Scandinavian Chartered Companies

Hanna Hodacs

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online August 2012 | | DOI:
Scandinavian Chartered Companies

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Chartered companies were established in Scandinavia from the beginning of the 17th century. These companies were organized along similar lines as the larger and more familiar chartered companies of the time (e.g., the Dutch East India Company and the English East India Company). Other European companies provided the Danes and the Swedes with organizational prototypes, but also migrating merchants from northwestern Europe supplied know-how, which proved instrumental in setting up the Scandinavian companies and organizing the trade between the Baltic and Africa, between the West and the East Indies, and to a lesser extent in the North Atlantic. Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that circumstances specific to Scandinavian geopolitics shaped the conduct of the Danish and the Swedish companies. The ability of these companies to draw on the neutral statuses of the states of Denmark and Sweden during periods of conflict between the great powers of the Atlantic world constituted their distinguishing feature. This is particularly true of the two most successful Scandinavian chartered companies of the 18th century, the Danish Asiatic Company (Asiatiska Compagni) and the Swedish East India Company (Svenska OstIndiska Kompaniet). These companies were also marked by their active engagement in reexporting (and smuggling in) to Britain, the Dutch Republic, the Austrian Netherlands, France, and the German states goods imported from Asia. Thus the success and ultimate failure of the Scandinavian companies was closely connected to changing market conditions in Europe. This fact is clearly demonstrated when considering the effects of the British Communication Act of 1784, which significantly lowered the custom on tea. Adoption of the act undermined the smuggling of tea into Britain, tea that had been originally imported by the Scandinavian companies. Passage of this act marked the beginning of the end of the most successful of the chartered companies in Scandinavia.

Article.  5639 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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