Worldwide activities of the VOC

Use the green dots on this globe to find out more about the locations the VOC was active in. You activate a projection by turning the globe until a green dot is in the center of the round viewing window over the globe. On the screen to the right of the globe you will then get information about the location

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TO THE EAST INDIES

A Portuguese monopoly Pepper, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg: in the 16th century, it were the Portuguese who practically held the monopoly on trade in these spices from the East Indies. This changed because of the Dutch Revolt against Spain. The Spanish and Portuguese ports were closed to the ships from the Northern Dutch Provinces. Merchants from Holland and Flanders became fed

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1. A Portuguese example

Cartographic techniques improved quickly when the Portuguese began to sail the world’s oceans more frequently in the 16th century. This chart is by the prominent Portuguese map-maker Bartolomeu Lasso. He had an enormous influence on the cartographers in the Dutch Republic. Chart of South and Southeast Asia Bartolomeu Lasso, 1590 On loan from the Maritiem Museum, Rotterdam

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2. Sailing with one eye on the ports

On this ‘portulan’ chart, derived from the Latin portus for harbour, the coastlines with their ports can be seen very clearly. These charts were the most significant pilots for skippers until the end of the medieval period. It was not until the 16th century that ships ventured to sail on the oceans, beyond the range of ports. This required differently

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3. Made for nautical battles

The VOC had different types of ships designed and built for them. In the beginning existing types of sea-going vessels such as the smaller version of a carvel, the ‘pinnace’, were used. The Early Companies often sailed this small vessel that is also suitable for nautical battle. The VOC used many of this type of ship and had increasingly larger

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4. The key to the East

Jan Huygen van Linschoten worked for many years in the Portuguese city of Goa on the west coast of India. He gathered a lot of intelligence on the sea and trading routes from the Portuguese in this city. Back in the Republic Van Linschoten used his knowledge for his book Itinerario, also known as ‘The Key to the East’. Before

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5. Blazing rows

The ‘First Sea Voyage to the East Indies’ did not pass without its problems. Commander Cornelis de Houtman got into a huge quarrel with Gerrit van Beuningen, the merchant sailing in the fleet. Van Beuningen is eventually accused of plotting and clamped in irons on board. All the ship’s council members signed the document accusing Van Beuningen of conspiracy. A

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6. The on-board power balance

‘Stupid, rough and vain’, is how his contemporaries described Cornelis de Houtman. Nevertheless, the Amsterdam Compagnie van Verre (‘Long-Distance Company’) put him in charge of the ‘First Sea Voyage to the East Indies’ in 1595. The governors drew up a rule book for the system of authority on board. De Houtman’s reputation may well have played a part in this.

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7. Bantam pepper town

The town of Bantam on Java was a crucial hub for trade between the Indonesian islands. It was in fact the most important market for pepper. This was the reason why many Dutch merchantmen to Asia moored up in this town. Plan of Bantam Isaak de Graaf, 1695 (after an original from 1630) Verzameling Buitenlandse Kaarten Leupe, inv. no. 1175

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8. Helmet

This helmet, called a morion, was worn by many soldiers in the 16th and 17th centuries. Chief merchant Stalpaert van der Wiele believed that such helmets would make a good bartering object for obtaining spices in the East Indies. Morion, infantry helmet Approximately 1550-1600 On loan from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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9. Weapons as a medium of exchange

Augustijn Stalpaert van der Wiele, the deputy merchant of the Banda Islands believed that beautifully decorated weapons were bound to be the best objects to exchange for spice. So he asked the governors of one of the Early Companies to send him a quantity of such weapons. Objects for bartering September 1600 Archief Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, inv. no. 3069

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10. Prince Maurice intervened

The Stadtholder of the Republic, Prince Maurice, requested the Sultan of Atjeh to release Frederik de Houtman. Commissioned by the Company of Veere, Frederick had left for Asia in 1598 with his brother Cornelis. The fleet was attacked at Aceh on the island of Sumatra. Cornelis was killed in action and Frederick was imprisoned. In exchange for the release of

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11. Co-operation

This document marks the end of the ruinous competition between the Early Companies. State attorney Johan van Oldenbarnevelt worked very hard to achieve this. The treaty provided for the Early Companies to work together under one company from thereon. The future belonged to the Dutch East India Company, the VOC. The demise of the Early Companies 24 January 1602 Archief

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