Rupali MishraAug 29, 2018
A Business of State
Commerce, Politics, and the Birth of the East India Company
Harvard University Press 2018
Though today the public and private sectors are treated as distinct if not separate, the situation was quite different in early modern England. Back then the two were often intertwined, with one of the best examples of this being the English East India Company. In her book A Business of State: Commerce, Politics, and the Birth of the East India Company (Harvard University Press, 2018), Rupali Mishra examines the relationship between the Company and the English state in the early 17th century, showing the many ways in which the two were linked. As Mishra explains, their involvement began with the very creation of the Company, through the granting of a patent that delegated a degree of sovereignty to it. This empowerment was important to the Company’s success, though it also fueled conflicts both internally and with the broader London mercantile community. Added to the semi-official status that the Company sometimes possessed in its dealings abroad was the investment in the Company by many of the leading political figures of that time, including the king, James I. James was not above exploiting the Company as a tool of his policy, though the Company’s sometimes difficult relationship with the crown worsened after his passing in 1625, as his successor Charles I posed yet another series of challenges the Company had to navigate in order to maintain its very existence.