chapter  6
19 Pages

New World Power: A British Vision? c.1500–c.1750

A country’s conception of itself is never static. The ‘space’ it believes itself to occupy shifts constantly. Institutions and ideas deemed to be characteristic only become so by comparison and contrast with what is believed to prevail elsewhere. In turn, that external world reinforces or destroys indigenous as­ sumptions and aspirations. What is ‘core’ and what is ‘periphery,is likewise fragile. Perceptions of order and location, deemed immutable, quake and disintegrate in the light of new knowledge and fresh contexts. Yet the past still asserts itself in the mental maps of any age and people resist the 'reloca­ tion’ which the present seems to demand. The experience of the British Isles between 1500 and 1750 bears out these dicta admirably.