Dutch East India Company

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The Dutch East India Company was a Dutch led trading company intended to promote the spice trade.

The company

The company was founded on 20 March 20, 1602, by a group of Dutch merchants and independent trading companies and originally named the Generale Verenighde Nederlandsche g’octroieerde Oostindische Compagnie, managed by an executive directorate called the Heeren Sewentien (i.e. the " Seventeen Gentlemen"). Most widely known by its shortened name and acronym - the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC - and referred to in English as the Dutch East India Company (DEIC).

The importance for the company for South Africa lies in its role in the colonial settlement of the Cape of Good Hope and the evolution of the country now known as South Africa under its long rule. While numerous ships sailed around the Cape to and from East India during the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, none of the nations represented were interested in the Cape of Good Hope for the first 150 years or so, preferring to use the island of St Helena as a station for replenishing their food supplies. However some ships did stop along the South African coast for water or shelter from storms from time to time, and Table Bay for instance occasionally served as a rendezvous point for dispersed fleets.

Based on favourable recommendations by a Dutch vessel, the "Haerlem", which had spent about a year in Table Bay during 1647, the management of the VOC sent Jan van Riebeeck to establish a provision station at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 and thus began the VOC’s rule at the Cape, which lasted for nearly 150 years and ended in 1795 with the British occupation of the colony.

Theatre and entertainment under the Dutch rule of the VOC




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