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Soldier and Citizen in the Seventeenth-Century English East India Company

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This article examines the role of fortifications, garrisons, and militia service in the English East India Company’s early settlements in Asia and the Atlantic. Affecting everything from the physical space of such a settlement to the status and rights of its inhabitants, the institutions and ideologies of a variety of forms of military service revealed the degree to which Company leadership had early on come to understand their settlements in Asia not as mere trading factories, but as colonial plantations, and their role as a government in Asia. Even if their lofty ambitions rarely met expectations, the Company sought within them to cultivate law, jurisdiction, and a robust civic life that could in turn ensure an active, obedient, and virtuous body of subjects and, in a sense, citizens. The attitudes toward and policies concerning soldiering also revealed the degree to which the Company’s seventeenth-century regime, so often treated as unique amongst English overseas ventures and Europeans in Asia, in fact drew and innovated upon models of governance across Europe, the Atlantic, and Asia.

Affiliations: 1: Duke University


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