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Birth of Emperor Akbar, Queen Elizabeth and the East India Company

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East India Company was born

When James Lancaster's merchant fleet returned in 1594, two years after the Madre de Dias loot, in a dilapidated condition, it was a truly painful affair for the English.

Although England temporarily benefited financially from the Madre de Dias campaign, it was far from honorable. King Philip II of Spain had been accusing England of being a 'robber' ever since Francis Drake's expedition. But Queen Elizabeth did not take these complaints into account at all.

A new headache for the English was the growing Dutch trade. After gaining independence from Spain in 1579, the Dutch power took advantage of Spain's experience and started a spice trade with Asia. That trade put England's Levant Company in competition.

The volume of Dutch trade gradually increased to such an extent that at one time there was a shortage of merchant ships in the country. A few years after James Lancaster's return to England, the Dutch merchant guild asked England to borrow some ships to send a large merchant fleet. The English merchants were annoyed and told the Dutch that they had no ships to lend them. Because, they themselves are planning to send a big trade expedition to Asia. In fact, it was a lie, a boast of the incompetent. Till then the English merchants had no such plans. They rejected the Dutch out of commercial jealousy.

However, some English merchants had been trying to discover the waterways to India on their own initiative for decades before that. London merchants formed the Muscovy Company in 1553, the world's first joint stock company. Their aim was to bypass the two trade routes of the southern hemisphere—the Straits of Uttamasha and the Straits of Magellan—to discover a new trade route to the northern hemisphere and gain access to Asian trade. The ambitious company was formed without any idea of ​​the extent of the northern seas.

But the objectives of the Muscovy Company did not succeed. No sea route has been discovered to the north of Europe. The Muscovy Company evolved into the Levant Company during Queen Elizabeth's reign.

In mid-1599, while preliminary discussions were underway for English merchants to explore ways of establishing sea trade with Asia, news of another large Dutch merchant ship shipment arrived. In July of that year, the shipment from Asia contained 800 tons of pepper, 200 tons of cloves and many valuable commercial products. The Levant Company, seeing such a huge profit in a single shipment from the Dutch, was desperate to send a merchant fleet of their own. If a newly independent country like Holland had the courage to trade so much, why would England lag behind? So the Levant Company planned to form a commercial syndicate along the lines of the Dutch with the big merchants of London. According to that plan, a meeting was held at Founder's Hall in London on 24 September 1599. London Mayor Sir Steven Swamy was present as the chief guest in that meeting. He was accompanied by prominent businessmen of London.

The meeting was convened by Sir Thomas Smith, Auditor of the City of London and principal director of the Levant Company. It was said that the purpose of this meeting was to send a combined merchant fleet to India. The purpose, in the language of the meeting's resolution, was, 'Voyages to the East Indies, other islands and countries, for the purpose of trading; Conducting trade (which will please our Lord…) by purchasing or bartering the goods, gems and artefacts they produce or trade.'

Auditor Smith was the most concerned about the matter. He had a few days earlier explained his plans to form a company to some well-to-do businessmen in London and called for contributions of between £100 and £3,000 each. Initially 101 traders responded to the call. He managed to raise £30,133 in two days. All those who had contributed were present in the Founder's Hall that day.


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