“Politicall Science and Martiall Prudence”

Philip J. Stern

in The Company-State

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780195393736
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896837 | DOI:
“Politicall Science and Martiall Prudence”

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This chapter investigates the ideological foundations of the policies, institutions, and behaviors of the East India Company in the later part of the seventeenth century. It shows that Company leaders’ attitudes, reflecting current debates and rooted in a variety of historical and contemporary exemplars (most notably the Dutch and Portuguese, but also European and Atlantic experiences), revealed a correlation between population and strength and a preoccupying concern with local revenue as the key to self-sustaining settlements in Asia. The Company was also concerned with cultivating order and virtue amongst its subjects, and expected inhabitants to fulfil their duty to a colony, both by paying taxes for the support of their own protection and upkeep as well as in active service. This was most clearly articulated in the Company’s decision to incorporate the town of Madras in 1687, but could be seen in a range of institutions throughout the Company’s system, such as the militia, tax farming, and other public offices. The Company emphasized the pivotal value of balance, whether between universal principles of government and the demands of local law and customs or amongst religions, nationalities, and castes in its ever-growing cosmopolitan colonies.

Keywords: political thought; ideology; political economy; revenue; virtue; Madras corporation; militia; tax farming

Chapter.  8389 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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