In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was the world’s largest trade and shipping company. With a fleet of over a hundred ships, thousands of employees and almost thirty offices in Asia and six branches in the Republic, each with their own offices, warehouses and shipyards.

Foundation of the VOC

The VOC was founded in 1602 and quickly developed into a powerful company with a monopoly on all Dutch trade in Asian waters from the Cape of Good Hope. In addition to its trade monopoly in Asia the VOC could also concluder treaties, wage wars and control conquered areas. Consequently, the Dutch East India Company had a lot of power, which went beyond mere trade.

VOC ship

At the quay of the National Maritime Museum lies an exact copy of the famous VOC ship ‘East Indiaman Amsterdam’, which was wrecked on its first trip in 1749. The East Indiaman Amsterdam is one of the showpieces of the National Maritime Museum, in the 17th and 18th centuries sailors bound for East India sailed to the Far East in such ships. The voyage took about eight months. All East Indiamen together made almost five thousand of these voyages.

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