Atlantic Empires of France and Spain: Louisbourg and Havana, 1700-1763

Atlantic Empires of France and Spain: Louisbourg and Havana, 1700-1763

Atlantic Empires of France and Spain: Louisbourg and Havana, 1700-1763

Atlantic Empires of France and Spain: Louisbourg and Havana, 1700-1763

Synopsis

Atlantic Empires of France and Spain is a comparative study of the colonies of Cape Breton and Cuba within their imperial systems and within the Atlantic world in general. John McNeill examines the importance of these colonies fo the French and Spanish empires, particularly in light of Britain's rise to dominance among European imperial powers.

McNeil covers French and Spanish economic and military policy toward the colonies, as well as the empires' actual economic and military roles. Particular colonial trades -- codfish in Cape Breton and sugar and tobacco in Cuba -- were important to the economies of the mother countries.

Both colonies proved to be highly profitable and comparatively inexpensive to defend, govern, and maintain, but, as McNeill shows, managing them from a distance was not without problems. Smuggling was widespread throughout the colonies, although this illegal trading did not undermine the overall commercial success of the systems. In addition, because the preferred method of profiteering from a rival's empire was to seize cargo at critical points on the high seas, the imperial powers faced the continual threat of foreign attacks on their trade ships. McNeill also emphasizes the role of geography, climate, ecosystems, and disease patterns in thwarting Spanish and French ambitions in the New World.

Using archival research, McNeill illuminates the character of the Atlantic world of the eighteenth century by offering information on the economy and defense of two colonies. He also delineates the importance of overseas holdings to European states and the problems of imperial management.

Originally published in 1985.

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