Dutch East India Company


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East India Company, Dutch,

1602–1798, chartered by the States-General of the Netherlands to expand trade and assure close relations between the government and its colonial enterprises in Asia. The company was granted a monopoly on Dutch trade E of the Cape of Good Hope and W of the Strait of Magellan. From its headquarters at Batavia (founded 1619) the company subdued local rulers, drove the British and Portuguese from Indonesia, Malaya, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and arrogated to itself the fabulous trade of the Spice Islands. A colony, established (1652) in South Africa at the Cape of Good Hope, remained Dutch until conquered by Great Britain in 1814. The company was dissolved when it became scandalously corrupt and nearly insolvent in the late 18th cent., and its possessions became part of the Dutch colonial empire in East Asia.

Bibliography

See A. Hyma, The Dutch in the Far East (1942, repr. 1953); study by B. Gardner (1972).


Dutch East India Company:

see East India Company, DutchEast India Company, Dutch,
1602–1798, chartered by the States-General of the Netherlands to expand trade and assure close relations between the government and its colonial enterprises in Asia.
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East India Company, Dutch

 

(the United East India Company), a monopolistic trading company founded in 1602 and dissolved in 1798. It was established by the merger of several competing companies.

The wealthiest Dutch merchants were shareholders in the United East India Company, which was headed by 17 directors, including eight from Amsterdam. The company was the Dutch bourgeoisie’s chief weapon in creating the Netherlands colonial empire, which was established by means of force, extortion, and seizure of territory. From the Cape of Good Hope to the Straits of Magellan the company had a monopoly on trade and navigation, on shipping cargoes to the mother country without paying customs, on establishing trading posts and fortresses, on recruiting and maintaining an army and a fleet, on conducting court proceedings, and on concluding international treaties. In 1609 the company’s administration was established. From 1619 the company had a permanent headquarters in Batavia on the island of Java. The city became the capital of Dutch colonial possessions in Southeast Asia.

Using its commercial and military might, the United East India Company expelled the Portuguese from the Moluccas and established trading posts in many places, including the coasts of India and Ceylon. The company exterminated the local population, put down revolts by the natives, and piratically destroyed new crops of spices in order to maintain high, monopolistic prices on colonial goods. By means of these policies the company secured the payment of enormous dividends (an average of 18 percent, and in some years, even more) to its shareholders in the mid-17th century, the period when the company flourished.

The United East India Company had considerable influence over the Dutch Republic’s policies and the machinery of state. The company’s power began to decline at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th, a time marked by the general economic decline of the Dutch Republic as well as by competition from the British East India Company and other trading companies. In 1798 the United East India Company was dissolved, and all of its property and assets were taken over by the state. The company’s privileges expired on Dec. 31, 1799.

A. N. CHISTOZVONOV

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