Page 26 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 26

 delegate. The other nobleman 'wandered' between the Delft and Rotterdam chambers according to a complicated arrangement.53
From early on in the Company's existence there had been besides the 60, and after 1696 the 62 ordinary directors, some extra-ordinary directors. A s early as 1610 a number of provinces demanded control over the directors, because of the very considerable finan- cial assistance received by the Company from the States-General. This control was given to a number of provinces in the form of an extra-ordinary directorship. In 1614 Dordrecht, the presiding city in the States of Holland, was also given the right to appoint such an extra-ordinary director. By 1696 nine such directors had been added under this title to the Company's board of management. Five of them, for the provinces of Gelderland, Utrecht and Friesland and the cities of Dordrecht and Gouda, had seats in the Amsterdam chamber. In the Zeeland chamber a delegate of 'Stad en Lande' (Town and Country of Groningen) had a seat, in the Delft chamber one from the Overijssel province and in the Rotterdam chamber one from the city of Dordrecht. Lastly Alkmaar too was allowed to appoint an extra-ordinary director who alternated between Hoorn and Enkhuizen.5 4
The extra-ordinary directors had to hold shares in the Company to the value of at least fl 3000. They received a remuneration of fl 1200 per year. They had no voting rights and could not be delegated by the chambers to the Heren Zeventien. They have given the VOC little enough trouble: in most cases the extra-ordinary director's role remained limited to introductions at his first meeting and thank you's at the end of his three year term of office, which was always adhered to.5 5
The modifications in the charter during the first half of the seventeenth century brought the directors' position more in line with the character of the VOC as a corporate enterprise. They put an end to the mixing of private and Company business, which was still implied in the clauses of the first charter. But the alterations did not result in a weakening of the directors' power vis à vis the shareholders, even though the latter had been given some rights. Directors continued to manage the enterprise according to their own insights. But the hold of the burgomasters on appointments meant greater influence of the regents within the Company. In one sense a directorship became one of the most attractive posts in the circuit of appointments at the disposal of municipal regents; these appointments were also open to themselves. No doubt at times this led to abuse, when personal, family or party interests prevailed over the Company's. It also made the VOC an easier prey to political strife at the end of the eighteenth century. Not that this was necessarily to the Company's disadvantage. Ability did play a role in appointments and the post was not looked upon as a sinecure, other than by the extra-ordinary directors. And in Amsterdam at least care was taken that regents who already had many commitments elsewhere, did not get the upper hand on the board of directors.56
The sworn principal shareholders
In the preceding pages there has already been mention of the principal shareholders and the functions they performed in the drawing up of the four-yearly accounts and in the
53 The composition is most comprehensively dealt with by Valentijn, Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën, I, 301-316.
54 Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 175-191.
55 This is clear at least from the resolution books of the Amsterdam and Zeeland chambers; for the
smaller chambers no resolution books are extant. 56 Bontemantel, Regeeringe, 147-150.

   24   25   26   27   28