The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) or the British East India Company and informally as John Company, was an English and later British joint-stock company, formed to trade with the East Indies (in present-day terms, Maritime Southeast Asia), but ended up trading mainly with Qing China and seizing control of large parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Originally chartered as the "Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies", the company rose to account for half of the world's trade[dubious – discuss], particularly in basic commodities including cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, spices, saltpetre, tea, and opium. The company also ruled the beginnings of the British Empire in India.
The company received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I on 31 December 1600, coming relatively late to trade in the Indies. Before them the Portuguese Estado da Índia had traded there for much of the 16th century and the first of half a dozen Dutch Companies sailed to trade there from 1595, which amalgamated in March 1602 into the United East Indies Company (VOC), which introduced the first permanent joint stock from 1612 (meaning investment into shares did not need to be returned, but could be traded on a stock exchange). Wealthy merchants and aristocrats owned the EIC's shares. Initially the gover
In History of the East India Company 1.6