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Dutch East Indies Company (V.O.C) Timeline

April 14, 2015
Dutch East Indies Company - Oldest Share

Dutch East Indies Company – Oldest Share


February 3, 2021. Note to readers: I have noticed that in past few days that this particular blog entry has gotten close to 500 hits, a lot for such a subject. My assumption, I might be wrong, is that some college class either in History or Global Political Economy stumbled across it – and deciding that it might be useful – has shared it with many. Of course I am pleased to be able to share my understanding. For your information – I taught Global Political Economy at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies for 23 years. In that course I often referred to the dramatic rise  (and fall) in hegemony of the United Province (modern day Netherlands). It was a case study and, as it is historic, it is easier to look at the factors that led to the rise and fall of this 16th – 17th century unlikely superpower than looking at more modern examples – UK, USA which are more controversial.

In the broad context – although the details are different, the fate of Great Britain in the 19th and early 20th century and that of the United States in the second half of the 20th and now, beginning of the 21st reflects similar parallels. Anyhow, whomever you are – there is nothing more satisfying for the academic that I was than sharing knowledge, insights.

Best wishes, Rob Prince/ (happily) retired Senior Lecturer of International Studies, University of Denver, Korbel School of International Studies – 1992-2015


The Rise and Fall of the VOC

1500s – Already by the early 1500s the Dutch were flexing their muscles in the Baltic Sea region controlling more and more of the Baltic trade and taking it away, piece by piece, from the Hanseatic League. In what were known as “the Lubeck Wars” over time, the Dutch wrestled control of the Baltic maritime trade from Lubeck. Lubeck falls into decline; Hamburg with its access to the Atlantic and better relations with the Dutch begins its ascent.

1512  – or there abouts. The Portuguese, after the voyages of Vasco de Gama, dominate the East Indies cloves trade from this date for over a century, until they are expelled by the Dutch.

1568 – The execution of two Dutch nobles, Counts Egmont and Horne, ignites what will be known as “The Eighty Years’ War” between the northern Dutch provinces and the Hapsburg Empire based in Spain. It marks the beginning of the Dutch extraction from Hapsburg control.

1570 – When the Portuguese demanded a monopoly, total domination of Tenate clove trade. The Portuguese kidnapped the island’s sultan, tortured and killed him in a fort Lisbon had established on the island. This triggered an island-wide rebellion. The Tenatians laid siege to the fort for five years. Starvation forced them to surrender. This ended the Portuguese stranglehold on Tenate. Portuguese influence dwindled. The Dutch will soon thereafter take over the Tenate clove trade.

1579 – The Union of Utrecht is concluded between the seven northern Dutch provinces, transforming what was a temporary alliance (against Hapsburg Spain) into the political foundation of the Dutch Republic.

1585 – The fall of Antwerp (to the Hapsburg forces) which resulted in the rise of Amsterdam as the center of the European “carrying trade”.

1588 – The defeat of the Spanish Armada permitted the Dutch fleet to challenge Spanish naval power far afield and opened Dutch maritime commercial trade to greater naval protection. In its aftermath, the Dutch are able to challenge the power of the Hapsburgs internationally in a manner that they could not do previously.

1594 – Compagnie Van Verre is formed (The Company of Trade With Distant Lands)

1595 – Compagnie Van Verre organizes a four ship fleet for the Orient. It arrives near Jakarta on July 22, 1596. Cornelis de Houtman makes a treaty of alliance with the sultan of Bantam. It is the beginning of the Dutch usurpation of Portuguese control of the East Indies trade.

1595 – Dutch ships begin visiting the harbors of the Greater Antilles.

1598 – Compagnie Van Verre dissolved; new companies formed. 22 ships leave for the Orient of which eight returned loaded with spices to turn a profit of 400%

1598 – Dutch salt traders, unable to secure salt in Portugal, began to exploit the immense deposits around the lagoon at Araya, near Cumaná in Venezuela. According to the Spanish governor, from 1600 to 1606 his province was visited every year by 120 foreign ships, most of which were Dutch salt carriers of an average capacity of some 300 tons. Dutch traders also came to Cumaná bringing cloth and hardware, taking Venezuelan tobacco and Margarita pearls. In 1609 with the truce between the United Provinces and Spain, the old Setúbal (Portugal) trade was resumed and the Araya voyages disappeared.

1599 – In the Spring of this year, the Dutch reach the Banda Naira, today capitol of the Banda Islands, at that point unique source of the world’s nutmeg. The Dutch had “found the land where gold grew on trees.” That same year they also arrive at Tenate, center of the clove trade. They also dominated the clove trade on Ambon. To dominate the market they decided to limit it therefore pushing up the price in Europe. Ambon would keep its cloves but every single tree on Tenate would be destroyed.

The Dutch told the people of Tenate that the Europeans didn’t want cloves anymore, they wanted whole branches, and then they wanted bark, and then clove tree roots. One by one the clove trees of Tenate started to die apart from one sapling being kept the sultan’s palace. It serves as “an arboreal `up yours’ to the colonizers” because the Dutch are gone but the cloves remain. Tenatians believe that every tree on the island descends from that sapling.

1600 – Amsterdam has a population of 50,000.

1600 – 1795 – According to Brandon (War, Capital and the Dutch State – 1600-1795), between these two dates “the Dutch Republic was at war for 52 years with Spain, 44 years with France and 15 years with England. There were six decades of intermittent military confrontations with the Portuguese Empire starting at the beginning of the seventeenth century – main concentrated on the East Indies, the West-African coast and Brazil but occasionally spilling over into open warfare in Europe, including a naval blockade of Lisbon in 1657. Troops of the Republic intervened in the Thirty Years’ War on a massive scale. During the 1650s the Dutch navy repeatedly operated as the decisive force in power struggles between Denmark and Sweden and appeared before Danzig to ensure Dutch supremacy in the Baltic trade. In all, the Dutch Republic was directly involved in European great-pwer struggle for 74 years during the seventh century.

1601 – Now 65 ships left for the East Indies…of those 11 were completely lost with a great number of crew perishing. Portuguese competition essentially crushed.

1601 – The English established their own English East Indies Company, a chartered company. The same year, a French expedition reached Bantam and a French East India Company was formed in 1604.

1601 – A Dutch fleet of only five vessels intervened and drove off a Portuguese fleet of 28, when in December of 1601, the latter came to try to reclaim their control over Bantam.

1602 – on March 20, 1602 to be exact, after months of wrangling, the Estates General, governing body of the United Provinces, passed legislation with the strong support of different investors, merging the efforts of the different Dutch merchants trading in the East Indies into one company, a chartered company, a company that was named the Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie (V.O.C.) or as it is more commonly known in English: The Dutch East Indies Company. (DEIC) One of the world’s first corporate empires, the V.O.C. became a symbol of fear and hatred for the Banda Islanders.

1605 – The Dutch expel the Portuguese from Amboyna, among the Banda Islands of modern-day Indonesia “when Dutch Admiral Steven van der Hagen took over the [Portuguese] for without firing a single shot.” Ambon was the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) from 1610 to 1619 until the founding of Batavia (now Jakarta) by the Dutch. The Treaty of Amboyna signed in 1605. It not only gave the Dutch a monopoly of the spice trade on the Island, but it also recognized the suzerainty of the Dutch over the island. Spices in the 1600s – the ultimate status symbol

1607 –  Jan Pieterszoon Coen arrives on the Banda Islands. The fourth governor-general of the Dutch East Indies and the chief founder of the Dutch commercial empire in the East Indies, his rule is both efficient and exceedingly cruel. The Dutch legacy on Banda – one of horror. Coen’s reign on Banda started (16210 with the mass murder of all the Banda tribal chiefs.

1607  – This same year, 1607, The Dutch gained control over the clove trade through an alliance with the sultan of Ternate in the Moluccas in 1607. Dutch occupation of the Bandas from 1609 to 1623 gave them control of the nutmeg trade. Dutch control of the region was fully realized when Melaku was captured from the Portuguese in 1641.

1609 – The Bank of Amsterdam (Amsterdamsche Wisselbank) created. The bank was administered by a committee of city government officials concerned to keep its affairs secret. It initially operated on a deposit-only basis, but by 1657 it was allowing depositors to overdraw their accounts, and lending large sums to the Municipality of Amsterdam and the United East Indies Company (Dutch East India Company). Initially this was kept confidential, but it had become public knowledge by 1790. The agio on the bank money dropped from a premium at peak of around 6.25% to a discount of 2%, and by the end of the year the bank had to declare itself insolvent, offering to sell silver at a 10% discount to depositors. The City of Amsterdam took over direct control in 1791, before finally closing it in 1819.

1610 – The V.O.C. gained a foothold in Batavia (Indonesia / Dutch East Indies)

1615 – V.O.C. has 50 ships plying the Holland – Dutch East Indies Route. the number of ships returning each decade from Asia to their home ports rose steadily from 50 in the second decade of the century to 103 by the sixth and 156 by the last decade.

The V.O.C., by controlling producing areas, established a virtual monopoly of the trade to Europe of spices and later coffee, which it introduced from Arabia to Java at the end of the 17th century. Conversely, it monopolized the sale of European goods to Indonesia.

But this “long haul trade” was only a part of its activities.

Elsewhere in the Indian Ocean and throughout the East it traded in competition with Chinese, Malays, Arabs, “all skilled traders by sea” and with other Europeans. Even in the Java Sea, a larger volume of native shipping persisted; it was tolerated and encouraged to do so as long as it respected the Company’s monopoly of certain commodities.

Dutch business acumen and shipping efficiency was widely, through by no means universally successful against its trading opponents elsewhere.
– Dutch trades supplanted Portuguese and Arabs in S. Persia, supplying cloth and arms, diverting considerable quantities of silk and carpets to Batavia for trans-shipment to Europe.
– By the control of the harbors of Ceylon, the got the greater part of the foreign trade of the Kandy Kingdom in their hands.
– They overtook the Portuguese trade to Formosa and handled the small – but lucrative – amount of trade permitted after 1639 with Japan.
– on the other hand, they made little headway on the China coast
– the Portuguese at Macao continued to trade with India, with Europe; Chinese authorities refused to allow any other European in the Canto region.
– In India, the Dutch shared the field not only with remnants of Portuguese trade with Goa, but with the English and later the French. The Dutch exported piece goods from Pulicat and other places on the Coromandel coast to Indonesia but never came near a monopoly of those exports

1616 – Captain Nathanial Cournehope reaches the Banda Island of Rhun, in a effort to stave off British control. Cournehope offers the “Rhuners” protection against the hated Dutch in exchange for handing over control of the island to the English crown, making Rhun the first British overseas colony. It gave England an exclusive export deal with Rhun for its nutmeg.

1618 – Johan van Oldenbarnevelt placed on trail for treason in Amsterdam. Next year he is beheaded

1618-19 – In the East Indies, off of the Dutch base at Jacatra, Java, the Dutch, under Jan Pieterson Coen, beat off a serious English attack; Since the regent of Java had favored the English in that contest, Coen imposed Dutch rule throughout Java, with Jacatra as his fortress and the center of dominion.

1619 – Coen established a fortified base at Batavia, windward of Gao and Malacca. And the Dutch a permanent strategic advantage. He and his successors used this advantage to eliminate European competitive buyers and to establish “as near as possible” a monopoly on East Indies trade.

Dutch Seize The Moluccas

Dutch Seize The Moluccas

1621 – Dutch destroy British base on Rhun and kill British Commander, Cournehope. England loses this nutmeg rich island to the Dutch. English thorn in the Dutch side was removed. Many islanders died in the struggle between Dutch and British to control the island’s nutmeg. Dutch are now completely in control of the Banda Islands’ nutmeg.

1621 – Dutch and English competition over control of the Banda Islands ends with “the massacre of Banda” which Coen “pacified” by massacring all who had sided with the English. He hired Japanese mercenaries to execute the island chiefs, known as the arenchia. Their bodies were then impaled on bamboo poles as a warning to anyone who dared oppose him.

This was the beginning of his master plan of domination by extermination, a form of systematic genocide. By the end of the massacre the population had been reduced to just 1000 from an original 15,000. Then the island was repopulated with slave workers from Java… all in the name of nutmeg. 90% of the population was killed, enslaved or deported during this campaign.

Coen had announced his campaign to the V.O.C. directorate in Amsterdam a year before event. They had been fully informed of his intentions. Judging that English interference and native resistance to Dutch commercial supremacy in the Bandanese archipelago had to be crushed. Coen wrote a letter to the Heeren XVII on October 26, 1620 stating that `to adequately deal with this matter (bringing the nutmeg harvest under Dutch control),  it is necessary to once again subjugate Banda and populate it with other people. The Heeren XVII agreed and approved of the coming butchery.

After the massacre Coen reorganized the islands into a giant series of nutmeg farms, worked by imported slaves and overseen by ruthless Dutch masters.

Now 400 years later, this traumatic history is still fresh in the minds of the people of Banda who annually mark the massacre in dance and song.

1621 – The (first) Dutch West Indies Company was chartered. For the next 21 years it pursued a course of plunder and conquest, as well as competitive trade. As a result of the Dutch entry into the Caribbean, the Spanish trade with the region shrank by 1640 to less than 10,000 tons annually and continued to shrink throughout the century. Dutch traders stepped in as carriers for Spain and Portugal in the New World, as they already were in the Old, and Amsterdam became a market for log wood, cochineal and cacao, for Peruvian silver and Brazilian gold – as well as for eastern silk and pepper.

1621 – 1700 – In the steady expansion of transatlantic and inter-American trade, the Dutch were at first the principal but not the only carriers. Their predominance was challenged first by the Portuguese who managed to hold on to Brazil and later in the century more and more by France and England.

1623  – On the Moluccas Island of Ambon, nerve center of the Dutch Spice Trade, the colony of 23 British settlers are tortured and executed, beheaded. Coen’s plan of domination by extermination was right on track. This massacre provoked all out war between the Dutch and the English with the locals stuck in the middle.

At the height of Dutch rule any islanders who dared to resist were tortured and many executed.

1637 – 1645 – Portuguese ports in Ceylon and Southern India are seized; Goa was never captured but it was successfully blockaded during this period; its exports were largely diverted to other ports under Dutch and English control. Goa never recovered.

1639 – Dutch seize the Portuguese trading colony/base at Formosa; the same year, Japan permitted limited trade with a European country. Again it was the Dutch that benefited

1640 – Most of the island of Ceylon (today Sri Lanka) in Dutch control

1641 – After a decade of attacks and counter attacks, the Dutch seize Malacca from the Portuguese. It is left to decay like Hormuz; the trade it had handled moves to Batavia.

1648 – The Peace of Westphalia. It marks the end of the Eighty Years’ War between the Dutch and Spain and the German phase of the Thirty Years’ War.  The Dutch Republic emerges as Europe’s dominant nation. Westphalia provided the basis for the modern state system, articulating the concept of sovereignty.

1650s – High point of Dutch global hegemony and the beginning of its long slow decline that will end in the 1790s with the French military intervention and the collapse of the V.O.C. Between the 1650s and 1670s Dutch naval power essentially controls the trade in the Baltic, the Mediterranean the central point between which is Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the northern Dutch ports.

By this date the Dutch also control the trade between the “East Indies” (East Asia) and the Atlantic

1652-1654First Anglo Dutch War. To protect its position in North America, in October 1651 the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England passed the first of the Navigation Acts, which mandated that all goods imported into England must be carried by English ships or vessels from the exporting countries, thus excluding (mostly Dutch) middlemen. This typical mercantile measure as such did not hurt the Dutch much as the English trade was relatively unimportant to them, but it was used by the many pirates operating from British territory as an ideal pretext to legally take any Dutch ship they encountered.

The Dutch responded to the growing intimidation by enlisting large numbers of armed merchantmen into their navy. The English, trying to revive an ancient right they perceived they had to be recognized as the ‘lords of the seas’, demanded that other ships strike their flags in salute to their ships, even in foreign ports. On 29 May 1652, Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp refused to show the respectful haste expected in lowering his flag to salute an encountered English fleet. This resulted in a skirmish, the Battle of Goodwin Sands, after which the Commonwealth declared war on 10 July.

Victory in the naval battles varied, but in the final Battle of Scheveningen on 10 August 1653, Admiral Tromp was killed, a blow to Dutch morale, but the English had to end their blockade of the Dutch coast. As both nations were by now exhausted and Cromwell had dissolved the warlike Rump Parliament, ongoing peace negotiations could be brought to fruition, albeit after many months of slow diplomatic exchanges. The British captured about 1200 to 1500 Dutch merchant ships. The war ended on 5 April 1654 with the signing of the Treaty of Westminster (ratified by the States General on 8 May), but the commercial rivalry was not resolved, the English having failed to replace the Dutch as the world’s dominant trade nation. The treaty contained a secret annex, the Act of Seclusion, forbidding the infant Prince William III of Orange from becoming stadtholder of the province of Holland, which would prove to be a future cause of discontent. In 1653 – the Dutch had started a major naval expansion program, building sixty larger vessels, partly closing the qualitative gap with the English fleet. Cromwell, having started the war against Spain without Dutch help, during his rule avoided a new conflict with the Republic, even though the Dutch in the same period defeated his Portuguese and Swedish allies.

1654 – 5 – Outbreak of plague in Holland, corresponding to one in London

1661- 2 – The Dutch loss of the Formosa outpost to Koxinga (Chinese military leader and Ming Dynasty supporter) brought an end to the profitable silk trade for the V.O.C. Profitable silk trade with China ends in 1666.

1663-4 – Outbreak of plague in Holland, corresponding to one in London. In 1664, in revenge for the Dutch massacres at Rhun and Ambon, in 1620, the British seize the Dutch island of New Amsterdam. The English give up their claims to Rhun, the Dutch theirs to New Amsterdam. A new period of colonization began.

1665 – V.O.C. has 103 ships plying the Holland – Dutch East Indies route. the number of ships returning each decade from Asia to their home ports

1665 – 1667 –The Second Anglo-Dutch War was fought between March 4, 1665 – July 31, 1667. It was part of a series of four Anglo-Dutch Wars fought between the English (later British) and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries for control over the seas and trade routes—where England tried to end the Dutch domination of world trade. After initial English successes, the war ended in a decisive Dutch victory. English and French resentment would soon lead to renewed warfare.

On 31 July 1667, the Treaty of Breda sealed peace between the two nations. The treaty allowed the English to keep factual possession of New Netherland (renamed New York, after James), while the Dutch kept control over Pulau Run and the valuable sugar plantations of Suriname which they had conquered in 1667. At the same time the Dutch accepted the English seizure of the Cape Coast Castle and abandoned their claim, long violently upheld, of a monopoly of trade on the Slave Coast. This temporary uti possidetis solution would be made official in the Treaty of Westminster (1674). The Act of Navigation was moderated in favor of the Dutch. The peace was generally seen as a personal triumph for De Witt.

1668 – The Triple Alliance between England, Sweden and the United Provinces is formed to try to block French expansionist plans into the Spanish Netherlands.

1670 – About 100 Dutch ships are annually employed between the Netherlands and the East Indies

1653 - Battle of Terheide - August 10, 1653 - First Anglo-Dutch War

1653 – Battle of Terheide – August 10, 1653 – First Anglo-Dutch War

1670 – The highly profitable trade with Japan started to decline. The cause of this are rather complex…and is associated with role of precious metals (gold and silver). Most of Europe’s trade with Asia – it is Europeans buying Asian products and paying for them in gold. – result: gold flows moved heavily from Europe to Asia…and trade was dependent upon the ability of the Europeans to extract New World gold and silver in order to pay for Asian goods (spices, silk, Indian textiles, Chinese porcelain, etc). – as the flow of New World gold diminished, the Dutch established a relationship with the Japanese that in exchange for Indian textiles and Indonesian textiles – whose markets the Dutch came to control, that the Japanese would pay the Dutch in gold, with which the latter could then make more purchases.. – but Japan cut off these relations in 1670 cut off selling gold to the Dutch somewhat disrupting the trade.

1672-3Third Anglo-Dutch War – British navy joins France in its attack on the United Provinces. The Third Anglo-Dutch War or Third Dutch War (Derde Engelse Oorlog or Derde Engelse Zeeoorlog) was a military conflict between England and the Dutch Republic lasting from 1672 to 1674. It was part of the larger Franco-Dutch War. England’s Royal Navy joined France in its attack on the Republic, but was frustrated in its attempts to blockade the Dutch coast by four strategic victories of Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter. An attempt to make the province of Holland an English protectorate rump state likewise failed. The English Parliament, fearful that the alliance with France was part of a plot to make England Roman Catholic, forced the king to abandon the costly and fruitless war.

This war temporarily interrupted the flow of pepper to NW Europe as a result of the naval battles. As a result of a reduction of supply the price of pepper spiked, which in turn induced the English East Indies Company to enter the market for pepper after 1672, cutting into the Dutch monopoly on the product. – a price war over pepper followed between the V.O.C. and the English, but because the V.O.C. had far greater resources it was able to out-last the British. – still soon, after the war ended, other European countries enter into the competition for pepper – including the French East Indies Company, the Danes, breaking the Dutch monopoly. – as went pepper so went other spices in time. The Dutch tried to suppress the French-English entry into the pepper trade; they were temporarily successful but not for long.

1672 – 78 – The French-Dutch War, often called simply the Dutch War (French: La Guerre de Hollande; Dutch: Hollandse Oorlog) was a war fought by France, Sweden, the Prince-Bishopric of Münster, the Archbishopric of Cologne and England against the Dutch Republic, which was later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg and Spain to form a quadruple alliance. The war ended with the Treaty of Nijmegen of 1678, which granted France control of the Franche-Comté and some cities in Flanders and Hainaut, all formerly controlled by Spain. The year 1672 in Dutch is often referred to as Het Rampjaar, meaning the year of disaster.

Until the War of Devolution (1667–68), Louis XIV of France considered the Dutch United Provinces to be trading rivals, seditious republicans and Protestant heretics – but military allies nevertheless. France and the United Provinces had been friends and allies for a century (since the 1560s) but this was ended by the Triple Alliance of 1668, which the Dutch signed with England (against whom they had just fought a war) and Sweden in support of Spain, another recent foe. Louis now felt deeply betrayed by the Dutch, and came to regard them as an obstacle to French expansion into the Spanish Netherlands.

During the four years of peace following the War of Devolution, Louis prepared for war against the United Provinces. Louis’ first and primary objective was to gain the support of England. England felt threatened by the growing naval power of the United Provinces. It had already fought two naval wars (essentially) against the Dutch and lost. Thus, the English did not need much encouragement to leave the Triple Alliance they had signed with the Dutch United Provinces, but to help things along, Louis XIV agreed to send financial support to the English in the amount of three million pounds annually. Sweden agreed to indirectly support the invasion of the United Provinces, by threatening Brandenburg if that state should intervene in the war against the Dutch Republic

1674 – Treaty of Westminster is signed ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. Signed by the Netherlands and England, it provided for the return of the colony of New Netherland to England and renewed the Treaty of Breda of 1667. It also provided for a mixed commission for the regulation of commerce, particularly in the East Indies.

The same year (1674) the Dutch West India Company is reorganized and founded for a second time. This second company will be deeply involved in the slave trade.

1678 – Louis XIV continued his conquests at the expense of the Spanish Netherlands, capturing Ghent and Ypres (25 March). The talks progressed in Nijmegen, but were thwarted by the French decision to protect Swedish interests. But with a new French victory in July, the United Provinces signed the Peace of Nijmegen in August 1678. Other peace treaties are signed with the other contenders in the coming months, where the decadent Spain would come out defeated, losing to France the Franche-Comté and most of the various captured cities of the Spanish Netherlands. The United Provinces, which ran the risk of being wiped out in 1672, could celebrate the reduction of some tariffs in its trade with France. Sweden, whose military tradition was not sufficient to stop the rise of Berlin, managed to leave the conflict with territorial losses negligible.

Although the outcome was at first glance inconclusive, it would have great importance for the events of the next 40 years. France, which in the final years of the war fought almost alone against a powerful coalition, left the episode as a great military power of continental Europe. Following the war, Louis XIV began to be referred to as the “Sun King.” Following the war, the United Provinces started to show signs of decay. Its pre-eminence as a naval power would eventually be ceded to England. Ruled by William of Orange after the Glorious Revolution, England was to become the sworn enemy of France. Spain and Sweden, shy participants in this conflict, lost importance and would suffer great territorial losses in the following decades.

The song “Auprès de ma blonde” or “Le Prisonnier de Hollande” (“The Prisoner of Holland”), in which a French woman grieves for her beloved who is held prisoner by the Dutch, appeared during or soon after the Franco-Dutch War – reflecting the contemporary situation of French sailors and soldiers being imprisoned in the Netherlands – and remains an enduring part of French culture up to the present.

1685 – Revocation of the Edict of Nantes; expelled from France by Louis XIV and deprived of their freedom of religion there, a massive invasion of French Huguenots emigrates to the United Provinces resulting in a boost to Dutch industry.

1690 – V.O.C. has 156 ships plying the Holland – Dutch East Indies Route. the number of ships returning each decade from Asia to their home ports.

1690 – George Eberhad Rumphius, German historian in the service of the V.O.C. completes his masterpiece, “Herbarium Amboinense,” a six volume study of the plant life of Amboyna, “the first sound work on Asiatic botany.” (Amboya is in present day Indonesia.) It was published posthumously in 1741.

The work covers 1,200 species, 930 with definite species names, and another 140 identified to genus level. He provided illustrations and descriptions for nomenclature types for 350 plants, and his material contributed to the later development of the binomial scientific classification by Linnaeus. His book provided the basis for all future study of the flora of the Moluccas and his work is still referred to today.

After going blind in 1670 due to glaucoma, Rumphius continued work on his manuscript with the help of others. His wife and child were lost to an earthquake and tsunami on February 17, 1674. In 1687, with the project nearing completion, the illustrations were lost in a fire. Persevering, Rumphius and his helpers first completed the book in 1690, but the ship carrying the manuscript to the Netherlands was attacked by the French and sank, forcing them to start over from a copy that had fortunately been retained. The Herbarium Amboinense finally arrived in the Netherlands in 1696. However, “the Dutch East India Company decided that it contained so much sensitive information that it would be better not to publish it.” Rumphius died in 1702, so never saw his work in print; the embargo was lifted in 1704, but then no publisher could be found for it. It finally appeared in 1741, thirty-nine years after Rumphius’s death. Much of the natural history in Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (“Old and New East-India”) by François Valentijn was by Rumphius and they were close friends.

1700 – 1790s – Like in the previous century, during the 18th century, the Dutch Republic still a warring state although on a lower level of engagement. It maintained one of the largest armies and navies in Europe and continued to rank among the world’s greatest empires. It counted 35 years of European warfare – not much less than the French state.

1726 – The V.O.C. begins to lose its dominant position in global trade. Even though the company was only interested in the balance sheet, it soon found itself burdened with an expanding empire and an indolent bureaucracy which, in the 18th century, became not only unwieldy but tolerant of graft and corruption. Furthermore, even though its profits were far below what they were rumored to be, the Company kept its dividends artificially high and was soon forced to borrow money to pay the interest on previous loans.

1741 - Battle of Colachal - Dutch Lose Control of India to Britain

1741 – Battle of Colachal – Dutch Lose Control of India to Britain

1741 – The Battle of Colachel (also spelled Kulachel) Dutch East Indies Company is defeated by an alliance of S. India principalities (probably supported by Great Britain). In the words of the noted historian, Prof Sreedhara Menon, “A disaster of the first magnitude for the Dutch, the battle of Colachel shattered for all time their dream of the conquest of Kerala.” The Battle of Colachel was a death-blow to the power the Dutch East India company in the Malabar coast. Subsequent peace treaties saw the transfer of the remaining Dutch forts which were incorporated into the Indian principality’s lines. Another direct outcome of the event at Colachel was the takeover of the black pepper trade by the state of Travancore. The Dutch monopoly on the product was broken. This development was to have serious repercussions on the Dutch and the trading world of Kerala at large. In 1753 the Dutch signed the Treaty of Mavelikkara with the Raja agreeing not to obstruct the Raja’s expansion, and in turn, to sell to him arms and ammunition. This marked the beginning of the end of Dutch influence in India. The VOC continued to sell Indonesian spices and sugar in Kerala until 1795, at which time the English conquest of the Kingdom of Kochi ended their rule in India.

1741 – Rumphius’ Herbarium Amboinense is finally published 39 years after the author’s death. 275 years later, it is still considered the authoritative work on the subject.

1780 – 1784Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780–1784) was a conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Dutch Republic. The war, tangentially related to the American Revolutionary War, broke out over British and Dutch disagreements on the legality and conduct of Dutch trade with Britain’s enemies in that war. Although the Dutch Republic did not enter into a formal alliance with the United States and their allies, U.S. ambassador (and future President) John Adams managed to establish diplomatic relations with the Dutch Republic, making it the second European country to diplomatically recognize the Continental Congress in April 1782. In October 1782, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded as well. Most of the war consisted of a series of largely successful British operations against Dutch colonial economic interests, although British and Dutch naval forces also met once off the Dutch coast at the Battle of Dogger Bank. The war ended disastrously for the Dutch and exposed the weakness of the political and economic foundations of the Republic.

1780 – When Holland’s naval supremacy was seriously challenged by the British in this year a blockade kept the Company’s ships from reaching Holland, and the discrepancy between capital and expenditures increased dramatically until the Company’s deficit was so large it had to request state aid.

1783 – By this year, the Dutch, for more than 200 years the single greatest commercial maritime power its day, no longer owned a single ship.

1784 – As a result of its loss in the Battle of Dogger Bank, the Dutch yield to the English the right to trade in their territories, and bit by bit was forced to abandon its lands and its rights.

1790 – A new company, formed that year, met with no commercial success; and in 1796 the Dutch East India Company only retained Java and Ternate in its position

1798 – The Batavian Republic suppressed the company and annexed to itself the minute remnants of the glorious company which had been founded in 1602. Its debt of 140 million guilders was assumed by the state, and the commercial enterprise became a colonial enterprise.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. kerim permalink
    April 24, 2015 10:39 pm

    A harsh ending of a “multinational” giant, like the VOC was, in all aspects .
    What goes up must eventually come down !
    Rob, it’s a superb timeline .

  2. October 4, 2017 4:33 am

    Reblogged this on Usual Storyline.

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