Volume I of The Oxford History of the British Empire explores the origins of empire. It shows how and why
England, and later Britain, became involved with transoceanic navigation, trade, and settlement during
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As late as 1630 involvement with regions beyond the traditional confines of Europe was still tentative; by 1690 it had become a firm commitment. The Origins of Empire explains how commercial and, eventually, territorial expansion brought about fundamental change, not only in the parts of America, Africa, and Asia that came under British influence, but also in domestic society and in Britain's relations with other European powers.
The chapters, by leading historians, both illustrate the interconnections between developments in Europe and overseas and offer specialist studies on every part of the world that was substantially affected by British colonial activity. Their analysis also focuses on the ethical issues that were presented by the encounter with peoples previously unknown to Europeans, and on the ways in which the colonists struggled to justify their conduct and activities.
The Oxford History of the British Empire is a major new assessment of the Empire in the light of recent
scholarship and the progressive opening of historical records. From the founding of colonies in North America and the West Indies in the seventeenth century to the reversion of Hong Kong to China at the end of the twentieth, British imperialism was a catalyst for far-reaching change. The Oxford History of the British Empire as a comprehensive study allows us to understand the end of Empire in relation to its beginnings, the meaning of British imperialism for the ruled as well as the
rulers, and the significence of the British Empire as a theme in world history.
Nicholas Canny is Professor of History and Academic Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Settlement and Historical Change at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
1. The Origins of Empire: An Introduction ; 2. The Struggle for Legitimacy and the Image of Empire in the Atlantic to c. 1700 ; 3. War, Politics, and Colonization 1558-1625 ; 4. Guns and Sails in the First Phase of English Colonization 1500-1650 ; 5. 'Civilizing of those Rude Partes': Colonization within Britain and Ireland 1580s-1640s ; 6. England's New Word and the Old 1480s-1630s ; 7. Tobacco Colonies: The Shaping of English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake ; 8. New England in the Seventeenth Century ; 9. The Hub of Empire: The Caribbean and Britain the Seventeenth Century ; 10. The English in Western Africa to 1700 ; 11. The English in Asia to 1700 ; 12. Literature and Empire ; 13. The English Government, War, Trade, and Settlement 1625-1688 ; 14. New Opportunities for British Settlement: Ireland 1650-1700 ; 15. Native Americans and Europeans in English America 1500-1700 ; 16. The Middle Colonies: New Opportunities for Settlement 1660-1700 ; 17. 'Shaftesbury's Darling': British Settlement in the Carolinas at the Close of the Seventeenth Century ; 18. Overseas Expansion and Trade in the Seventeenth Century ; 19. The Emerging Emprire: The Continental Perspective 1650-1715 ; 20. The Glorious Revolution and America ; 21. Navy, State, Trade, and Empire