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Trade and Commerce in 17th-Century England: Proclamations

Trade in the East Indies

East India Company

By the King, A Proclamation for Restraining all His Majesties Subjects, but the Members and Agents of the East-India Company, to Trade in the East-Indies, and Recalling such as are there.

           Chartered at the turn of the 17th century under Elizabeth II, the English East India Company established England’s presence against other European powers, such as the Portuguese, Dutch, and French in the East Indies. As the 17th century progressed, the East India Company steadily expanded its monopolies, becoming the primary rival of the Dutch East India Company for European trade in Asia by the 1670’s.

           The East India Company held not only notable economic power, but in 1683 the Crown gave the company full power to declare war, or make peace, with any state in Asia, Africa or America; The Company then held the power declare martial law, raise military forces, and defend forts and other instillations against invasion or rebellion, making it a powerful political ad social force as well.

           By 1680, tensions between the Dutch and English East India Companies, in trend with Dutch and English relations as a whole, cooled dramatically with the Glorious Revolution in 1688, and the Dutch and English East India companies had reached a relative balance with each other in the Indian Ocean, Though with the creation of a New English East India Company under William III and the eventual merger of the two into the United East India Company in the early 18th century, by 1720 it was apparent that the English were the more dominant commercial and naval force, while the Dutch were steadily on their way out. 

 

A Proclamation to Enforce the Monopoly of the East-India Company

          Passed in 1685, under James II, this proclamation outlines the monopoly explicitly and exclusively granted to the East India Company, in response to reports of English merchants in the East Indies overstepping their legal jurisdictions.