Course overview

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had seen intense rivalry between various merchant groups (and their governments) to ‘capture’ the trade between Europe and the sources of spices and teas. As a result of this process various governments had licensed chartered companies not only to trade but to exercise a range of governmental functions in the territories which came under their control. These companies successively dominated the regions in which they operated until eventually they themselves came under governmental control and were dissolved. This is a lecture style course.

Course description

On this five week online lecture style course, we will look at the rivalry between various merchant groups and their governments to capture the trade between Europe and the sources of spices and teas. Themes to be discussed will include the wealth and spread of the trading companies; the rivalry of these companies in the Far East; the impact of these rivalries upon the area and the suppression of local governments; and the dissolution of the trading Companies and their legacy.

By the end of the course you will be able to relate the history of European rivalry in Asia; explain the reasons for the decline of the trading companies; understand the continuing importance of the tea trade; put into context the importance of the transformation of the trading companies into an imperial framework; and articulate the links between the United Kingdom and the areas controlled by the Companies.

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