You don’t really think of the early Seventeenth Century and connect it to a multi national corporation. Well, I don’t, and I find myself thinking of the early Seventeenth Century quite a lot!
However, back in the day, there were one or two multi national corporations in existence. The British had the East India Trading Company, and the Dutch had VOC, Verenigde Oost-indische Compagnie or the Dutch East India Trading Company.
They were initially set up to develop trade links with the various countries over in Asia, but as time went on they became also involved in controlling and developing the lands.
The Dutch East India Trading Company had conquered Ceylon by 1640 and in 1641 they took Malacca (now part of Malaysia) from the Portuguese. They founded Cape Town in South Africa in 1652, and set up major trade routes linking all three places with Amsterdam.
The Dutch East India Trading Company was founded in 1602, and is considered to be the first multi national corporation. Obviously, back then, everything was new to the Europeans. They needed to know where they were going, and how to get back.
They needed maps.
One of the founders of VOC, Pieter Platevoet (Peter Flatfoot), was a cartographer. He was also a clergyman and an astronomer; and he also went by the Latin name of Petrus Plancius. He created more than a hundred maps for VOC, maps of the lands and seas that is.
Being an astronomer, he also created maps of the skies as well. Maps of the constellations, to be precise. In 1598, using information obtained by other astronomers and travellers, he created a globe featuring twelve new constellations in the southern sky. He was literally ‘filling in the blanks’, creating brand new constellations as these had never been mapped before. Coincidentally, one of them always seems to find its way into my line of sight, so to speak: Phoenix. And another one, which opened up this whole new voyage of discovery for me was Chamaeleon. Most of these ‘new’ constellations were named after animals, others added include Pavo the Peacock, Tucana the Toucan, and Volans the Flying Fish.
The constellation Chamaeleon (Cha for short!) contains four bright stars, named Alpha Chamaeleontis, Beta Chamaeleontis, Gamma Chamaeleontis and Delta Chamaeleontis. And inside this constellation, there is a rather fascinating object. A rogue planet, a planet without a star to orbit, a planemo (planetary mass object). This planemo has the name Cha 110913-773444, is considerably larger than Jupiter and has a dust cloud around it, which could be the early stages of a formation of a moon. It’s believed that life can’t exist there as there’s no light, but as it’s a rogue planet, travelling through the constellation there’s nothing to say that it won’t get caught by another star’s gravitational pull one day, and start to orbit that star. Well, I like happy endings.
Pieter Platevoet died in 1622, twenty years before the time that I’m inexplicably drawn to. Although I’m no closer to finding out what pulls me back to the year 1642, every now and then something will come along, a random coincidence, a sign, a name or a prompt which helps me to find a further snippet of information… a snippet that may help me to fill in my blanks. Or at least provide another piece to my jigsaw, another aspect in my ongoing quest.
This post is in response to Sideview’s weekend theme, Chameleon. Follow the link to read other takes on the theme… and I’m now orf to have a cup of cha!