Around the turn of the 19th century, a little island was added to the British Empire. Ireland had long been a territory of england, but had yet until then been an official part of the empire. This in my mind started the Imperial Age, in which random European upstarts and the USA rushed to grab land from locals and destroy the old empire, Spain. After the armada Spain had started to crumble, bereft of funds because of the desperate failure to destroy England. Her facade looked magnificent, but inside she was growing old and weak. The wars of the 18th and early 19th centuries helped to destroy her, and along with this her colonies broke away from her, leaving only the Philippines and Cuba. But another country was already setting its eyes on those possessions. The USA soon captured them in the Spanish-American war. Soon countries all over Europe had grabbed possessions in Africa and Asia if they hadn't done it already. Soon rivalries were formed that would tear Europe apart.