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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume I: The Origins of EmpireBritish Overseas Enterprise to the Close of the Seventeenth Century$
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Nicholas Canny

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205623

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205623.001.0001

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The English in Western Africa to 1700

The English in Western Africa to 1700

(p.241) 11 The English in Western Africa to 1700
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume I: The Origins of Empire

P. E. H. Hair

Robin Law

Oxford University Press

Like many other parts of the world before 1700, western Africa was linguistically and ethnically fragmented. In consequence, it had multiple polities of varying size, structure, and potential. Down to the late seventeenth century, the European impact on western Africa remained limited, and the specifically English impact less significant than that of the Portuguese and Dutch. In Guinea, in contrast to Portuguese Angola, direct influence was restricted to the immediate coastal area; Europeans, including the English, rarely penetrated the interior. The impact of their trade was felt more widely, with slaves in particular sometimes being brought from considerable distances inland. In the longer run, the growth of slave exports, together with imports of firearms, would have a profound effect in at least some areas of the interior, provoking dramatic political upheavals and stimulating the militarization of social structures; but only the beginnings of this process were visible by 1700.

Keywords:   Africa, Guinea, Angola, trade, slave exports, militarization, seventeenth century, firearms, English

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