Friday, August 31, 2012
Monday, July 4, 2011
Old VOC building, the Dutch East Indies Company
History of VOC
The Dutch United East Indies Company (VOC) was founded in 1602. On the instigation of the then States General, a number of merchants of the provinces of Holland and Zeeland decided to cooperate closely in Eastern Asia where they formerly competed against one another.
The newly formed company was named the "Verenigde Oost Indische Compagnie" (VOC). The company was granted exclusive rights by the States General for trade in the East Indies and the right to negotiate treaties and, if need be, wage war.
The new company developed rapidly and prospered. Profits were enormous, and many investors were drawn to participate in the lucrative sea trade.
The VOC was organised into six "chambers" . These chambers were located in Amsterdam, Middelburg (Zeeland), Rotterdam, Delft, Hoorn and Enkhuizen. Representatives of these chambers formed the Board of the VOC that in accordance with the number of members was named the "Gentleman Seventeen".
Every year the VOC sent about thirty ships to trade in the East Indies. Many of these ships were built on VOC owned shipyards. Some ships were purpose built for East Indian waters and were designed to make return trips to the then Dutch Republic, these were called "retourschepen" (returnships). This is why the Batavia is called a "VOC-retourschip". The VOC also built smaller ships like Flutes, Yachts and Galliots.
In the East Indies the VOC had a number of settlements or "Factorijen". Important settlements were Ternate, Ambon, the Banda Islands, Coromandel in India, Ceylon and of course Java. On the island Java in 1619 the town of Batavia was founded (present day Jakarta). Batavia became the headquarters of the VOC in East India. Half way between the Dutch Republic and East India on the Southcoast of Africa lay the Cape of Good Hope. In 1652 the VOC equipped this location to be a permanent refreshing station for their ships.
The VOC was in existence until 1799, then the company - for a long time the largest private company in the world - went bankrupt. During the near 200 hundred years of its existence the VOC operated 1772 ships making a total of 4789 voyages.
Dutch East India Company (VOC) merchantship Batavia