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PhD defence

Mastering the Worst of Trades: England’s early Africa companies and their traders, 1618-1672.

Wednesday 19 September 2018
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

In 2018 it is 400 years since the first official English Africa company was launched. Yet we know very little about the role of the early trade in the greater history of overseas trade. This thesis presents and considers the development of England's Africa trade with its traders and companies through the 17th century, and argues for a reevaluation of important moments in the history of overseas trade when seen from the perspective of the Africa traders. By placing a consecutive line of company leaders and directors at the centre of focus - considering their perspective, motivations, experience and long-term aims, this thesis aims to add to our understanding of developments such as the slave trade and its format; the relationship between merchants and the English state; England's involvement with the Spanish Asiento, the relationship between the metropolitan mercantile community and the Atlantic planter society . As an extension it aims to show the malleability of the early modern overseas company, turning on its head the idea of the all-powerful company structure suppressing private enterprise, showing instead that company involvement was not always motivated by monetary profit nor necessarily seen as more than a tool to boost widespread private portfolios.


European Research Council (ERC)


  • Prof. C.A.P. Antunes


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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