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Protestant Empire
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Protestant Empire
Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World

Carla Gardina Pestana

312 pages | 6 x 9 | 20 illus.
Paper 2010 | ISBN 9780812221503 | $26.50s | Outside the Americas £19.99
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"A remarkably learned survey of religion and empire in the British Atlantic world."—Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

"In an ambitious, compelling discussion of Protestantism in the British Atlantic, Carla Gardina Pestana asks whether religion trumped politics and militarism in the shaping of colonies, the growth of empires, and the development of cultural identities. She makes a strong case that religion became the driving force of British expansion in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries."—William and Mary Quarterly

"Protestant Empire is the most balanced account we now possess of religion and the shaping of the British Atlantic world from the Reformation to the American Revolution. Carla Gardina Pestana lucidly shows how religion joined the various parts of that world into a bounded whole yet introduced deep divisions whose consequences remain with us today. Her successful synthesis offers an authoritative introduction to these developments for students and scholars alike."—David Armitage, Harvard University

"Britain was the world's mightiest Protestant empire, but it was also an empire of striking religious diversity and fragmentation. In this important, wide-ranging book, Carla Pestana examines the religious consequences of Britain's early modern expansion for people throughout the Atlantic basin. The result is a major contribution to the history of the British Atlantic world."—Eliga H. Gould, University of New Hampshire

The imperial expansion of Europe across the globe was one of the most significant events to shape the modern world. Among the many effects of this cataclysmic movement of people and institutions was the intermixture of cultures in the colonies that Europeans created. Protestant Empire is the first comprehensive survey of the dramatic clash of peoples and beliefs that emerged in the diverse religious world of the British Atlantic, including England, Scotland, Ireland, parts of North and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa. Beginning with the role religion played in the lives of believers in West Africa, eastern North America, and western Europe around 1500, Carla Gardina Pestana shows how the Protestant Reformation helped to fuel colonial expansion as bitter rivalries prompted a fierce competition for souls.

The English—who were latecomers to the contest for colonies in the Atlantic—joined the competition well armed with a newly formulated and heartfelt anti-Catholicism. Despite officially promoting religious homogeneity, the English found it impossible to prevent the conflicts in their homeland from infecting their new colonies. Diversity came early and grew inexorably, as English, Scottish, and Irish Catholics and Protestants confronted one another as well as Native Americans, West Africans, and an increasing variety of other Europeans. Pestana tells an original and compelling story of their interactions as they clung to their old faiths, learned of unfamiliar religions, and forged new ones. In an account that ranges widely through the Atlantic basin and across centuries, this book reveals the creation of a complicated, contested, and closely intertwined world of believers of many traditions.

Carla Gardina Pestana, W. E. Smith Professor of History at Miami University, is the author or editor of several books, including The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661.

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