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Colonial failure in the new world in the sixteenth century: a French and German comparison

Lang, Stefan (2011)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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During the first half of the sixteenth century attempts were made by Europeans to colonise Venezuela and Canada, as the rush for land in the New World increased at pace. Yet these colonial attempts have largely been forgotten by history despite the legacies they left both for Europe and the American continent itself. There are two reasons why these ventures have been overlooked. Firstly, they were non-Iberian. Secondly, they both failed. The efforts of the Welser merchant-banking company to colonise Venezuela (1528-1556) and the French Crown to settle Canada (1541-1543) have been subordinated in the historical literature to the successful colonisation carried out by the Spanish and the Portuguese in the New World, which began at the end of the fifteenth century, and led to imperial empires. Indeed, the phenomenon of colonial failure as a whole has remained relatively unpopular amongst academics. Whilst some more “popular” failed colonies have been studied individually, there has been no comparative approach to determine the shared causes for failure amongst a number of unsuccessful enterprises during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This work shall look to produce such a comparative, using the Welser and French colonies as case studies, given their underrepresentation in the literature. It shall use the few available primary sources, as well as foreign-language studies, to give a detailed understanding of the factors that caused the colonies to fail. A lack of preparedness, a lust for riches amongst the colonists, and poor foreign relations shall be identified as the three main causes for failure, each of which could be applied to a greater or lesser extent to other failed colonies. These attempts at colonisation shaped the early settlement patterns in the New World, impacted upon the social and political structures of the native populace and led to considerable alteration of the natural environment. It is important that we increase our understanding of them.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Small, Margaret
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Subjects:D History (General)
D204 Modern History
D880 Developing Countries
DC France
DD Germany
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3031
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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