By going through these Maharashtra State Board Class 12 History Notes Chapter 2 European Colonialism students can recall all the concepts quickly.

Maharashtra State Board Class 12 History Notes Chapter 2 European Colonialism

Colonialism is part of Imperialism. Countries like England, France, Portugal, Spain, etc. occupied nations in Asia and Africa and established colonies there. India was one of the colonies of England. One of the main characteristics of colonialism was to transport raw material from the colonies to one’s own country and use the colonies as marketplaces for selling their final products. Colonialism gave rise to political and economic slavery but also caused psychological slavery. Commercial revolution in the 15th century led to discoveries of new lands thereby leading to establishment of colonies in Asia and Africa.

Meaning and Nature.
Meaning: Colonialism can be defined as the act of a developed nation occupying the land of a less developed, distant nation and establishing their rule on the occupied country.

Nature: Colonialism led European nations to compete with one another to gain economic, social and political supremacy. Extreme nationalism, feeling of racial superiority, industrialisation, aggressive approach etc., are some of the factors that led to the growth of colonialism.

Causes and Consequences of Colonialism:

Causes :

  • Industrial Consequences
  • Requirements of Raw Material
  • Investing surplus Capital
  • Sources of Minerals
  • Geographic Importance
  • Availability of Labour
  • Feeling of Racial Superiority

Economic exploitation of people in Asia and Africa.
Loss of independence of colonies.

A new awareness emerged in the political, social, economic and educational fields.
Awareness of democratic systems and modern values like liberty, equality and fraternity. Introduction of principles like administration based on a fundamental legal system, judicial system, availability of education to all.

European Colonialism:

America :
→ Domination of European countries over the weaker nations and subjecting the inhabitants to slavery.

→ Among the European nations Portugal and Spain were at the forefront in the competition.

→ Portugal brought Brazil, and Spain brought Mexico under their rule.

→ During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I explorers were encouraged to undertake expeditions.

→ In 1496, John Abbot was granted permission to establish colonies on the American land.

→ Several incidents like The Stamp Act (1765), The Boston Tea Party (1773), Declaration of Independence (1774) led the colonies to fight for independence from British domination.

→ The conflict between the colonies and the British army continued and after several battles gained independence.

→ The victory at Saratoga was a turning point for the colonies as the French agreed to support the colonies in their conflict against the British.

→ Spain too joined the colonies in their struggle for independence.

→ Finally, on 7 October 1780, George Washington defeated the British army and on 19th October the British General Lord Cornwallis surrendered and America became independent.

→ This revolt is known as the ‘American Revolution’.

→ Australia and New Zealand became colonies of the British empire.

→ England entered to protect India and other neighbouring countries of India from other colonialist European nations. For e.g., Myanmar was known as ‘Brahmadesh’ (Burma).

→ The British wanted to establish their control in Burma because it was rich in natural wealth and a potential market.

→ Three Anglo-Burmese wars were fought.

→ The first was fought during the tenure of Lord Amherst who was the Governor-General of India.

→ The second during the tenure of Lord Dalhousie.

→ The third during the tenure of Lord Dufferin.

→ Nepal, a small Himalayan kingdom also came under the British dominance, which led to two Anglo-Nepalese wars. After the defeat of the British army, Nepal gained sovereignty in 1923.

→ Similarly, the British tried to gain control of Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet.

→ Africa was known for its dense forests, widespread lakes, swamps and deserts which the
Europeans were unfamiliar with.

→ A Geographical Conference was convened by King Leopold II of Belgium at Brussels in 1876 to discuss the possibilities of dividing the African territory amongst themselves.

→ Eventually, Africa came to be divided among Germany, France, England, Spain etc.


→ Revolution – Action taken by a large group of people to try to change the government of a country bÿ violent action

→ Dominance – Control or power

→ Dissemination – The action or fact of spreading something, especially information widely

→ Supremacy – Superiority, domination

→ Encompass Include or cover

→ Capitalist – Industrial, investor

→ Domination – Control, power

→ Federation – Alliance, group.