7-EAST INDIA COMPANY

In the Netherlands, William the Silent, also known as William of Nassau and Prince of Orange, was a robust champion of Protestantism who encouraged thousands of Jews, new Christians, as he called them, and Huguenots, Christian Protestants from France, to migrate to Amsterdam. Thanks to this influx, Amsterdam became the trading capital of the world and the Dutch ruled the waves for much of the 17th century.

Sephardim were money men while Huguenots were entrepreneurs, and together, they formed a formidable team. They created the East India Company in 1600, in London, but in 1602 they decided to establish their headquarters in Amsterdam where operations were unhindered by the Absolute Kings of Divine Right who were still sitting on the throne of England. That’s how the Dutch East India Company came to be.

In order to protect the North American fur trade, the Company owners had built a fort at the tip of Manhattan in 1609 which would become New Amsterdam in 1624, and later, New York. In 1652, they expanded and created a colony on the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, in order to protect the spice trade with Asia. The Dutch East India Company ruled the oceans, and its founders, Jews and Huguenots, became so rich and powerful, that very early on, they started thinking about the demise of the Holy Roman Empire, and moving their headquarters to London.

The owners of the greatest company on earth had always wanted to establish their headquarters in London, for England was a bigger and more convenient base to work from, but they had faced several problems. When Henry VIII had replaced the Pope as head of the Church of England a century before, England had remained very much Catholic, but Henry had lost the financial services of the Holy Roman Empire. Henry had then scrambled to fill the financial void, and in a futile move, he had sold off all the unprofitable Church real estate which had generated very little revenue. In spite of the widespread antisemitism still rampant in the country, being desperate, he had turned to the Jews for banking help. The Huguenots had been welcomed with open arms for their considerable know-how, while Jews were being treated like ‘Christ killers’ and abused, and they were only tolerated because of their money-lending talents. That’s why the Jews and Huguenots had found it more convenient to set up the headquarters of the East India Company in Amsterdam.

But the goal was to establish the Company’s headquarters in London. However, before they could, they would have to find a way to get rid of the Absolute Kings of Divine Right, and get a king that would accept parliamentary rule. As it so happened, there were strong anti-royalist feelings in the existing English parliament, and the word Catholic was starting to be used to distinguish the papist followers from the Protestants, whether Anglican, Lutheran, or Calvinist. So, because Charles I, a Catholic, had just been crowned after marrying the catholic Bourbon Princess Henrietta, it wouldn’t be too difficult to finance an army that would answer to an anti-royalist parliament, defeat the catholic king, and force him to accept parliamentary rule. The country was ripe for civil war.

Oliver Cromwell came to the financiers’ attention in 1642, when he joined the roundheads, the pro-parliamentarians. At the outset of what became known as the English civil war, he distinguished himself militarily and was subsequently promoted to commander of the New Model Army. Over the next few years, the royalist forces were defeated, and when Charles 1, the divine right king, was captured following a battle in Scotland in 1645, he was handed over to the English parliament which was under the protection of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army. However, Charles refused to accept a constitutional monarchy and escaped. In 1647, he was recaptured, and in 1648, he was tried, convicted and executed. Cromwell then dominated the Rump Parliament that was created in 1649.

But Oliver Cromwell was a puritan fanatic who was extremely aggressive towards Ireland and Scotland, both catholic strongholds. Not able or not wanting to work with the Irish and Scottish parliamentarians, he simply dissolved parliament. After taking on the title of Lord Protector of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, he turned the powerful English navy against the very financiers that had financed it, the owners of the Dutch East India Company. He wanted England to take charge of the Atlantic trade. Of course, that was not to be, and Cromwell was doomed.

When Cromwell died from natural causes in 1658, his inept son couldn’t hold the Protectorate together, and several parliaments succeeded each other until the Convention Parliament decided to recall the Catholic kings. During the Restoration period (1660-1688), two kings of divine right, the two sons of Charles I, James II and Charles II, ruled and fought the Dutch East India Company for trade supremacy.

The Jews and Huguenots both in Amsterdam and in London had to find a way to put a stop to the fratricidal naval wars and especially to the rule of Absolute Kings of Divine Right in England. An arranged marriage between William of the House of Orange and Mary of the House of Stuart would be a very good way to do just that. In the interim, the financiers turned their attention to France.

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