fighting against the domination of the seas by the Spanish and the
Portuguese, the Dutch laid stress on the principle of freedom of the seas. But
as early as the second decade of the 17th century they refused all other
powers, including the British, an access to the Indonesian Spice Islands,
because only in this way, they argued, could they be compensated for the
protection they furnished.
     While the Dutch zealously guarded their territorial control in Indonesia at
a very early stage, they showed no such ambitions in India. This was perhaps
due to the fact that they procured textiles to an increasing extent in India, and
these were not covered by a monopoly. The textile trade which became more
important to the Dutch required methods of control other than the physical
occupation of the area of production. It was more important in this case to tie
down producers and middle-men by means of credit and advances and to
organise the acquisition of the right type of textiles which were popular with
customers abroad.
     As a consequence of their adaptation to the textile trade, the Dutch
factories experienced a great deal of structural change. Initially, such
factories were expected only to store goods for the annual shipment; in due
course, however, they became centres whose influence extended far into the
interior of the country as they placed orders, distributed patterns, granted and
supervised credit, etc. The Dutch, who had many factories on India’s east
coast, were also represented at the court of the Sultan of Golconda whose
realm was an important source of textiles for them.
     Thus, the Dutch used India, particularly south India, as a major source for
the purchase of cotton cloth as well as of slaves for their spice island
plantations. Dutch investments in Coromandal cloth, which would then be
sold for spices in Indonesia, proved a most profitable way of diminishing the
‘specie drain’ (drain of gold and silver bullion) from home. This technique of
‘triangular trade’ was quickly learned and followed by the English, who were
equally anxious to reduce the eastern flow of bullion.
     The Dutch invasion of the Indian Ocean brought about a revolution in
international trade which the Portuguese had never accomplished. The flow
of commodities in the Mediterranean was completely reversed. The trade of
the Levant (eastern Mediterranean region), following its revival in the late
16th century, experienced a