What were the consequences?

The Consequences of Colonial Settlement

The Courland colony in Tobago did not put down permanent roots and was overshadowed by the colonising enterprises of richer and more powerful states. But the colony in Tobago formed one small part of an important period of developments in overseas trade and colonisation. Ships ans settlers from Courland were involved in a huge and profitable network of trading routes and in the growth of vital plantation crops, such as tobacco and sugar. By the 1660s, for example, there were 1500 European settlers in Tobago and Trinidad, with 7000 slaves from Africa working on the plantations.

The rivalries between the Courlanders, the Dutch and the French in Tobago in the later 17th century were part of long-running overlapping conflicts for control of the Caribbean islands. In the 18th century these conflicts were more and more dominated by the largest powers, France and Britain. During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the balance of naval power shifted decisively towards Britain. In 1814, by the Treaty of Paris, Tobago and Trinidad finally came under permanent British rule.

 Perhaps the main reason why the Courland colony did not last is because the Duchy of Courland itself did not long survive the power shifts of European politics. After the death of Duke Jacobus in 1682, the duchy declined in economic and political power.  First, the duchy was overshadowed by the expansion of the Commonwealth of Poland in the 18th century; then Poland itself was eaten away by the expanding power of the Austrian, German and Russian empires. In 1795, as part of the Third Partition of Poland, Courland ceased to be an independent state and was incorporated into Tsarist Russia.


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