa with the aim of breaking into the Atlantic slave tr
Pillars of Hercules
The Pillars of Hercules was the phrase, applied in Antiquity to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. The northern Pillar, Calpe Mons, is the Rock of Gibraltar. A corresponding North African peak not being predominant, the identity of the southern Pillar, Abila Mons, has been disputed throughout history, with the two most candidates being Monte Hacho in Ceuta and Jebel Musa in Morocco. According to Greek mythology adopted by the Etruscans and Romans, when Hercules had to perform twelve labours, one of them was to fetch the Cattle of Geryon of the far West and bring them to Eurystheus. A lost passage of Pindar quoted by Strabo was the earliest traceable reference in this context: "the pillars which Pindar calls the'gates of Gades' when he asserts that they are the farthermost limits reached by Heracles." Since there has been a one-to-one association between Heracles and Melqart since Herodotus, the "Pillars of Melqart" in the temple near Gades/Gádeira have sometimes been considered to be the true Pillars of Hercules.
According to Plato's account, the lost realm of Atlantis was situated beyond the Pillars of Hercules, in effect placing it in the realm of the Unknown. Renaissance tradition says the pillars bore the warning Ne plus ultra, serving as a warning to sailors and navigators to go no further. According to some Roman sources, while on his way to the garden of the Hesperides on the island of Erytheia, Hercules had to cross the mountain, once Atlas. Instead of climbing the great mountain, Hercules used his superhuman strength to smash through it. By doing so, he connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and formed the Strait of Gibraltar. One part of the split mountain is Gibraltar and the other is either Monte Hacho or Jebel Musa; these two mountains taken together have since been known as the Pillars of Hercules, though other natural features have been associated with the name. Diodorus Siculus, held that instead of smashing through an isthmus to create the Straits of Gibraltar, Hercules narrowed an existing strait to prevent monsters from the Atlantic Ocean from entering the Mediterranean Sea.
In some versions, Heracles instead built the two to hold the sky away from the earth, liberating Atlas from his damnation. Beyond Gades, several important Mauretanian colonies were founded by the Phoenicians as the Phoenician merchant navy pushed through the Pillars of Hercules and began constructing a series of bases along the Atlantic coast starting with Lixus in the north Chellah and Mogador. Near the eastern shore of the island of Gades/Gadeira Strabo describes the westernmost temple of Tyrian Heracles, the god with whom Greeks associated the Phoenician and Punic Melqart, by interpretatio graeca. Strabo notes that the two bronze pillars within the temple, each eight cubits high, were proclaimed to be the true Pillars of Hercules by many who had visited the place and had sacrificed to Heracles there, but Strabo believes the account to be fraudulent, in part noting that the inscriptions on those pillars mentioned nothing about Heracles, speaking only of the expenses incurred by the Phoenicians in their making.
The columns of the Melqart temple at Tyre were of religious significance. Syriac scholars were aware of the Pillars through their efforts to translate Greek scientific works into their language as well as into Arabic; the Syriac compendium of knowledge known as Ktaba d'ellat koll'ellan. "The Cause of all Causes", is unusual in asserting that there were three, not two, columns In Inferno XXVI Dante Alighieri mentions Ulysses in the pit of the Fraudulent Counsellors and his voyage past the Pillars of Hercules. Ulysses justifies endangering his sailors by the fact that his goal is to gain knowledge of the unknown. After five months of navigation in the ocean, Ulysses sights the mountain of Purgatory but encounters a whirlwind from it that sinks his ship and all on it for their daring to approach Purgatory while alive, by their strength and wits alone; the Pillars appear as supporters of the coat of arms of Spain, originating in the impresa of Spain's sixteenth century king Charles I, the Holy Roman Emperor as Charles V.
It was an idea of the Italian humanist Luigi Marliano. It bears the motto Plus Ultra, Latin for further beyond, implying; this was modified from the phrase Nec plus ultra, Nothing more beyond after the discovery of the Americas, which laid to rest the idea of the Pillars of Hercules as the westernmost extremity of the inhabitable world which had prevailed since Antiquity. The Pillars appear prominently on the engraved title page of Sir Francis Bacon's Instauratio Magna, 1620, an unfinished work of which the second part was his influential Novum Organum; the motto along the base says augebitur scientia. The image was based on the use of the pillars in Habsburg propaganda. On the Spanish coast at Los Barrios are Torres de Hercules which are twin towers that were inspired by the Pillars of Hercules; these towers were the tallest in Andalusia until Cajasol Tower was completed in Seville in 2015. Caves of Hercules Dollar sign