The Place of the Baltic in the French Atlantic Empire


This talk explores ways in which the Baltic region enabled the rise and consolidation of the French colonial empire in the Americas. The Baltic, a supplier of masts, tar, hemp, iron, planks, and other naval stores, has long been viewed as central to early modern European expansion overseas. Nevertheless, its particular association with French empire building remains little studied. Drawing on data from the Danish Sound Toll Registers and French consular records, the talk delineates how French colonization began as an attempt to secure commercial independence from the Baltic, only to produce the opposite effect of binding the French colonial enterprise and the Baltic ever closer together.

Pernille Røge is Assistant Professor of French and French Colonial History at the University of Pittsburgh. Her scholarly interests focus on interconnections between eighteenth-century political economic theory and colonial policy and practice. Her publications on the French, British, and Danish colonial empires have appeared in edited volumes and peer reviewed journals, including Dix-huitième Siècle, Slavery and Abolition, Atlantic Studies, and History of European Ideas. She is co-editor of a collection of essays entitled The Political Economy of Empire in the Early Modern World (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013). Her book manuscript Reinventing the Empire: Political Economy, France, and the African and Caribbean Colonies, c. 1750-1800 is currently under review with Cambridge University Press.

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