Dutch Colonial Empre
V.W.C., 1621-1798

Colonial Era : Dutch Discoverers

The aim of those who left Europe sailing into the unknown, was India and China, lands of immense riches as described by MARCO POLO, the countries where highly priced products - TEA, SILK, PORCELEIN, PEPPER and other SPICES - came from.
An attempt was made to find a NORTHEASTERN PASSAGE behind Norway. Captain WILLEM BARENTS was sent out (1596-97); he discovered SPITSBERGEN, but could not open another trade route to China. The company which had paid for his expedition went bankrupt.
The route to India, around the southern tip of Africa was found by VASCO DA GAMA, and taken control of by the V.O.C. in 1602, who enjoyed a monopoly for trade beyond the Cape of Good Hope. The India/China trade was real and immensely profitable. Now, Dutch merchants who had no share in the V.O.C. looked for other routes to China.
One such route was known since FERDINAND MAGELLAN, it lead around CAPE HOORN. However, it was risky, due to the stormy weather. The istmus at Panama was controlled by the Spanish, so the Dutch searched for another navigable route in the northwest, the so-called NORTHWESTERN PASSAGE. In 1612, HENRY HUDSON, an English captain employed by the Dutch, discovered the Hudson River and the Hudson Bay, but failed to find the Northwestern Passage. In 1621, the V.W.C. was chartered, now enjoying a monopoly on trade along a possible Northwestern route.

The V.O.C. had a monopoly on the (Dutch) trade beyond the Cape of Good Hope, which it interpreted as covering the entire Indian and Pacific Ocean. It dominated the network of sea routes connecting the major trade centers, but little was known beyond those routes, especially regarding the regions to the south of present-day Indonesia, to the north of both Canton and Nagasaki, and to the eastern shores of the Pacific Ocean. MAERTEN GERRITSZ. VRIES sailed north along Japan's east coast as far as Hokkaido (1643), a discovery expedition which did not produce any prospects of profit and was not followed up. V.O.C. captains such as ABEL TASMAN discovered various stretches of the coast of Australia and New Zealand; however, seeing neither trading partners nor products worthy to get from there, the V.O.C. showed little interest in these areas. But the V.W.C. was still trying to access the Pacific Ocean, and expeditions under LE MAIRE, SCHOUTEN (1616), ROGGEVEEN (1721-22) and others were made, without resulting in the opening of new markets.

Early Dutch landfall discoveries of Australia, from pacific.vita.org
Le Maire, Schouten and Cape Horn, from pacific.vita.org Biography of Abel Tasman from lexicon.net, of Willem Barents, Henry Hudson and Willem Schouten from infoplease
REFERENCE H.P.H. Jansen, Kalendarium. Geschiedenis van de Lage Landen in Jaartallen (History of the Low Countries by Years), Utrecht : Prisma (1971) 4th edition 1979

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 11th 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz