A Low Set of BlackguardsRichard woodman recently released a new book available for kindle download worldwide, A Low Set of Blackguards: The East India Company and its Maritime Service 1600-1834. This is the first volume in a two part work.

Volume 1: The Heroic Age 1600-1707

Following his ground-breaking and award-winning five-volume History of the British Merchant Navy, a revised version of which is now published both in e-book and print-on-demand editions by the Endeavour Press, Richard Woodman’s A Low Set of Blackguards tells the neglected and forgotten story of the East India Company’s shipping – its ‘Maritime Service’.

This first of two volumes covers the years during which the original East India Company struggled against the Portuguese and the Dutch to establish a trade with the spice islands of Indonesia, India and the Far East. This was met by mixed fortunes and while the book deals with the complex issues involving the wars and politics of foreign states, it focuses on the many voyages – some successful, some disastrous – made by the Company’s ships and seamen. Among these and the merchants who sailed with them as ‘factors,’ are a rich variety of characters (some blackguards among them) in whose lives originated the English novel as well as that great and contentious outcome – ‘British India’.

Woodman rescues these tremendous early mercantile voyages from obscurity and reminds us that Britain’s rise to global power emerged from mercantile, not naval, seafaring.

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