Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640 / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Rent from BN.com
(Save 69%)
Est. Return Date: 06/25/2015
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
(Save 34%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $5.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 85%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (20) from $5.00   
  • New (8) from $22.98   
  • Used (12) from $5.00   


This work of comparative history explores the array of ceremonies that the English, the Spanish, the French, the Portuguese and the Dutch performed to enact their taking possession of the New World. The book develops the historic cultural contexts of these ceremonies, and tackles the implications of these histories for contemporary nation-states of the post-colonial era.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...Seed shows herself to be resourceful and creative, crafting a vessel capable of holding a heady swirl of disparate documentation within a cohesive whole." H-Net

"The provocative thesis of Ceremonies of Possession, based on research in a dazzling variety of sources and languages, will challenge scholars to fresh examination of colonial foundations. No one interested in the early modern period can afford to neglect this book." Karen Ordahl Kupperman, New York University

"Patricia Seed offers the most convincing alternative to a model of one-directional flow from Europe into the New World. Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640 examines the various strategies and ceremonies that the European colonizing powers used to confirm their control over New World possessions. She illustrates both the actions performed by, and the cultural histories that influenced 'ceremonies of possession' conducted by, the major colonizing nations—England, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands....Seed offers convincing cultural readings of the various ceremonies on which the distinct powers relied." William and Mary Quarterly

"The details of Seed's heroic research are fascinating and the delineation of cultural differences utterly convincing....[P]rovides a powerful perspective for linking the histories of early modern Europe and the newly colonized Americas as consisting of more than just the exchange of smallpox for syphilis or wheat for corn." Charles L. Cohen, Sixteenth Century Journal

"...her committment to comparative history will inspire others to follow in her footsteps. Her work is to be applauded." Richard C. Trexler, Journal of Social History

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521497572
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 199
  • Sales rank: 515,607
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Houses, gardens, and fences: signs of English possession in the New World; 2. Ceremonies: the theatrical rituals of French political possession; 3. The requirement: a protocol for conquest; 4. 'A New Sky and New Stars': Arabic and Hebrew science, Portuguese seamanship, and the discovery of America; 5. Sailing in the wake of the Portuguese; Conclusion: the habits of history.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2014

    I think the book is a very good exposition on the topic. Anonym

    I think the book is a very good exposition on the topic. Anonymous (Jan 23-2001) bases objections on whether the French and Indians on the Amazon could have communicated with other, a sitution s/he describes as "Did the French know the native language, or did the Indians know French? Both are far-fetched notions and hard to believe." By 1612, Europeans had been dealing with the coastal Indians for well over 100 years. To think that no one on either side learned the languages of the other is even more difficult to believe. A good book that illustrates different approaches to Europeans claiming land which had consequences into the 19th century.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2001

    a good book, but a one-sided view.

    Patricia Seed's Ceremonies of Possessions concentrates on the top five colonizing empires that emerged from Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, their different methods of conquest and their claiming of lands. These five empires were the English, the French, the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Dutch. I, though, intend to concentrate more on the English, the French and the Spanish ceremonial methods and their individual sections in the book. I find them to be more interesting than the Portuguese or the Dutch. These empires celebrated their discoveries through customary rituals and ceremonies. 'Planting crosses, standards, banners, and coats of arms- marching in processions, picking up dirt, speaking certain words'(Page2), and through long, flamboyant speeches. Those who arranged these ceremonies or acts believed them to be the formalizers of control over the new lands. Professor Seed is interested on how the five empires differed in their ways of conquest hence comparing and contracting the English with the French, the French with the Spaniards and so on. Seed's unambiguous assumptions regarding the English Empire in the Americas, are that they showed possession, to themselves, to one another, and to everyone around them, by the fenced homes and gardens they built. 'Englishmen usually constructed their rights to occupy the New World on far more historically and culturally familiar grounds: building houses and fences and planting gardens' (Pg. 18). This to me is kind of comical in a sense because the English, not even asking or submitting the natives to any rules, simply reckoned something of the following: 'Hey honey, what do you think of this land here?' 'Oh, I love it,' said the wife. 'Well if you like it and I like it, why not build a home here?' And so they did. They laid out fences and started building themselves a house. The French overtaking ceremonies were different according to Seed's analysis. The French had a prearranged ritual ceremony by which they claimed possession over lands in the Americas. Seed bases her statement on a recorded arrival of a French ship with Sieur Razilly and his crewmen in 1612 at the mouth of the Amazon River in which the French first asked if they could land there. The Tupi Indians welcomed their arrival and recognized the French King 'as their sovereign Monarch' (Pg. 41) How touching, huh? The French were soooo nice to have asked instead of purging in with force as the Spaniards did. But still the French, I think took advantage of the Indians' kindness, as Seed points out later that same day 'a tree was cut to make a cross while a hymn was chanted' (Pg. 41). Those who orchestrated it convinced themselves that Indians who took part understood it and approved of it. One must understand something here; the Indians, I believe, were manipulated and sort of tricked into a French colonization. Tell me something, how the heck did those French sailors communicate with those Indians? Did the French know the native language, or did the Indians know French? Both are far-fetched notions and hard to believe. My point being that the Indians really didn't understand why the French had landed on their beach nor what they wanted, but the French supposed that the Indians wanted their presence. 'Such assurances were credible to an audience which, like many European ones, was willing to be convinced that natives the world over willingly desired Christianity' (Pg. 43). A form of media manipulation in that it sends back messages that the French society of the time desired to hear, not the whole truth, which could be different than what's been written in history. Maybe the history written is all bull. Maybe the Indians resisted the invasion, but were too puny to hold it back. The Spanish way of possessing the New World by far is the most exciting and most eloquent of all other forms. Once the Spaniards would land on a beach, they would walk up with a sense of belonging, style, colorful flags, hor

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)