The unlikely beginnings of the East India Company—from Tudor origins and rivalry with the superior Dutch—to laying the groundwork for future British expansion
The East India Company was the largest commercial enterprise in British history, yet its roots in Tudor England are often overlooked. The Tudor revolution in commerce led ambitious merchants to search for new forms of investment, not least in risky overseas enterprises—and for these “adventurers” the most profitable bet of all would be on the Company.
Through a host of stories and fascinating details, David Howarth brings to life the Company’s way of doing business—from the leaky ships and petty seafarers of its embattled early days to later sweeping commercial success. While the Company’s efforts met with disappointment in Japan, they sowed the seeds of success in India, setting the outline for what would later become the Raj. Drawing on an abundance of sources, Howarth shows how competition from European powers was vital to success—and considers whether the Company was truly “English” at all, or rather part of a Europe-wide movement.
David Howarth is emeritus professor at Edinburgh University. He is the author of Lord Arundel and His Circle, Images of Rule, and The Invention of Spain, and editor of Art and Patronage in the Caroline Courts.
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