For the people of the Dawnland, they were floating islands. The sails resembled clouds, and the men gathered on deck looked like bears. When Europeans came ashore, whether Danes in what would become Newfoundland, English settlers in the land they named ‘Virginia’, their mastery of the oceans did not translate into supremacy on land. Small conflicts in colonial enclaves evolved into trans-Atlantic wars that transformed the political and social worlds of millions.
Europeans were people of the oceans, fanning out across the globe in vessels that pursued and extracted natural resources while doubling as weapons of war. For some time now, historians have approached the Atlantic as an integrated and connected world, defined by the movement of people, goods, and ideas. In Atlantic Wars: From the Fifteenth Century to the Age of Revolution
(Oxford UP, 2020), Geoffrey Plank uses war as a lens to examine the interactions of peoples who forged shared experiences amid endemic conflict. The result is a sweeping synthesis of the intermingling of European, Indigenous and African histories, which connects the Atlantic with Continental, Pacific, and Oceanic perspectives.
Geoffrey Plank is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia (UK).
Charles Prior is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Hull (UK), who has written on the politics of religion in early modern Britain, and whose work has recently expanded to the intersection of colonial, indigenous, and imperial politics in early America.