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By Inga Clendinnen

In January of 1788 the 1st Fleet arrived in New South Wales and one thousand British women and men encountered the folk who can be their new neighbours; the seashore nomads of Australia. "These humans combined with ours," wrote a British observer quickly after the landfall, "and all fingers danced together." What could make sure relatives among the peoples for the following 2 hundred years. Drawing skilfully on first-hand debts and historic files, Inga Clendinnen reconstructs the complicated dance of interest, allure and distrust played through the protagonists of both sides. She brings this key bankruptcy in British colonial historical past brilliantly alive. Then we find why the dancing stopped . . .

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Intendants could not be natives of the districts where they held authority; thus they had no vested interest in their localities. They recruited men for the army, supervised the collection of taxes, presided over the administration of local law, checked up on the local nobility, and regulated economic activities—commerce, trade, the guilds, marketplaces— in their districts. They were to use their power for three related purposes: to inform the central government about their districts, to enforce royal orders, and to undermine the influence of the regional nobility.

Rubens studied the masters of the High Renaissance such as Michelangelo but developed his own style, which was characterized by animated figures, melodramatic contrasts, and monumental size. Rubens excelled in glorifying monarchs such as Queen Mother Marie de’ Medici of France (see the painting on page 409). He was also a devout Catholic; nearly half of his pictures treat Christian subjects. Yet one of Rubens’s trademarks was fleshy, sensual nudes who populate his canvases as Roman goddesses, water nymphs, and remarkably voluptuous saints and angels.

In some countries whole provinces held separate privileges granted when they became part of the kingdom. While some monarchs succeeded in breaking the power of these institutions and others were forced to concede political power to elected representatives, the situation was nuanced. Absolutist monarchs did not crush the power of nobles and other groups but rather had to compromise with them. Louis XIV, the model of absolutist power, succeeded because he co-opted and convinced nobles. And in England and the Netherlands constitutional government did not mean democracy, the rule of the people.

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