HST3142/3143: Merchants, Mariners and Migrants: The English Overseas, 1570-1624

40 credits (semesters 1 and 2)

Module Leader: Dr Tom Leng


Module Summary

The period c.1570-1624 saw a reorientation of England’s global position, as increasing numbers of English people began to venture into unfamiliar regions. This course charts the nature and significance of their travels. We will encounter merchants in Europe, the Ottoman Empire and the far east, settlers and conquerors in Ireland and America, explorers in the frozen seas of the far north, and pirates in Spanish America. The latter part of the course focuses on the foundation of England’s first ‘successful’ American colony, Jamestown. Throughout, we consider the motives driving these ventures, and the complex nature of the encounters that ensued.


Teaching and Assessment

Seminar discussion of primary and secondary sources will help students to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the historiography of this period and of the principal varieties of primary source material available to historians. Through discussion of these primary and secondary materials students will develop their understanding of the factors that encouraged English people to venture into new territories in the late Elizabethan/early Stuart periods, and the significance of their experiences.

Information on assessment can be found at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level3


Selected Reading

  • Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade, plunder and settlement. Maritime enterprise and the genesis of the British Empire, 1480-1630 (Cambridge, 1984)
  • Alison Games, The Web of Empire. English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Expansion 1560-1660 (Oxford, 2008)
  • Karen Ordahl Kupperman, The Jamestown Project (Cambridge, Mass. and London, 2007)
  • Andrew Fitzmaurice, Humanism and America. An Intellectual History of English Colonisation 1500-1625 (Cambridge, 2003)
  • Michael Guasco, Slaves and Englishmen. Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World (Philadelphia, 2014)


Intended Learning Outcomes
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