The Dutch East India Company

The VOC, or the Dutch East India Company, was the richest private company in the world in the 1600s, and it paid an 18% annual dividend for almost 200 years.

The company deployed 40 warships and an army of 10,000 soldiers to maintain a monopoly on the sale of Asia to Europe, and later

1602-03-20 00:00:00


The VOC fitted out 1700 ships and carried 317,000 passengers

1602-03-20 00:00:00

Vereingde Oostindische Company chartered

The Dutch government gave a charter to the VOC, which was formed from six small companies operating out of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Zeeland.

1610-03-20 00:00:00

Post of Governor General established

The post of Governor General was established, with a Council of the Indies to oversee him.

1619-03-20 00:00:00

New capital

Set up a capital in the port city of Jayakarta and changed the city name to Batavia

1620-03-20 00:00:00

English withdrawal from Indonesian trading

The immense profitability of the spice trade led to an intense rivalry between England and the VOC. In 1623, agents of the VOC tortured and executed 20 men accused of treason on Ambon Island. Ten of the men were employees of the British East India Company. After this, the English East India Company withdrew from Indonesia.

1620-03-20 00:00:00

Plantations on the Banda Islands

Employees of the VOC drove away, starved or killed almost the entire native population of the Banda Islands in order to establish Dutch plantations of cloves and nutmeg for export. But the VOC was not successful in attracting Dutch farmers to these islands.

1623-07-21 05:08:56

Attempting to trade with the Ming Dynasty

The VOC tried to force the Ming dynasty to open China to Dutch trade, but they were defeated by the Chinese.

1639-07-21 05:08:56

Monopoly on trade with Japan

The VOC was the only European trader with access to Japan, enabling the company to buy cheap silver

1639-07-21 05:08:56

The cinnamon trade

The VOC army defeated the Portuguese at the port of Galle, Ceylon, breaking the Portuguese monopoly on the cinnamon trade.

1652-07-21 05:08:56

Southern Africa

The VOC established an outpost at the Cape of Good Hope to resupply VOC ships on their journey to East Asia.

1662-07-21 05:08:56

Silk trade disrupted

Turmoil in China since 1644, with the Qing Dynasty fighting to take over from the Ming Dynasty. The last regime loyal to the Ming Dynasty fell in 1662.

1670-07-21 05:08:56

Decline in trade with Japan

The Tokugawa Shogunate enacted measures to limit the export of silver, worsening the terms of trade for the VOC.

1672-03-20 00:00:00

Third Anglo-Dutch War

The war temporarily interrupted the spice trade, causing a spike in the price of pepper, and enticing the English, French, and Danish East India Companies to try to enter the market. Soon, the military costs of protecting the monopoly were not justified by the declining profits.

1700-03-20 00:00:00

Lost monopoly

The VOC no longer held the monopoly on the spice trade

1780-03-20 00:00:00

Fourth Anglo-Dutch War

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War consisted of largely successful British attacks on Dutch economic colonial interests. The war ended disastrously for the Dutch. While the Dutch were given Ceylon back, the British were given the right of free trade with part of the Dutch East Indies. After the outbreak of this war, no fleets sailed home and no goods could be sold, plunging the Company into financial collapse. The French invasion and the collapse of the Dutch Republic sealed the company's doom.

1796-03-20 00:00:00

In debt

The company begins to collect debt which their backers, the Dutch government, could not repay.

1796-03-20 00:00:00


The company was nationalized.

1799-12-31 00:00:00

Charter revoked

VOC charter revoked.

The Dutch East India Company

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