It may be noted that in the beginning the Dutch concentrated on the island of South-East Asia, because they could get spices in abundance in these island. Further, the Portuguese had not fully entrenched themselves there.
The first Dutch company was set up in 1592 with a view to carry on trade with the East. Within next few years a large number of other companies were formed, which created lot of chaos.
In view of this development these companies were amalgamated in 1602 and named as Dutch East India Company, with exclusive right to carry on trade with the east. The company was also empowered to declare war, occupy territories, build fortresses and conclude treaties.
The Dutch East India Company won quick success against the English company as well as the Portuguese. It captured the spices Islands in the Far East and forced the English company to withdraw. After prolonged hostilities a mutual restitution treaty was agreed.
However, the Dutch hardly paid any regard to this treaty and the scuffles continued. The things took most serious turn in 1623 when in the massacre of Amboyna, a number of English men were killed, and a large number of them were expelled from the islands.
This incident kindled fresh animosities and culminated in a war between the two countries. Though the Stuart kings did nothing to claim reparations from the Dutch, ultimately Cromwell secured an indemnity of 185,000 as indemnity to the company and compensation to the heirs of those who had lost their lives in Amboyna.
The Dutch captured Malacca from the Portuguese in 1641. Seventeen years later they forced the Portuguese to abandon Ceylon also.
After sometime the Dutch felt that the real key to the world domination lay in India and therefore turned their attention towards her. They invaded Malabar and dislodged the Portuguese from there.
The Dutch set up their headquarters at Nagapatam. However the Dutch could not make progress in India due to stiff opposition from the English, who were comparatively in much stronger position.
The Dutch were involved in a number of clashes with the British, but suffered serious reverses. Their fleet sailing towards Hughly was completely destroyed. By 1781 the English had expelled the Dutch even from their headquarters at Nagapatam.
Causes of Failure of the Dutch:
The failure of the Dutch in India was due to number of factors:
Firstly, the Dutch had numerous commitments on the continent of Europe and all their energies and resources were consumed there.
She was involved in long wars with England and France which not only exhausted her resources but also materially reduced her to an inferior position.
Secondly, the Dutch were mainly interested in the Spice Islands of South East Asia and never concentrated on the mainland of India.
Thirdly, the Dutch system of Administration in India was defective. There was close connection between the company and the Government. The company was guided by the state official, who paid more attention to Private trade rather than their official duties. No doubt, the interests of the company greatly suffered, and ultimately led to its decline.
Fourthly, the Dutch forces in the East were not properly recruited and were ill-organised. This naturally affected their efficiency and they failed to rise to the occasion.
Finally, the superior position of the British navy also compelled the Dutch to leave India and concentrate on countries of South East Asia only.