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Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492–1640

Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492–1640


  • Date Published: February 1996
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521497572

£ 19.99

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About the Authors
  • This work of comparative history, first published in 1996, explores the array of ceremonies that Europeans performed to mark their taking possession of the New World. Frenchmen reproduced the grandeur of royal processions wherever possible, always ending in dialogue with the indigenous peoples. Spaniards made solemn speeches before launching military attacks. Dutchmen drew intensely detailed maps, scrutinizing harbours and coastlines as they disembarked. The Portuguese superimposed the grid of latitudes upon lands they were later to take by the sword. The English calmly laid out fences and hedges in the manner of their native shires. Through such activities each power considered itself to be creating imperial authority over the Americas; yet each failed to acknowledge the same significance in the ceremonies of other nations. This book develops the cultural contexts of these ceremonies, and tackles the implications of this historical legacy for contemporary nation-states in the post-colonial era.

    • Addresses the new historical topic of major political ceremonies at the start of colonial rule
    • Describes some of the important changes in science connected to European expansion
    • Examines in equal measure all five major European powers in the Americas: England, Spain, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands
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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 1996
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521497572
    • length: 208 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 151 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.29kg
    • contains: 4 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Houses, gardens, and fences: signs of English possession in the New World
    2. Ceremonies: the theatrical rituals of French political possession
    3. The requirement: a protocol for conquest
    4. 'A New Sky and New Stars': Arabic and Hebrew science, Portuguese seamanship, and the discovery of America
    5. Sailing in the wake of the Portuguese
    Conclusion: the habits of history.

  • Author

    Patricia Seed, Rice University, Houston

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