Danish East India Company

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Danish and other European settlements in India.

The Danish East India Company[1] (Danish: Ostindisk Kompagni[2]) refers to two separate Danish chartered companies. The first company operated between 1616 and 1650. The second company existed between 1670 and 1729, however, in 1730 it was re-founded as the Asiatic Company (Asiatisk Kompagni).

First company[edit]

Fort Dansborg at Tranquebar, built by Ove Gedde in 1620.

The first Danish East India Company was chartered in 1616 under King Christian IV and focused on trade with India. The first expedition, under Admiral Gjedde, took two years to reach Ceylon, losing more than half their crew. By the time they arrived, the island had been claimed by Portugal; by the end of 1619, a small Danish fleet had arrived at Trincomalee on the island's east coast; occupying the colossal Koneswaram temple in May 1620 to begin fortification of the peninsula before being defeated.[3] The expedition instead established Dansborg in Tranquebar on the mainland coast and installed Captain Crappe as the first governor (opperhoved) of Danish India.[4] During its heyday, the Danish East India Company and Swedish East India Company imported more tea than the British East India Company, smuggling 90% of it into England, where it could be sold at a huge profit. The company was dissolved in 1650.

Second company, and the Asiatic Company[edit]

In 1670, a second Danish East India Company was established, before it too was dissolved in 1729. In 1730, it was refounded as the Asiatic Company and opened trade with Qing China at Canton. The first expedition went badly, with Den gyldne Løve lost with its cargo of silver off Ballyheigue, Ireland, on the outbound journey. The local landowners held the silver at their estate and pursued a salvage claim, but a gang of locals overpowered the Danish guard and made off with the hoard, causing a diplomatic row between Denmark-Norway and Britain.[5] With the royal licence conferred in 1732, the new company was granted a 40-year monopoly on all Danish trade east of the Cape of Good Hope. Up to 1750, 27 ships were sent, with 22 surviving the journey to return to Copenhagen.[5] In 1772, the company lost its monopoly and, in 1779, Danish India became a crown colony.

During the Napoleonic Wars, in 1801 and again in 1807, the British Navy attacked Copenhagen. As a consequence of the last attack, Denmark (one of few West European countries not occupied by Bonaparte) lost its entire fleet and the island of Helgoland (part of the duchy of Holstein-Gottorp) to Britain. Denmark finally sold its remaining settlements in mainland India in 1845 and the Danish Gold Coast in 1850, both to the British.

Ships[edit]

  • Kiøbenhavn and Christian (1618–1621, part of the Gjedde expedition that founded Dansborg at Tranquebar)[6]
  • Christianshavn (8th November 1639, Willem Leyel left Denmark for Tranquebar as commander of this ship)[7]
  • Flyvende Ulv (Departure from Copenhagen 1682 with Axel Juhl, who was appointed governor of Tranquebar later the same year. Departure from Copenhagen 1685 with Wollf Heinrich v. Calnein, governor of Tranquebar 1687)[8]
  • Cron Printz Christian, Cron Printzen, and Den gyldne Løve (1730–31, the Tønder expedition that opened trade with China)
  • Grev Moltke (1760, first Moravian missionaries)
  • Nicobar Sunk 1783 with load of Swedish Plate Money.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Danish East India Company
  2. ^ "Ostindisk Kompagni". Den Store Danske (Gyldendal) (in Danish). Retrieved 2014-09-26. 
  3. ^ Jensen, Uno Barner (1997). Danish East India, Trade Coins and the Coins of Tranquebar: 1620 - 1845. Barner Jensen. ISBN 9788798368236. , pp. 11-12; Furber, Holden (1986). Imperi rivali nei mercati d'Oriente, 1600-1800. Il Mulino. ISBN 9788815011985. , note n° 66, p. 326: "Senarat of Kandy sent to Trincomalee 60 Sinhala men in order to help the Danes in the construction of their fort. During their permanence in Trincomalee, the Danesh coined also some "Larins", on which were recorded the words ‘Don Erich Grubbe’, of these coins, today do not remain trace, if not in the diary of Ove Giedde."
  4. ^ Foreningen Trankebar. "Artikel om en tur fra Chennai til Trankebar".
  5. ^ a b Foreningen Trankebar. "Brev fra England".
  6. ^ The Trials and Travels of Willem Leyel: An Account of the Danish East India Company in Tranquebar, 1639-48
  7. ^ The Trials and Travels of Willem Leyel: An Account of the Danish East India Company in Tranquebar, 1639-48
  8. ^ http://www.jmarcussen.dk/maritim/skibsliste/side.php?id=8542

External links[edit]