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For God, King, and PeopleForging Commonwealth Bonds in Renaissance Virginia$
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Alexander B. Haskell

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469618029

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469618029.001.0001

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Conquerors, Governors, and Chroniclers

Conquerors, Governors, and Chroniclers

The Persona of the “Captain”

(p.82) [2] Conquerors, Governors, and Chroniclers
For God, King, and People

Alexander B. Haskell

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the efforts by Elizabethan colonizers like Sir Walter Ralegh to define their persona as captain as entailing a calling of considerable providential significance. Drawing on the Renaissance ideal of imperium as the strength needed to pin down the world's sinful inconstancy, sixteenth-century English proponents of colonization argued that captains possessed the manly fortitude and prophetical insight needed to carry out God's will in conquering areas where Elizabeth's sovereignty was sound but not yet realized. An anxiety that underlay the attempts by writers like Richard Hakluyt the clergyman to defend Elizabethan conquest in America was the simmering worry, especially pronounced in an age of religious division and Spanish-Habsburg dominance, that God did not grant sovereignty to female rulers. Thus, her captains took on an especially precarious role in embodying England's imperial crown overseas, and failed colonies like Roanoke would eventually come to epitomize the Elizabethan captains' ignobility for their ineffectuality as conquerors.

Keywords:   Sir Walter Ralegh, colonizing captains, imperium, England's imperial crown, conquest, Elizabeth I, female sovereignty, Richard Hakluyt, Roanoke, Spanish-Habsburgs

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