"De Nederlandse Kolonien" Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse expansie 1600 -1975 (History of the Dutch expansion 1600 - 1975) by J. van Goor Uitgeverij SDU, Koninginnegracht, Den Haag ISBN 90-12-08049-8
Subject: [ History] The Dutch Colonial expansion in the West (1-3)
see also: The Dutch Colonial expansion in the West ( 4-17 )
***Author only this article: A.J. Heideman.
Adventurers, merchants and the state (1596 - 1620)
The wish to see strange and unknown countries (vreemde ende onbekende landen te besien) lured Jan Huygen van Linschoten in 1579 at the age of sixtien to Spain and later to India where he became secretary of the bisshop of Goa. Travel writings had drawn his attention. Taking service on a Dutch vessel was of no interest, only occasionally a Hollander sailed to the Caribic or visited Brazil.
The sail on the world outside of Europe during the 16th century was a prerogative of Spaniards and Portuguese. This dominant position was caused by
1) the maritime lead of these countries to the Northern part of Europe and
2) the treaty of Tordesillas in 1493 were Spain and Portugal had divided the world outside of Europe.
The Dutch (Hollanders and Zeeuwen) were late comers in the Spanish/Portuguese territories. The French and the British tried to break the Iberic monopoly in a much earlier state. The Dutch were not only kept by the bondwith Spain but they concentrated on the trade with the Baltics, France, Spain and Portugal.
The first Dutch experiences in the southern Atlantic were a extensions of the European trade. There are incidental indications that Hollanders and Zeeuwen visited Madeira, The Asores and the Canarian Isles in the beginning of the 16th century. The forbidden territory beyond the Asores was trespassed when Dutch merchants sailed to Brazil by order of Portuguese traders. During The English-Spanish war (1585-1603) the transport of Brasilian sugar was strongly depending on neutral vessels from Hanze or The Netherlands. By the end of the 16th century "de wilde kust" (the Guyana's and Suriname) and the Caribic Ocean were well known by "Zeeuwsche ende Hollantsche" skippers. During the last decade of the century a regular trade with the Caribic and Brazil was in place and the importance of this trade was underlined by the permission of the 'Staten-Generaal' in 1906 to the traders despite the prohibition in force to sail to Brazil via Lisbon.
The battle for the Atlantic Ocean
The war against Spain ended by the Treaty of Munster in 1648. Untill 1640 the war was not just against Spain but against Portugal as well. But when Portugal separated from Spain and became an independant kingdom, The Dutch Republic and Portugal in 1641agreed on a ten year cease-fire that was lifted by the Republic in 1649. The Staten-Generaal allowed the WIC to start war against Portugal because of the damage the Portuguese cuased the Dutch in Brazil.
The struggle soon escalated to a world wide war and both in the Atlantic (WIC) and in the Indian Ocean b y the "Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagny - VOC ( The United east Indian company) the two powers fought for hegemony.
In 1661 a peace treaty was closed but due to Dutch slowing-down tactics in ratification of the document, peace was accomplished in 1663. During this period the VOC had taken over and the Dutch sea Empire in the east was build on Portuguese foundations. The WIC was not so succesfull they had lost Brazil, posessed some smaller Islands in the Caribic, a number of smaller settlements at Suriname, the Guyana's (the wild coast ) and the Amazone and a number of fortifications in West Africa (Ghana, Guinea).
During these years the WIC changed some of her policies and turned in order to damage Portuguese and Spanish trade, more and more to privateering in which they were quiet succesfull (take in of Bahia in Brazil dozens of spanish and portuguese ships were captured, take over of the Spanish silverfleet in Matanzas bay (Cuba) by Piet Hein and more. Thanks to privateering the company could pay their shareholders 75% of their capital in 1631. But for the continuity of the company it was symptomous that only one third of the profit came out of trade.
At the end of the 2nd English-Dutch war the posessions in Northern America were lost and Suriname was added to the WIC property ( the treaty of Breda in 1667) This caused a low interest by financers and stock prices decreased constantly. The WIC had to leave bigger and bigger parts of trade in her territory to private companies (who payed a compensation). Untill 1734 the WIC kept the lucratve slave trade for its self but later they had to retribte this trade as well. All that left were the fortifications in West Africa and the West Indian Islands. Suriname was, due to bad management of the Zeeuwen, in 1682 overtaken by the "Societeit van Suriname" an organisation in which Amsterdam, the family Van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck and the (Amsterdam part of the) WIC each participated for one third.. The original WIC was discontinued in 1674.