Despite its long history, the role and meaning of royal gift-giving during the age of empire is still a matter of some controversy. Via an investigation of rival theories of the nature of the gift, this article scrutinises the practice of gift-giving between monarchs within the German Empire. Specifically, it examines how relations between Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Njoya of Bamum and King Kabua of the Marshall Islands were framed by the mutual exchange of gifts. Precisely how these gifts were received and reciprocated demonstrates that colonial-era royal relations did not reflect a strong monarchical prerogative. Nonetheless, royal exchanges did offer important opportunities for the assertion of political claims and counterclaims within an imperial framework.
- German colonialism
- Marshall Islands