Introduction

Discover the world of the VOC
It has been called the first multinational company in the world: the United Dutch East India Company, the VOC. In its time, it was a global business with more employees and turnover than any other enterprise.

The VOC opened up the world for the tiny Republic of the Netherlands. Founded for the purpose of trading spices from the East Indies, the VOC dominated the Indian Ocean from 1602 to 1798. Whether it was force or persuasion, the VOC used every means necessary when it came to gaining the highest possible profits. The tales about ocean voyages and expeditions to unknown territories still speak to our imagination in this day and age. But the other side of these adventures are terrible tales of violence, atrocities and repression.

The worldwide mercantile empire of the VOC could only be controlled by means of an extensive administration run from the Republic. The Nationaal Archief preserves a large portion of the comprehensive VOC archives. But VOC archives are also to be found in Jakarta, Cape Town, Colombo (in Sri Lanka) and Chennai (in India). All these pages, in excess of 25 million, provide the most significant source of history of the 17th and 18th centuries for dozens of countries in Asia and the southern part of Africa. For this reason UNESCO included the complete VOC archives in the Memory of the World Register in 2003.

Join us on our voyage of exploration through the archives and discover the world of the VOC.