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Enterprising Empires

Russia and Britain in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia

Matthew P. Romaniello (Weber State University, Utah)



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Cambridge University Press
26 November 2020
Commercial competition between Britain and Russia became entangled during the eighteenth century in Iran, the Middle East, and China, and disputes emerged over control of the North Pacific. Focusing on the British Russia Company, Matthew P. Romaniello charts the ways in which the company navigated these commercial and diplomatic frontiers. He reveals how geopolitical developments affected trade far more than commercial regulations, while also challenging depictions of this period as a straightforward era of Russian economic decline. By looking at merchants' and diplomats' correspondence and the actions and experiences of men working in Eurasia for Russia and Britain, he demonstrates the importance of restoring human experiences in global processes and provides individual perspective on this game of empire. This approach reveals that economic fears, more than commodities exchanged, motivated actions across the geopolitical landscape of Europe during the Seven Years' War and the American and French Revolutions.
By:   Matthew P. Romaniello (Weber State University Utah)
Imprint:   Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 16mm
Weight:   415g
ISBN:   9781108703086
ISBN 10:   1108703089
Pages:   307
Publication Date:   26 November 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Introduction; 1. Opening opportunities; 2. Managing mercantilism; 3. Asian aspirations; 4. Navigating neutrality; 5. Continental challenges; Afterword.

Matthew P. Romaniello is Assistant Professor of History at Weber State University, Utah, and previously was Professor of History at the University of Hawai'i. He is the editor of Sibirica: Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies, and is the author of The Elusive Empire: Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552-1671 (2012).

Reviews for Enterprising Empires: Russia and Britain in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia

'Matthew P. Romaniello has uncovered a fascinating cast of characters through whom he reinterprets the history of Anglo-Russian relations in the eighteenth century, revealing both Britain and Russia in unexpected ways. This book is essential reading for British, imperial, and Atlantic historians interested in a fresh perspective on the entangled empires of the eighteenth-century world.' Alison Games, Georgetown University, Washington DC 'Enterprising Empires is an outstanding addition to the literature on Russia as a Eurasian empire. By reconstructing the interactions of the Russian and British governments, and British trading companies with the dynamics of Russia's far-flung peripheries, Romaniello shows how empire worked in actual practice in the early modern era.' Alexander M. Martin, University of Notre Dame, Indiana 'Matthew P. Romaniello's impressive and original study throws novel and persuasive light on the Anglo-Russian trading relationship during the long eighteenth century. Firmly rejecting the trope of Russia's 'economic backwardness', he instead reveals the vitality of this commerce and its key Eurasian dimension, with important implications for current debates in global history. Warmly recommended.' Hamish Scott, Jesus College, Oxford 'Romaniello's Enterprising Empires examines early modern trade between the British and Russian empires through the lens of two historiographical propositions. The first proposition is that economic history must go beyond the analysis of economic structures to focus on the personal stories of the merchants and government officials engaged in international trade. ... The second, narrower proposition challenges the presumption that Russia's resistance to economic and political modernization caused its economic decline. Romaniello claims that, in fact, in terms of trade policy Russia and Britain shared a common mercantilist orientation throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, and for much of the period Russia enjoyed a positive balance of trade with the British empire. The author argues that Western European dynamism, not Russian backwardness, created the two countries' economic divergence during the 19th century. ... Highly recommended.' S. P. Harshner, Choice

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