How did the Dutch Empire compare with other imperial enterprises? And how was it experienced by the indigenous peoples who became part of this colonial power? At the start of the seventeenth century, the Dutch Republic emerged as the centre of a global empire that stretched along the edges of continents and connected societies surrounding the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In the Dutch Empire, ideas of religious tolerance and scientific curiosity went hand in hand with severe political and economic exploitation of the local populations through violence, monopoly and slavery. This pioneering history of the early modern Dutch Empire, over two centuries, for the first time provides a comparative and indigenous perspective on Dutch overseas expansion. Apart from discussing the impact of the Empire on the economy and society at home in the Dutch Republic, it also offers a fascinating window into the contemporary societies of Asia, Africa and the Americas and, through their interactions, on processes of early modern globalisation.