"The Brederode 1785" (page 2 of 3)

Brederode 1785, Qianlong dynasty - Oval server plates THE WORLD OF THE "BREDERODE"

For centuries, ships served as both cargo vessels and warships, but by the 1600's, their armament had become so heavy that warships needed specially built hulls to carry the added weight. The opening of the sea route to the East saw the establishment, in the 17th Century, of trading companies in several European countries which began to build merchant ships especially for trade in this region.

These ships brought ivory, silks, spices and other products from India, China and the East Indies. East India companies in each country built their own ships, called East Indiamen, which had large, roomy holds essential for carrying cargo. Although these Indiamen were designed as cargo carriers, they carried guns for defense against attacks by pirates and ships of enemy countries.

By the end of the 16th Century, it had become common knowledge that the riches of the Far East - spices, silks and precious stones - outweighed those of the Spanish West, which were mainly gold and silver. European countries anxious to have a part in this rich East Indian trade set up incorporated companies to exploit this potential, on the grounds that a joint company acting together must be stronger than it's individual members acting alone. The United East India Company (VOC) was formed in the Netherlands in 1602.

The VOC was granted a monopoly of all Indian and East Indies trade, given exemption from all import taxes, authority to own land, maintain an army and a navy, build and fortify trading centres, declare local wars and make local peace, exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction and to mint its own currency.

The Company's aim was always a complete monopoly of Eastern trade, maintained by force of arms - an ambition that brought it into constant conflict with the English and French East India companies. By the early eighteenth century the Dutch had been driven from the mainland of Asia and from Ceylon by the English and French, with military costs increasing as the Company fought to maintain its trade monopoly.

By the latter half of the 18th Century, the world was changing. New philosophies, revolutions and change were the order of the day in every sphere of life. But the mighty VOC was in a downward spiral by this stage, however. The golden age of the 17th and early 18th Centuries had been tarnished by corruption and by 1785, the Company's debts were nearly 7 million. The Dutch were unsuccessfully trying to recover from the Anglo-Dutch War of 1780-1784, which had been precipitated by the reckless profiteering of the Dutch during the American War of Independence (1776-1783). Crippling shipping losses during the war, and the aggressive English East India Company did nothing to improve the situation. The wealthy VOC had by this time also changed from a purely maritime trade-oriented enterprise to a politically charged organisation, with blurred boundaries between commerce and government leading to its ultimate downfall.

In 1780, a new East Indiaman was launched at the shipyard of the Amsterdam Chamber of the Company. She was named Brederode, with a displacement of 1150 tons. On 26 July 1783, the Brederode departed from Texel for the East under the command of Captain Gotlieb Mulder. Four months later she anchored berthed at the Cape of Good Hope for provisions. She left the Cape on 9 January 1784, bound for the Company's headquarters in Batavia (Jakarta) in Indonesia, arriving there on the 13 April 1784. Some four months were spent loading provisions and cargo, where after the Brederode sailed for China, arriving on the 24 September in the same year. A further four months later, on 27 January 1785, she sailed for Holland, with a full and valuable cargo consisting of tea, silk, satin and linen materials, rhubarb, anise, tin, porcelain and gold.

Further information can be found at the Brederode website: www.brederode.iafrica.com

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