Trade, Chartered Companies, and Mercantile Associations

Koen Stapelbroek

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199599752
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Trade, Chartered Companies, and Mercantile Associations


This chapter examines Grotius and the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC); profit, power, and self-preservation; chartered companies in the history of trade organizations; propriety, the root principle of Dutch trade expansion; from dominium to territorial imperium; the conditions and legal structure of English company trade; and European States and company objectives. The Seven Years’ War signified the victory of the English East India Company (EIC), which, following its attempts to emulate the VOC’s achievements, became the key colonial agency in Asia. Although it is therefore true that, historically, company trade and colonial conquest are inherently related, the history of company trade itself from the outset is richer. The manner in which Grotius’ legal innovations paved the way for Dutch trade expansion can be understood as a benchmark for the development of the EIC before 1756—and an enduring guide afterwards, when territorial expansion became a focus.

Keywords: European States; East India Company; trade organizations; Dutch trade expansion; Grotius; Seven Years’ War

Article.  10381 words. 

Subjects: Law ; History of Law ; International Law

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