Soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, a group of London merchants presented a petition to Queen Elizabeth I for permission to sail to the Indian Ocean . The permission was granted and in 1591 three ships sailed from England around the Cape of Good Hope to the Arabian sea.One of them the Edward Bonaventure , then sailed around Cape Comorin and on to the Malay Peninsula and subsequently returned to England.
In 1596, three more ships sailed east, however, these were lost at sea. Two years later, on 24 Sept 1598, another group of merchants, having raised 30,133 pounds in Capital, met in London, to form a corporation. Althoug their first attempt was not completely successful, they nonetheless sought the Queen's unofficial approval, purchased ships for their venture , increased their Capital to 68,373 pounds , and convened again a year later. This time they succeeded, and on 31 Dec 1600, the Queen granted a Royal Charter to "George , Earl of Cumberland , 215 Knights, Aldermen, and Burgeoisses" under the name , Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading with the east Indies. The charter awarded the newly formed company, for a period of fifteen years, a monopoly of trade with all countries to the east of the Cape of Good Hope and to the west of the Straits of Magellan. Sir James Lancaster commanded the first East India Company voyage in 1601.