Jerry Bentley Prize 2015* The Dutch East India Company was a unique, hybrid organization acting as both company and state, aggressively intervening in Asian political matters in which it had no place. This study focuses on the company's clashes with Tokugawa Japan in the seventeenth century, particularly in the areas of diplomacy, sovereignty, and violence. In each encounter, the Dutch were forced to abandon claims to sovereign powers and refashion themselves -- from subjects of a fictive king to loyal vassals of the shogun, from aggressive pirates to meek merchants, and from insistent defenders of colonial rule to legal subjects of the Tokugawa state. The first book to treat the Dutch East India Company as more than a commercial enterprise, this text offers unprecedented perspective on one of the most important, long-lasting unions between an Asian state and a European overseas enterprise and the surprisingly limited influence of Europeans operating in early-modern Asia.
*The Jerry Bentley Prize is awarded by the American Historical Association to the best book dealing with global or world-scale history, with connections or comparisons across continents.