In the seventeenth century, English, Dutch, and French empires took their place beside the Spanish and Portuguese imperial polities established in the sixteenth century. These empires would expand to embrace much of the globe by 1900. Empire building was a key context within which a new form of knowledge—political economy—emerged in Europe. In one sense the early modern antecedent of today’s economics, sociology, and international relations, political economy set the terms in which questions of power and prosperity were framed for most of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This course will explore the development of British and French political economy in an imperial context, focusing on key debates and controversies including seventeenth-century efforts to understand Dutch commercial success; eighteenth-century arguments about the centrality of empire to national wealth and power; and nineteenth-century critiques of colonial exploitation and metropolitan corruption entailed by empire and imperial expansionism.