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.
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