16 November 2023

CONFERENCE: Tercentenary of the Imperial East India Company in Ostend (1722/1723-2023) (Ostend: VLIZ, 23-24 NOV 2023)

In 1722-1723, Emperor Charles VI, Count of Flanders and Duke of Brabant, granted the charter of the Imperial East India Company in Ostend. The company's shares were traded on the Antwerp Stock Exchange. Its ships went to China and India. International pressure brought the Emperor to suspend (1727) and retract (1731) the charter, although clandestine activity continued until a lot later in the eighteenth century. The Belgian Royal Marine Society and the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) organise an international conference in Ostend, 23-24 November 2023.


Thursday 23 November 2023

9:15     Welcome:

  • Jan Mees (VLIZ) & Eduard Somers (Royal Belgian Marine Society)
  • Carl Decaluwé (Governor of the Province of West-Flanders)
  • Torsten Feys (VLIZ), Frederik Dhondt (VUB), Michael-W. Serruys (Royal Belgian Marine Society) & Stan Pannier (VLIZ)

10:00   Key Note 1Small companies in a global perspective – Cátia Antunes (Leiden)

11:15   Break

11:45   Session 1 – The Ostend Company and its European merchants and investors

  1. France and the Ostend Company – Pierrick Pourchasse (Brest)
  2. The Lisbon link: Uncovering the Portuguese connection of the Ostend Company (1714-1730) – Gijs Dreijer (Leiden), Susana Münch Miranda (Lisbon) & João Paulo Salvado (Évora)
  3. The Danish Ostend legacy: Supercargo Pieter Van Hurk in Copenhagen – Benjamin Asmussen (Copenhagen)

13:15   Lunch

14:30   Session 2 – The Ostend Company’s European market: Shipping and smuggling

  • A Cantonese fairy tale. The Ostend tea trade and smuggle (1718-1756) – Jan Parmentier (Antwerp)
  • The Ostend Company and the Sound Toll Registers, Dutch and Frisian skippers in Ostend – Jelle Jan Koopmans (Groningen)
  • Lighter and brighter: Indian cottons in Brussels in the first half of the eighteenth century – Veronika Hyden-Hanscho (Klagenfurt)

16:00   Break

16:30   Session 3 – The Ostend Company’s homeport(s) in the Austrian Netherlands

  • The Ostend Company and the Port and City of Ostend – Michael-W. Serruys (Brussels)
  • A rivalry of maritime aspirations between Bruges and Ostend (1715-1730) – Erik Muls (Leuven)

Friday 24 November 2023

9:00     Key Note 2Merchants or soldiers? The Ostend Company: local actions, maritime power and military conflicts in China and Bengal – Wim De Winter (Leuven)

10:15   Break

10:45   Session 4 – All on board to Asia

  • Commensality on board the Ostend Company’s East Indiamen – Dennis De Vriese (Brussels)
  • ‘Le pavillon impérial y est respecté’: on the context of the establishment and functioning of the Ostend settlement of Coblon on the Coromandel coast of India – Karel Stanĕk (Prague) & Michal Wanner (Prague)
  • The aftermath of Banquibazar: Dutch takeover, English mansion and Bengal police academy (1745-2020) – John Everaert (Ghent)
  • Maritime comradeship and artistic taste. Eighteenth century clay portrait figures of the officers from Ostend and Danish East India Companies – Yi-Chieh ‘Mireille’ Shih (Leiden)

12:15   Lunch

13:30   Session 5 – The Ostend Company and European diplomacy

  1. David and Goliath? Reassessing colonial competition and the struggle for global empire between the Dutch republic and the Habsburg Monarchy in the case of the Ostend Company – Jonathan Singerton (Amsterdam)
  2. Law and interest: The politico-legal battle on the Ostend Company and ‘la vie du droit’ (1725-1730) – Frederik Dhondt (Brussels)
  3. ‘The Emperor himself […] permitted the ships to go to the Indies’: Charles VI and the end of the Ostend Company – Charlotte Backerra (Göttingen)

15:00   Break

15:30   Session 6 – The Ostend Company and new societal ideas      

  1. The Ostend Company: Law of the Sea debates in the Age of mercantilism – Stefano Cattelan (Brussels)
  2. ‘What if everyone would do it freely?’ The Ostend Company and the invention of modern business practices in eighteenth century St.-Petersburg, Russia – Alexei Kraikovski (Genua)

16:30   Conclusion


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