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Explorers of the Pacific: European and American Discoveries in Polynesia

The Dutch East India Company

The Dutch East India Company

1602 to 1609

The first two Dutch expeditions to cross the Pacific were bent on pecuniary gain and made no geographical discoveries, even by accident. But they helped to convince the Dutch that active measures must be taken against the Spanish and Portuguese to protect the trade they hoped to develop. Dutch ships which had reached the East Indies by way of the Cape of Good Hope had established a trading post at Ternate in the Moluccas in 1599. However, the various merchant enterprises had warred among themselves, both in regard to prices and in actual fighting. The States General, seeing the trouble caused by divided efforts, invited the formation of one general company. Thus the Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602. It was given a charter which gave it the exclusive right, for a twenty-one year period, to trade with the East and to organize a fleet and an army to protect its rights. Dutch organizations outside the company were forbidden to send ships to the East, either by way of the Cape of Good Hope or through the Strait of Magellan. Thus, with the footing the Dutch had obtained in the Moluccas in spite of Portuguese and Spanish opposition, the company was able practically to monopolize the spice trade. In 1609 Spain agreed to a twelve-years' truce with the Low Countries, but fighting continued in the outer seas beyond Europe.