To what extent were trading companies responsible for the growth of the British Empire in the years 1600-1740

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Topics: British Empire
The development of the British Empire during the given years was dependent on a number of factors: war, the involvement of the government in national affairs, the navy and trade. The most influential of these factors in my opinion, was the role of the Navy, as it served as the force used by Britain to fight her battles and protect British trade.
At a time, the British Empire owned around 25% of the world’s land, and at its peak was the largest empire in world history. It is undoubtable that trade and the role played by trading companies were largely responsible for this. The East India Company were able to spur the creation of a British consumer society, where more foreign goods were utilised than those grown and produced on home soil. Merchants supplied the people with tobacco, sugar, tea and spices; the trade of these goods created more jobs and funded the growth of British cities, hence contributing to the British economy. Glasgow became Scotland’s first city as a result of trade and according to historian, John Simkin “Glasgow's commercial prosperity” began “when the port on the River Clyde began importing tobacco, sugar, cotton and other goods from the Americas”. The “prosperity” described by Simkin is evidence of the vast impact of trade on the national economy, as it improved the quality of life and standards of living for those who lived in cities like Glasgow, as they were provided with jobs and had direct access to buy these new luxuries that were being shipped from abroad. Taxes on goods, paid by merchants, were a substantial contribution to Britain’s economy. With this money, the government were able to invest in the Royal Navy and the slave trade, and by 1700, the East India Company had over 300 investors. The taxation paid to the British government by companies like EIC was a significant element of the ‘virtuous cycle’, as once taxes were paid, the government were able to repay the investors in the Bank of England, who then reinvested in the bank

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