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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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The Providential State and the Legitimizing Fellowship of “Company”

The Providential State and the Legitimizing Fellowship of “Company”

(p.137) [3] The Providential State and the Legitimizing Fellowship of “Company”
For God, King, and People

Alexander B. Haskell

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores a new strategy for defending the Virginia project that emerged in the early seventeenth century as a male king, James I, ascended the English throne and as England's powerful secretary of state Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury, sought to overcome the dishonor attached to Elizabethan sovereign engagements overseas through a robust vision of state-led colonization. Eager to usher in an era of vigorous English sovereignty under a fit male ruler but discouraged by James's uneasiness in challenging Spanish title across the Atlantic, Salisbury became the energetic prime mover behind the Virginia Company. Intended to embody the English body politic and thereby endow the colonizing venture with a legitimacy derived more from the public than the king, the company was from the outset a controversial entity that leaned on a rich literature of the providential state to argue for Virginia's commonwealth status. After Salisbury's death, the company would become vulnerable to the machinations of James's new treasurer, Lionel Cranfield, first earl of Middlesex, who would seek to reinvent the Virginia Company as a mere trading company whose function was less to found a viable American kingdom than to ensure a steady flow of revenue to royal coffers.

Keywords:   James I, Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury, Virginia Company, state-led colonization, Providential state, Lionel Cranfield, first earl of Middlesex

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