Book Review-‘A Low Set of Blackguards: The East India Company and its maritime service 1600–1834:volume 1, The Heroic Age 1600–1707’ by R. Woodman

By A. B. McLeod, published December 2020


The founding of the East India Company on the last day of 1600 showed the determination of London merchants to challenge the Dutch monopoly of the trade in spices. Hailed as the forerunner of a vast empire based on trade, writers such as Richard Hakluyt helped to arouse public support for the enterprise. Diplomacy dictated that the list of destinations included none where the Portuguese or Spanish had ‘any castle, fort blockhouse or commandment’. Shipping was chartered, commanders and officers appointed, stocks of supplies and victuals laid in, and outward cargo arranged. There were restrictions on the newly formed company: the monopoly was for 15 years; the number of ships and pinnaces were not to exceed six of each; the Company had to return as much bullion or specie as it took out to trade with; only 500 men could be employed. These were powerful restrictions, but the most potent inducement to invest lay in the fact that a monopoly was secured by ‘virtue of the prerogative royal’…

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Filed under: Other (Early Modern) | East India Company
Subjects include: Strategy & Diplomacy

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