The Web of Empire

English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Expansion, 1560-1660
Games, Alison
Date published: 
September 2008

In 1560, England was a weak kingdom on the margins of Europe. A century later, it was on its way to becoming a powerful empire, beginning to impose its will on people around the globe. In this sweeping account, Alison Games explores this century in which England's global stature was transformed. In their first forays outside of western Europe, the English learned to rely on accommodation and innovation rather than force. They transported this style around the world, always adapting to local opportunities and constraints. Drawing on the fascinating life stories of cosmopolitans who traveled, traded, preached, governed, and colonized all around the world, Games uncovers the knowledge and expectations that people transported to new enterprises and the elements that led ventures to thrive or fail. She links trading posts and colonies, soldier and ministers, merchants and diplomats, English and Scots, devastating failures and improbably successes. She follows her subjects to Japan, North America, Madagascar, Ireland, Tangier, Istanbul, and other destinations. A comparative imperial study and expansive world history, The Web of Empire makes a lasting argument about the formative years of the English empire.