7 December 2009
Translation opens window to Australia’s past
The document that led to the first Europeans to visit and chart Australia’s coast, and the country’s first European residents, is now available on the net, for the first time, in English.
“Today, we are launching the translation of the Charter of the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, known in English as the Dutch East India Company, or the VOC,” Peter Reynders, Secretary of Australia on the Map and the Charter’s translator said. “It is the first and only English translation of the VOC Charter available online.”
“The VOC played a huge role in the history of the unveiling of Australia: the first foreign ship to visit and chart Australia in 1606 was a VOC vessel and many further VOC voyages were responsible for mapping of about two-thirds of the continent’s coasts,” Mr Reynders explained. “Interestingly, Australia’s first, though perhaps reluctant, ‘migrants’ were two VOC mutineers who were abandoned on the coast of West Australia on 16 November 1629.”
The Charter united a number of different Dutch trading companies and laid the foundation for the Dutch maritime empire. Through it the VOC became the world’s first multinational company and can be thought of as the trailblazer of global capitalism, starting over four centuries ago. It was also one of the world’s first joint-stock (shareholder) companies and it kept trading for two centuries.
“Given the VOC’s importance in history, and the Charter’s significance as an historical foundation document, it came as a surprise to us to recently discover that copies and translations of the Charter were not readily available,” Rupert Gerritsen, Chair of Australia on the Map and the translation’s editor said. “So we got hold of a copy of the Charter and began our own English translation.”
“We’re sure it will become an important resource for students all over the world, those with an interest in history, and for researchers,” Mr Gerritsen said.
The translation page is available on Australia on the Map’s website as: www.australiaonthemap.org.au/content/view/50/59/
Peter Reynders, Charter translator, and Secretary/Treasurer of Australia on the Map
phone: 02- 62820064 h., 62980278 w
Rupert Gerritsen, translation editor and Chair of Australia on the Map