Thursday, January 21, 2021

Dutch East India Company (The United East India Company)

During the last quarter of the sixteenth century, the Dutch had been actively engaged in trying to reach the Asian sources of spices and other luxury goods and contest the Portuguese monopoly of the Cape route.

Starting in 1595, merchants from the Dutch Republic built up a very successful overseas trade with Asia. In seven years, they sent separate expeditions totaling 80 ships from Amsterdam, Middelburg, and Rotterdam.

The Estates General strove to merge the various local initiatives into a single, strong company, and achieved this with the launch of the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie). The company which established on 20 March 1602, was a compromise between the various interests concerned. It merged six previous merchant companies that had been sending fleets to the East since 1595.

The company’s charter reflected the weight of political priorities over commercial ones by putting the Estates General in full control.The early companies of Amsterdam, Delft, Hoorn, Middelburg, Rotterdam, and Zeeland, had varying degrees of success but ultimately competed with each other raising the price of spices in Asia.

The Dutch objective was however, to displace Portugal’s empire in the East, and assume control of the trade of Asian products in Europe.

The Dutch East India Company was the world’s first multinational corporation. The company set the standard for maritime trade in the East Indies.

The charter conferred the VOC with rights of trade, diplomacy and conquest in the vast area to the east of the Cape of Good Hope and to the west of the Strait of Magellan.

The VOC was a beacon of Dutch maritime prowess and administrative ingenuity. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the rapid ascension of the VOC coincided with the Dutch Golden Age, a period in which Dutch trade, technology, military and arts were at the world’s forefront.

By the mid seventeenth century, the VOC had established trade routes through India, China, and Japan, while warring for territories in the East Indies that eventually became official Dutch colonies in the early 19th century.

The volume of trade soared throughout the seventeenth century, also known as the Dutch Golden Age. The first decades of the eighteenth century also witnessed a significant increase in shipping to and from Asia, but the turning point came around 1730 when the English East India Company was more organized and started competing more aggressively.

The VOC’s difficulties were aggravated by the collapse of the First Dutch Republic in 1795 and the company was nationalized in 1796 and finally dissolved on 31 December 1799.
Dutch East India Company (The United East India Company)

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