The following series was translated from the original Dutch by Willem Rabbelier and
Cor Snabel of the Netherlands. It is published with their permission on The Olive Tree Genealogy pages.
DUTCH FIRST PRESENCE IN THE ATLANTIC AREA
Why did the Dutch wait till the last decades of the 16th century to
There was no real need for the Dutch to enter this area prior to 1600 -
Dutch already controlled the staple trade of salt, grain, herring and
in Europe. The grain was imported from Scandinavia and the other
countries and was transported to other European nations. When they
it to Spain (even during the war!) and Portugal, they returned with
shiploads of salt that they again exported to the Northern European
countries: Amsterdam being the largest mart, emporium of staple goods.
Besides that the Dutch didn't have to explore the wide Atlantic for
fishing-grounds, like the French and English did from the 15th century when they
fished and explored the waters around Newfoundland. The Dutch however controlled the North Sea fishery since
the 15th century.
What actually did cause the Republic to set sail for the Atlantic
West-Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean region, and, later, after Hudson's
of the Hudson in 1609, the Northern-American coastal area?
More and more Dutch historians mention the fact that the European trade
reached a certain level of saturation. This trade had brought so much
prosperity and money that the Dutch could (or had to) spread their wings
sail the Asian, African and American coasts.
The conquest of Antwerp
the Southern Netherlands by the Spanish in 1585 speeded up this process
Dutch interest for naval expansion: skilled laborers, scientists,
and merchants fled to the cities in the Republic, especially Amsterdam
Middelburg. Since Antwerp had been the main distribution-center in
North-West Europe for spices from the East like sugar, wood and other
tropical products, the knowledge (navigation, cartography) and the
trade-contacts now came into Dutch hands.
Sugar-trade with the Canary Islands, Madeira, Sao Tome and Brazil, and
salt trade at the Cape Verdian Isles, as well as some Caribbean isles
the coastal area of Venezuela (Punta de Araya), spread the Dutch over
Atlantic Ocean. Already before 1600 , more than one hundred ships sailed
Punta de Araya - mostly ships from the Dutch West Frisian cities Hoorn and
Privateering was another highly important element that led the Dutch
to the West-African, Brazilian coasts and the Caribbean. Their main
was to fight the Spaniards and Portuguese by obstructing their silver
slave transports, so damaging their economy, and to get rich by simply
robbing them. The French- and English pirates already had proven the
of this system in the Caribbee.
As for New Netherland...
Soon after Hudson's voyage and exploration of the river named after him,
up to present-day Albany, many Dutch merchants cast their covetous
on these freshly discovered territories along the Hudson, Delaware and
Connecticut rivers. As early as 1611 a group of Lutheranian merchants
from Amsterdam, called the Van Tweenhuysen Compagnie, sent a ship, the
St.Pieter to the Hudson. Other companies quickly followed, and
in 1613 the Hans Claesz.Compagnie from Amsterdam, two other groups from the
of Hoorn, and another from the Admiralty from Amsterdam.
The rivalry was heated, off and on even violent, and by and by the
merchants woke up to the fact that they had to cooperate, resulting in
founding of the Nieuw Nederland Compagnie in 1614. This company united
different merchants, and with a charter granted by the States General
a period of three years, starting January 1, 1615, they obtained the
monopoly for the discovered territories. At the end of this period
October 1618, the States General rejected a prolongation of this
most probably due to slumbering plans for a West Indian Company.
1618 the rivalry and competition started again till finally, the first
under command of the WIC (which was founded June 3, 1621) set sail for
America on July 16, 1623. This was the Mackereel, that sailed from Texel July 16,
1623, together with the Witte Duif, for New Netherland and Guyana
EEN ZEGENRIJK GEWEST
Nieuw-Nederland in de zeventiende eeuw.
Uitgeverij Prometheus/Bert Bakker Amsterdam; 1999
ISBN 90 5333 803 9
DE GESCHIEDENIS VAN DE WIC
Henk den Heijer
Uitgeverij Walburg Pers Zutphen, 1993
ISBN 90 601 1912 6