The Golden Age was also the golden age of hemp in Holland. Without hemp, that Age would actually have been much less Golden. It was funded by the Dutch merchant empire of which the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC), with its worldwide shipping trade, was the backbone. It was also the first multinational in the world and, in its turn, it furthered the cultivation of the hemp plant. In those days hemp, next to wood, was the major component for the shipbuilding industry. A merchant navy as large as Holland’s required innumerable tons of hemp. An average sailing vessel would need about 21 kilometres (13 miles) of rope and hundreds of square metres/yards of canvas. This winged and international concept is derived from the French word chanvre, meaning cannabis. Hempfibre was also used for caulking, i.e. rendering the hull watertight.