The impeachment trial of Warren Hastings has long been considered one of the key political trials in the history of the British empire. It was the first major public discursive event of its kind in England, and arguably in Europe as a whole, in which the colonial ambitions and practices of European powers in the east stood exposed to a close and comprehensive critique. In addition, the legal and moral legitimacy of colonialism itself was thrown into question before the highest judicial body in Britain, the House of Lords. The fact that the prosecution was led by Edmund Burke, one of the most articulate and prescient political statesman of modern Europe, has only added to the trial's enduring significance as a moment of critical reflection on colonial practices. Indeed, it could be argued that it was on this occasion, and in this act of defending the rights of an alien population against coercive colonial rule, that some of Burke's long-held political and ethical convictions found their clearest expression.