Coat of Arms
Motto: Regis et Senatus (The King and Senate)
Type: Partially State-owned enterprise
Industry: International Trade / Retail
Founded: 12th August 1629
Founder: Sir Edward Windcombe
Headquarters: 120 Company House, Thurston
Revenue: Increase 8.72 Billion (THS)
Number of Employees: 68,750
Formerly: Cotton, silk, sugar, salt, spices, tea
Current: Department Stores, Oil & Gas, Electronics
The Chartered Company of Thurland (CCT) is a Thurlandian, joint-stock company founded in 1629. It was formed to trade in the East Pacific region. The company seized control of large parts of the Eastern Pacific, and maintained trading posts and colonies in the region.
Originally chartered as the "Company of Merchants of Thurston Trading into the East-Pacific", the company rose to account for half of the region's trade during the mid-1700s and early 1800s, particularly in basic commodities including cotton, silk, sugar, salt, spices, and tea. The company also ruled the beginnings of the Thurlandian Empire in certain parts of the Eastern Pacific.
Despite frequent government intervention, the company had recurring problems with its finances. The company was given a second chance when the Government of Thurland took on the remaining territories governed by the company and ceded to the Thurlandian Government by the 'Chartered Company Act 1841'. By the mid-19th century, the company evolved into a mercantile business selling a wide variety of products from furs to fine homeware in a small number of sales shops (as opposed to trading posts) across Thurland. These shops were the first step towards the department stores the company owns today.
In the early 20th Century, the company expanded into the oil and energy sector and holds a significant monopoly on the Thurlandian oil sector. In 2019, the Company acquired the Thurston Electronics Company, given the company a leading edge in the electronic manufacturing and software industries. In 2020, the Company's leadership rebranded the company for the 21st Century, and the new brand was launched in March 2020, introducing an abbreviated name and an updated rendition of the classic Company coat of arms, designed to both be modern and better reflect the company's heritage.
CCT's head office is currently located in Thurston, Thurstonshire. The company is listed on the Thurston Stock Exchange under the symbol "CCT.THUR"
On 12 September 1628, a group of merchants met and stated their intention "to venture in the pretended voyage to the East Pacific (the which it may please the Lord to prosper), and the sums that they will adventure", committing 40,000 THS (over 50,000,000 THS in 2022).Two days later, "the Adventurers" reconvened and resolved to apply to Queen Sophie for support of the project. Although their first attempt had not been completely successful, they nonetheless sought the Queen's unofficial approval to continue. They bought ships for their venture and increased their capital to 68,373 THS.
The Adventurers convened again a year later, on 12th August, and this time they succeeded; the Queen granted a Royal Charter to "George, Earl of Kingsport, and 215 Knights, Aldermen, and Burgesses" under the name Company of Merchants of Thurston Trading into the East-Pacific. For a period of fifteen years, the charter awarded the newly formed company a monopoly on Thurlandian trade with all countries in the Eastern Pacific. Any traders in breach of the charter without a licence from the company were liable to forfeiture of their ships and cargo (half of which went to the Crown and the other half to the company), as well as imprisonment at the "royal pleasure".
The governance of the company was in the hands of one governor and 24 directors or "committees", who made up the Court of Directors. They, in turn, reported to the Court of Proprietors, which appointed them. Ten committees reported to the Court of Directors. According to tradition, business was initially transacted at the Kings Head Inn, opposite St Wulfhere's church in central Thurston, before moving to Company House in Charterhall Street.
Sir Francis Alborough commanded the first Company voyage in 1631 aboard the company vessel Royal Sprig. After capturing a rich 1,200 ton Bigtopian carrack, the trade from the booty enabled the voyagers to set up two "factories" on nearby East Pacific islands before leaving. They returned to Thurand in 1633 to learn of Queen Sophie's death but Lancaster was knighted by the new king, Edward I. By this time, the war with Bigtopia had ended but the company had successfully and profitably breached the Bigtopian monopoly, with new horizons opened for the Thurlandians.
In March 1634, Sir George Midden commanded the second voyage. General William Kynge, a captain during the second voyage, led the third voyage aboard the Royal Sprig from 1637 to 1640 along with the ship, The Royal Prince, under Captain Edmund Haversham and the ship, The Kings Consent under Captain Sir George Midden.
Early in 1638 Alexander Sharpeigh was appointed captain of the company's ship Queen Sophie, and general of the fourth voyage. Thereafter two ships, Queen Sophie and Union (captained by Richard 'Dick' Tyckler) sailed from Kingsport on 14th March 1639. This expedition would be lost.
Initially, the company struggled in the spice trade because of the competition from the already well-established Bigtopian Trade Company. The Thurlandian company opened a factory on its first voyage, and imports of pepper remained an important part of the company's trade for twenty years. The first factory closed in 1683.
Thurlandian traders frequently engaged in hostilities with their Bigtopian counterparts ithroughout the Eastern Pacific The company achieved a major victory over the Bigtopians in the Battle of Sewally in 1642. The company decided to explore the feasibility of gaining a territorial foothold in strategic points across the Eastern Pacific, with official sanction from Thurland.
Company ships docked at Ghujat in 1640. The company established its first Ghujati factory in 1641 at Masulipaton on the Ghujati Coast; and a second at Saratti in 1643. The high profits reported by the company after landing in the kingdom of Ghujat initially prompted Edward I to grant subsidiary licences to other trading companies in Thurland. However, in 1649 he renewed the East India Company's charter for an indefinite period, with the proviso that its privileges would be annulled if trade was unprofitable for three consecutive years.
In 1642, Edward I instructed Sir Thomas Warminster to visit the Ghujat Emperor Nuradn Salim I to arrange for a commercial treaty that would give the company exclusive rights to reside and establish factories throughout Ghujat and other areas. In return, the company offered to provide the Emperor with goods and rarities from the Thurlandian market. This mission was highly successful, and Emperor Nuradn Salim I sent a letter to King Edward I through Sir Thomas Warminster:
Upon which assurance of your royal love I have given my general command to all the kingdoms and ports of my dominions to receive all the merchants of the Thurlandian nation as the subjects of my friend; that in what place soever they choose to live, they may have free liberty without any restraint; and at what port soever they shall arrive, that neither Bigtopian nor any other shall dare to molest their quiet; and in what city soever they shall have residence, I have commanded all my governors and captains to give them freedom answerable to their own desires; to sell, buy, and to transport into their country at their pleasure. For confirmation of our love and friendship, I desire your Majesty to command your merchants to bring in their ships of all sorts of rarities and rich goods fit for my palace; and that you be pleased to send me your royal letters by every opportunity, that I may rejoice in your health and prosperous affairs; that our friendship may be interchanged and eternal.
— Emperor Nuradn Salim I, Letter to Edward I.
The company, which benefited from the imperial patronage, soon expanded its commercial trading operations. It eclipsed the Bigtopian Trade Company, which had established bases in the ports of Bloa, Pridaagonti, and Brinbyay – Bigtopia later ceded Brinbyay to Thurand as part of the dowry of Elizabeth of Bigtopia on her marriage to King William Arthur I. The Charter Company also launched an attack on Bigtopian ships throughout the East Pacific, which helped secure further CCT ports. By 1687, the company had 23 factories, each under the command of a factor or master merchant and governor, and 90 employees throughout the East Pacific. The major factories became the walled forts of Fort William in Pridaagonti, Fort St George in Bloa, and Brinbyay Castle.
The company's mainstay businesses were by then cotton, silk, indigo dye, saltpetre, and tea. The Maxtopians were aggressive competitors and had meanwhile expanded their monopoly of the spice trade by ousting the Bigtopians in 1680–1687. With reduced Bigtopian influence in the region, the CCT and Maxtopian East Pacific Trade Company (MEPTC) entered a period of intense competition, resulting in the Thurlandian Trade Wars of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Within the first two decades of the 17th century, the Chartered Company of Thurland, (CCT) was the wealthiest commercial operation in the world with 50,000 employees worldwide and a private fleet of 200 ships. It specialised in the spice trade and gave its shareholders 40% annual dividend. The Company was fiercely competitive with other neighbouring states throughout the 17th and 18th centuries over spices from the Spice Islands. Some spices, at the time, could only be found on these islands, such as nutmeg and cloves; and they could bring profits as high as 400 percent from one voyage.
In an act aimed at strengthening the power of the CCT, King William Arthur II granted the CCT (in a series of five acts around 1740) the rights to autonomous territorial acquisitions, to mint money, to command fortresses and troops and form alliances, to make war and peace, and to exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the acquired areas.
In the following decades there was a constant battle between the company lobby and Parliament. The company sought a permanent establishment, while Parliament would not willingly allow it greater autonomy and so relinquish the opportunity to exploit the company's profits. In 1772, another act renewed the status of the company, though the debts were repaid. By 1780, 15% of Thurlandian imports were from the wider East Pacific, almost all passing through the company, which reasserted the influence of the company lobby. The licence was prolonged until 1796 by yet another act in 1800.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, Thurland surged ahead of its rivals. Demand for East Pacifican commodities was boosted by the need to sustain the troops and the economy during the country's many colonial wars, and by the increased availability of raw materials and efficient methods of production. Thurland experienced higher standards of living. Its spiralling cycle of prosperity, demand and production had a profound influence on overseas trade. The company became the single largest player in the Thurlandian global market.
In its first century and half, of the CCT's existance, the company used a few hundred soldiers as guards. The great expansion came after the 1740, when it had 5,600 regular troops. By 1752, it had grown to around 24,000; by 1780, it had 86,200. It recruited largely native and colonial troops and trained them along Thurlanian military lines. The military arm of the Chartered Company quickly developed into a private corporate armed force used as an instrument of geo-political power and expansion instead of its original purpose as the Company's guard force. Because of this, the CCT became one of the most powerful military force in the region. As it increased in size, the army was divided into the two Corporate Armies; the Chartered Army of the North, and the Chartered Army of the South, each of which recruited its own infantry, cavalry, and artillery units. The company's merchant ships, were usually well armed to defend against pirates and other hostile company ships. The CCT also maintained a naval arm called the Chartered Maritime; in 1850 this was incorporated into the Royal Thurlandian Navy.
Following the Chartered Company Act 1841, with saw the Company loses its colonial empire as it was formally incorporated into the Thurlandian Empire, the military of the company was also amalgamated in 1860 with the Royal Thurlandian Army, but its 'Native' regiments were not. In 1865, the separate Chartered Armies were at last abolished and a fully unified Royal Thurlandian Colonial Army came into being. As before, its Thurlandian officers were not members of the Royal Thurlandian Army, though as young subalterns they did serve for a year with a Royal Thurlandian Army regiment as part of their training before taking up permanent commissions with their Colonial Army regiment.
The proliferation of the Company's power chiefly took two forms. The first of these was the outright colonisation or annexation of indigenous East Pacific states and subsequent direct governance of the underlying regions, which collectively came to comprise Thurland's empire.
The second form of asserting power involved treaties in which native East Pacifican rulers acknowledged the Company's hegemony in return for limited internal autonomy. Since the Company operated under financial constraints, it had to set up political underpinnings for its rule. The most important such support came from the subsidiary alliances with indigenous princes during the first 75 years of Company rule. In the early 19th century, the territories of these princes accounted for two-third of the Company's territory. When an indigenous ruler, who was able to secure his territory, wanted to enter such an alliance, the Company welcomed it as an economical method of indirect rule, which did not involve the economic costs of direct administration or the political costs of gaining the support of alien subjects.
In return, the Company undertook the "defence of these subordinate allies and treated them with traditional respect and marks of honour."
Following the Chartered Company Act 1841 and under the provisions of the Chartered Company Territories Annexation Act 1848, the Thurlandian Government nationalised the company's holdings across the East Pacific. The Thurlandian government took over its Thurlandian possessions, its administrative powers and machinery, and its armed forces.
The company had already divested itself of its commercial trading assets in most of the East Pacific in favour of the Thurlandian government in 1839, with the latter assuming the debts and obligations of the company, which were to be serviced and paid from tax revenue raised in the East Pacific. In return, the shareholders voted to accept an annual dividend of 10.5%, guaranteed for forty years, likewise to be funded from the Thurland's imperial territories with a final pay-off to redeem outstanding shares.
The company remained in existence after the loss of its East Pacific holdings and instead focused upon a future based upon retail. In 1854, the first sales shop was established in Thurston. This was followed by other sales shops in Snotsforf (1856), Lechester (1875), Port Stanley and Sarum (1884), Bottesford (1887), Thoroton (1887), Newark (1890), St Michael's Town (1898), and Aldborough (1902). The first of the grand "original six" department stores was built in Thurston in 1913. The other department stores that followed were in Snotsford, Aldborough, Lechester, Newark, and Kingsport.
The Port Stanley Rebellion in 1932 interrupted a major remodelling and restoration of retail trade shops planned in 1932. Following the rebellion, the company revitalized its retail brand and real-estate activities, and diversified its operations by venturing into the oil business.
The company co-founded Royal Thurland Oil and Gas Company (RTOGC) in 1926 with Thurland National Oil Company. RTOGC expanded during the 1940s and 1950s, and in 1960 began shipping Thurlandian crude through a new link to the Northern Coast pipeline and on to the refinery in Withernsea, North Thurland. The company became the sixth-largest Thurlandian oil producer in 1967. In 1973, RTOGC acquired a 35 per cent stake in Ducal Oil and Gas Guild, and, in 1979, it divested that interest. In 1980, it bought a controlling interest in International Pacific Petroleum. In the 1980s, sales and oil prices slipped, while debt from acquisitions piled up which led to the Chartered Company incorporating the Royal Thurland Oil and Gas Company into the company. Forming the Chartered Company of Thurland's Oil and Gas Division.
Today, the Chartered Company of Thurland, runs a number of success department stores across Thurland, with its renown flagship store in Thurston, a major tourist attraction for international visitors. The company also operates 1219 retail stores across the kingdom with the majority centred in the shires of Aldboroughshire, Thurstonshire, Snotsfordshire, Sarumshire and North Thurland.
The CCoT continues to have a sizeable share of Thurland's oil industry, and runs the majority of the oil producing fields in North Thurland. In 2019, the Company acquired the Thurston Electronics Company, giving the company a leading edge in the electronic manufacturing and software industries.