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Book description

Humanism and America provides a major study of the impact of the Renaissance and Renaissance humanism upon the English colonization of America. The analysis is conducted through an interdisciplinary examination of a broad spectrum of writings on colonization, ranging from the works of Thomas More to those of the Virginia Company. Andrew Fitzmaurice shows that English expansion was profoundly neo-classical in inspiration, and he excavates the distinctively humanist tradition that informed some central issues of colonization: the motivations of wealth and profit, honour and glory; the nature of and possibilities for liberty; and the problems of just title, including the dispossession of native Americans. Dr Fitzmaurice presents a colonial tradition which, counter to received wisdom, is often hostile to profit, nervous of dispossession and desirous of liberty. Only in the final chapters does he chart the rise of an aggressive, acquisitive and possessive colonial ideology.

Reviews

'… represents a vital contribution, not only to the study of early modern English political thought, but also to the intellectual history of the British Atlantic world.'

Source: History

'… a new and thoroughly historicist view of early English colonization … Fitzmaurice demonstrates that humanism was the primary lens through which the English understood the promises and terms of establishing colonies in the Americas … Humanism and America is an intellectual history of the first order. Its influence on the historiography should be profound and it is especially important within the field of intellectual history because it demonstrates so convincingly the significance of humanism as an intellectual movement that influenced society and politics in England.'

Source: Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

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Contents

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