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Texel played an important role in the merchant voyages of the Dutch East India Company: before departure, the ships would be anchored off the Reede van Texel, where they were supplied with provisions and awaited favourable weather conditions. Until the end of the 16th century, Dutch trade centred mostly on the Baltic Sea. Goods from India were bought from Portuguese merchants, who supplied these goods mainly via the port of Antwerp. This changed as a result of the war with Spain.
Spain and Portugal entered into a treaty and at the same time, Antwerp was conquered by the Spaniards. The supply of goods from the Far East broke down, which gave rise to plans for the Dutch to sail ‘to the East’ themselves. This received a lot of support from merchants from the South Netherlands, in particular, who had settled in the north after the fall of Antwerp. They provided the funds, contacts and knowledge to make a successful sea trade with India possible.
At first, the merchant cities would each send ships to the East separately. There was no collaboration. Quite the opposite: competition was so fierce that the States General intervened in 1602. All companies who were trading with the East were made to merge into one big trading company: the Dutch East India Company. This was the start of the Golden Age. The Dutch East India Company brought herbs, spices, cotton, silk and porcelain to Europe on a large scale.
For many years, the Dutch East India Company controlled all contact between Northwest Europe and Asia. There are several reasons for the collapse of the Dutch East India Company in the second half of the 18th century, with the maritime supremacy of the English probably being the main one, which resulted in the isolation of the republic. In 1799, the Dutch East India Company went bankrupt.
The Reede van Texel was already well established in the 15th century. Ships leaving from locations around the Zuider Zee would anchor off the Reede van Texel, waiting for favourable winds to sail to the Baltic countries, France, Spain and Portugal and later also East India. In the 17th and 18th centuries in particular, this was a very busy place. Ships were loaded and unloaded; Texel pilot ships and supply boats would depart. Texel water from the Wezenputten, which kept well, was particularly popular and stocked up on in large quantities.
Do you want to know more about this time? Check out the imposing model of the Reede van Texel at Kaap Skil Museum. A real must!