- This mercantile undertaking, founded in 1723 by the Emperor Charles VI (1685–1740) in the Austrian Netherlands, was intended to promote foreign trade, particularly overseas. By the end of the 17th century, a great deal of the capital resources of the Habsburg Empire had been consumed in religious warfare and the effort to repulse the Ottoman Empire from central Europe. With these pressures abating, the emperor and his advisors wanted to position the Habsburg state in the worldwide mercantile economy through which England, Holland, and to a lesser extent France, were prospering. Charles and the traders of Ostend specifically hoped to challenge English and Dutch interests in East Asia. Stockholders in the undertaking had already recovered their initial investment by 1730. However, the firm had lost its imperial charter as Charles found himself forced to make concessions to England and the Dutch, who were unhappy with an alliance he had concluded with Spain. The company continued to operate profitably for a while longer, but in private hands.
Historical dictionary of Austria. Paula Sutter Fichtner. 2014.
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