Dutch West India Company

Dutch West India Company (Dutch: Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie, Dutch pronunciation: [ɣəʔɔktroːˈjeːrdə ʋɛstˈɪndisə kɔmpɑˈɲi] or Dutch: WIC; English: Chartered West India Company) was a chartered company (known as the "WIC") of Dutch merchants as well as foreign investors. Among its founders was Willem Usselincx (1567–1647).[1] On June 3, 1621, it was granted a charter for a trade monopoly in the Dutch West Indies by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and given jurisdiction over Dutch participation in the Atlantic slave trade, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America. The area where the company could operate consisted of West Africa (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Cape of Good Hope) and the Americas, which included the Pacific Ocean and the eastern part of New Guinea. The intended purpose of the charter was to eliminate competition, particularly Spanish or Portuguese, between the various trading posts established by the merchants. The company became instrumental in the largely ephemeral Dutch colonization of the Americas (including New Netherland) in the seventeenth century. From 1624 to 1654, in the context of the Dutch-Portuguese War, the WIC held Portuguese territory in northeast Brazil, but they were ousted from Dutch Brazil following fierce resistance.[2]

After several reversals, WIC reorganized and a new charter was granted in 1675, largely on the strength in the Atlantic slave trade. This "New" version lasted for more than a century, until after the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, during which, it lost most its assets.

West-Indische Compagnie
FoundedJune 3, 1621
FounderWillem Usselincx (among others)
Number of locations
Amsterdam, Hoorn, Rotterdam, Groningen and Middelburg
Key people
Heeren XIX


Flag of the Dutch West India Company
Flag of Dutch West India Company
Het West Indisch Huys - Amsterdam 1655
The West Indian Warehouse at Rapenburg (Amsterdam), constructed in 1642

When the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was founded in 1602, some traders in Amsterdam did not agree with its mono politics. With help from Petrus Plancius, a Dutch-Flemish astronomer, cartographer and clergyman, they sought for a northeastern or northwestern access to Asia to circumvent the VOC monopoly. In 1609, English explorer Henry Hudson, in employment of the VOC, landed on the coast of New England and sailed up what is now known as the Hudson River in his quest for the Northwest Passage to Asia. However, he failed to find a passage. Consequently, in 1615 Isaac Le Maire and Samuel Blommaert, assisted by others, focused on finding a south-westerly route around South America's Tierra del Fuego archipelago in order to circumvent the monopoly of the VOC.

One of the first sailors who focused on trade with Africa was Balthazar de Moucheron. The trade with Africa offered several possibilities to set up trading posts or factories, an important starting point for negotiations. It was Blommaert, however, who stated that, in 1600, eight companies sailed on the coast of Africa, competing with each other for the supply of copper, from the Kingdom of Loango.[3] Pieter van den Broecke was employed by one of these companies. In 1612, a Dutch fortress was built in Mouree (present day Ghana), along the Dutch Gold Coast.

Trade with the Caribbean, for salt, sugar and tobacco, was hampered by Spain and delayed because of peace negotiations. Spain offered peace on condition that the Dutch Republic would withdraw from trading with Asia and America. Spain refused to sign the peace treaty if a West Indian Company would be established. At this time, the Dutch War of Independence (1568–1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic was occurring. Grand Pensionary Johan van Oldenbarnevelt offered to only suspend trade with the West in exchange for the Twelve Years' Truce. The result was that, during a few years, the company sailed under a foreign flag in South America. However, ten years later, Stadtholder Maurice of Orange, proposed to continue the war with Spain, but also to distract attention from Spain to the Republic. In 1619, his opponent Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was beheaded, and when two years later the truce expired, the West Indian Company was established.

The West India Company received its charter from the States-General in 1621, but its foundation had been suggested much earlier in the 17th century only to be delayed by the conclusion of the Twelve Years' Truce between Spain and the United Provinces in 1609.[4]

The West India Company

Willem Usselinx (1567-na 1647). Koopman en stichter van de West Indische Compagnie Rijksmuseum SK-A-1675.jpeg
Willem Usselincx, founder of the Dutch West India Company
Delaware Bay Vinckeboons 14
The Swaanendael Colony along the Delaware

The Dutch West India Company was organized similarly to the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Like the VOC, the WIC company had five offices, called chambers (kamers), in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hoorn, Middelburg and Groningen, of which the chambers in Amsterdam and Middelburg contributed most to the company. The board consisted of 19 members, known as the Heeren XIX (the Nineteen Gentlemen).[5] The institutional structure of the WIC followed the federal structure, which entailed extensive discussion for any decision, with regional representation: 8 from Amsterdam; 4 from Zeeland, 2 each from the Northern Quarter (Hoorn and Enkhuizen), the Maas (Rotterdam and Dordrecht), the region of Groningen, and one representative from the States General. Each region had its own chamber and board of directors.[6] The validity of the charter was set at 24 years.

Only in 1623 was funding arranged, after several bidders were put under pressure. The States General of the Netherlands and the VOC pledged one million guilders in the form of capital and subsidy. Although Iberian writers said that crypto-Jews or Marranos played an important role in the formation of both the VOC and the WIC, research has shown that initially they played a minor role, but expanded during the period of the Dutch in Brazil. Emigrant Calvinists from the Spanish Netherlands did make significant investments in the WIC.[7] Investors did not rush to put their money in the company in 1621, but the States-General urged municipalities and other institutions to invest. Explanations for the slow investment by individuals were that shareholders had "no control over the directors' policy and the handling of ordinary investors' money," that it was a "racket" to provide "cushy posts for the directors and their relatives, at the expense of ordinary shareholders."[8] The VOC directors invested money in the WIC, without consulting their shareholders, causing dissent among a number of shareholders.[9] In order to attract foreign shareholders, the WIC offered equal standing to foreign investors with Dutch, resulting in shareholders from France, Switzerland, and Venice. A translation of the original 1621 charter appeared in English, Orders and Articles granted by the High and Mightie Lords the States General of the United Provinces concerning the erecting of a West-Indies Companie, Anno Dom. MDCXII.[10] by 1623, the capital for the WIC at 2.8 million florins was not as great the VOC's original capitalization of 6.5 million, but it was still a substantial sum. The WIC had 15 ships to carry trade and plied the west African coast and Brazil.[11]

Unlike the VOC, the WIC had no right to deploy military troops. When the Twelve Years' Truce in 1621 was over, the Republic had a free hand to re-wage war with Spain. A Groot Desseyn ("grand design") was devised to seize the Portuguese colonies in Africa and the Americas, so as to dominate the sugar and slave trade. When this plan failed, privateering became one of the major goals within the WIC. The arming of merchant ships with guns and soldiers to defend themselves against Spanish ships was of great importance. On almost all ships in 1623, 40 to 50 soldiers were stationed, possibly to assist in the hijacking of enemy ships.[12] It is unclear whether the first expedition was the expedition by Jacques l'Hermite to the coast of Chile, Peru and Bolivia, set up by Stadtholder Maurice with the support of the States General and the VOC.

Piet Hein
Piet Heyn, WIC admiral who captured the Spanish silver fleet in 1628.

The company was initially a dismal failure, in terms of its expensive early projects, and its directors shifted emphasis from conquest of territory to pursue plunder of shipping. The most spectacular success for the WIC was Piet Heyn's seizure of the Spanish silver fleet, which carried silver from Spanish colonies to Spain. He had also seized a consignment of sugar from Brazil and a galleon from Honduras with cacao, indigo, and other valuable goods. Privateering was its most profitable activity in the late 1620s.[13] Despite Heyn's success at plunder, the company's directors realized that it was not a basis to build long-term profit, leading them to renew their attempts to seize Iberian territory in the Americas. They decided their target was Brazil.[14]

There were conflicts between directors from different areas of The Netherlands, with Amsterdam less supportive of the company. Non-maritime cities, including Haarlem, Leiden, and Gouda, along with Enkhuizen and Hoorn were enthusiastic about seizing territory. They sent a fleet to Brazil, capturing Olinda and Pernambuco in 1630 in their initial foray to create a Dutch Brazil, but could not hold them due to a strong Portuguese resistance.[15] Company ships continued privateering in the Caribbean, as well seizing vital land resources, particularly salt pans.[16] The company's general lack of success saw their shares plummet and the Dutch and The Spanish renewed truce talks in 1633.[17]

In 1629 the WIC gave permission to a number of investors in New Netherlands to found patroonships, enabled by the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions which was ratified by the Dutch States-General on June 7, 1629. The patroonships were created to help populate the colony, by providing investors grants providing land for approximately 50 people and "upwards of 15 years old", per grant, mainly in the region of New Netherland.[5][18] Patroon investors could expand the size of their land grants as large as 4 miles, "along the shore or along one bank of a navigable river..." Rensselaerswyck was the most successful Dutch West India Company patroonship.[5]

The New Netherland area, which included New Amsterdam, covered parts of present-day New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and New Jersey.[5] Other settlements were established on the Netherlands Antilles, and in South America, in Dutch Brazil, Suriname and Guyana. In Africa, posts were established on the Gold Coast (now Ghana), the Slave Coast (now Benin), and briefly in Angola. It was a neo-feudal system, where patrons were permitted considerable powers to control the overseas colony. In the Americas, fur (North America) and sugar (South America) were the most important trade goods, while African settlements traded the enslaved (mainly destined for the plantations on the Antilles and Suriname), gold, and ivory.


Cidade mauricia
Recife or Mauritsstad – capital of Nieuw Holland

In North America, the settlers Albert Burgh, Samuel Blommaert, Samuel Godijn, Johannes de Laet had little success with populating the colony of New Netherland, and to defend themselves against local Amerindians. Only Kiliaen Van Rensselaer managed to maintain his settlement in the north along the Hudson. Samuel Blommaert secretly tried to secure his interests with the founding of the colony of New Sweden on behalf of Sweden on the Delaware in the south. The main focus of the WIC now went to Brazil.

Only in 1630 did the West India Company manage to conquer a part of Brazil. In 1630, the colony of New Holland (capital Mauritsstad, present-day Recife) was founded, taking over Portuguese possessions in Brazil. In the meantime, the war demanded so many of its forces that the Company had to operate under a permanent threat of bankruptcy.[19] In fact, the WIC went bankrupt in 1636 and all attempts at rehabilitation were doomed to failure.[20]

Warehouse of the WIC in Amsterdam

Because of the ongoing war in Brazil, the situation for the WIC in 1645, at the end of the charter, was very bad. An attempt to compensate the losses of the WIC with the profits of the VOC failed because the directors of the VOC did not want to.[21] Merging the two companies was not feasible. Amsterdam was not willing to help out, because it had too much interest in peace and healthy trade relations with Portugal. This indifferent attitude of Amsterdam was the main cause of the slow, half-hearted policy, which would eventually lead to losing the colony.[22] In 1647 the Company made a restart using 1.5 million guilders, capital of the VOC. The States General took responsibility for the warfare in Brazil.

Due to the Peace of Westphalia the seizing of Spanish ships was no longer allowed. Many merchants from Amsterdam and Zeeland decided to work with marine and merchants from Hamburg, Glückstadt (then Danish), England and other countries. In 1649, the WIC obtained a monopoly on gold and enslaved Africans in the kingdom of Accra (present-day Ghana). In 1662 there were contacts with the owners of the Asiento, which were obliged to deliver 24,000 enslaved Africans.[23] In 1663 and 1664 the WIC sold more enslaved Africans than the Portuguese and English together.[24]

The first West India Company suffered a long agony, and its end in 1674 was painless.[25] The reason that the WIC could drag on for twenty years was due to its valuable West African possessions, due to its slaves.

New West India Company

When the WIC could not repay its debts in 1674, the company was dissolved. But because of high demand for trade with the West (mainly slave trade), and the fact that still many colonies existed, it was decided to establish the Second Chartered West India Company (also called New West India Company) in 1675. This new company had the same trade area as the first. All ships, fortresses, etc. were taken over by the new company. The number of directors was reduced from 19 to 10, and the number of governors from 74 to 50. The new WIC had a capital that was slightly more than 6 million guilders around 1679, which was largely supplied by the Amsterdam Chamber.

From 1694 until 1700, the WIC waged a long conflict against the Eguafo Kingdom along the Gold Coast, present-day Ghana. The Komenda Wars drew in significant numbers of neighbouring African kingdoms and led to replacement of the gold trade with enslaved Africans.

After the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, it became apparent that the Dutch West India Company was no longer capable of defending its own colonies, as Sint Eustatius, Berbice, Essequibo, Demerara, and some forts on the Dutch Gold Coast were rapidly taken by the British. In 1791, the company's stock was bought by the Dutch government, and on 1 January 1792, all territories previously held by the Dutch West India Company reverted to the rule of the States General of the Dutch Republic. Around 1800 there was an attempt to create a third West Indian Company, without any success.

See also


  1. ^ Franklin J. Jameson (1887). Willem Usselinx, Founder of the Dutch and Swedish West India Companies. Ryan Gregory University, New York.
  2. ^ Charles R. Boxer, 'The Dutch in Brazil, 1624-1654'. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1957.
  3. ^ James LaFleur, ed. Pieter van den Broeck
  4. ^ Boxer, C. R. (Charles Ralph), (1973). The Dutch seaborne empire, 1600-1800. Harmondsworth: Penguin. p. 27. ISBN 0140216006. OCLC 16253529.
  5. ^ a b c d "Freedoms, as Given by the Council of the Nineteen of the Chartered West India Company to All those who Want to Establish a Colony in New Netherland". World Digital Library. 1630. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  6. ^ Michiel van Groesen, Amsterdam's Atlantic: Print Culture and the Making of Dutch Brazil. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 2017, pp. 37–38.
  7. ^ Charles R. Boxer, The Dutch in Brazil, 1724-1654. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1957, pp. 10-11.
  8. ^ Boxer, The Dutch in Brazil, p. 12.
  9. ^ Boxer, The Dutch in Brazil, pp. 12–13.
  10. ^ Boxer, The Dutch in Brazil, p. 13.
  11. ^ Boxer, The Dutch in Brazil, pp. 13–14.
  12. ^ (in Dutch)Klein, P.W. (1965) De Trippen in de 17e eeuw, p. 150.
  13. ^ Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World, 1606-1661. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1982, p. 197.
  14. ^ Israel, The Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World, pp. 198–99.
  15. ^ Israel, The Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World, pp. 201–02.
  16. ^ Israel, The Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World, p. 203.
  17. ^ Israel, The Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World, p. 204.
  18. ^ "Conditions as Created by their Lords Burgomasters of Amsterdam". World Digital Library. 1656. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  19. ^ (in Dutch)Heijer, H. den (1994) De geschiedenis van de WIC, p. 97.
  20. ^ (in Dutch)Dillen, J.G. van, (1970) Van Rijkdom tot Regenten, p. 169.
  21. ^ (in Dutch)Dillen, J.G. van, (1970) Van Rijkdom tot Regenten, p. 127.
  22. ^ Boxer, C.R. (1957) The Dutch in Brazil 1624 - 1654. Oxford, Clarendon Press. ISBN
  23. ^ (in Dutch) Brakel, S. van (1918) Bescheiden over den slavenhandel der Westindische Compagnie, p. 50, 67. In: Economisch-Historisch Jaarboek IV.
  24. ^ (in Dutch)Binder, F. e.a. Archived 2006-05-17 at the Wayback Machine (1979) Dirck Dircksz. Wilre en Willem Godschalk van Focquenbroch(?) Geschilderd door Pieter de Wit te Elmina in 1669. Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 27, p.7–29.
  25. ^ (in Dutch)Klein, P.W. (1965) De Trippen in de 17e eeuw, p. 182.

Further reading

  • Boxer, Charles R., The Dutch in Brazil, 1624-1654. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1957.
  • Ebert, Christopher. "Dutch Trade with Brazil before the Dutch West India Company, 1587–1621." Riches from Atlantic Commerce: Dutch Transatlantic Trade and Shipping (2003): 1585-1817.
  • Emmer, Pieter C. "The West India Company, 1621–1791: Dutch or Atlantic?." Companies and trade: Essays on overseas trading companies during the ancien régime (1981): 71–95.
  • Emmer, Pieter C. The Dutch in the Atlantic economy, 1580-1880: Trade, slavery and emancipation. Vol. 614. Variorum, 1998.
  • Frijhoff, W. Th M. "The West India Company and the Reformed Church: Neglect or Concern?." (1997).
  • Groesen, Michiel van, (ed.) "The Legacy of Dutch Brazil", Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • Groesen, Michiel van "Amsterdam's Atlantic: Print Culture and the Making of Dutch Brazil", University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.
  • Heijer, Henk den. "The Dutch West India Company, 1621–1791." in Johannes Postma and Victor Enthoven, eds. Riches From Atlantic Commerce: Dutch Transatlantic Trade and Shipping, 1585-1817. Leiden: Brill 2003, 77–114.
  • _________. "The West African Trade of the Dutch West Indian Company 1674-1740," in Postma and Enthoven, eds. Riches from Atlantic Commerce, pp. Leiden: Brill 2003, pp. 139–69.
  • Klooster, Wim. The Dutch Moment: War, Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World. (Cornell University Press, 2016). 419 pp.
  • Meuwese, Marcus P. " For the Peace and Well-Being of the Country": Intercultural Mediators and Dutch-Indian Relations in New Netherland and Dutch Brazil, 1600-1664. Diss. University of Notre Dame, 2003.
  • Nederlof, Marjo (2008). Eerlijckman - 1680-1713: in dienst van het Staatse leger en de West-Indische Compagnie. Curaçao: De Curaçaosche Courant. ISBN 9789990408201.
  • Peltries or plantations: the economic policies of the Dutch West India Company in New Netherland, 1623-1639. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1969.
  • Pijning, Erst. "Idealism and Power: The Dutch West India Company in the Brazil trade (1630-1654)," in Allen L. Macinnes and Arthur H. William (eds.) Shaping the Stuart World, 1603-1714: The Atlantic Connection. Leiden: Brill 2006, 207–32.
  • Postma, Johannes. "West-African Exports and the Dutch West India Company, 1675–1731." Economisch-en sociaal-historisch jaarboek 36 (1973).
  • Postma, Johannes. "The dimension of the Dutch slave trade from Western Africa." The Journal of African History 13.02 (1972): 237–248.
  • Rink, Oliver A. "Private Interest and Godly Gain: The West India Company and the Dutch Reformed Church in New Netherland, 1624-1664." New York History 75.3 (1994): 245.
  • Ryder, Alan Frederick Charles. "Dutch trade on the Nigerian coast during the seventeenth century." Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 3.2 (1965): 195–210.
  • Rutten, Alphons MG. Dutch transatlantic medicine trade in the eighteenth century under the cover of the West India Company. Erasmus Pub., 2000.
  • Schmidt, Benjamin, Innocence Abroad: The Dutch Imagination and the New World, 1570-1670, Cambridge: University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-521-80408-0
  • Van den Boogaart, Ernst. Infernal Allies: The Dutch West India Company and the Tarairiu, 1631-1654. 1980.
  • Van Hoboken, W. J. "The Dutch West India Company: the political background of its rise and decline." Britain and the Netherlands 1 (1960): 41–61.
  • Visscher, Nic Joh. A Bibliographical and Historical Essay on the Dutch Books and Pamphlets Relating to New-Netherland, and to the Dutch West-India Company and to Its Possessions in Brazil, Angola Etc., as Also on the Maps, Charts, Etc. of New-Netherland. Muller, 1867.
  • Weslager, Clinton Alfred. Dutch explorers, traders and settlers in the Delaware Valley, 1609-1664. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1961.
  • Zandvliet, Kees. Mapping for money: maps, plans, and topographic paintings and their role in Dutch Overseas Expansion during the 16th and 17th Centuries. Amsterdam: Batavian Lion International, 1998.

External links

Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions

The Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions, sometimes referred to as the Charter of Privileges and Exemptions, is a document written by the Dutch West India Company in an effort to settle its colony of New Netherland in North America through the establishment of feudal patroonships purchased and supplied by members of the West India Company. Its 31 articles establish ground rules and expectations of the patroons and inhabitants of the new colonies. It was ratified by the Dutch States-General on June 7, 1629.

Dutch Brazil

Dutch Brazil, also known as New Holland, was the northern portion of the Portuguese colony of Brazil, ruled by the Dutch during the Dutch colonization of the Americas between 1630 and 1654. The main cities of the Dutch colony of New Holland were the capital Mauritsstad (today Recife), Frederikstadt (João Pessoa), Nieuw Amsterdam (Natal), Saint Louis (São Luís), São Cristóvão, Fortaleza (Fort Schoonenborch), Sirinhaém and Olinda.

From 1630 onward, the Dutch Republic conquered almost half of Brazil's settled European area at the time, with their capital in Recife. The Dutch West India Company (WIC) set up their headquarters in Recife. The governor, Johan Maurits, invited artists and scientists to the colony to help promote Brazil and increase immigration. However, the tide turned against the Dutch when the Portuguese won a significant victory at the Second Battle of Guararapes in 1649. On 26 January 1654, the Dutch surrendered and signed the capitulation, but only as a provisional pact. By May 1654, the Dutch demanded that the Dutch Republic was to be given New Holland back. On 6 August 1661, New Holland was formally ceded to Portugal through the Treaty of The Hague.

While of only transitional importance for the Dutch, this period was of considerable importance in the historical memory in Brazil. It did not have lasting changes on the social and institutional development of Portuguese Brazil. Local Portuguese settlers had to oppose the Dutch largely by their own resources, including mobilizing black and indigenous allies, and made use of their knowledge of local conditions. This struggle is counted, in Brazilian historical memory, as laying the seeds of Brazilian nationhood. This period also precipitated a decline in Brazil's sugar industry, since conflict between the Dutch and Portuguese disrupted Brazilian sugar production, amidst rising competition from British, French, and Dutch planters in the Caribbean.

Dutch Gold Coast

The Dutch Gold Coast or Dutch Guinea, officially Dutch possessions on the Coast of Guinea (Dutch: Nederlandse Bezittingen ter Kuste van Guinea) was a portion of contemporary Ghana that was gradually colonized by the Dutch, beginning in 1598. The colony became the most important Dutch colony in West Africa after Fort Elmina was captured from the Portuguese in 1637, but fell into disarray after the abolition of the slave trade in the early 19th century. On 6 April 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast was, in accordance with the Anglo-Dutch Treaties of 1870–71, ceremonially ceded to the United Kingdom.

Dutch Loango-Angola

Loango-Angola is the name for the possessions of the Dutch West India Company in contemporary Angola and the Republic of the Congo. Notably, the name refers to the colony that was captured from the Portuguese between 1641 and 1648. Due to the distance between Luanda and Elmina, the capital of the Dutch Gold Coast, a separate administration for "Africa South" was established at Luanda during the period of the Dutch occupation.After Angola was recaptured by the Portuguese in 1648, Dutch trade with Loango-Angola did not stop, however. From about 1670 onward, the Dutch West India Company acquired slaves from the Loango region on a regular basis, and Dutch free traders continued this practice until after 1730.

Dutch Slave Coast

The Dutch Slave Coast (Dutch: Slavenkust) refers to the trading posts of the Dutch West India Company on the Slave Coast, which lie in contemporary Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria. The primary purpose of the trading post was to supply slaves for the plantation colonies in the Americas. Dutch involvement on the Slave Coast started with the establishment of a trading post in Offra in 1660. Later, trade shifted to Ouidah, where the English and French also had a trading post. Political unrest caused the Dutch to abandon their trading post at Ouidah in 1725, now moving to Jaquim, at which place they built Fort Zeelandia. By 1760, the Dutch had abandoned their last trading post in the region.

The Slave Coast was settled from the Dutch Gold Coast, on which the Dutch were based in Elmina. During its existence, the Slave Coast held a close relationship to that colony.

Dutch Virgin Islands

The Dutch Virgin Islands is the collective name for the enclaves that the Dutch West India Company had in the Virgin Islands. The area was ruled by a director, whose seat was not permanent. The main reason for starting a colony here was that it lay strategically between the Dutch colonies in the south (Netherlands Antilles, Suriname) and New Netherland. The Dutch West India Company was mainly affected by the competition from Denmark, England and Spain. In 1680 the remaining islands became a British colony.

Dutch colonisation of the Guianas

Dutch colonisation of the Guianas – the coastal region between the Orinoco and Amazon rivers in South America – began in the early 16th century. The Dutch originally claimed all of Guiana (also called De wilde kust, the "Wild Coast") but – following attempts to sell it first to Bavaria and then to Hanau and the loss of sections to Portugal, Britain, and France – the section actually settled and controlled by the Netherlands became known as Dutch Guiana (Dutch: Nederlands-Guiana).

The colonies of Essequibo and Demerara were controlled by the Dutch West India Company, while Berbice and Surinam were controlled by the Society of Berbice and the Society of Suriname, respectively. Cayenne also came under brief periods of Dutch control. After the Napoleonic Wars in 1814, Britain gained control of the three colonies (Demerara, Berbice, and Essequibo) west of the Courantyne River, which became British Guiana and then modern Guyana. The remaining colony, Suriname (also called "Dutch Guiana"), remained under Dutch control until its independence in 1975.

Kiliaen van Rensselaer (merchant)

Kiliaen van Rensselaer (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkɪlijaːn vɑn ˈrɛnsəlaːr] (listen); 1586 – buried 7 October 1643) was a Dutch diamond and pearl merchant from Amsterdam who was one of the founders and directors of the Dutch West India Company, being instrumental in the establishment of New Netherland.

He was one of the first patroons, but the only one to become successful. He founded the Manor of Rensselaerswyck in what is now mainly New York's Capital District. His estate remained throughout the Dutch and British colonial era and the American Revolution as a legal entity until the 1840s. Eventually, that came to an end during the Anti-Rent War.

Van Rensselaer was the son of Hendrick Kiliaensz van Rensselaer, a soldier from Nijkerk in the States army of the duke of Upper Saxony, and Maria Pafraet, descendant of a well-known printers' dynasty. To keep from risking his life in the army like his father, he apprenticed under his uncle, a successful Amsterdam jeweler. He too became a successful jeweler and was one of the first subscribers to the Dutch West India Company upon its conception.

The concept of patroonships may have been Kiliaen van Rensselaer's; he

was likely the leading proponent of the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions, the document that established the patroon system.

His patroonship became the most successful to exist, making full use of his business tactics and advantages, such as his connection to the Director of New Netherland, his confidantes at the West India Company, and his extended family members who were eager to emigrate to a better place to farm. Van Rensselaer married twice and had at least eleven children. When he died sometime after 1642, two succeeded him as patroons of Rensselaerswyck.

Van Rensselaer had a marked effect on the history of the United States. The American Van Rensselaers all descend from Kiliaen's son Jeremias and the subsequent Van Rensselaer family is noted for being a very powerful and wealthy influence in the history of New York and the Northeastern United States, producing multiple State Legislators, Congressmen, and two Lieutenant Governors in New York.

Komenda Wars

The Komenda Wars were a series of wars from 1694 until 1700 largely between the Dutch West India Company and the British Royal African Company in the Eguafo Kingdom in the present day state of Ghana, over trade rights. The Dutch were trying to keep the British out of the region to maintain a trade monopoly while the British were attempting to re-establish a fort in the city of Komenda. The fighting included forces of the Dutch West India Company, the Royal African Company, the Eguafo Kingdom, a prince of the kingdom attempting to rise to the throne, the forces of a powerful merchant named John Cabess, other Akan tribes and kingdoms like Twifo and Denkyira. There were four separate periods of warfare, including a civil war in the Eguafo Kingdom, and the wars ended with the British placing Takyi Kuma into power in Eguafo. Because of the rapidly shifting alliances between European and African powers, historian John Thornton has found that "there is no finer example of [the] complicated combination of European rivalry merging with African rivalry then the Komenda Wars."

New Amsterdam

New Amsterdam (Dutch: Nieuw Amsterdam, pronounced [ˌniʋɑmstərˈdɑm] or [ˌniuʔɑms-]) was a 17th-century Dutch settlement established at the southern tip of Manhattan Island that served as the seat of the colonial government in New Netherland. The factorij became a settlement outside Fort Amsterdam. The fort was situated on the strategic southern tip of the island of Manhattan and was meant to defend the fur trade operations of the Dutch West India Company in the North River (Hudson River). In 1624, it became a provincial extension of the Dutch Republic and was designated as the capital of the province in 1625.

By 1655, the population of New Netherland had grown to 2,000 people, with 1,500 living in New Amsterdam. By 1664, the population had exploded to almost 9,000 people in New Netherland, 2,500 of whom lived in New Amsterdam, 1,000 lived near Fort Orange, and the remainder in other towns and villages.In 1664 the English took over New Amsterdam and renamed it New York after the city of York in Yorkshire. After the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665–1667, England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands agreed to the status quo in the Treaty of Breda. The English kept the island of Manhattan, the Dutch giving up their claim to the town and the rest of the colony, while the English formally abandoned Surinam in South America, and the island of Run in the East Indies to the Dutch, confirming their control of the valuable Spice Islands. Today much of what was once New Amsterdam is in New York City.

New Netherland

New Netherland (Dutch: Nieuw Nederland; Latin: Nova Belgica or Novum Belgium) was a 17th-century colony of the Dutch Republic that was located on the east coast of America. The claimed territories extended from the Delmarva Peninsula to southwestern Cape Cod, while the more limited settled areas are now part of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, with small outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The colony was conceived by the Dutch West India Company (WIC) in 1621 to capitalize on the North American fur trade. It was settled slowly at first because of policy mismanagement by the WIC and conflicts with American Indians. The settlement of New Sweden by the Swedish South Company encroached on its southern flank, while its northern border was redrawn to accommodate an expanding New England Confederation.

The colony experienced dramatic growth during the 1650s and became a major port for trade in the north Atlantic Ocean. The Dutch surrendered Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan island to England in 1664 (formalized in 1667), contributing to the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In 1673, the Dutch retook the area but relinquished it under the Treaty of Westminster (1674), ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War the next year.

The inhabitants of New Netherland were European colonists, American Indians, and Africans imported as slave laborers. The colony had an estimated population between 7,000 and 8,000 at the time of transfer to England in 1674, half of whom were not of Dutch descent.

New Netherland Company

New Netherland Company (Dutch: Nieuw-Nederland Compagnie) was a chartered company of Dutch merchants.

Following Henry Hudson's exploration of the east coast of North America on behalf of the Dutch East India Company in 1609, several Dutch merchants sent ships to trade with the Native Americans (mainly fur) and to search for the Northwest Passage. In order to maximize their profits these merchants decided to form the New Netherland Company and on October 11, 1614 they successfully petitioned the Estates-General for a charter of trading privileges. The charter granted a monopoly of trade between the 40th and 45th parallel for a period of three years, starting on January 1, 1615. In 1618 the Company's charter wasn't renewed because negotiations for the formation of the Dutch West India Company were well advanced. After 1618 New Netherland was open to all traders, but the majority of trade was still conducted by the founders of the New Netherland Company until the establishment of the Dutch West India Company in 1621.


Olinda (Portuguese pronunciation: [oˈlĩdɐ]), is a historic city in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, located on the country's northeastern Atlantic Ocean coast, in Greater Recife (capital of Pernambuco State). It has a population of 389,494 people, covers 41.681 square kilometres (16.093 sq mi), and has a population of 9 inhabitants per square kilometer. It is noted as one of the best-preserved colonial cities in Brazil.Olinda features a number of major tourist attractions, such as a historic downtown area (World Heritage Site), churches, and the Carnival of Olinda, a popular street party, very similar to traditional Portuguese carnivals, with the addition of African influenced dances. Unlike in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, in Olinda, admission to Carnival is free. All the festivities are celebrated on the streets, and there are no bleachers or roping. There are hundreds of small musical groups (sometimes featuring a single performer) in many genres.


In the United States, a patroon (English: ; from Dutch patroon) was a landholder with manorial rights to large tracts of land in the 17th century Dutch colony of New Netherland on the east coast of North America. Through the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions of 1629, the Dutch West India Company first started to grant this title and land to some of its invested members. These inducements to foster colonization and settlement (also known as the "Rights and Exemptions") are the basis for the patroon system. In 1775, at the outbreak of the American Revolution, primogeniture and feudal tenure were abolished and thus patroons and manors evolved into simply large estates subject to division and leases.

The deeded tracts were called patroonships and could span 16 miles in length on one side of a major river, or 8 miles if spanning both sides. In 1640, the charter was revised to cut new plot sizes in half, and to allow any Dutch American in good standing to purchase an estate. The title of patroon came with powerful rights and privileges. A patroon could create civil and criminal courts, appoint local officials and hold land in perpetuity. In return, he was required by the Dutch West India Company to – sources vary – establish a settlement of at least 50 families within four years on the land, or "ship fifty colonists to it within four year". As tenants working for the patroon, these first settlers were relieved of the duty of public taxes for ten years, but were required to pay rent to the patroon. A patroonship sometimes had its own village and other infrastructure, including churches.

After the English takeover of New Netherland in 1664, the system continued with the granting of large tracts known as manors, and sometimes referred to as patroonships.

Piet Pieterszoon Hein

Pieter Pietersen Heyn (Hein) (25 November 1577 – 18 June 1629) was a Dutch admiral and privateer for the Dutch Republic during the Eighty Years' War between the United Provinces and Spain. Hein was the first and the last to capture a large part of a Spanish "silver fleet" from America.

Senegambia (Dutch West India Company)

Senegambia, also known in Dutch as Bovenkust ("Upper Coast"), was the collective noun for the fortifications and trading posts owned by the Dutch West India Company (DWIC) in the region now known as Senegal. The main purpose of these trading posts was to obtain slaves in order to ship them to the Americas. The government of the territory was based on Gorée. In 1677, the Dutch lost this island to France. The next year, the French also conquered all DWIC trading posts on the Senegalese coast as well as the island of Arguin.

Having lost almost all the trade in gum arabic, bezoar stone, ambergris and ostrich feathers, the DWIC wanted to regain its position. The Frenchman Jean du Casse, head of the Compagnie de Sénégal, reached an agreement with the local leaders, who decided to destroy the Dutch trading posts and the DWIC lost its position for good.

Society of Suriname

The Society of Suriname (Dutch: Sociëteit van Suriname) was a Dutch private company, modelled on the ideas of Jean-Baptiste Colbert and set up on 21 May 1683 to profit from the management and defence of the Dutch Republic's colony of Suriname. It had three participants, with equal shares in the costs and benefits of the society; the city of Amsterdam, the family Van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck, and the Dutch West India Company. Only through mutual consent could these shareholders withdraw from the society.Although the organization and administration was of the colony was limited to these three shareholders, all citizens of the Dutch Republic were free to trade with Suriname. Also, the planters were consulted in a Council of Police, which was a unique feature among the colonies of Guyana.Its governors included Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck, Johan van Scharphuizen, and Paulus van der Veen.

The Society was nationalized by the Batavian Republic in November 1795, as the Patriottentijd deemed the governing of colonies by chartered companies a thing of the past.

Surinam (Dutch colony)

Surinam (Dutch: Suriname) was a Dutch plantation colony in the Guianas, neighboured by the equally Dutch colony of Berbice to the west, and the French colony of Cayenne to the east. Surinam was a Dutch colony from 26 February 1667, when Dutch forces captured Francis Willoughby's English colony during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, until 15 December 1954, when Surinam became a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The status quo of Dutch sovereignty over Surinam, and English sovereignty over New Netherland, which it had conquered in 1664, was kept in the Treaty of Breda of 31 July 1667, and again confirmed in the Treaty of Westminster of 1674.After the other Dutch colonies in the Guianas, i.e., Berbice, Essequibo, Demerara, and Pomeroon, were lost to the British in 1814, the remaining colony of Surinam was often referred to as Dutch Guiana, especially after 1831, when the British merged Berbice, Essequibo, and Demerara into British Guiana. As the term Dutch Guiana was used in the 17th and 18th to refer to all Dutch colonies in the Guianas, this use of the term can be confusing (see below).

Wouter van Twiller

Wouter van Twiller (May 22, 1606 – buried August 29, 1654) was an employee of the Dutch West India Company and the Director of New Netherland from 1632 until 1638. He succeeded Peter Minuit, who was recalled by the Dutch West India authorities in Amsterdam for unknown reasons.

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