When The Dutch Ruled The World: The Rise & Fall of the Dutch East India Company

published on July 17, 2020

The Netherlands a tiny European country that is actually one of the wealthiest and most important economic centres of the continent the surprising success of the Dutch is invariably tied to one company which was arguably the greatest and most successful one in history today

We'll see how the Netherlands transformed from a swampy backwater into a global trading empire thanks to the Dutch East India Company this video is brought to you by cheddar who made a video about a different kind of spice

Than the ones the Dutch were trading but when you're finished here make sure to check out their Channel the Netherlands today might be an economic powerhouse but back in the 16th century well it wasn't doing too great to start

Things off it wasn't even independent instead it was under the domain of the Spanish Empire as one of the earliest European colonizers the Spanish Empire controlled vast territories across the world and used the money it gained from

Slavery and trade to fund numerous wars of conquest and suppression the Netherlands ultimately became victim of one such war they had become part of the Empire unwittingly due to marriage and spent two the next 80 years trying to

Break free but the Dutch independence effort ran into a big problem very early on you see the Dutch were a seafaring people fishing and mercantile shipping was their thing and they had been doing it for centuries the main Goods Daye

Shipped were spices coming from the Far East but this was before the Dutch had any colonies of their own back then Portugal held a virtual monopoly on the spice trade controlling all the major trade

Routes to Asia and back this what the Dutch did was to buy all their spices from Lisbon and then ship them around Europe to sell them at a profit but Portugal was absorbed into the Spanish Empire in 1580 and of course the first

Thing the Spanish did was to close off Lisbon to the Dutch merchants suddenly the main artery of the Dutch economy had been cut off and there was really only one thing two Dutch merchants could do they had to sail to the Far East and

Build their own trading network at first this effort was very decentralized merchants from various Dutch cities would establish companies for single voyages essentially they would fund a few ships and their sailors

And they would send them off to find a new trade route to the Far East some missions were successful and came back with lots of spices but most did not go very smoothly during the first six years of the expedition effort a total of 65

Ships were sent out one and ten never made it back and those that did came back with only a third of their crew on average suffice to say being a sailor in these early fleets wasn't a very safe job nevertheless these early

Voyages gave the Dutch the knowledge and experience on how to establish a more permanent trading network but coordinating individual merchants each of whom was competing with the rest is difficult to say the least and with the

English Spanish and Portuguese all trying to create their own trading empires the Dutch knew that they had to band together in 1602 and there's the patronage of the prime minister of holland the various expedition companies

United into a single company with vast sovereign power its name wasn't the Dutch East India Company even though that's how we call it today it was actually the United India Company or voz for short and its

Creation marked a new chapter in the history of the Netherlands the political motivations were clear the Dutch needed a new economic engine to fight off the Spanish and to restore their war-torn country the V OC was their only hope

Which is why it was granted not only a monopoly on trade but also the ability to train its own army to negotiate and declare war to occupy land and even to enforce slavery but just getting permission to do all these things meant

Nothing if the v OC couldn't actually do them and to conquer the Far East would require a lot of capital the v OC however figured out an ingenious solution which would later on become the cornerstone of modern capitalism in the

Center of Amsterdam the V OC built a trading house where every Dutch citizen could go and buy shares of the company effectively giving the vo C money now in exchange for a claim on its profits in the future the vo C had effectively

Created the world's first stock markets and the vo C itself had become the first publicly traded company in history pretty much every rich man in the Netherlands invested in the VLC and even many immigrants did so in total the vocs

Initial public offering raised over six million guilders which is equivalent to about a hundred and ten million dollars today and keep in mind this is coming from a country that's half occupied by Spain and whose economy had been in the

Drain for a decade of course circumstances were favorable to the Dutch the Spanish Empire was at war with England at the time allowing the Dutch to sweep into the Far East and kick out to the Portuguese establishment the

First victim of the vocs colonial ambitions was Indonesia the Dutch conquered modern-day Jakarta in 1611 slaughtering the locals and building fast spice plantations on nearby islands with the island of Java as its

Headquarters the voz spread throughout the Far East their factories in India produced exquisite silks and fabrics which the VLC then shipped to Japan to trade for their famous and crucial supply of silver the vio Signet silk

From China as well which also produced valuable porcelain what matters though is that the profit margins DLC earned by monopolizing these trade routes were as high as fifteen hundred percent and all of this money was of course being

Funneled into the Netherlands they finally want their independence in 1648 and with that out of the way the vocs profits were invested in one type of project unique to the Netherlands land reclamation you see the Netherlands is

Extremely flat and is below sea level which makes it prone to flooding but if you build dikes and keep the water out you can turn swamps into farmland and that's exactly what's dodged it with their VLC profits just by looking at the

Geography you can tell when the vo sea was running at full force in total over one and a half thousand ships sailed for the vo sea during its two centuries and its influence is still felt to this day many former Dutch colonies for

Example still bears the scars of the oppression they suffered but the VLC has other interesting legacies that few people know Cape Town for instance started out as a VLC resting station in 1652 a decade earlier a V OC merchant

Discovered two big land masses south of the Dutch Indies he called them New Holland and New Zealand and you can guess which names stuck and which one didn't but in any case just as the ideal set of circumstances gave the Dutch the

Opportunity to become a colonial empire a perfect storm in the late 18th century ended up destroying the vo sea to start things off the Dutch lost a disastrous war against the British in 1784 which disrupted the vocs network

In Asia then just a decade later the newly created French Republic invaded the Netherlands and conquered them with the British attacking in Asia and the French attacking at home the VLC really had no chance and officially went into

Bankruptcy in 1799 sadly without the spice trade the Netherlands lost their status as a global power and speaking of spiced cheddar who were kind enough to sponsor this episode made a great video on how Old Spice was saved by one of the

Most iconic marketing campaigns in recent history if you don't know Cheddar's channel covers business and technology and fun bite-sized videos that leave you craving for more so if you haven't seen them go

Check out their channel watch the video and consider subscribing if you want to see more in any case thank you for watching if you like the story of the VLC consider liking the video and subscribing if you haven't already we're

Gonna be seeing each other again in two weeks and until then stay smart

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