Page 36 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 36

 chamber, otherwise this advantage fell to Zeeland - that their delegates were able to
consult with their local colleagues.
On the whole the drawing up o f the equipage appears rarely to have been a stumbling
block and to have provoked much less disagreement than, for instance, fixing the dividend.
But very occasionally Amsterdam had to climb down somewhat, as in 1675, when this
chamber, under pressure from other delegates to the Heren Zeventien - perhaps due to
previous bad experience? - had to abandon its proposal to hire six ships. After consulta-
tions with the chambers the Amsterdam delegates were allowed the hiring o f three ships
only, and if this could not meet with approval either, three ships o f a smaller type would
have to b e built. In the end two ships were hired.
On what basis then were the outward bound fleets put together? The answer to this
question lies in the character of the Asia trade, which in the first instance was directed at
bringing Asiatic products onto th e European market. This vast volume o f goods was
countered by very few European export products, and the trade deficit was offset with
silver and gold. The expected volume of goods to be imported in compliance withthe
'demand' drawn up by the Heren Zeventien, determined therefore to a large degree the
size of the fleets to be dispatched. But it soon became clear that ships were neededin
Asiatic waters for trade, war and communications, and that this had to be taken into
account in the dispatching of ships. In the first half of the seventeenth century the Heren
Zeventien would usually indicate which ships were destined to remain in Asia - mostly
the smaller type ships, sometimes a n older East Indiaman, which was n o t considered
sufficiently seaworthy to undertake the return voyage.
It stands to reason however, that after the rapid expansion o f the Asiatic business and
Batavia's efficient functioning as a rendez-vous
for shipping and trade, the decision about
the composition ofthe homeward bound fleet wasto be left to the Hoge Regering. For
the dispatch o f ships from the home country the Heren Zeventien came to rely more and
more on information from Batavia. Every year the Hoge Regering sent home a review o f
the number of ships present in Asia. These Navale Machten, in which the ships were
classified according to size and quality class, came under discussion at the meeting of the
Haags Besogne and were supplemented with data on ships available at home. For instance
an appendix to the Haags Verbaal of 1722 records a list of 162 Company ships: 62 had
been copied from the Navale Macht drawn up in Batavia on 31st March 1720, 78 had left
home after that date or lay ready to sail in the estuaries of Holland and Zeeland, 11 were
in harbour and another 11 were under construction in the shipyards o f the chambers.
These figures were thus available to the directors at their 'mid-yearly' meeting of the
Heren Zeventien where the preliminary equipage was decided upon. When in 1751the
mid-yearly meeting was dropped, this agenda item too disappeared, i.e. it was not moved
back to the spring meeting. In view of the large numbers of ships departing fromthe
Republic at various points throughout the year during the eighteenth century, there was
no longer any good reason to continue making this decision. T h e recommendation to the
chambers to prepare as many ships as possible for departure to Asia in the autumn, did
2 Namely the SINT LAURENS (1313) and GEKROONDE EENDRACHT (1322). VOC 240, res.
Amsterdam 18.9.1675; Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 551.
3 The relevant note on the ships named in the resolutions can usually also be found in the uitloop-
boekjes based on these resolutions, therefore in the Lists of outward bound ships up to ca 1640
the phrase 'Stayed in the Indies' occurs.
4 VOC 4467, Appendix no. I to the Haags Verbaal of 1722.

   34   35   36   37   38