Modernity and the spirit of the sea: Maritime influences on early modern English state institutions and society, 1485-1763
McKittrick, Paul Joseph
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Beginning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Europeans developed and applied science and technology in a project of oceanic exploration, trade, and colonization, that when coupled with messianic fervor, entrepreneurial energy, and imperial ambition, was truly world-changing. It is the purpose of this thesis to examine the concomitant development of institutions of the modern state and the society that emerged in the Early Modern period, with a specific focus upon England from the Tudor dynasty through the Georgian era. Atlantic maritime programs did not produce modernity, but did play an integral role in its fitful emergence, especially in this most nautically focused island nation. It is my contention that the modern nation state and society - centrally organized and secretive; bureaucratically controlled; invested in scientific progress for economic and political aggrandizement; capitalist; technologically dependent and adaptable; and industrial in both economics and war - was both a product and a source of European, and specifically English dominance at sea. The rewards for its maritime prominence were profound as England’s naval and merchant fleets came to dominate all the earth’s oceans throughout the nineteenth century.