Migration [chapter]

Michael D. Bennett
2018 The Corporation as a Protagonist in Global History, c. 1550-1750  
Overseas trading companies were the driving force behind English commercial and territorial expansion during the seventeenth century. In early modern England corporations played a prominent role in municipal administration, the regulation of domestic trade associations such as the City of London's livery companies, and the governance of religious organisations.1 As part of a longstanding tradition which was premised upon Roman law, corporations united individuals with a common interest into a
more » ... n interest into a single legal entity to promote the shared aims of the collective. Beginning in the late sixteenth century, English joint-stock corporations were granted royal charters to monopolise trade with various regions of the world. For example, members of the Levant Company forged political alliances with the Ottoman Empire and erected trading posts in the eastern Mediterranean for the provision of raw silk, pepper and indigo, whereas the Muscovy Company enjoyed a monopoly over English trade with Russia from 1555 to 1698. While there have been a number of political and economic histories written about early modern trading companies, the role that corporations played in shaping patterns of migration across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds has been understated in the field of global history. Studying the varying types of migration presided over by chartered companies offer novel insights into the operation of colonial empires in the early modern world. The distinctiveness of this approach can be demonstrated by engaging with the 'pillars of corporate sociology for global interaction' identified in the introduction to this volume. The importance of overseas migration to the successful functioning of long distance trade during the early modern period will be considered in the first section of this essay. It will be argued that trading diasporas and chartered companies surmounted the technological limitations to conducting overseas commerce in similar ways, primarily by dispatching 1 William Pettigrew, 'Corporate Constitutionalism and the Dialogue between the Global and
doi:10.1163/9789004387850_004 fatcat:dtywmngw65f2depxxwn54ncexq