Quick: Name the biggest company the world’s ever seen. Apple? Amazon? Some bank or real estate developer? Nope. To guess correctly, you’d have to pick a company that went out of business in 1799.
In’t Aepjen still exists as a tavern to this day, though it is monkey- and flea-free, and as far as I know, its patrons are not in danger of being pressed into three years’ service with the merchant marines.
The Dutch had always been close to water, of course. It’s hard not to be when much of your nation is below sea level anyway. There’s an old saying that “God made the world, but the Dutch made the Netherlands,” and that’s certainly true when you consider that through the use of polders, dykes and sheer willpower, the Dutch pulled much of their land out of the sea.
When you’re writing historical fiction, details matter. It was important to know when ships bearing luxuries from overseas might be arriving back in port to Amsterdam. So off to the internet I went.