March 20, 1602: The Dutch East India Company is founded.

The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-indische Compagnie) was founded through the sponsorship of the Dutch government, who granted it a monopoly over trade in the East Indies through a charter that was set to expire after twenty-one years. The company could, through this charter, build forts and conduct military and diplomatic activities in the area, which would help to protect and direct Dutch trade in the East Indies (the Dutch Republic was, at the time, engaged in the Eighty Years’ War against Spain). 

During its nearly two centuries in existence, the Dutch East India Company became the first company to issue stock, and also the first (or second) multinational company; in addition, it is, according to some estimates, the most valuable company in history - adjusted for inflation, it is valued at $7.4 trillion. The VOC also came into direct competition with the British East India Company, especially after the Dutch took over many Asian settlements and holdings previously held by the Portuguese over the course of the Dutch-Portuguese War. One of its most famous leaders was Jan Pieterszoon Coen, who served as its Governor-General twice, helped to expand and strengthen its reach, and also founded the capital of the Dutch East Indies - Batavia, today called Jakarta. 

The company reached the height of its power in the late 17th century but soon went into decline thanks to corruption and poor management, and its hegemony over trade in the East Indies disintegrated until its dissolution in 1800. The territories that had been colonized by the VOC became the Dutch East Indies, to be administrated by the Dutch government, who finally granted the colony independence in 1949 after over three centuries of Dutch rule. 

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    we did a long and great roleplay adventure set within the VOC several years ago (diverse WOD characters)
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