Page 19 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 their ships for the year 1602.19 The conditions on which the agreement was based were laid down in a charter, which was endorsed by the States-General on March 20th. Thus wasbornonthatdaytheVerenigdeNederlandseGeoctroyeerdeOostindischeCompagnie (United Netherlands Chartered East India Company), commonly referred to as the VOC.
The charter
The charter of 1602 consisted of 46 clauses outlining the structure and organization of the new company. It also included rights and obligations in respect of the States-General.20 The voorcompagnieën were in fact turned into chambers within the VOC. There were six of them: Amsterdam, Zeeland (with headquarters in Middelburg), Hoorn, Enkhuizen, Delft and Rotterdam. The Rotterdam and Delft chambers were sometimes referred to as chambers of the Maze (Meuse), the Hoorn and Enkhuizen chambers as those of the Noorderkwartier (North Quarter), but all four of them were in fact completely indepen- dent chambers. The directors of the six separate voorcompagnieën became directors of these chambers. Overall management was committed to a board of seventeen directors, the Heren Zeventien (Gentlemen seventeen), to be newly appointed by the chambers as delegates to each board meeting.
With this charter, which was to remain in force for 21 years, the States-General trans- ferred important rights to the Company, the most important being the sole right of the Company to fit out ships for trade east of the Cape of Good Hope or through the Straits of Magellan. Only one exception was made: the two Rotterdam companies, in accordance with permission granted previously, were allowed to fit out one more expedition through the Magellan Straits. The ships would have to sail within the next four years however. Neither of the companies made use of this right.2 1
Characteristic of a chartered company is the transfer of sovereign rights. The VOC was authorized to make treaties with rulers and states in Asia, to build fortifications, to enlist soldiers, in a word, it could behave as a 'state outside the state'. On the other hand it was made obligatory for high officials to swear an oath of allegiance to the States-General, and on return of the ships reports had to be submitted on the state of affairs overseas.22
The history of the creation of the charter and the fact that the organization of the Company was officially set down, are important for a proper understanding of the running and development of the business organization. The voorcompagnieën had sprung from the private enterprise of merchants, who obviously considered the form they gave their enterprise to be the most suitable to the Asia trade. Now a legal framework was created, which would be a hindrance to any changes or adaptation of the organization to future
19 FortheroleofpoliticsintheformationoftheVOCseeDenTex,VanOldenbarnevelt,11,384-420. 20 The charter of 1602 is printed in Van der Chijs, Geschiedenis van de stichting van de VOC, 2nd
impr., 118-135; Cau, Groot Placcaetboek, I, 530 et seq., including the texts of the extensions of 1622 and 1647. In 1777 Pieter Gelissen, Company printer in Middelburg, published the text of the charter with all 'amplifications and continuations' up to the end of 1777, a copy of which can be found in ARA, coll. Radermacher 3. See also Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 43, editor note.
21 On this issue the Magellaansche Compagnie came into conflict with the directors, who years later had to buy off the claim of this company with a hefty amount, see Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 9-12.
22 Reports by the commanders of returning fleets are therefore kept in the archives of the States-Ge- neral. See Van Opstall, 'Laurens Reael in de Staten-Generaal', 178; in this article such a report is included.

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