Volume I of The Oxford History of the British Empire explores the origins of empire. It shows how and why England, and later Britain, became involved with transoceanic navigation, trade, and settlement during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As late as 1630 involvement with regions beyond the traditional confines of Europe was still tentative; by 1690 it had become a firm commitment. The Origins of Empire explains how commercial and, eventually, territorial expansion brought about fundamental change, not only in the parts of America, Africa, and Asia that came under British influence, but also in domestic society and in Britain's relations with other European powers. The chapters, by leading historians, both illustrate the interconnections between developments in Europe and overseas and offer specialist studies on every part of the world that was substantially affected by British colonial activity. Their analysis also focuses on the ethical issues that were presented by the encounter with peoples previously unknown to Europeans, and on the ways in which the colonists struggled to justify their conduct and activities. Series blurb The Oxford History of the British Empire is a major new assessment of the Empire in the light of recent scholarship and the progressive opening of historical records. From the founding of colonies in North America and the West Indies in the seventeenth century to the reversion of Hong Kong to China at the end of the twentieth, British imperialism was a catalyst for far-reaching change. The Oxford History of the British Empire as a comprehensive study allows us to understand the end of Empire in relation to its beginnings, the meaning of British imperialism for the ruled as well as the rulers, and the significence of the British Empire as a theme in world history.