Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba- Always have a Chair for the Queen

The Portuguese had begun colonizing Africa after their rounding of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488.  The English and the French had begun exploring northeast Africa, so the Portuguese concentrated on the south, what is now Congo and Angola.  Their chief aim was to provide slaves for their colony of Brazil in South America.

Ndongo was ruled by a king called a Ngola, and the government was run by slaves.  This was similar to the system of the janissaries in the Ottoman Empire.  Slaves loyal to the royal family took high positions in the government and the military to ensure absolute loyalty.  Ndongo was a trading partner of the Portuguese as much as you can be a partner of someone forcing you to do business with them.  The deal was basically, you provide us with slaves and we won’t make slaves of you.  Great deal.

In 1617, the Portuguese built a fort and a settlement at Luanda on Ndongo land.  The governor of Luanda began an aggressive campaign against the Ndongo, and took thousands of Ndongo people prisoner.  He invaded the capital and forced Ngola Mbandi to flee.  The Portuguese’s allies in this fight were another indigenous people, the Imbangala.  The Imbalgala were not people to mess with.  They kidnapped boys from other tribes to train as soldiers from a young age, killed any children born in their camp to not slow down the army and practiced ritual cannibalism.  Nice guys.  They did elect their leaders democratically, so there is that.  Not much else on the good side for these guys.

These hostilities continued until 1621, when Governor João Correia de Sousa invited Mbandi to a peace conference at Luanda.  Mbandi did not go himself, but sent his half sister Nzinga.  Nzinga was born the daughter of a slave and Ngola Kia Samba around 1583.  According to legend, she was born with her umbilical cord around her neck, which inspired her name from the Kimbundu verb kujinga meaning to twist or turn.  This was supposedly an indication she would be proud, and in this case this omen was correct.

Governor Correia de Sousa thought he would humble the emissary of the Ndongo by not having a chair for her at the meeting.  Nzinga came into the room and saw the
governor seated on an elaborate chair and only a mat available for her to kneel on.  Without batting an eye, she made a motion to one of her attendants, who got down on her hands and knees.  Nzinga sat down on her attendant’s back and began negotiations.  The company was stunned.  This was the first indication the Portuguese didn’t know who they were dealing with.  The Portuguese demanded that all Portuguese prisoners of war be returned.  Nzinga countered saying she would be happy to do so if all the Ndongo people in slavery in Brazil be released.  That was not going to happen.  In the end, they agreed to return of Portuguese prisoners if the Portuguese supported Mbandi’s return to the capital and the throne against two other challengers.  Nzinga became a Catholic as a pledge of good faith and had the governor stand as her godfather.  She took his name-  Dona Ana de Sousa.

Nzinga returned to her half brother with a great deal, and they all should have lived happily ever after right?  Not so much.  There was a history of conflict between Nzinga and Mbandi.  Mbandi had killed Nzinga’s father in his bid for the throne, and according to some sources he also killed Nzinga’s infant son.  Three years later, this came to a head and Mbandi ended up dead.  Some say he committed suicide, other sources implicate Nzinga.  It is not known.  However, if he really did kill her son, my money is on her.

Despite the fact the Ndongo did not have a history of female rulers as well as even hereditary rulership had not been practiced for very long.  Prior to the coming of thenzinga8 Portuguese, the kingship passed between noble families and there was a coup about every ten years.  Added on to that, Nzinga’s mother was a slave, which would have counted her out as well.  It didn’t matter.  Nzinga was born to rule, and rule she did.  However, as unstable as her grip on the throne was she needed allies.  Enter the Portuguese.  They provided her with weapons and legitimacy and she provided them with slaves from her African enemies.  She also welcomed missionaries into her territory to emphasize she was a good Christian ally.

However, in the shifting sands of colonial politics, the Portuguese could only be depended on for so long.  In 1626, Nzingo was driven out of Ndongo to the neighboring country of Matamba.  Not wanting to live in exile, Nzinga conquered Matamba and became its queen.  She did an about face and allied with the former Portuguese ally of the Imbalgala.  She threw off the role of slave provider, and put out a call to all escaped slaves offering them sanctuary in her country.  These ex slaves became her most formidable warriors as they gave her absolute loyalty for protecting them from slavery.  These men would infiltrate the battalions of native soldiers used by the Portuguese and turn them or spy on them.  Whole companies of Portuguese native soldiers would desert to Nzinga.  Nzinga also reached out to the Dutch to fight off the Portuguese.  She blocked the slave routes through Matamba by forming confederations with her neighbors.  By 1648, the Portuguese were kicked out of Luanda.

Nzinga neatly sidestepped the problem of being a “queen” by declaring herself king, much like Hatshepsut before her in Egypt.  Nzinga took it a step farther and flipped the gender roles.  She lead the army dressed as a king in skins with a sword around her neck.  Her sisters were her generals, and they were fiercely loyal to her.  They were not the only women in positions of power, as she filled the government and military with other capable women.  She also had an all female bodyguard.  She also had a 60 man harem, who would dress as women and sleep in the same chamber as her ladies in waiting.

However, when Dutch pulled out of Luanda in 1650, Nzinga had to about face again and ally with the Portuguese.  She reconverted to Christianity and in return for guarantees Matamba and Ndongo would maintain independence promised a quota of slaves to the Portuguese.  Nzinga died in 1661 at the age of 81.  After her death, her generals established a dynasty of queens, which ruled the two nations for 80 more years.  

Nzinga’s legend grew popular after a salacious biography was published in 1769 by Jean-Louis Castilhon called Zingha, Reine d’Angola.  I’m sure the male harem featured prominently.  Her guerilla style attacks inspired the armed resistance against the Portuguese that resulted in independent Angola in 1975.


Sources available on request

João Rodrigues-  The Interpreter

rodrigues2Japan was a land of mystery for westerners for many years.  Marco Polo had written about it, but never been there.  It was one of the destinations of Christopher Columbus as he sailed West in 1492.  However, it was still very much an unknown in the 16th century, when Portuguese merchants and missionaries arrived on the coast of Japan in 1577.  They had traveled to India in 1574 when Rodrigues was only 14 and served as a cabin boy.  No one is exactly sure why this young man made the dangerous trip from Lisbon to the East via the Cape of Good Hope.  He could have been filled with religious piety to convert the heathen or he could have simply been seeking his fortune.  Whatever the reason, the sixteen year old Rodrigues was with the missionaries when they arrived in Nagasaki.  There he joined the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits.  As a novitiate, Rodrigues devoted himself to learning the Japanese language to facilitate the spread of the gospel.  He became so fluent in the language, the Japanese called him Tçuzzu, or Interpreter.  He said in his later writings, “Tsukku-san’s my nickname as Japanese cannot pronounce my name … Tsukku’s a pun on the Japanese word tsuyaku – to interpret.”

His role as interpreter allowed Rodrigues access to the highest levels of Japanese society.  The Japanese were fascinated by the foreigners, but at the same time highly suspicious of them.  They were fascinated by the guns the westerners brought and their strange looks- thick beards, fair hair and long noses.  They called them “Southern Barbarians.”  Watching the Europeans eat with only a knife and their fingers were unbelievable to the Japanese.  As well as the fact that they only bathed every month or so, instead of every day like the Japanese.

The westerners, in turn, were fascinated by the Japanese.  Without the tenets of Christianity, they had set up a society “cultured and prudent people” yet completely opposite from Europeans.  Rodrigues describes even the smallest differences, such as the use of fans by all levels of people.  They wrote notes on the fans and would not be caught in public without them.  Rodrigues also gives one of the first accounts by a westerner of the tea ceremony or chanoyu.  He writes of this in his book, Arte del Cha, and details both the annual harvest from Uji as well as the Zen meanings of the ceremony.  His writings reveal an open mind about the culture of Japan, including praise of the holiness of the Buddhist monks.

The missionaries spread the word of the gospel, and some people were receptive of their message.  Over 200 Catholic churches were established, primarily in southern Japan, and converted over a quarter million Japanese.  These included some the warlords in charge, which would then put pressure on their people.  These conversions were possibly less than spiritual in nature as merchants generally followed where the missionaries were, and the merchants brought lucrative trade.  Religion and trade were closely intertwined and where one went the other followed.  Other warlords did not like the new influence of Christianity, and opposed its spread and the conversion of the people and their new found wealth.  Finally, the missionaries were expelled from Japan in 1587 and Rodrigues left and stayed in Macao.

The tide changed again and the Europeans were invited back in 1591 and Rodrigues returned with the new ambassador, Alessandro Valignano.  Rodrigues describes the procession of the European delegation through the streets of Kyoto, where spectators lined the streets to see the many gifts being given to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Japanese ruler.  These included “a fine Arab stallion, resplendent with silver harness, golden stirrups and black velvet drapes.”  Once there, the new ambassador and the Kampaku, or chief adviser of the emperor, sipping sake from the same cup in the sakazui ceremony.  Then gifts were exchanged.  Through it all Rodrigues was the prime interpreter.

Rodrigues was one of the few men to speak both Portuguese and fluent Japanese as well as be familiar with Japanese customs and etiquette.  His skills were called on for many diplomatic missions including the San Felipe affair in 1597.  The San Felipe was a Spanish ship, which wrecked off the coast of Japan.  Hideyoshi claimed the ship and the cargo, and the Spanish captain of the ship protested.  He demanded compensation for his lost ship and cargo, and alleged the missionaries were the vanguard of military conquerors.  This incident soured Hideyoshi on the Christians and rekindled a fear of the religion’s popularity in Japan.  This led to the crucifixion of the Twenty-Six martyrs of Japan in February 1597, which included six European Franciscans, three Japanese Jesuits, and seventeen Japanese Christian laymen.

Rodrigues stayed in Japan becoming the emperor’s commercial agent in Nagasaki until 1610.  There was another trade dispute over the Madre de Deus.  The ship had been involved in a fight in Macau the previous year and Japanese sailors had been killed.  When it returned to Nagasaki, Japanese officials boarded and tried to arrest the captain.  That did not go over well at all and in the ensuing fight the ship was burned and sank.  To smooth this over, the Governor of Nagasaki made a truce with the Portuguese merchants conditional on Rodrigues’ exile.  He was sent by the Jesuits back to Macao where he revised and published Arte da Lingoa de Iapam, the first ever grammar of the Japanese language.  He also began História da Igreja do Japão, the History of Japan, but it was never finished.  There are 18th century copies of the first two sections which include his own experiences in Japan.  The rest of the Jesuits soon followed Rodrigues as all priests were expelled from Japan in 1614.

Rodrigues died in Macau in 1633 or 1634.  His writings inspired the character of Martin Alvito in the book Shogun by James Clavell.


Sources available on request

Treaty of Tordesillas

Map showing the line of demarcation between Spanish and Portuguese territory, as first defined by Pope Alexander VI (1493) and later revised by the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494). Spain won control of lands discovered west of the line, while Portugal gained rights to new lands to the east.
Map showing the line of demarcation between Spanish and Portuguese territory, as first defined by Pope Alexander VI (1493) and later revised by the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494). Spain won control of lands discovered west of the line, while Portugal gained rights to new lands to the east.

So if you watched the US presidential debate last night, you would have heard one of the candidates make mention that the Iran arms deal is the “worst in history”.  This got me thinking.  No matter what your political persuasion, I think we can all agree this is hyperbole.  All of history is a very, very long time and there have been some ridiculously bad deals signed.  One that comes to mind is the Treaty of Tordesillas.

In the 15th century, both Spain and Portugal were two of the world’s superpowers.  Both countries were sending out explorers and divvying up the New World (that’s another set of terrible treaties that we will address in subsequent posts).  When Columbus returned from his voyage in 1493, the Catholic Kings of Spain, Isabella and Ferdinand, petitioned the Pope to support their claims in the New World.  Luckily for them, the current pope was Spanish born as well as highly amenable to bribes.  Alexander VI, nee Rodrigo Borgia, was quite happy to issue bulls setting up a line of demarcation from pole to pole about 230 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.  Spain got everything west of the line and Portugal got everything east of it.  Sounds fair right?  Not so much.

The line that was drawn gave all of Central America and the majority of South America to Spain.  King John II of Portugal recognized this was a complete disaster for his country.  The way the line was drawn, Portugal would not even have sufficient room at sea for their African voyages.  The two parties met at Tordesillas, in northwest Spain, to try to hammer out a compromise.  However, even the compromise was horrible for Portugal.  The line moved to 1,185 miles west of the Cape Verde Island.  This allowed Portugal to claim the coast of Brazil, but that was about it.  This new version of the line was sanctioned by Pope Julius II in 1506.  Another problem was this treaty omitted any other European powers.  By this time both France and England were interested in grabbing a piece of the New World, especially after they saw the gold and silver flowing in from Central and South America.  However, per the Treaty of Tordesillas no one but Spain and Portugal were allowed.  Conveniently, everyone else simply ignored this treaty.  England became Protestant anyway, so they got the doubly sweet deal of thumbing their nose at the Pope while exploring the New World.

The line was adjusted a few more times- once at the Treaty of Zaragoza in 1529 and again at the Treaty of San Ildefonzo in 1777.  In the Treaty of San Ildefonzo, Spain ceded territories in Brazil, mainly in the Amazon Basin, to Portugal in return for Uruguay.  However because of the original treaty, Portugal was limited to one colony- Brazil.  Once Brazil gain its independence in 1820, Portugal rapidly lost its place on the world stage.  A raw deal for the country who started the Age of Exploration.


Sources available on request

The Cadaver Queen-  The Tragedy of Inês de Castro

Painting of Ines on the throne by Pierre-Charles Comte (1823-1895) Photo Credit- Joconde database: entry 000PE025897, CC BY-SA 3.0
Painting of Ines on the throne by Pierre-Charles Comte (1823-1895) Photo Credit- Joconde database: entry 000PE025897, CC BY-SA 3.0

The story of Inês de Castro is a sad one.  She found her prince for all the good it did her, but ended up a tragedy.  Inês was born in 1320 to Pedro Fernandes de Castro, who was a powerful noble as well as the illegitimate grandson of King Sancho IV of Castile.  Like many noble born girls, Inês ended up as a lady in waiting to the queen, in this case Infanta Constança of Castile.  Constança was betrothed to Dom Pedro, the son and heir of King Dom Afonso IV of Portugal.  As with most royal marriage, this was not a love match.  However, Dom Pedro took one look at Inês and fell head over heels.  It is no wonder as Inês is described as a lady of great beauty and grace, with fair hair and cerulean eyes.  Her long graceful neck gave her the nickname of “heron neck”.  This doesn’t sound exactly complimentary, but at the time was apparently a good thing.

Dom Pedro did his duty and married the Infanta, but began a relationship with Inês, who returned his feelings.  Many attempts were made to break up the lovers, including Constança requesting that Inês to be the godmother of her son, Infante Dom Luís.  Why does this matter?  In the eyes of the Catholic Church at the time, by making Inês the child’s godmother would make her a member of the family and make her affair with Dom Pedro incestious as well as adulterous.  The scheme didn’t work and the affair continued.  Dom Pedro’s father stepped in and separated the two lovers by exiling Inês when Dom Pedro began to neglect his lawful wife.  Distance did not cool their passion as they exchanged fiery letters.

In 1345, Constança died giving birth to her only living son Dom Fernando.  As soon as Constança’s body was cold, Dom Pedro brought Inês back to Portugal where they began living together openly.  The couple had four children, Afonso, who died in infancy, Beatriz, born around 1347, João, born in 1349, and Dinis, born in 1354.  This would have all been fine except that Dom Pedro allowed himself to be influenced by Inês’ brothers.  They talked him into throwing his hat into the ring to claim the throne of Castile, which threatened the fragile relationship between the two countries.  Dom Pedro’s father, Dom Afonso, feared these maneuvers would endanger the prospects of Dom Pedro’s legitimate heir, Dom Fernando.  There were even fears Inês’ family would do away with little Fernando to clear the way for Inês’ children.  Something had to be done.

Dom Afonso called his counsellors to a meeting in the Castle of Montemor-o-Velho, at the end of which he finally decided to send three of his courtiers – Pêro Coelho, Álvaro Gonçalves and Diogo Lopes Pacheco – to Coimbra, in order to kill Inês.  Cristóvão Rodrigues Acenheiro’s Chronicles paint the scene as this.  When the King and the counsellors arrived, Inês surrounded herself with her children and begged the King to take pity on her as the mother of his grandchildren.  He considered this for a while, but eventually left the room and said to his counsellors, “Do whatever you want.”  As soon as he left the room, Inês was executed.  The myth of the story places the murder at Quinta das Lágrimas [Estate of Tears], where people believe her blood stains the red stone bed of the spring.  However, the assassination actually took place at  Santa Clara-a-Velha.  Wherever it happened, Inês was dead and Dom Pedro was inconsolable.

Together with Inês’ brothers, Dom Pedro led a revolt against his father eventually laying siege to the city of Porto.  Before more blood could be spilled, the Queen intervened and reconciled the father and son.  They both formally promised to forgive the incident.  However, Dom Pedro did not forget.   Two years later in 1357, Dom Afonso died and Dom Pedro became king and all bets were off.  Two of the three assassins were fetched from Castile and tortured then executed by having their beating hearts ripped out of their bodies.  Symbolism much?   The king watched this grizzly site while having a delicious dinner at the Royal Palace.  Some stories say he ripped the assassins hearts from their bodies himself.

Dom Pedro declared that he and Inês had secretly married making her his lawful wife.  The bishop of Guarda, Dom Gil, and one of his servants, Estêvão Lobato, were presented as witnesses of the wedding – although nobody seemed to remember the date when it had taken place.  No matter.  Inês was declared Dom Pedro’s lawful wife and the Queen of Portugal.  Then in an even more macabre turn of events, Dom Pedro had Inês’ body exhumed and brought to the Royal Palace.  Dressed in royal gowns, her two year old decomposing body was crowned and seated next to her grieving husband.  A parade of nobles, clergy and peasants were required to bow to the cadaver queen and kiss the hem of her gown or her rotting hand.

Her body was then taken to Monastery of Alcobaça (the tomb of kings), where she was buried on April 2, 1361.  Chronicler Fernão Lopes described the ceremony: “D. Pedro ordered a tomb of white marble, finely surmounted by her crowned statue, as if she was a Queen; and then he caused the tomb to be placed in the Monastery of Alcobaça […] and made the corpse come from the Monastery of Santa Clara of Coimbra, escorted by many horses and noblemen and maids and clergymen. And all the way through, a thousand men were holding candles, in such a way that always the body was enlightened; and thus it arrived at the Monastery, which was seventeen thousand leagues away from Coimbra, where the body was buried with many religious services and great solemnity. And it was the most magnificent translation ever seen in Portugal”.

Portugal, Centro Region, Alcobaca, Alcobaca Monastery,Tomb of Ines de Castro Photo Credit- Getty Images
Portugal, Centro Region, Alcobaca, Alcobaca Monastery,Tomb of Ines de Castro Photo Credit- Getty Images

Dom Pedro died in 1367 and was married next to his beloved Inês, but with their bodies facing each other so they at Judgment Day they could rise and embrace.  Between them “Até o fim do mundo…” (“Until the end of time…”) is carved in the marble.  Two sayings came out of this extraordinary reign, “que taes dez annos nunca houve em Portugal como estes que reinara el Rei Dom Pedro”  – For these ten years, there never was in Portugal one like the one that reigned King Dom Pedro.  And more tragically, “Agora é tarde; Inês é morta”-  “It’s too late; Inês is dead”.


Sources available on request

The Role of Religion in Empire Building

English and Indians Meeting at Jamestown in 1607 Photo Credit-
English and Indians Meeting at Jamestown in 1607 Photo Credit-

Although Empires began and subsequently expanded for a variety of reasons, religion and culture played an important part, both as a catalyst and subsequently in the shaping of newly established Empires regardless of the initial motive for conquer. Examples of trade, security, lack of resources in the core nation, financial gain, religion and exploration demonstrate this, from various periods of their history covering expansion in similar areas, I will show how these motives affected the conquered nations as well as the settlers and associated parties involved. I have chosen to concentrate on non-contiguous Empires for my examples.

Spain’s successful overthrowing of their Moorish conquerors from the eleventh century onwards gave them a special sense of themselves as being on a divine mission which gave them the notion that they were from a religious perspective morally justified in their later actions in South America. It is claimed by some historians that during this period of reconquest, Spain, driven by her desire to capture the Canary Islands and rid their prospective Empire of Muslims and Jews, that those indigenous peoples in areas of conquest were given an ultimatum of Christian conversion or slavery.

It is possible that the British Empire started life as the desire to imitate Spain’s success in finding precious metals in the Americas. Religious justification lent weight to this need after the Reformation when it was argued that England had a religious duty to build a Protestant Empire to match the ‘Popish’ Empires of the Spanish and Portuguese. There are further examples we can see from Hernan Cortes’ journey through the Aztec nation of Mexica with several references to his Catholic beliefs as the correct ones, and corresponding documentary evidence highlighting the Mexica tribes as Heathens worshipping false Gods and so forth.

Contrary to this view, however, Portugal was far from feeling a desire to spread the Catholic faith, and instead was driven to expand their territory overseas purely as they lacked sufficient land within their home nation to provide enough natural resources to sustain its economy. They were unable to expand contiguously as they bordered with Spain to the East, therefore the only option available to them was maritime expansion, from the coast at Lisbon. Portugal, was the first country to ‘establish… global European empire’ and over what appear as three main periods of Imperial expansion, demonstrated several of the thematic factors depending on the area they were colonising at the time. During their early exploration of the South Atlantic Ocean they passed around the southern coast of Africa, past India and towards Asia, establishing a lucrative sea route to the Far East, alternative to the land route that was inaccessible to them. However, although religion did not appear to be a defining factor in their need for expansion, upon reaching Goa, it is seen that Albuquerque encouraged Portuguese soldiers and sailors to settle there and marry local Indian Women, uniting the Christian and Hindu populations against their Muslim enemy.

Shortly thereafter, they conquered Brazil although initially as they did not share the success of the Spaniards in sourcing gold, they did not consider this to be significant. It was only during the later growth and initial trade monopoly of the sugar industry that Portugal was able to establish from Brazil, and as a solution to the failure of the Brazilian natives to cope with the strain of working on the plantations that their very profitable African Slave trade began, and Brazil became their most important Imperial commodity.

This in turn led them to concentrate on colonising their territories in Africa and Asia. Here, financial gain and religion played a large part. They had discovered gold in Africa, established sugar plantation on the western islands around the coast, and beaten the Muslims on their own ground capturing Cueta in the process. Their other aim was then to find the legendary Christian king Prester John who would help them spread the word of God outside of Europe. Historians argue that this quest was ideologically of the utmost importance to their crusading ambition of bringing Catholic Christianity to the heathen.

Hernan Cortez meeting the Aztec king in Tenochtitlan. - f Photo Credit-
Hernan Cortez meeting the Aztec king in Tenochtitlan. – f Photo Credit-

It also seems to suggest that this religious dedication ultimately contributed to the downfall of Portugal in India, when the Dutch VOC, who were comparatively completely uninterested in spreading their own Calvinist religious views, were able to make subsequent changes in the established trading systems which were linked to the maximisation of their own profits to the detriment of the profits of the Portuguese, eventually causing them to lose their trade to the Dutch.

If we compare this with the British Empire’s expansion into India, which could be said was ultimately one of the two major successful colonisations of the Empire, the initial reasons for such was simply to establish a share in the trade possibilities the country generated. In the later part of India’s Imperial link with England, many Indians adopted various aspects of the British culture, such as western dress, religious conversion and higher education amongst other things. They saw it as in their best interests to westernise themselves as much as they could, as it gave them a degree of elitism over fellow natives, socially. There were instances of inter-racial marriages and relationships.

England’s expansion into North America such as that of in Newfoundland from 1584 was initially also to establish small seasonal enclaves, for the purpose of supplying the fish trade, and trading for luxury items such as furs, to take home and sell for a profit. Interaction with the local populations, if there were any, seemed to be restricted to ensuring they had lodgings and provisions. We can see from this example that provision of resources and financial gain were the important factors. We could argue against this example being part of Imperial expansion for the reason that the fishermen involved were not staking a claim on the land territory for England.

Shortly afterwards were failed attempts to colonise both Florida and Roanoke Island, the latter leading to the infamous ‘Lost Colony’. Theories have long since been offered that when the assistance from Britain failed to arrive, the remaining colonists established a relationship, and later integrated, with the local native population. Subsequent meetings were recalled with Native Americans of the area who not only presented with grey and blue eyes, and some with blonde hair, but were able to speak English, had English surnames and were aware of the Christian faith.

Successful English settlement of North America became more widespread and permanent at the beginning of the seventeenth century when the Virginia company established a colony in Jamestown, although even those initial attempts at colonisation of Jamestown almost failed as the settlers, who were not accustomed to hard labour were too busy trying to find gold instead of planting their crops and building shelter.

The Jamestown colonists were followed closely by dissenters to the Church of England who made their voyages to escape religious persecution and helped establish the first permanent settler colonies in Plymouth for the purpose of being free to follow their beliefs. Whilst the ships they sailed on were hired and financed by English investors, to whom the colonists were contracted as employees for seven years. Their purpose was to establish a more permanent trade supply of fish, tobacco and other profitable items from North America, and to explore the country further for purposes of increased expansion. It was religion that made this possible as they were the only groups whose desire to establish their own faith over-rode the reluctance to make the journey due to the lack of success previous colonists had encountered.

The Pilgrim fathers as they would come to be known as, landed in New England in 1620. The settlers themselves were allegedly motivated by a desire to escape religious restrictions imposed on them in the Core nation. The idea was to populate these colonies with self-sufficient groups. However, the investment motivation behind the attempts to establish these initial settlements was for purposes of privateering. That the colonists would be able to confront Spanish ships and steal their cargoes of precious metals for the Crown. It was a purely financial motivation for those organising the venture.