Tudor Imperialism: Exploration, Expansion, and Experimentation in the Sixteenth-Century British Atlantic World
Hower, Jessica Sarah
This dissertation engages questions about the formation of empires and the relationship between imperial expansion and national consolidation. At the intersection of domestic British, British imperial, and Atlantic history in the early modern period, this study argues for the significance of the sixteenth century to the formation and development of Britain and the British Empire. It examines some of the earliest imperial designs undertaken by the crown and its subjects, in the sixteenth century, in settings within Europe, the British Isles, and the Americas. It traces this Tudor-era overseas experimentation in its diverse forms to show how territorial growth abroad and domestic consolidation and identity formation at home functioned together, intertwined and mutually-reinforcing in ideology and practice, from the accession of Henry VII in 1485 to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.In six substantive chapters, I reperiodize the sixteenth century, weaving together national, European, imperial, and Atlantic contexts, rather than focusing on the ebbs of the monarchy or religion alone. Using a wide array of interdisciplinary sources--including state papers, parliamentary, shipping, and court records, private correspondence, political philosophy, travel narratives, and material culture--and methods, this dissertation draws on material from six locations of imperial enterprise, chosen for their diversity in geography, chronology, type (from military occupation to settlement to trading company to commercial entrepôt), and limited scholarly treatment. It privileges these early, uneven, oft-overlooked enterprises in France (Tournai), Scotland, Ireland, Newfoundland, Virginia (Roanoke), and Guiana to find a flurry of highly significant, related, extra-territorial efforts on the part of the British and Irish marked by a mix of continuity, borrowing, and change. As such, this project challenges the insularity of traditional domestic Tudor historiography as well as the chronological and geographical constraints of imperial and early modern histories and integrates an Atlantic approach--the first to link these scholarly endeavors. It seeks to create a dialogue among new British, imperial, and Atlantic fields and help reframe British history, integrating the processes of nation-, empire-, and identity-building and breaking down the divides and boundaries between subfields and analytical topics in early modern scholarship.
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