Noordsche Compagnie

Last updated
Noordsche Compagnie
Industry Whaling
FateDissolved
FoundedJanuary 27, 1614;405 years ago (1614-01-27) in Vlieland, Netherlands
Founder
Defunct1642 (1642)
Headquarters
Whaling, by H. Kobell, Jr. Walfang norden.jpg
Whaling, by H. Kobell, Jr.

The Noordsche Compagnie (English: Northern Company) was a Dutch cartel in the whaling trade, founded by several cities in the Netherlands in 1614 and operating until 1642. Soon after its founding, it became entangled in territorial conflicts with England, Denmark, France, and other groups within the Netherlands.

Contents

It was also known as the Groenlandse Compagnie (English: Greenland Company), but the name is misleading today since the "Greenland" referred to is Svalbard, previously thought to either be identical or connected to the island of Greenland discovered and colonized by the Norse.

History

In 1598, a whale beached at Wijk aan Zee. The animal was sold for 126 guilders and the jaw was transported to Dillenburg and given to Jan van Nassau as a gift. [1]

In 1612, the first mention is made of a commercial expedition to Novaya Zemlya after it was concluded that whaling at the Cape of Good Hope in the southern Atlantic offered little prospects of profit. Willem Cornelisz. van Muyden was one of the first skippers to set sail to the North. In 1613, he was the commander of the Neptunus and the Fortuyn, two ships that were sent to Spitsbergen (modern Svalbard, then considered part of Greenland) to hunt for whales. On board were twelve or thirteen French Basques. [2] The remaining crew of 48 men came from North Holland.

On 27 January 1614, the Noordsche Compagnie was founded for a period of two years on Vlieland.[ citation needed ] Tymen J. Hinlopen and Jacques Nicquet were amongst the original investors.[ citation needed ] In 1617, the charter was renewed for another four years and, in 1622, for another twelve.

Whaling was done in the summer months. Ships and crew left the ports of the Dutch Republic in May or June. After a three-week journey they arrived at the coastal waters of Spitsbergen, Jan Mayen, or Bear Island. In August, September, or October the ships returned to the Republic. Soon whaling stations were established on Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen, the best known of these being Smeerenburg. These stations saved much space in the cargohold of the ships, and also held relieve the stench. For years the Noordsche Compagnie controlled the monopoly for whale oil. For every expedition, participants would invest capital. When the expedition had returned, the profit would immediately be divided amongst the investors.

Organization

The Greenland warehouses on the Keizersgracht 40-44. Built in 1621. Photo from 1924, two years after the renovation. Originally there were five, of which only these three remain Groenlandschepakhuizen3.jpg
The Greenland warehouses on the Keizersgracht 40-44. Built in 1621. Photo from 1924, two years after the renovation. Originally there were five, of which only these three remain

The administration of the Noordsche Compagnie was divided into five chambers. These were relatively independent and located in Amsterdam, Hoorn, Enkhuizen, Rotterdam, and Delft. Each city had its own installations on the polar islands. In 1616 the Zeelandic Lampsin family took part in the company. From then on Vlissingen, Middelburg and Veere also had a chamber. In 1634 the charter was renewed for another eight years. In 1636 two Frisian chambers were created: Harlingen and Stavoren.

Trading territories

The trading area of the Noordsche Compagnie stretched from the Davis Strait to Novaya Zemlya, north of Russia. The company did not make any claims to the territory, they were only concerned with their trading-monopoly.

Initially the company made much use of Basque Harpooners and navigators. Aside from whales, walrus and seals were also hunted. The polar bear hunt resulted in skins and fur. Whale baleen was used to make picture frames for paintings, walking sticks and knifehilts.

Michiel de Ruyter, the most famous Dutch admiral, served as pilot on a ship of the Noordsche Compagnie from 1633 to 1635. He was probably familiar with the route from the time that he was still a sailor.

The company was dissolved in 1642. The company had started receiving intense competition from Dutch interlopers and Danish whalers. Whaling was privatized, and taken over by the private sector.

The participation of the population of the West Frisian Islands to whaling is evident from the tombstones of the ship-captains buried there, which were made from whale jawbones.

See also

Related Research Articles

Jan Mayen Norwegian volcanic island situated in the Arctic Ocean

Jan Mayen is a Norwegian volcanic island in the Arctic Ocean. It is 55 km (34 mi) long (southwest-northeast) and 373 km2 (144 sq mi) in area, partly covered by glaciers. It has two parts: larger northeast Nord-Jan and smaller Sør-Jan, linked by a 2.5 km (1.6 mi) wide isthmus. It lies 600 km (370 mi) northeast of Iceland, 500 km (310 mi) east of central Greenland and 1,000 km (620 mi) west of the North Cape, Norway. The island is mountainous, the highest summit being the Beerenberg volcano in the north. The isthmus is the location of the two largest lakes of the island, Sørlaguna, and Nordlaguna. A third lake is called Ullerenglaguna. Jan Mayen was formed by the Jan Mayen hotspot.

Henry Hudson English explorer

Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator during the early 17th century, best known for his explorations of present-day Canada and parts of the northeastern United States.

Willem Barentsz Dutch navigator, cartographer, and Arctic explorer

Willem Barentsz, anglicized as William Barents or Barentz, was a Dutch navigator, cartographer, and Arctic explorer.

Smeerenburg Dutch-Danish whaling station in Svalbard, Norway

The settlement of Smeerenburg on Amsterdam Island in northwest Svalbard was founded by Danish and Dutch whalers in 1619 as one of Europe's northernmost outposts.

The polar archipelago of Svalbard was first discovered by Willem Barentsz in 1596, although there is disputed evidence of use by Pomors or Norsemen. Whaling for bowhead whales started in 1611, dominated by English and Dutch companies, though other countries participated. At that time there was no agreement about sovereignty. Whaling stations, the largest being Smeerenburg, were built during the 17th century, but gradually whaling decreased. Hunting was carried out from the 17th century by Pomors, but from the 19th century it became more dominated by Norwegians.

Norwegian Polar Institute government agency

The Norwegian Polar Institute is Norway's central governmental institution for scientific research, mapping and environmental monitoring in the Arctic and the Antarctic. The NPI is a directorate under Norway's Ministry of Climate and Environment. The institute advises Norwegian authorities on matters concerning polar environmental management and is the official environmental management body for Norwegian activities in Antarctica.

Greenland Sea A body of water that borders Greenland to the west, the Svalbard archipelago to the east, south of the Fram Strait

The Greenland Sea is a body of water that borders Greenland to the west, the Svalbard archipelago to the east, Fram Strait and the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Norwegian Sea and Iceland to the south. The Greenland Sea is often defined as part of the Arctic Ocean, sometimes as part of the Atlantic Ocean. However, definitions of the Arctic Ocean and its seas tend to be imprecise or arbitrary. In general usage the term "Arctic Ocean" would exclude the Greenland Sea. In oceanographic studies the Greenland Sea is considered part of the Nordic Seas, along with the Norwegian Sea. The Nordic Seas are the main connection between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans and, as such, could be of great significance in a possible shutdown of thermohaline circulation. In oceanography the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas are often referred to collectively as the "Arctic Mediterranean Sea", a marginal sea of the Atlantic.

Jan Jacobszoon May van Schellinkhout was a Dutch seafarer and explorer.

Jacob van Heemskerck Dutch explorer

Jacob van Heemskerck was a Dutch explorer and admiral.

Ytre Norskøya island in Norway

Ytre Norskøya is an island on the northwest coast of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago.

Jonas Poole was an early 17th-century English explorer and sealer, and was significant in the history of whaling.

Whaling in the Netherlands

Whaling in the Netherlands was a centuries-long tradition. The history of Dutch whaling begins with 17th-century exploration of Arctic fishing grounds; and the profitability of whaling in the 18th century drove further growth. Increased competition and political upheavals in Europe affected the stability of this maritime industry in the 19th century; and a combination of these factors cut short any further growth of Dutch whaling in the Antarctic.

Jean Vrolicq was a mariner from St-Jean-de-Luz in the first half of the 17th century. He served in the Danish, Dutch, and French whaling industries from 1619 to 1636, and later became a privateer.

Willem Cornelisz van Muyden Dutch explorer

Willem Cornelisz. van Muyden was an early 17th-century mariner. He is known in the Netherlands as De Eerste Walvisvanger (1613). Van Muydenbukta and Van Mijenfjorden on the west coast of Spitsbergen and Kapp Muyen on the west coast of Jan Mayen are named after him.

Lambert van Tweenhuysen was a prominent Lutheran merchant at Amsterdam in the early seventeenth century. Born of a well-known patrician family, he had contacts ranging from Archangel and Spitsbergen to North America, and from Northwest Africa to Istanbul. He traded in a wide variety of items, including salt, corn, wine, wood, linseed, textiles, tar, soap, furs, spices, and pearls. He had trade connections in the Baltic, France, Spain, Portugal and the Mediterranean.

Joris Carolus was a Dutch cartographer and explorer. He served for both the Noordsche Compagnie and the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie.

Samuel Godin Dutch merchant

Samuel Godin, Godyn or Godijn was a wealthy merchant, originally from Southern Netherlands, trading on Spain, Brazil and the Levant. He was one of the administrators of the Noordsche Compagnie, involved in whaling, and of the Dutch West India Company. From 1620 he traded on New Netherland. His name was at first given to the Delaware Bay and he was one of the main investors in Zwaanendael. The colony did not last very long as it was plundered by Native Americans soon after its founding.

Virgohamna is a small bay on the northern coast of Danes Island, an island off the northwestern coast of Spitsbergen. Spitsbergen and Danes Island are islands of the Svalbard archipelago. The bay is named after SS Virgo, the vessel of Swedish engineer and explorer Salomon August Andrée's 1896 expedition. Virgohamna is located across a small strait from Smeerenburg, a historical whaling station on Amsterdam Island about 2 km to the north.

Maria Musch, was a Dutch shipowner. She was a major partner of the pioneer whaling company Kleine Noordse Compagnie (1616), which initiated the whaling industry around Jan Mayen. The bay Maria Muschbukta was named after her.

References

  1. Landwehr, J. De Nederlander uit en thuis. Spiegel van het dagelijkse leven uit bijzondere zeventiende-eeuwse boeken, pp. 102103. 1981. (in Dutch)
  2. Hart, S. De eerste Nederlandse tocht ter walvisvaart. Op. cit. in Jaarboek Amstelodamum, p. 40. 1957. (in Dutch)
  3. Groenlandse pakhuizen Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine , Bureau Monuments and Archeology, Amsterdam

Bibliography

Whaling in the Arctic, anonymous 18th century print 18th century arctic whaling.jpg
Whaling in the Arctic, anonymous 18th century print