The largest privateering firm in the world? The Dutch West India Company, 1621-1674

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


This presentation explored the prize-taking business of the Dutch West India Company in the 1620s-1650s, the available sources for writing this history and the problems we encounter when we try to develop datasets for this business based on the available sources. The presentation argued that the West India Company, in its heyday of the 1620s-1640s, can be seen as the largest corporation in the world and that it was certainly amongst the largest prize-taking businesses in the world at the time. But the paper also questioned the use of the English word 'privateer' or 'privateering' to describe this business, arguing that the Company may better be understood as the Dutch 'Admiralty for the Atlantic'.
Period05 Jun 2023
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Privateering
  • West India Company
  • Caribbean
  • Dutch Republic
  • Business History
  • Naval History
  • Maritime History
  • Prize law