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Dutch East India Company

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A chartered company established (1602) under the aegis of Prince Maurice of Nassau to coordinate the activities of companies competing for trade in the East Indies and to act as an arm of the Dutch state in its struggle against Spain. It was involved in attacks on the Portuguese (then part of the Spanish empire), and warfare with native rulers, and created a virtual monopoly in trade in fine spices (for example cloves, nutmeg, and mace) grown under its supervision in the Moluccas and the Banda Islands. In 1619 it made Batavia its headquarters. It ousted the Portuguese from Ceylon, set up trading posts in India, Persia, and Nagasaki, and made the Cape of Good Hope a base for Dutch ships en route to and from the East. In 1799 it was liquidated, its debts, possessions, and responsibilities being taken over by the Dutch state.

Dutch East India Company 1602–1799 The Dutch East India Company had two important strategic advantages in the cut-throat competition for trade and constant naval skirmishing among European powers in south-east Asia in the 17th century. Its base at Batavia was ideally placed to defend the company's interests in the Spice Islands, and the acquisition of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in 1652 provided a vital staging post for Dutch captains, who followed a direct route to Batavia, taking advantage of the prevailing westerlies. Dutch dominance in the area was largely secured at the expense of the Portuguese. Source: MAPS IN MINUTES™ © RH Publications (1997)

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