The Lords Proprietors: Land and Power in Seventeenth-Century North America

In order to understand the origins of settler colonialism in North America, we need to comprehend the contested assumptions about landed property and political power that dominated English colonial expansion in the late seventeenth century.

Lecture Description

If England’s King Charles II and his courtiers had their way, most of eastern North America would have been the personal property of about a dozen great men who dreamed of wielding virtually absolute power over their vast domains. Clearly things did not work out quite as planned for those who like to call themselves “Lords Proprietors.” This lecture discusses the competing forces at work—chartered corporations, ordinary colonists, and the Native Americans who actually owned the land—to explore a neglected chapter in the history of the English empire and why it still matters.


Colonial Pre-1700

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