A couple of generations ago the historical process known as “the expansion of Europe” was regarded as a blessing for the whole human race. This, at least, was the majority view. Nationalists in the colonies held contrary opinions, hut what they said carried little weight in Europe. For four hundred years, the historians of the age of classical imperialism believed, Europe had been the giver, the colonial world the receiver. The mother-lands had “wrestled with the task of sharing their own civilization with the backward races of the globe”. A good start had been made, but there was much still to be done, and the duty of the colonized peoples was plain: they must continue to serve their apprenticeship until such time as they were ready to join the family of nations. Europe alone held the keys to law and order, advanced technology, efficiency in government, and the potential for progress. In its hand lay the future of the world. In the imperial age, few European historians, even those opposed to imperialism, doubted that the colonies would be ruled for a long time, perhaps indefinitely, by Europe.