6 Reading 35-1 When the Portuguese and then the Dutch f nally reached the source of the spices, the products f rst became much cheaper in Europe, and then each country in turn tried to establish a monopoly. The means of trade were East India Companies, bodies of merchants who came together to reduce risks and internecine competition, and in the hope of becoming stronger and more successful than they could on their own. They used bigger ships with better crews and more armament, and their record of achievement is generally better than that of individual merchants. East India Companies were established by the English, Dutch, French, Danes, Spanish, Swedes, Scots, and for a very short time the Austrians (the last as nominal rulers of Antwerp and Ostend). The English, founded in 1600 and known colloquially as John Company, 7 was ultimately to be the most important. The Dutch had been the traditional northern European carriers of the world’s tropical products from Lisbon, the port to which the Portuguese brought spices from the East until 1580, when Spain and Portugal were “united.” Lisbon then came under the deadening control of Madrid. The Dutch found prices rising against them; corruption and inef
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