Article

Tudor and Stuart Britain in the Wider World, 1485-1685

Ken MacMillan

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0062
Tudor and Stuart Britain in the Wider World, 1485-1685

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  • History of the Americas
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Britain’s forays into the Atlantic world began with annual fishing expeditions to Newfoundland in the 1480s, which led to John Cabot claiming possession of that region in 1497. Despite this claim, by 1530 the British in America were eclipsed by French and Portuguese fishing. Under Queen Mary (r. 1553–1558), British exploration and trade shifted to parts of Russia, Persia (roughly modern-day Iran), and the Mediterranean. Under Queen Elizabeth (r. 1558–1603), while trade continued in eastern Europe, the English looked more seriously toward the Atlantic, first through trade and slaving in West Africa, and then through various exploratory and plundering voyages in the Caribbean and the North Atlantic. Later Elizabethan activities led to failed attempts at settlement in Newfoundland and America (Roanoke) and the establishment of the East India Company, whose structure would soon be copied by Atlantic trading companies. In 1607, the first permanent English colony was established in Jamestown, Virginia, followed in the next three decades by the migration of roughly fifty thousand British subjects to more than a dozen colonies on the eastern coast of North America and the Caribbean. In the second half of the 17th century, settlement continued into established and new colonies, and the English showed renewed interest in the Gold Coast of Africa. Occurring amidst all of these activities were British engagements with other European colonizing powers in the Atlantic (France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain). Although the Tudor and Stuart period is sometimes seen by scholars as a rather fitful and mundane beginning of empire, modern scholars often see these foundational experiences as critical to the subsequent extraordinary growth of the British Empire. Because of the richness of the field, this entry focuses on transatlantic activities and emphasizes the 16th and early 17th centuries, while other entries may be consulted for references to individual colonies settled during the later 17th century.

Article.  8191 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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