The Dutch East India Company and the Economy of Bengal, 1630-1720

The Dutch East India Company and the Economy of Bengal, 1630-1720

OMAR PRAKASH CHOUHAN
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv6jq
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  • Book Info
    The Dutch East India Company and the Economy of Bengal, 1630-1720
    Book Description:

    Om Prakash reveals the central role played by Bengal in the Dutch East India Company's activities in India in the seventeenth and the early eighteenth century and the resulting integration of India into the world economy.

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5776-0
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xi)
  6. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xii-1)
  7. [Map]
    (pp. 2-2)
  8. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-8)

    The discovery of the Cape route to the East Indies and the growing import of American silver into Spain are generally recognized as the two major forces behind the rise of a premodern world economy in the sixteenth century. The implications of these developments for the economic history of Europe have long been recognized. But these were evidently of crucial importance for the economic history of Asia as well. Until the late eighteenth century, when much of Asia was brought under effective European domination, the growing involvement of a number of Asian countries in world trade had profound—and, with...

  9. 1 THE COMPANY IN ASIAN TRADE
    (pp. 9-23)

    The Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602 by a charter granted by the States-General, the national administrative body of the Dutch Republic.¹ During the last quarter of the sixteenth century—and particularly since the closure, in 1585, of Seville and Lisbon to vessels from Holland—the Dutch had been actively engaged in trying to reach the Asian sources of spices and other luxury goods and contest the Portuguese monopoly of the Cape route.² In April 1595, the Amsterdam-based “Company of Far Lands” (Compagnie van Verre), which was the first among the so-called “precompanies’ (voorcompagnieën) and which had managed...

  10. 2 THE COMPANY IN BENGAL: THE POLITICS OF TRADE
    (pp. 24-52)

    The Afghan sultanate of Bengal was incorporated into the Mughal empire in 1576, though it was not until the early part of the seventeenth century that the conquest was consolidated. The administration of the province (subah) was organised along the standard Mughal model. All senior positions in the administration were held by themansabdars—a class of officials who’ constituted a central pool and were eligible to occupy both civil and military offices. To prevent these officials from cultivating local sources of power and influence, they were transferred at frequent intervals from one province to another. The central government also...

  11. 3 THE BENGAL TRADE: LONG-TERM TRENDS
    (pp. 53-89)

    The Dutch East India Company established trade relations with Bengal only after it had been operating elsewhere in the subcontinent for a period of nearly three decades. But once a beginning had been made, the growth of the Company’s trade in the region was remarkably rapid. During the latter half of the seventeenth century, the Bengal trade played a crucial role in the Company’s intra-Asian trade. Thus in the 1660s, Bengal goods accounted, on an average, for 48 percent of the cargo sent to Japan.¹ Similarly, at a slightly later date, opium procured in Bihar accounted for a substantial proportion...

  12. 4 THE COMMERCIAL ORGANISATION
    (pp. 90-117)

    Because of the large amount of trade carried on with other parts of the subcontinent as well as with a number of countries around the Indian Ocean for centuries, a sophisticated organisational framework catering to this trade had grown in Bengal. This framework included, among other things, a highly organised credit structure, arrangements for hiring space on vessels, and merchants and agents who would organise the procurement and disposal of goods on behalf of their clients, both Indian and foreign. For example, it was usual for merchants in northern India and Persia engaged in trade with Bengal to have permanent...

  13. 5 INTRA-ASIAN TRADE (I): JAPAN
    (pp. 118-141)

    Extensive participation in intra-Asian trade (sometimes also referred to as country trade) was probably the most important factor that distinguished the Dutch East India Company from its principal rivals, the English and later the French East India Company. The substantial pecuniary and other benefits derived from such participation also helped the Company dominate the trade with Europe through the greater part of the seventeenth century. The crucial role played by intra-Asian trade in the overall commercial strategy of the Company is evident from the following remarks of the Directors communicated to the Council of the Indies at Batavia in 1648:...

  14. 6 INTRA-ASIAN TRADE (II): INDONESIAN ARCHIPELAGO, COASTAL TRADE, AND PERSIA
    (pp. 142-182)

    Beginning with Japan in the extreme northeast of the great arc of Asian trade, the areas in which Bengal goods figured in the Company’s trade were the Indonesian archipelago, the Coromandel coast, Ceylon, the Malabar coast, and Persia, at the northwestern end of the arc. In the case of some of these regions, such as the Indonesian archipelago and Persia, Bengal goods formed an important constituent of the total cargo sent by the Company.

    In Japan, the Dutch were in the unenviable position of the harassed foreigner constantly subject to the caprice and the whims of an arbitrary regime; in...

  15. 7 THE TRADE WITH EUROPE
    (pp. 183-220)

    The contribution of the Bengal factories to the Company’s trade with Europe consisted of textiles, raw silk, and saltpetre. The Company had begun to procure these goods for Europe soon after the establishment of trade relations with the region in the 1630s, though it was not until the last quarter of the seventeenth century that Bengal became a major supplier to the European market. Indeed, the period between 1636—when the Directors first asked for small amounts of Bengal textiles and raw silk—and 1720 can conveniently be viewed as consisting of two distinct phases. The first phase, lasting until...

  16. 8 THE COMPANY AND THE ECONOMY
    (pp. 221-256)

    In the preceding chapters, we have outlined the crucial role of the Bengal trade in the Dutch Company’s trading network within Asia as well as between Asia and Europe. Continued participation in this trade was obviously of great importance to the Company, and possibly to the national economy of Holland. But how important was the Company’s trade (and by implication that of the other European companies and private European traders) for the economy of Bengal during our period? We have seen that within the overall framework of a predominantly agrarian society, the Bengal region was well known for the production...

  17. 9 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 257-261)

    The growing integration of India into the premodern world economy in the seventeenth century had far-reaching implications for her economy and society. The English East India Company, which was an important vehicle of this integration, managed to assume political authority in Bengal in the latter half of the eighteenth century, and became an instrument of the establishment of a colonial relationship between Britain and India. The present study has been concerned with the Dutch East India Company—the other major European trading company operating in India in the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. In terms of the volume of trade...

  18. APPENDIX A Note on the Dutch Sources
    (pp. 262-266)
  19. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 267-270)
  20. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 271-282)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 283-291)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 292-292)