History of the VOC
Baan Hollanda is an information centre located on the original site of the Dutch trading office in the 17th Century, when Ayutthaya was once the kingdom. Therefore, knowing about the VOC is a great starting point to learn more about the Dutch history in Thailand.
The Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or VOC) founded in 1602 and liquidated in 1795 was the largest and most impressive of early modern trading companies operating in Asia. The Dutch government authorized the VOC to conduct trade, erect fortifications, wage wars, appoint governors, keep a standing army and conclude treaties in its name in an Asian trade zone, covering an area ranging between modern-day Iraq and Japan. Dutch VOC-merchants first arrived in Ayutthaya in 1604. The Thai King of the Siam Kingdom allowed the Dutch to establish their first trading post in the capital Ayutthaya in 1608.
The VOC was the principal western trader in Siam in those days and bought tin, deerskins, rayskins, sappanwood, rice and many other products in Siam. The Company obtained the right to monopolize the hide-trade business; being able to make a good fortune from exporting hides to Japan. The Dutch were importers of luxury goods into Siam, such as Indian printed and painted textiles, but they also brought in Japanese silver.
The Dutch not only involved themselves in trade but also participated in Siamese society and politics, largely because such participation served their commercial ends. Their records offer a unique insight into 160 years of trade and diplomacy with the Kingdom of Siam. The huge archives of the VOC are an important source for Thai history, as they contain not only information on trade but also on diplomacy, the history and sociology of the Kingdom of Siam.
The important chronicles by VOC employees, such as Joost Schouten, Jeremias van Vliet and Engelbert Kaempfer beared witness of their profound interest in and knowledge of Siam. Their transcripts are all translated into English and available in Thailand. The 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vingboons produced a number of detailed maps of Ayutthaya (or Iudea, as he called it).
You can learn more in detail how the Dutch lived and worked here as well as take a close look into replicas of maps, paintings and sections of chronicles at our exhibition at Baan Hollanda.