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WHAT DOES VOC MEAN?
It stands for Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (United East Indies Company). It was formed in the Netherlands in 1602 with the aim of sending ships to East Asia to buy pepper, cinnamon and other spices and trade them on European markets. The VOC grew rapidly to become a multi-national company with trading forts in southern Africa and all over Asia. Halfway through the 18th century, the VOC employed 25,000 persons, 3,000 in the Netherlands. The VOC built its own ships, a total of 1500, which together made 5000 journeys to Asia. They established a network of trading posts stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Chinese Sea. The VOC ended its existence as a trading company in 1800.
Many of the voyages to East Asia passed along the coast of Western Australia (then called New Holland). History records that whilst some VOC ships landed on WA’s shore successfully, others came to grief there.
We know of at least 4 VOC ships that were wrecked: Batavia, Vergulde Draeck, Zuytdorp and Zeewijk. There may be another 3 that were never heard of again after leaving the Cape of Good Hope: Ridderschap van Holland, Aagtekerk and Fortuyn.
To find out more about the history of the VOC read Why the VOC was founded.
For all you historians, for a more detailed account of the history of the VOC see the TANAP website.
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