Britannia’s Unlikely Rise and all too predictable fall

Peter Forbes
16 min readJan 28, 2020

How, in the 19th century, did a small, previously marginal, North West European country manage to install its Queen as Empress of India, the Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire? Why didn’t the Mughal Emperor conquer Britain?

This, of course is a deliberate echo of Jared Diamond’s famous question: “Why did Pizarro come to capture Atahuallpa, instead of Atahuallpa’s coming to Spain to capture King Charles I?” It is surprising that Diamond’s geography-first method has not been applied to the singular case of Britain’s one-time role as…

Peter Forbes

I write about biomimicry and nanoscience in books and review science books for the Guardian and Independent. Teach Narrative Non-fiction at City University.