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Colonies— an Attempt at a Typology*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 February 2009

M. I. Finley
Jesus College, Cambridge.


IN her recently published diary of her first visit to Africa, in 1929, Margery Perham reported a conversation with seven degree-course men at the newly established college at Fort Hare. When, inevitably, talk got round to conditions in South Africa, they asked ‘terrible questions’. ‘Can England do nothing then?’ ‘But South Africa is the possession of England.’ ‘But the King! He is King of South Africa. What does he think? Will he do nothing?’

Research Article
Copyright © Royal Historical Society 1976

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1 Perham, M., African Apprenticeship (London, 1974), p. 50Google Scholar.

2 52 & 53 Vict., c. 63, sect. 18 (2).

3 28 & 29 Vict., c. 63, sect. 1, and 52 & 53 Viet., c. 63, sect. 18 (3), respectively.

4 Seeley, J. R., The Expansion of England, ed. Gross, John (Chicago and London, 1971), P. 55Google Scholar.

5 Hailey, Lord, An African Survey, rev. 1956 (London and New York, 1957), p. 146Google Scholar.

6 See Wight, Martin, British Colonial Constitutions 1947 (Oxford, 1952), pp. 15Google Scholar.

7 Quoted from Semmel, B., The Rise of Free Trade Imperialism (Cambridge, 1970), p. 8CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 ‘European Colonial Experience. A Plea for Comparative Studies’, in Studi in onore di Gino Luzzatto, iv (Milan, 1950), pp. 7590Google Scholar.

9 As an illustration, note how Lopez, Robert unnecessarily explains why the medieval Genoese comptoires in the Levant could not have become ‘colonie di popolamento’: Storia delle colonie genovesi (Bologna, 1938), p. 457Google Scholar. The two most important works I have in mind are Roscher, W., Kolonien, Kolonialpolitik und Auswanderung, originally published in 1848 and much enlarged in a 3rd edn, with Jannasch, K. (Leipzig, 1885)Google Scholar, by the addition of a new section, ‘Deutsche Aufgaben in der Gegenwart’; and Leroy-Beaulieu, Paul, De la colonisation chez les peuples modèrnes (1874; 3rd edn, Paris, 1886)Google Scholar. In view of the repute of Maunier, R., Sociologie coloniale (2 vols, Paris, 19321936)Google Scholar, it is worth noting that among the many remarkable things to be found there is the claim that the only attempt before his own to ‘define colonization systematically’ is Hardy, Georges, ‘Colonisation’, Revue de synthèse, i (1931), pp. 6180Google Scholar. Hardy's sole concern was the French policy of colonization after the Restoration, and his article consists largely of long quotations from the Grand Larousse, Leroy-Beaulieu, Girault and others.

10 The ‘title’ is worth reproducing in full: Principes de colonisation et de législation coloniale. Les Colonies françaises avant et depuis 1815. Notions historiques, administratives, juridiques, économiques et financiéres. The first edn appeared in 1895; the 5th (1926–29) required five vols.

11 Thus, I could find only ‘colonie’, never ‘plantation’, in this sense in the documents, beginning as eaily as 1635, quoted in Petit, Emilien, Droit public ou Gouvernment des colonies françaises (1771; ed. Girault, A., Paris, 1911)Google Scholar; or in Malouet, V. P., Collection de mémoires et correspondances officielles sur l'administration des colonies (5 vols, Paris, 1802)Google Scholar, whereas the latter occasionally uses ‘plantation’ in the tropical sense' e.g. ‘plantatiou de café’ (i, 71). Among modern French writers, ‘colonie de plantation’ or ‘système de plantation’ is of course restricted to the latter type; see e.g. Leroy-Beaulieu, , Colonisation, p. 155Google Scholar; Brunschwig, H., Mythes et réalités de l'impérialisme colonial français 1871–1914 (Paris, 1960), pp. 12Google Scholar.

12 See Beer, G. L., The Old Colonial System (2 vols, 1913Google Scholar; repr. Gloucester, Mass., 1958), i, 231–34.

13 See e.g. Moody, T. W., The Londonderry Plantation 1603–41 (Belfast, 1939)Google Scholar; Barnard, T. C.Planters and Policies in Cromwellian Ireland’, Past and Present, no. 61 (1973), pp. 3169CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14 The participation of migrants from other countries is a complication which I cannot discuss, except for a brief mention below.

15 England and America (2 vols, London, 1833), ii, 74Google Scholar (from the 200-page ‘note’ entitled ‘The Art of Colonization’). It is perhaps worth reporting that the ‘plantation’ synonym for ‘colony’ was still a current term for Wakefield: ‘In the case of every plantation in North America, whether English, French, or Dutch, the settlers had to contend.…’: Letter from Sydney (Everyman's Library edn, London, 1929), p. 36Google Scholar.

18 On Wakefield's place in the economic debates of the time, see Semmel, , Free Trade Imperialism, and Winch, Donald, Classical Political Economy and Colonies (London, 1965)Google Scholar, both via the index.

17 Expansion of England, p. 50.

18 ‘Die Epoche der Kolonisation und die Erschliessung der Erde: Versuch einer Interpretation des europäischen Zeitalters’, in his In Gegenwart der Geschichte(Köln and Berlin, 1967), pp. 179270Google Scholar.

19 See Wight, , Colonial Constitutions, p. 5Google Scholar.

20 That is the mouse produced by Maunier, Sociologie coloniale, in his thunderous assault in the opening chapter on the ‘conventional conception’ that ‘colonization is only one form of conquest’, against which, he says, it is ‘a contact of peoples’.

21 Fieldhouse, D. K. in France and Britain in Africa, ed. Gifford, P. and Louis, W. R. (New Haven and London, 1971), pp. 600 –01Google Scholar.

22 Kolonien, pp. 3–4.

23 Verlinden, G., The Beginnings of Modern Colonization (Ithaca, N.Y., 1970), pp. xiii, xviiiGoogle Scholar. This volume is a collection in English translation of articles published over a considerable time-span.

24 The relevance of that relationship is particularly clear in Prawer's, Colonization Activities in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem’, Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire, xxix (1951), pp. 10631118CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

25 The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (London, 1972), p. 469Google Scholar.

26 Nor did they impress the one review in a scholarly journal I have seen, Brundage, J. A. in Speculum, 1 (1975), pp. 145 –47CrossRefGoogle Scholar, though he concludes that the wrongheaded notion was worth pursuing.

27 Latin Kingdom, p. 470.

28 Latin Kingdom, p. 478.

29 Ibid., pp. 478, 480.

30 For an analysis unhampered by the self-imposed chains of ‘colonialism’, see Riley-Smith, J., The Feudal Nobility and the Kingdom of Jerusalem (London, 1973)Google Scholar.

31 The best short account known to me is Barraclough, G., The Origins of Modern Germany (2nd edn, Oxford, 1947), chap. 10Google Scholar.

32 A prime example of the political overtones in present-day accounts is Schlesinger, W., ‘Die geschichtliche Stellung der mittelalterlichen deutschen Ostbewegung’, Historische Zeitschrift, clxxxiii (1957), pp. 517 –42Google Scholar. He finds the ‘colonization’ label ‘nicht vdllig gerecht’ because eastern neighbours do not like it, and because the movement resulted in a ‘Wohn- und Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft’ that grew into a ‘Schicksalsgemeinschaft’.

33 Thiret, F., ‘La Romanie vénitienne au moyen-âge’ (Bibl. des Ecoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome, no. 193, 1959)Google Scholar.

34 See Argenti, P. P., The Occupation of Chios by the Genoese… 1346–1566 (3 vols, Cambridge, 1958), i, chap. 12Google Scholar.

35 That is where the nt h edn of the Encyclopaedia Britannica located them.

36 Wealth of Notions, ed. Cannan, E. (Univ. Paperbacks edn, London, 1961), ii, pp. 124, 75Google Scholar.

37 Brett, E. A., Colonialism and Underdevelopment in East Africa (London, 1973), p. 44Google Scholar.

38 For ‘waste land’ as a euphemism, see the documents in the unsuccessful attempt, between 1885–1900, to take the land in the Gold Coast into the Crown's possession, quoted extensively by Kimble, D., A Political History of Ghana (Oxford, 1963), chap. 9Google Scholar.

39 Utopia, ed. Surtz, E. and Hexter, J. H. (New Haven and London, 1965), p. 137Google Scholar.

40 I must thank Quentin Skinner for directing my attention to the passage. The brief commentary on it by the Yale editois is almost wholly irrelevant, but at least they avoid the higher nonsense of others, briefly reported by Ames, Russell, Citizen Thomas More and His Utopia (Princeton, 1949), pp. 163 –67Google Scholar.

41 Parry, J. H., The Spanish Theory of Empire in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge, 1940), p. 20Google Scholar.

42 A translation will be found in Scott, J. B., The Spanish Origin of International Law (Oxford, 1934)Google Scholar.

43 Quoted in Kimble, , History of Ghana, p. 339Google Scholar.

44 Ageron, C.-R., Les Algériens musulmans et la France (1871–1919) (2 vols., Paris, 1968), i, chap. 4–5; ii, chap. 27–28Google Scholar. On Rhodesia, see Roder, W., ‘The Division of Land Resources in Southern Rhodesia’, Annals of the Assn. of American Geographers, liv (1964), pp. 4152, at pp. 45–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

45 George Padmore, quoted in Kimble, , History of Ghana, p. 354Google Scholar.

46 On Kenya and Uganda, see Brett, , Colonialism, part III, who also gives a brief analysis of the difference between settlement and absentee plantations, pp. 173–75Google Scholar.

47 Land and Society in Colonial Mexico, translated by Eustis, Alvin (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1963)Google Scholar.

48 A New Discourse of Trade (2nd edn, London, 1694), p. 213Google Scholar.

49 I have compiled these figures from Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1957, published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census (Washington, 1960), p. 756Google Scholar.

50 Kolonien, p. 20 and n. 2.

51 Colonisation, pp. 326–27. Mixed settlers could create difficulties: see Poncet, J., La colonisation et l'agriculture europiennes en Tunisie depuis 1881 (The Hague, 1962), pp. 341 –47Google Scholar.

52 These figures are taken from Palley, Clare, The Constitutional History and Law of Southern Rhodesia 1888–1965 (Oxford, 1966), p. xvii, n. 2Google Scholar; eds. Abshire, D. M. and Samuels, M. A., Portuguese Africa: A Handbook (London, 1969), p. 82Google Scholar; the U.S. Bureau of the Census volume cited above, n. 49.

53 Palley, , op. cit., p. 265 n. 4Google Scholar; Abshire, and Samuels, , op. cit., p. 268Google Scholar.

54 On Rhodesia, see especially Roder, ‘Land Resource’.

55 Colonisation, pp. 150–52.

56 See Brett, , Colonialism, pp. 167 –71Google Scholar.

57 See Rodney, W., ‘European Activity and African Reaction in Angola’, in Aspects of African History, ed. Ranger, T. O. (London, 1968), chap. 3Google Scholar.

58 The most important study is restricted to the Black Sea area: Pippidi, D. M., ‘Le problème de la main-d'oeuvre agricole dans les colonies grecques de la mer Noire’, in Problèmes de la terre en Grèce ancienne, ed. Finley, M. I. (Paris and The Hague, 1973), pp. 6382Google Scholar, reprinted in his Scythica Minora (Bucharest and Amsterdam, 1975), pp. 65–80.

59 See e.g. Barber, W. L., The Economy of British Central Africa (London, 1971), pp. 2939Google Scholar, and the alternative analysis by Arrighi, G. in chaps. 5 and 7 of Arrighi and Saul, J. S., Essays on the Political Economy of Africa (New Yorkand London, 1973)Google Scholar.

60 Quoted from Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization, ed. Avineri, S. (Garden City, N.Y., 1969), p. 473Google Scholar. For the original, see the edition of the EngelsKautsky correspondence by B. Kautsky (Vienna, 1955), p. 63.

61 The Case of Ireland's Being Bound by Acts of Parliament… (Dublin, 1698), p. 148Google Scholar. This is the notorious book in which Molyneux openly and without permission employed, in a ‘subversive’ way, the arguments which his friend John Locke had propounded anonymously in the Second Treatise against a conqueror's general right to the possessions of the subjugated people; see Dunn, John, ‘The Politics of Locke in England and America in the Eighteenth Century’, in John Locke; Problems and Perspectives, ed. Yolton, J. W. (Cambridge, 1969), pp. 4580, at pp. 65–67Google Scholar.

62 Brunt, P. A., ‘Reflections on British and Roman Imperialism’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, vii (1965), pp. 267 –84, at pp. 274, 276CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

63 The distinctions are brought out in detail and sharp clarity by Poncet, Tunisie, implicitly throughout and sometimes explicitly.

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