The audience for General and Rare Memorials was relatively small, but included the most influential privy councilors members. Although the recommendations presented in the book were never implemented, many of Elizabeth’s key advisors appreciated and shared this vision for an empire. It also provided the English with a sense of superiority and potential hegemony, as well as with examples of the “heroic feats of those champions of English expansion who had gone before”. That vision also prophesized that Britain would undertake a great imperial adventure.
Another such influential intellectual was John Wolfe , who published a translated version of Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s Discourse of Voyages in 1598. In the introduction to the work he extorts the English to take their rightful place as an ocean-going, imperial nation, both for the riches such action would bring to England and for the civility they would return to inferior parts of the world. The narrative further encourages the English to spread the message of Christianity and civility to the uncivilized natives of foreign lands. However, Wolfe mentions, that trade and commerce were more important than domination of the rest of the world.
The British Empire, as we saw was not one monolithic enterprise. The form it took in its peak during the 19th century, was the culmination of complex sequence of historical events. However, the late early modern period provided shape for things to come. Commercial interests, religious propaganda, advancement in naval technology, competition from neighboring states and most importantly ideologies, all contributed in one way or the other. Some of the ideological foundations were based on prejudice and naiveté, as we now know. It includes racism and the notion of spreading liberty. The late 16th and 17th centuries laid the foundation for the peak that the British empire would ultimately reach.
Armitage, David. (2000). Ideological Origins of the British Empire.
Port Chester, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Canny, Nicholas. Writing Early Modern History: Ireland, Britain and the Wider World. The Historical Journal ,46,3 (2003), pp.723 – 747 f 2003 Cambridge University Press
Cormack, Lesley B. Britannia Rules The Waves?: Images of Empire in Elizabethan England. Early Modern Literary Studies 4.2 / Special Issue 3 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/04-2/cormbrit.htm>
Johnson, Robert. (2003). British Imperialism.
Gordonsville, VA, USA: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mancke, Elizabeth. Early Modern Expansion and the Politicization of Oceanic Space., Geographical Review, 00167428, Apr99, Vol. 89, Issue 2
1 Johnson, Robert. (2003). British Imperialism.
2 Armitage, David. (2000). Ideological Origins of the British Empire.
3, 4, 5 Mancke, Elizabeth. Early Modern Expansion and the Politicization of Oceanic Space.
6, 7, 8 Armitage, David. (2000). Ideological Origins of the British Empire
9 Johnson, Robert. (2003). British Imperialism
10, 11Johnson, Robert. (2003). British Imperialism
12, 13 Armitage, David. (2000). Ideological Origins of the British Empire
14 Cormack, Lesley B. Britannia Rules The Waves?: Images of Empire in Elizabethan England