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French Proprietary Colonies In The Greater Caribbean, 1620s–1670s

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the character of the corporate structure and methods of governance of French colonies in the Caribbean during the seventeenth century. The scanty research currently in progress on the seventeenth-century French Caribbean neglects white colonizers almost completely, perhaps understandable in a post-colonial era, and even more so issues related to colonial governance. The chapter appears to equate chartered companies with proprietary colonies, and for the most part that was the case. However, with the failure of the Company of the Islands of America, the governors of the Lesser Antillean colonies purchased their island groups between the years 1649–51. For the next years until 1664, these proprietors governed their possessions under only the nominal authority of the king. To a greater or lesser extent, these proprietors allowed free trade with all comers, but most especially with the ubiquitous Dutch.

Keywords: America; French Caribbean; Lesser Antillean colonies; proprietary colonies

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