How important has the sea been in the development of human history? Very important indeed is the conclusion of this ground-breaking four volume work. The books bring together the world's leading maritime historians, who address the question of what difference the sea has made in relation to around 250 situations ranging from the earliest times to the present. They consider, across the entire world, subjects related to human migration, trade, economic development, warfare, the building of political units including states and empires, the dissemination of ideas, culture and religion, and much more, showing how the sea was crucial to all these aspects of human development.
The Sea in History - The Early Modern World covers the period from around the end of the fifteenth century up to the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. It examines the establishment and growth of 'the Atlantic World', but also considers maritime developments in the Indian Ocean, Southeast and East Asia and Africa, and highlights the continuing importance of the North Sea and the Baltic. A very wide range of maritime subjects is explored including trade, which went through a huge global expansion in this period; fishing; shipping, shipbuilding, navigation and ports; the role of the sea in the dissemination of religious ideas; the nature of life for sailors in different places and periods; and the impact of trade in particularly important commodities, including wine, slaves, sugar and tobacco. One particularly interesting chapter is on the Hanse, the important maritime commercial 'empire' based in north Germany, which extended much more widely than is often realised and whose significance and huge impact have often been overlooked.
33 of the contributions are in English; 42 are in French.
CHRISTIAN BUCHET is Professor of Maritime History, Catholic University of Paris, Scientific Director of Océanides and a member of l'Académie de marine.
GÉRARD LE BOUDEC is Emeritus Professor of the University of South Brittany.