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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

North European commercial expansion in Asia took shape within the framework of a typical early modern commercial institution: the chartered company. In 1602, shortly after the foundation of its English rival, several Dutch trading companies merged to form the United East India Company (VOC), the first joint stock overseas trading company based on permanent share capital. Batavia (Jakarta) on Java came to serve as the fulcrum of a wide-ranging inter-Asian trade network, based upon a monopoly of spice imports from the Indonesian archipelago. During the eighteenth century the fortunes of the Company declined, as it encountered formidable competition from French and English rivals. Yet on Java and Ceylon the Company strengthened its territorial hold and became a colonial power. It was declared bankrupt and lost its charter in 1799.

Keywords: Chartered company, joint stock, inter-Asian trade, spice monopoly, Batavia, European rivalry in India

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