Mark G. Hanna
Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570 to 1740
University of North Carolina Press 2015
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in Caribbean StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network February 19, 2018 George Milne
Mark G. Hanna offers a unique perspective on the roles played by piracy in the formation of the British colonial project. In Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570 to 1740 (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2015), Hanna weaves a fascinating tale from legal and commercial sources to illustrate ways that the English government often tolerated, and at times encouraged predation on the high seas. The goods obtained in these thinly disguised robberies not only helped prime the economic pump of the England’s North American and Caribbean colonies, they were often vital for their survival during their early years. The tide turned against unregulated privateering and outright piracy after London reformed key aspects of overseas trade. As a result, formerly scarce commodities became widely available in the New World, diminishing the demand for stolen property. Simultaneously, the royal government also sought to rationalize its legal system, making it easier for Admiralty courts to prosecute pirates while also simplifying process of selling off goods seized by legitimate privateers who operated with the king’s permission.
George Milne is an associate professor of American History at Oakland University in Rochester Michigan. His research interests include Native American history, Colonial North America, and the Atlantic World. His book Natchez Country, Indians, Colonists, and the Landscapes of Race in French Louisiana was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2015. You can contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Facebook at George.E.Milne.