It is relevant that both my previous featured book and today’s both have titles including the word Trade. So often the colonial nature of the East India Company is what is stressed but, in Thomas Bowrey’s day, its only interest was trade. There are references within the records of the Company that point to settlement building – for example, at Bombay there were efforts to stop widows and their children returning home – but these settlements were still only envisioned as viable trading communities. But Bombay was different having been ceded to England in the dowry of Catherine of Braganza. In the main, the factories were little islands that existed by permission of the local rules.
Monsoon Traders: The Maritime World of the East India Company is a series of essays that consider the wealth and power that grew from this trade alongside the maritime service essential for it to be carried out. In another beautifully illustrated book, the authors of the essays: H V Bowen, John McAleer and Robert J Blyth focus on the beginnings and end of the Company plus diplomacy, conflict and conquest by sea.
Today, globalisation is of great concern and it is important that we understand its roots. The desire for goods from across the world has existed for centuries. The only difference is the nature of the luxury goods we coveted. Where once we imported spices, silks, porcelain and tea, today it is the latest technology and designer clothing.