Commonwealth
   Like its close cognate Commonweal, the term commonwealth implies the idea of a common good. The word came into use in the seventeenth century to name states deriving their legitimacy from a claim to pursue that good, as against legitimacy based on royal or prescriptive right. The term thus had republican connotations. The Commonwealth of England was the formal name of the English republic of Oliver Cromwell, and after the American Revolution former colonies such as Massachusetts named themselves commonwealths. The term was used occasionally in the pre-1914 period as a synonym for the British Empire, especially by those who wanted to emphasize its constitutional nature.
   The Balfour Declaration of 1926 recognized all the dominions as being of equal status within “the British Commonwealth of Nations,” and became for a generation something of a synonym for the British Empire, particularly in discussions pertaining to the emigrant dominions. After World War II, the adjective British was dropped, and the Commonwealth devolved in the rather ethereal entity it is today. The name, which once clothed absolute authority, in the twentieth century served thinly to camouflage the dissolution of power.
   FURTHER READING:
    Mansergh, Nicholas. The Commonwealth Experience. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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  • Commonwealth — of Nations « Commonwealth » redirige ici. Pour les autres significations, voir Commonwealth (homonymie) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Commonwealth — Com‧mon‧wealth [ˈkɒmənwelθ ǁ ˈkɑː ] also ˌCommonwealth of ˈNations noun ORGANIZATIONS an organization of about 50 countries that were once part of the British empire, and that are now connected politically and economically: • Britain s gradual… …   Financial and business terms

  • commonwealth — [käm′ənwelth΄] n. [ME commun welthe: see COMMON & WEALTH] 1. the people of a nation or state; body politic 2. a) a nation or state in which there is self government; democracy or republic b) a federation of states [the Commonwealth of Australia ] …   English World dictionary

  • commonwealth — com·mon·wealth / kä mən ˌwelth/ n 1: a nation, state, or other political unit: as a: one founded on law and united by compact or tacit agreement by the people for the common good b: one in which supreme authority is vested in the people c …   Law dictionary

  • commonwealth — ► NOUN 1) an independent state or community, especially a democratic republic. 2) (the Commonwealth or in full the Commonwealth of Nations) an association consisting of the UK together with states that were previously part of the British Empire,… …   English terms dictionary

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  • commonwealth — [kɔmɔnwɛls] n. m. ÉTYM. 1948, Larousse; mot angl., « communauté », abrév. de Commonwealth of Nations. ❖ ♦ Ensemble des États et territoires émancipés de l ancien Empire britannique, liés entre eux par le seul serment d allégeance à la Couronne… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Commonwealth — Com mon*wealth (?; 277), n. [Common + wealth well being.] 1. A state; a body politic consisting of a certain number of men, united, by compact or tacit agreement, under one form of government and system of laws. [1913 Webster] The trappings of a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Commonwealth — (izg. kȍmonvelt) m DEFINICIJA pol. naziv za zajednicu zemalja koje sačinjavaju Britansko Kraljevstvo ETIMOLOGIJA engl. The Commonwealth of Nations …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • commonwealth — late 15c., public welfare, general good, from COMMON (Cf. common) (adj.) + WEALTH (Cf. wealth); meaning the state is attested from 1510s; applied specifically to the government of England in the period 1649 1660 …   Etymology dictionary

  • commonwealth — [n] political or geographic area body politic, citizenry, citizens, commonality, democracy, federation, nation, people, polity, republic, society; concepts 301,512 …   New thesaurus

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