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Jaxon Miller
Jaxon Miller

Rivalry For Trade In Tea And Textiles: The Engl...


In the rivalry for spices between East India companies in the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company is typically seen as the most successful. However, European and Dutch success was not just a matter of commercial competition, but also a willingness to apply military force against competitors, preferably through local alliances. The main victims of the Dutch strategy were the Portuguese and their local asian allies. Long before the East India companies arrived, the Portuguese had settled close to the producing areas of spices and made alliances with local rulers to control the spice trade. VOC managed to supplant the Portuguese through alliances with Asian rulers who were known adversaries of the Portuguese or of the Portuguese allies in that particular region. These enemies of the Portuguese often used VOC to strengthen their positions vis-à-vis their local political rivals and the Portuguese and to benefit more from the trade flows of local spice.




Rivalry for Trade in Tea and Textiles: The Engl...



The John Company, as it was commonly called at the time, did suffer periods of decline, especially when wars drained its resources or commerce was particularly hit by trade restrictions, corruption, smuggling, and piracy. The EIC certainly did not have everything its own way in Asia since other European powers were also keen to exploit India's trade and resources. The French East India Company (founded in 1664) boasted a well-trained army, and with the support of rival Indian rulers, it was able to challenge the EIC. Madras, for example, switched from British to French control twice. There was even rivalry from closer to home. In 1698, a second English East India Company was founded, but it merged into the older one in 1709. The new bigger company was officially called The United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies, but everyone just called it the East India Company as before except in official correspondence when it was referred to as the Honourable East India Company.


The Dutch were by far the most successful producers of exotic geography, clearly eclipsing other European rivals. The key to their success, Schmidt argues, was that Dutch ateliers did not present a specific voice or perspective. Instead, they downplayed the role of the artist or the author as they re-worked and re-wrote texts to remove from them anything that reflected a regional perspective or colonial rivalry, and thus could limit the potential consumption of their books. By creating products with a pan-European perspective, they could sell to a pan-European audience. That they could operate in this manner was helped by the lack of surveillance in the Dutch book trade: minimal censorship, no learned academies, and limited patronage, all of which meant they could produce books designed to sell. 041b061a72


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