Kings of Paradise oder Splendid Loosers? The Case of Count Friedrich Casimimir von Hanau-Münzenberg, the Colonial Project of "Hanauisch-Indien" in 1669, and its Contexts

When Count Friedrich Casimir von Hanau-Münzenberg initiated his project of founding a colony in the Guayana Region in 1669 – the so-called “Hanauisch-Indien” (Hanauish-Indies) along the Orinoko River – he could never have had any idea of its impacts. The count and his chief councillor – the famous mercantilist Johann Joachim Becher – developed the idea to improve the economy of the Count’s territory Hanau-Münzenberg devastated by the Thirty Years’ War. At the end, the colonial project was a total failure and resulted in a coup d’etat of the agnates, sided by a military intervention of neighbours and finally by the disempowerment of the Count negotiated by an imperial commission.

For the talk, the contexts and circumstances accompanying these events will be analysed to give a general idea of the factors and conditions of noble entrepreneurship in the early modern period. The case will also help to further scholarly research on this topic of noble entrepreneurship, which has until now been underestimated in mid-European historiography.