The Atlantic world was defined by states but colonized by empires. The British, no less than the Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Dutch, negotiated their claims beyond Europe through institutions within Europe. However, as latecomers to the race for Atlantic empire, the British had to operate on terms set by their predecessors and competitors. As a result of the regularization of diplomatic relations in the Atlantic basin French and Spanish diplomats developed the concept of lines of amity; to the north and east of them lay Europe, to the south and west lay the extra-European world.1 The implications of this conceptual distinction were to be profound for the subsequent history of the Atlantic world. Men and women who settled beyond those lines were now thought to be proper subjects of European monarchs. In contrast, the Portuguese and Castilian monarchs had declared millions of Americans, Africans, and Asians to be their subjects. Henceforth, colonization would increasingly foster a distinction between native populations and settler-subjects. Moreover, this division of the world allowed other European powers to challenge Iberian claims, while at the same time creating a very clear distinction between the nature of European empires and of European states.
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