Spice Trade Case Study

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Realizing the potential of the spice trade, the journey to find the quickest route to the “Spice Islands” was off to a go and the British, Dutch, and Portuguese were off to the races. Similarly to the British, Hollands government encouraged rival merchant companies to unify in order to create a government-run monopoly. Their only goal: to make money. With a stable financial backing and a stronger fleet, the Dutch quickly rose to power in the Asian trade market and was considered the first truly transnational corporation. Sparked by the emerging spice trade in the East Indies during the 17th and 18th century, the Dutch East India Company, also known as the VOC, reformed and took control over the Indonesian archipelago, exploiting the indigenous …show more content…
They arranged a network of ports, bases, and camps by fighting off local powers and Indonesian states. Gradually, by the 18th century, the VOC had evolved from a trading enterprise to a colonizing power. New demand for spices called for new cultivation systems which meant enforcing a monopoly of trade. The Dutch set up regulations and strict rules essentially using the native people as slave labor. The Javanese had to hand one-fifth of their harvest to the Dutch and were compensated a small amount of cash for their work. This new system generated almost thirty-three percent of the Dutch state income. But, if the farmers did not cooperate or did not meet their quotas, they were punished severely. On top of that, the prices for crops such as peppers and cloves fluctuated often forcing some families to starve. Starvation and new foreign diseases plagued the farmers. Eventually, the exponentially growing Dutch trading company was forced to take part in local politics. Several wars between rival powers broke out and the VOC financed and supported states that they thought would help and work with the company. As a result, the Dutch were able to capture more land and take control of more people. While the Indonesian economy was diminishing, the Dutch economy was quickly being …show more content…
The Dutch rarely ever interacted with the Javanese themselves which is why their influence was not as prominent as those of other empires. The painting “City Hall of Batavia” drawn by Weduwe van Meurs depicts the city hall of Batavia, the capital city of the VOC. In this painting, Batavia is portrayed as a beautiful city filled mostly by the Dutch. In fact, Batavia looks like a city in the Netherlands. However, that was not the case. Batavia was never meant to be a settlement. Dutch families chose not migrate to Indonesia and Dutch culture was never forced upon the Javanese. This painting was most likely drawn to please the Dutch government and to show off the influence of the Dutch. After seeing this, the Dutch government would have most likely encouraged more people to travel to Indonesia hoping to spread its influence and strength even more. Even though the Dutch were not very involved in the transformation of Indonesian culture, they did have some positive impacts. Holland’s advancement in education and medicine gave the native people new opportunities they did not have before. Poor families could send their kids to school and western medicine helped improve sicknesses. In addition, they helped rebuild the infrastructure of Indonesia. They irrigated hundreds of fields, rebuilt and strengthened ports,

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