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'To the Foundation of a Common-Wealth': English Society and the Colonisation of Virginia, c. 1607-1642

Ewen, MO; (2017) 'To the Foundation of a Common-Wealth': English Society and the Colonisation of Virginia, c. 1607-1642. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The colonisation of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607 marked the beginning of permanent English settlement in North America. This history of colonisation in Virginia has traditionally been told from the perspective of settlers in the Jamestown fort, or Virginia Company investors who were embroiled in faction. In contrast, historians have rarely engaged with how colonisation in Virginia interconnected with English society more broadly, including the impact that colonisation had on the cultural and political landscape of early modern England. This thesis explores this significant reciprocal component of colonisation, drawing on a wider range of historical actors and issues to explore how colonisation shaped contemporary English society. To do this, this study adopts the concept of commonwealth as the key lens of analysis, as it framed how individuals across the English Atlantic world responded to colonisation: investment in the colony, transatlantic transportation and trade, as well as representations of Virginia in letters, print and on stage, were articulated in terms of commonwealth. This approach tests the claim that the motivation for colonisation in Virginia was ‘trade and plunder’, by considering the wider social and political context of overseas expansion; however, it also offers a new interpretation of how people across the social spectrum in English society experienced and responded to colonisation in Virginia. Thus, the thesis offers a new interpretation of colonisation as it shaped English society, politics and culture in the early seventeenth century.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: 'To the Foundation of a Common-Wealth': English Society and the Colonisation of Virginia, c. 1607-1642
Event: UCL
Language: English
Keywords: Colonisation, Virginia, England, society, early modern, seventeenth century, history
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1561341
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