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Title: Governing the Free Sea: The Dutch West India Company and Commercial Politics, 1618-1645
Authors: Bick, Alexander Brown
Advisors: Grafton, Anthony
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Brazil
Dutch Republic
Johannes de Laet
West India Company
Subjects: European history
Economic history
World history
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation takes a micro-historical approach to examine a single meeting of the board of directors of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) in the fall of 1645. At this meeting the directors learned that Portuguese planters in northeastern Brazil had risen in open revolt, a development that would cripple the company's new Atlantic empire. By meticulously reconstructing negotiations over five months--based on ordinary and secret minutes, memoranda, notes, diaries, letters, pamphlets, newspapers, and printed books--the dissertation reveals the decision-making mechanisms and institutions employed by a joint stock company to rule a major colony in the New World. It explores the nature of the WIC's relationship to the decentralized organs of the Dutch state and--in contrast to familiar images of the sober Dutch merchant--demonstrates both the important role played by the Dutch nobility and the use and adaptation of Iberian models for colonial administration. It examines the specific role of the Leiden scholar Johannes de Laet and, looking back at earlier meetings in the company's history, reinterprets negotiations over the company's charter and the relationship between arguments over free trade and slavery. In opposition to explanations that emphasize regional conflicts within the United Provinces or the inability to attract settlers, the dissertation explains the collapse of Dutch Brazil as resulting from long-standing tensions between merchants and noblemen and a consequent failure to recruit new leadership for the colony during the summer and fall of 1645. The dissertation proposes close examination of negotiation and compromise as a new method for studying political history.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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