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Sumatra, first half of 17th century

The successors of Sultan Iskandar Muda were unable to maintain the empire he had created and in the middle of the 17th century, the Acehnese empire began to contract. Within Aceh, moreover, royal power dwindled in the hinterland with the rise of powerful regional warlords or uleëbalang. Although Aceh remained independent, it was never again a major power.

Meanwhile, Aceh’s main rival, Johor, was also in decline. From the north, the aggressive Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya had turned Kedah into a vassal, requiring its ruler to send as tribute an intricate gold and silver tree (bunga mas dan perak). Johor was also under pressure from the south. From the middle of the 17th century, the pepper kingdoms of Jambi and Palembang had grown increasingly independent of their Javanese overlords and had begun to develop close relations with the VOC. Palembang soon fell out with the VOC, which sent forces to destroy its capital in 1659, but Jambi continued to prosper, repudiating Mataram’s overlordship in 1663. By 1673, Jambi was powerful enough to attack Johor and to destroy its capital utterly. Johor’s rulers then shifted their court once again into the islands for fifteen years. The final blow to Johor’s standing came in 1699, with the assassination of the brutal Sultan Mahmud, which broke Johor’s dynastic link with the prestige of the Melaka sultanate.

The decline of Aceh and Johor gave new opportunities to the Minangkabau peoples of central Sumatra. Siak on the Sumatra coast opposite Johor, Indrapura on the west coast, and the small Minangkabau communities of Sungai Ujung and Rembau near Melaka all became virtually independent in this era.


The founding of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) on 20 March 1602 marked the worldwide start of share trading. The VOC was the first company to give private citizens the opportunity to participate in its capital, and the documents recording their participation are thought to be the oldest shares in the world. The Amsterdam stock exchange owns one of the few remaining copies of this very rare document, which is seldom seen by the public. This VOC share will also be on display during Visitor’s Day.


In 1602,


the English East India Company’s first voyage, commanded by Sir James Lancaster, arrived in Aceh, region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra.  and sailed on to Bantam, where he was allowed to build trading post which becomes the centre of English trade in Indonesia until 1682. In this case, the Prince took the Dutch, arrival seriously as the Dutch had constructed many military. A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats…


The Dutch Company’s charter of 1602 empowered it to appoint public prosecutors in the name of the States-General for the conduct of judicial business in its fortresses beyond the Cape of Good Hope. The ordinances for the Dutch governor-general in 1617 authorized him not only to execute all civil and




Muhammad Yusuf Tonggi

Pada Tahun 1595, Lapattawe’ Daeng serang yang tercatat menaklukan Laica’ dengan membunuh laica’ di tangga istananya, kemudian menjadi Raja pengganti pada tahun 1595-1602.

Pada Riwayat Luwu’E, Lapattawe’ Daeng Serang adalah Waliyullah Muhammad Madzamuddin yang riwayatkan menikahi Datu Suppa yang saat itu menjadi Komandan Patroli laut. Muhammad Madzamuddin diriwayatkan sebagai Pajung Luwu’ yang menyambung (kembali) hubungan Keluarga Luwu’-Bone dan Makassar. Muhammad Madzamuddin adalah seorang Panglima Perang yang bergelar Cornelis de Hout Man dalam karier Militernya

Perkataan Bijak Imam Besar berdarah Pranakan Afrika yang bergelar tentang Agama Ketuhan berkaitan dengan Budi Pekerti, dapat kita lihat dibawa ini:



Cape Town and harbour

criminal sentences, but also to delegate this function to the subordinate councils and proper officers of settlements at which the governor-general and council could not be present.

Age of VOC
The Italians are the first Europeans to visit Borneo in the 14th century, then followed by the Spanish, British, and Dutch.

Sambas kingdom is the first area that was under the influence of the Netherlands since the contract with the VOC made by Queen Sapudak (King Sambas) on October 1, 1609.


Prince Jayawikarta apparently also had a connection with the English and allowed them to build houses directly across from the Dutch buildings in 1615. When relations between Prince Jayawikarta and the Dutch later deteriorated, his soldiers attacked the Dutch fortress which covered two main buildings, Nassau and Mauritus. But even with the help of 15 ships from the English, Prince Jayawikarta’s army wasn’t able to defeat the Dutch, for Jan Pieterszoon Coen

Jan Pieterszoon Coen


Jan Pieterszoon Coen was a officer of the Dutch East India Company in the early seventeenth century, holding two terms as its Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies….

(J.P. Coen) came to Jayakarta just in time, drove away the English ships and burned the English trading post.


Things then changed for the Prince, when the Sultan of Banten sent his soldiers and summoned Prince Jayawikarta to establish a close relationship with the English without an approval of the Banten authorities. The relationships between both Prince Jayawikarta and the English with the Banten government then became worse and resulted in the Prince’s decision to move to Tanara, a small place in Banten, until his death. This assisted the Dutch in their efforts to establish a closer relationship with Banten. The Dutch had by then changed the name to “Batavia”, which remained until 1942.


In 1602 the Dutch set up the Dutch East Indies Company, Vereenigde Oostindie Compagnie in Dutch or VOC. In the Moluccas, the Dutch took a first Portuguese fort in 1605.



Maluku people’s resistance against the Portuguese, the Dutch used to set foot in the Moluccas. In 1605, the Dutch managed to force the Portuguese to give up its defenses in Ambon to Steven van der Hagen and the Tidore to Sebastiansz Cornelisz. Similarly, the British fort at Kambelo, Seram Island, destroyed by the Dutch. Since then the Dutch managed to control large parts of Maluku.
The position of the Dutch in the Moluccas strengthened with the establishment of the VOC in 1602, and since then the Dutch became the sole ruler in the Moluccas. Under the leadership of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, Chief Operating VOC, clove trade in the Moluccas sepunuh under the control of VOC for nearly 350 years. For this purpose the VOC did not hesitate to drive out competitors, Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Even tens of thousands of people become victims of brutality VOC Maluku.

Jan Pieterszoon Coen


Jan Pieterszoon Coen was a officer of the Dutch East India Company in the early seventeenth century, holding two terms as its Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies….

was appointed the VOC governor general for the Moluccas. He too wanted to set up an establishment in Java. He took Jayakarta in 1619. On the ruins of the Javanese town, he founded Batavia, which he named after the ancestors of the Dutch people, the Germanic tribe of the Batavians


The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe, originally part of the Chatti, reported by Tacitus to have lived around the Rhine delta, in the area that is currently the Netherlands, “an uninhabited district on the extremity of the coast of Gaul, and also of a neighbouring island, surrounded by the…



In 1619

instructions had been duly given to Van Speult to administer justice as governor of Amboyna in civil and criminal cases.


Under a tropical sun these almost stagnant waters, soaking into-the soft soil, produced malaria, and the city came to be regarded as the graveyard of Europeans; the wealthy classes took up their residence in the suburbs which formed the new town on the heights of Weltevreden, whither the government offices were removed. Within a few years canals have been filled up and drainage introduced, so that the city is considered tolerably healthy. The thermometer ranges from 65° to 90°. The old town is mainly inhabited by natives and the poorer Chinese. The city has a bank and a newspaper, and has recently been connected with Singapore by a telegraphic cable 600 m. long. Among the principal public buildings are the Lutheran church, military hospital, and exchange. – Batavia occupies the site of the former native city of Jacatra, which was seized in 1619 by the Dutch governor Jan Pieterszoon Koen, the Dutch having a few years before set up a factory here. The capital of the Dutch possessions in India was now removed from Amboyna to this place. In 1628-‘9 the allied sovereigns of Bantam, Jacatra. and Mataram twice besieged the new city, with an army of 100,000 men, but were repulsed.



When the kingdom was ruled by Raden Sumedang bans Suriadiwangsa, stepchild Geusan Ulun of RTU Harisbaya, Sumedanglarang into Mataram territory since 1620. Since then the status Sumedanglarang any changes from the kingdom into districts under the name Sumedang District. Mataram make Priangan as a region in western defenses against possible attacks Banten forces, and or Company based in Batavia, because of Mataram under Sultan Agung (1613-1645) hostile to the Company and the conflict with the Sultanate of Banten.




To oversee the Priangan, Sultan Agung lift Raden Aria Suradiwangsa be Wedana Regent (Regent Chief) in Priangan (1620-1624), with the title of Prince Rangga Gempol Kusumadinata, known as Rangga Gempol I.

In 1624 the great Emperor ordered Rangga Gempol I to conquer the Sampang (Madura). Therefore, the position represented Regent Wedana Priangan of younger princes Rangga Gempol I Dipati Rangga Gede. Shortly after Prince Dipati Rangga Gede served as Regent Wedana, Sumedang attacked by forces of Banten. Since most forces left Sumedang Sampang, Prince Dipati Rangga Gede unable to cope with the attack. As a result, he received a political sanction of Sultan Agung. Prince Dipati Rangga Gede held in Mataram. Regent Position Wedana Priangan submitted to Dipati Ukur, provided that he should be able to seize power Batavia of the Company.

Sultan Agung in 1628 ordered Dipati Ukur to help troops attacked the Mataram Company in Batavia. But the attack failed. Dipati Ukur realize that as a consequence of the failure that he will receive punishment similar to that received by Prince Dipati Rangga big, or a heavier punishment again. Therefore Dipati Ukur and their followers to rebel against Mataram. After the attacks on the Company fails, they do not come to Mataram report the failure of his duty. Dipati Ukur actions were considered by the party as a rebellion against the rulers of Mataram kingdom of Mataram.

Dipati Ukur occurrence of insubordination and his followers made possible, partly because of the Mataram difficult to monitor directly Priangan region, due to the distance between the center of Mataram Kingdom with regional Priangan. Theoretically, if the area is very far from the centers of power, the power center in the region are very weak. However, thanks to the assistance some areas in Priangan Head, Mataram party to quell the rebellion finally Dipati Ukur. According to Soil History (Chronicle), Dipati Ukur caught on Mount Barn (Bandung district) in the year 1632.

After the “rebellion” Dipati Ukur deemed concluded, Sultan Agung handed back office to the Prince Regent Wedana Priangan Dipati Rangga Gede who has been free from punishment. In addition, reorganization of government in Priangan to stabilize the situation and condition of the area. Priangan area outside Sumedang and Galuh divided into three districts, namely Bandung District, County and District Parakanmuncang Sukapura raised by three regional heads of Priangan which is considered to have contributed to quell the rebellion Dipati Ukur.

Third person referred to is the regional head Astamanggala Ki, was appointed head nurse pennant Cihaurbeuti great (regent) of Bandung with a degree Tumenggung Wiraangunangun, Tanubaya as regent Parakanmuncang and Ngabehi Wirawangsa became regent Sukapura with Wiradadaha Tumenggung title. The three men were sworn in together on the basis “Piagem Sultan Agung”, issued on Saturday the 9th of Muharam Year Alip (Javanese calendar). Thus, on 9 Muharam Taun Alip not just an anniversary of Bandung Kabupagten but at the same time as the anniversary Sukapura District and County Parakanmuncang.



Bandung 1800



The establishment of Bandung regency, means in Bandung area changes occur mainly in the areas of government. The area originally was part (subordinate) of the kingdom (the Kingdom of Sunda-Pajararan then Sumedanglarang) with an unclear status, turned into a region with a clear administrative sttus, namely district.

After the third regent appointed Mataram in central government, they return to their respective regions. Sadjarah Bandung (manuscript) states that the Regent of Bandung Tumeggung Wiraangunangun along with his followers from returning to the Tatar Ukur Mataram. The first time they come to Timbanganten. Where the regent of Bandung get 200 count.

Next Tumenanggung Wiraangunangun together people build Krapyak, a place located on the shores near the mouth of the Citarum River Sungat Cikapundung, (suburb of the southern part of Bandung Regency) as the district capital. As the central area of ​​Bandung regency, Krapyak and the surrounding area called Earth chick Gede.

Bandung District administrative area under the influence of Mataram (until the end of the 17th century), not known for sure, because accurate source that contains data about it is not / has not been found. According to native sources, the early stages of data covering several areas of Bandung regency, among others, Tatar Ukur, including area Timbanganten, Kuripan, Sagaraherang, and partly Tanahmedang.

Perhaps, the area outside the District Priangan Sumedang, Parakanmuncang, Sukapura and Galuh, which originally was Tatar territory Measure (Measure Sasanga) in the reign of Dipati Ukur, an administrative area of ​​Bandung regency at that time. If the allegations are true, then the capital of Bandung regency with Krapyak, its territory includes the area Timbanganten, Gandasoli, Adiarsa, Cabangbungin, Banjaran, Cipeujeuh, Majalaya, Cisondari, cavities, Kopo, Ujungberung and others, including area Kuripan, Sagaraherang and Tanahmedang.



Bandung regency as one of the district which formed the Kingdom of Mataram, and under the influence of royal authority, the system of government in Bandung Regency has a system of government of Mataram. Regent has a variety of symbols greatness, special guards and armed soldiers. Symbol and attributes it adds a big and strong power and influence over his people Bupti.

The amount of power and influence of the regents, among others, indicated by the possession of the privileges normally dmiliki by the king. These rights are the rights referred to inherit the position, only to collect taxes in money and goods, ha obtained a labor (Ngawula), hunting and fishing rights and the right to prosecute.




With very limited direct supervision of the rulers of Mataram, it is no wonder if that time Regent of Bandung in particular and generally Priangan Regents ruling like a king. He ruled over the people and regions. Pemerinatahn System regent and lifestyle is miniature of palace life. In performing its duties, the regent assisted by his subordinate officials, such as governor, prosecutors, rulers, village headman or chief cutak (head of district), district (chief assistant district), patinggi (headman or village leader) and others.

Bandung regency under the influence of the Mataram until the end of 1677. Then Bandung regency in the hands of the Company. This It occurs due to Mataram-VOC agreement (first agreement) December 19 to 20 October 1677. Under the authority of the Company (1677-1799), Regent of Bandung and other Regents Priangan still serves as the supreme ruler of the district, with no bureaucratic ties with the Company.



District government system basically does not have changes, because the Company only demanded that the regents recognize the power of the Company, with a guarantee to sell certain products of the earth to the VOC. In this case, the regents must not engage in political relations and trade with other parties. One thing that changed was the office of regent Wedana removed. Instead, the Company raised Prince Aria Cirebon as a supervisor (opzigter) area of ​​Cirebon-Priangan (Cheribonsche Preangerlandan).

One of the main obligations of the regents of the Company is obliged to carry out the planting of certain crops, especially coffee, and deliver results. The system is called Preangerstelsel compulsory planting. Meanwhile, the regents must maintain security and order in his territory. Regents also must not appoint or dismiss employees without consideration of subordinates regent regent ruler of the Company or the Company in Cirebon. For the regents to implement obligations of the latter well, the influence of the regent in the field of religion, including income from that field, such as the penis nature, are not bothered whether the regents and the people (farmers) get paid upon delivery of a large coffee determined by the Company.

Until the end of the power of VOC-VOC end in 1779, Bandung regency capital is Krapyak. During the Bandung regency ruled for generations by the six regents. Tumenggung Wiraangunangun (the first regent) ankatan Mataram who ruled until 1681. Five other regents are force the regents of the Company namely Tumenggung Ardikusumah who ruled in 1681-1704, Tumenggung Anggadireja I (1704-1747), Tumenggung Anggadireja II (1747-1763), R. Anggadireja III with a degree of RA Wiranatakusumah I (1763-1794) and RA Wiranatakusumah II who ruled from 1794 until 1829. In the reign of regents RA Wiranatakusumah II, moved the capital of Bandung Regency from Karapyak to the city of Bandung.


In 1613,

prince Rangsang became king of Mataram

Mataram Sultanate


The Sultanate of Mataram was the last major independent Javanese empire on Java before the island was colonized by the Dutch. It was the dominant political force in interior Central Java from the late 16th century until the beginning of the 18th century….

in Central Java. The following year, he attacked the principality of Surabaya



Surabaya is Indonesia’s second-largest city with a population of over 2.7 million , and the capital of the province of East Java…

in the east. The man who would be remembered as Sultan Agung had started a series of successful campaigns against rival kingdoms and principalities on Java.


Coen’s next step was to secure control of the five tiny nutmeg-and mace-producing Banda Islands.

In 1621,

he led an expeditionary force there, and withing a few weeks rounded up and killed most of the 15,000 inhabitants on the islands. Three of the islands were then transformed into spice plantations managed by Duth colonists and worked by slaves.

In the years that followed, the Dutch gradually tightened their grip on the spice trade. From their base at Ambon, they attempted to “negotiate” a monopoly in cloves with the rulers of Ternate and Tidore. But “leakages” continued to occur.


17th century

In the south, the sultanate of Banjarmasin grew strong on the pepper trade. Large areas in the hills behind Banjarmasin were cleared for pepper cultivation and from the middle of the 17th century the region threw off its tradition of vassaldom to Java to become a significant regional power.

Banjarmasin’s heartland was the basin of the Barito River, especially the fertile uplands of Amuntai, but at the height of its power, it claimed suzerainty over all the coastal states from Kota Waringin to Bulungan, and even claimed some influence in Sintang in the Kapuas basin.

In the west, the main power at the beginning of the 17th century was Sukadana, a major exporter of diamonds and forest products, though its influence was being challenged by Sambas to the north, which was a vassal of Johor. The state of Landak came under Sukadana’s control in about 1600, but frequently sought its independence.


In 1622, forces from Mataram conquered Sukadana. Mataram,


Decoration from an Indian sword

The End of the Struggle: The Tragedy of Amboyna


Events were now hastening to a catastrophe. The Dutch governor-general, Coen, while resolved to make the Archipelago an island empire for Holland, was too sagacious to imperil his plans by putting his nation openly in the wrong toward a great European power. He trusted to the treaty of 1619 itself to afford causes of quarrel, which would enable him to carry out the instructions given to the first Dutch governor-general, 1609–1614, and steadily reiterated ever since, that “the commerce of the Moluccas, Amboyna, and Banda should belong to the Company, and that no other nation in the world should possess the least part.” But Coen’s far-reaching policy was beyond the grasp of his bluff ship-captains, with their flaming broadsides, or of the angry isolated Dutch agents, a thousand miles apart, with their forts and prison cells.

Coen himself believed that the treaty alone stood in the way of his triumph over the English. Our Admiral Dale, stricken with fever, and fearful lest the Bantamese might sacrifice the English to make terms with the Dutch, had shipped off our goods and factors from Bantam in the summer of 1619, sought an asylum for them on the east coast of India, and there died. The English ships that remained in the Archipelago seemed destined to fall to the Dutch, who captured two of them in July, 1619, and four others off Sumatra in October. Our alliance with the Prince of Bantam, to capture the half-built Dutch fort at Jacatra (Batavia) in the beginning of that year, furnished Coen with a cause of war against us, and placed him in the right from the point of view of European diplomacy. The arrival, early in 1620, of the treaty of July, 1619, snatched the prey from between his hands. “The English ought to be very thankful to you,” he wrote to the Dutch directors in Holland, “for they had worked themselves very nicely out of the Indies, and you have placed them again in the midst.”

If, however, he had to obey the treaty, he could use it for his own ends. The English would have liked. to resettle at Bantam, but Coen resolved not only to destroy the trade of that port but to force the English to live under his own eye at Batavia. After some negotiation the joint Council of Defence, established in Java by the treaty, agreed to blockade Bantam in 1620, and thus accomplished both his objects. For, although the English soon withdrew, they had compromised themselves with the Bantam prince, and the Dutch fleet was strong enough to continue the blockade without them.

Court of Directors, East India House

In Batavia Coen made our position so miserable that in July, 1620,

we had to keep a ship there as a floating warehouse, “having no place on shore.” In 1621 the English almost gave up Java in despair, and part of them again sought a refuge on the Indian coast. In August, 1622, Thomas Drockedon, our agent at Batavia, asked leave from the directors in London to return home, as he could “live no longer under the insolence of the Dutch.”

His situation was a mournful one. So far from restitution having been made to us under the treaty of 1619, we were compelled to supply “incredible sums” for fortifications which the Dutch did or did not build, but which could only be a menace to ourselves. We had been dragged into a war with Bantam, from which we could derive no benefit, and which shut us out from the chief pepper mart. The civil and criminal jurisdiction was exercised by the Dutch to publicly insult us. We were placed on a level with “the blacks,” whose bare affirmation was taken against us. We might not “kill a wild hog or gather a cocoanut in the wood without leave.” The Dutch had flogged William Clarke, steward of the English factory, in the market-place, “cruelly cutting his flesh, and then washed him with salt and vinegar, and laid him again in irons.” The English watch had been imprisoned for eight days and threatened with torture, to force them to make false confessions against the president of our council. What seemed to the Dutch their lawful jurisdiction, the English regarded as oppression.

For another alleged plot twelve natives had been condemned to be quartered, and the rest of the accused to perpetual slavery in chains. The torture failed to elicit anything against the English; but if it could have given the Dutch “any advantage against us,” we should have had no mercy. “Wherefore,” wrote in 1622 our President Furgand and council at Batavia,

“we earnestly desire speedily to be released from this bondage.” A similar attempt was made in the island of Pularoon to extort confessions against the English by cruel torments of the natives. Thus was rehearsed alike in the capital of Dutch India and in the distant Nutmeg Isles, that tragedy of torture which was so soon to be enacted at Amboyna. In the still remoter seas, as we learn from a letter of Richard Cocks, dated Nagasaki, 10th March, 1620, the Hollanders, with seven ships at Japan, had, “with sound of trumpet,” “proclaimed there open war against the English, as their mortal enemies.”

The Clove and Nutmeg Isles, including among them Amboyna, Banda, and Pularoon, lay, it will be remembered, at the south-eastern end of the Spice Archipelago. The Dutch claimed the sovereignty over them, by the conquest of Amboyna from the Portuguese in 1605, and in virtue of many treaties. The English had a set of counter-claims based on the free surrender of Pularoon to us in 1616, of Lantor or Great Banda in 1620, and on compacts with other chiefs. We had also an agency at Amboyna under the Dutch-English treaty of 1619. The Dutch with an overwhelming force expelled us from Lantor and Pularoon in 1621–1622. Our gallant agent, Nathaniel Courthorpe, who, in “much want and misery,” held Pularoon from 1616 to 1620, sometimes with but thirty-eight men to resist the “force and tyranny” of the Hollanders, had been mortally wounded in a sea-fight, and threw himself overboard rather than see his ship strike her flag.


Herman van Speult,

governor of the neighbouring island of Amboyna,


Herman van Speult (?? – Mocha, Yemen, August 1626) was a merchant in service of the Dutch East India Company. Van Speult left the island Texel in 1613, heading for Bantam and arrived after a journey of ten months. He was formerly employed in Spain, “whence he came, if report be true, full of the pox.”[1]

He was active as governor of Ambon from 1618 until 1625.

was regarded at headquarters as “too scrupulous” in his fiscal administration.


They were further enforced by the Dutch governor-general’s express sanction to Van Speult in October, 1622, to deal unhesitatingly with conspiracies.

A candid examination of the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1619 shows that its jurisdiction clause referred only to questions of trade and joint defence, and left the criminal and civil jurisdiction untouched.



Nor could the pronouncement of King James in 1623 seriously affect the issue, for the Dutch repudiated it as never having been accepted by (perhaps not even communicated to) their representatives. The States-General consistently maintained their civil and criminal jurisdiction in their settlements throughout the Spice Archipelago. As a matter of fact, the English in the Dutch settlements had been steadily subjected to that jurisdiction, although they groaned under it, and their very complaints to the directors in London prove their practical submission to its most irksome forms.

The general law of Europe at that time prescribed judicial torture as a proper and an almost necessary means for arriving at the truth. Dutch jurisprudence went so far as to declare that, in eases similar to that of Amboyna, a public prosecutor could demand sentence of death only on the confession of the accused.

The judges therefore, after satisfying themselves by independent proof of the guilt of the accused, had to obtain his confession; without torture if possible, by torture if not. But the Dutch ordinances of 1570 provided safeguards against the abuse of this method, and insisted on indicia sufficientia ad torturam, or a reasonable presumption of guilt before the torture was resorted to.

In England torture, although unrecognized by the common law, was employed in state trials by the Privy Council or High Commission Court in virtue of the royal prerogative. “The rack seldom stood idle in the Tower,” writes Hallam, “for all the latter part of Elizabeth’s reign.” Lord Burleigh defended its use, as the accused “was never so racked but that he was perfectly able to walk and to write;” and “the warders, whose office and act it is to handle the rack, were ever by those that attended the examinations specially charged to use it in so charitable a manner as such a thing might be.” “In the highest cases of treason,” wrote Lord Bacon in 1603, “torture is used for discovery and not for evidence.”

James I had perhaps less right than any other English sovereign to complain of its use by the Dutch. As King of Scotland he had not only sanctioned torture in alleged cases of conspiracy and witchcraft, but had in 1596 authorized even a subordinate court – the provost and baillies of Edinburgh – to try rioters by torture. As King of England he had in 1605 racked Guy Fawkes, per gradus ad ima, and







In January, 1623,

the Governor-General Coen, when departing for Europe, enjoined strict justice, and mentioned Amboyna as a place where no English encroachments were to be allowed. “Trust them not,” he said,

any more than open enemies … not weighing too scrupulously what may fall out.” His farewell instructions merely reiterated the principles on which he had always insisted. “Trust the English no more than a public enemy ought to be trusted,” he wrote two months previously to Banda, the agency nearest Amboyna. This policy of suspicion, and of “not weighing too scrupulously what may fall out,” was now to be enforced with a stupid violence which the great governor-general might perhaps have anticipated, but which he would have been the first to condemn.

By the beginning of 1623 the Dutch found themselves completely masters of the Clove and Nutmeg Archipelago. At the principal clove island, Amboyna, they had, according to the English statement founded upon depositions on oath, a fortress garrisoned by two hundred Dutch soldiers, with three or four hundred native troops, including some thirty Japanese, and further protected by eight vessels in the roadstead. The English numbered eighteen men, scattered between five small factories on different islands, very badly off, with a few slaves, “just six and all boys.” In their house at Amboyna only three swords, two muskets, and half a pound of powder were found. The nearest English support was the Banda agency, at a distance across the sea, and containing but nine of their countrymen. English ships seldom came to Amboyna, and not one was then near. Our president in council at Java had in fact resolved to withdraw the petty English factories at Amboyna and throughout the Clove and Nutmeg

The fortress at Amboyna

Archipelago. He had even arranged with the Dutch governor-general for their transport to Batavia in Holland ships. In February, 1623, orders to this effect were on their way from our president in Batavia to Amboyna.

They arrived too. late. On the evening of February 10, 1623,

a Japanese soldier of the Dutch garrison had some talk with the sentries about the number of the troops and the times of changing the watch. When questioned by the Governor Van Speult next day, February 11th, he explained that he had merely chatted with the soldiers “for his own amusement.” Indeed, the steward of the Dutch factory afterwards declared that “it was an usual speech amongst soldiers to enquire one of another how strong the watch might be, that they might know how many hours they might stand sentinel.”

Van Speult was, however, on the lookout for conspiracy, and perhaps anxious to redeem his reputation from the charge of slackness at headquarters. In the previous summer he had written to the Governor-General Coen about the English at Amboyna: “We hope to direct things according to your orders that our sovereignty shall not be diminished or injured in any way by their encroachments, and if we may hear of any conspiracies of theirs against the sovereignty, we shall with your sanction do justice to them, suitably, unhesitatingly, and immediately.” In October, 1622, Coen gave this sanction. In February, 1623, the opportunity arrived. Van Speult put the Japanese soldier to the torture, and after he had “endured pretty long,” wrung from him an accusation against the English. His statement was signed by the unhappy man on the day of his torment, in direct contravention of the Dutch law that one who had confessed under torture should be re-heard to confirm it not sooner than twenty-four hours afterwards, “ne durare adhuc tormentorum metus videatur.”

Eight or nine other Japanese soldiers in the service of the Dutch, whose names he had mentioned, denied the plot, but were tortured on that and the following day, until a complete story of treason was evolved.

“Wailing and weeping by reason of their extreme tortures with burning, they were carried by slaves to prison, for it was not possible of themselves to go on their feet.” Such was the statement made by the steward of the Dutch factory regarding the affair.

The handful of English, ran the improbable tale, had solemnly sworn on New Year’s Day to seize the fort upon the arrival of an English ship, or during the absence of the Dutch governor, and had employed to corrupt the Japanese soldiers so unlikely an agent as a drunken barber, or barber-surgeon, Abel Price. This man already lay in the Dutch prison for threatening to set fire to a house in a frenzy of liquor. On February 15th, as the records show, he, too, was haled to the torture-chamber, and made to “confess whatever they asked him.”

A ship of the Seventeenth Century

The English treated as ridiculous the story that eighteen men, scattered over the two islands of Amboyna and Ceram, at the factories of Amboyna, Hittou, Larica, Loho, and Cambello, should dare conspire to take a fort from two hundred Dutch and three or four hundred native soldiers with eight Holland vessels in the harbour, and they went about their business as usual. But Van Speult, now armed with the confession under torture of his prisoner, the drunken English barber, seized our chief agent, Towerson, and the other factors at Amboyna, put them in irons, and swept in the whole English from the four outlying factories between February 15th and 23d – just eighteen men all told.

Of the extraordinary proceedings that followed we have six accounts by eye-witnesses. First, the minutes of the court, kept by the Greffier or secretary: minutes so irregular and incomplete as to call forth the censure of the Dutch governor-general, and to invalidate them as a judicial record under the Dutch law. Second, the solemn dying messages of the victims written on the pages of their prayer-books or other furtive scraps of paper. Third, the statements of certain members of the Dutch Council at Amboyna who formed the court, when called to account by the governor-general at Batavia two and a half years later (October, 1625). These latter admit the use of torture, passed over in silence by the minutes, but state that it was slight. Fourth, the depositions of six Englishmen who survived, taken on oath before Sir Henry Marten, Judge of the Admiralty, in 1624. Fifth, the answers of certain of the Amboyna judges to interrogatories in 1628. Sixth, the statement of the steward of the Dutch factory, who also acted as interpreter during the trial. It was laid before Lord Dorchester and Secretary Coke in 1629. This man, George Forbis or Forbisher, a native of Aberdeen, and little likely to favour the English Company which persuaded James to cancel the charter granted to the Scotch, had long served the Dutch in the East, and was found on board a Dutch ship stayed by royal command at Portsmouth in 1627. He had continued in the Dutch service for two years after the trial. His declaration closely corresponds with the depositions of the English survivors.

In my narrative I fairly consider all the foregoing materials, together with the pamphlet literature which quickly sprang up7. I have also checked the “True Relation” from the depositions on oath.

That evidence consisted entirely of confessions wrung from the accused by torture. The ransacking of the English factories yielded not a single incriminating letter, or other corroborative piece of testimony, as is proved by the answer of Joosten, the Dutch officer who examined the papers. The Dutch began with John Beaumont and Timothy Johnson. Beaumont, an elderly man for India and an invalid, was left with a guard in the hall, while Johnson was taken into another room. Presently Beaumont heard him “cry out very pitifully; then be quiet for a little while, and then loud again.” Johnson long refused to confess, but after an hour he was “brought forth wailing and lamenting, all wet and cruelly burnt in divers parts of his body.”

One Englishman, Edward Collins, gave evidence, according to the Dutch, without torture. But the narrative founded upon the depositions of the surviving Englishmen on oath states that Collins was tied up for the torture, and the cloth put about his throat. “Thus prepared he prayed to be respited and he would confess all. Being let down he again vowed and protested his innocency,” but for fear of the torture asked them what he should say. This was not enough and he was tortured, but not being able to endure it long, he made a confession helped out by the Dutch prosecutor. Collins himself confirmed this statement on oath and produced three witnesses who “heard him many times roar very pitifully, being in the next room, and saw him come out, having no doublet on, his shirt all wet, his face swollen and his eyes starting out of his head.” From February 15th to 23d the cruel process went on. According to the English statements, the prisoners, even while confessing under the torture, declared in the same breath that they were not speaking truth. In the case of Collins, the “fiscal,” or prosecutor, forced leading questions upon him, till one of the Dutch themselves exclaimed: “Do not tell him what he should say, but let him speak for himself.” John Wetheral having been four times tied up, they were at length obliged to read out to him the confessions of the other victims until the poor wretch merely “answered yea to all.” He “prayed them to tell him what he should say or to write down what they would; he would subscribe it.” John Clarke stood the ordeal so bravely that “the tormentors reviled him, saying that he was a devil … or a witch.” So they “cut off his hair very short, as supposing he had some witchcraft hidden therein.” They then went on with the torture – burning him with candles on the feet, hands, elbows, and “under the armpits until his inwards might evidently be seen.” The English declared that no surgeon was allowed to dress the sores “until, his flesh being putrefied, great maggots dropt and crept from him in most loathsome and noisome manner.” Authority for all these statements may be found in the first pamphlet, “A True Relation.”

According to the English accounts each confession was wrung forth by torture. The Dutch minutes of the trial conceal the fact of torture at all, and thus violate a fundamental rule of the Dutch criminal procedure. The members of the Amboyna council, who sat as judges, acknowledged on oath that twelve of the English were tortured by water and two of them also by fire, but stated that one (Beaumont) was only tortured a little on account of his age and feeble health.

The judges also pleaded in their defence that the torture was in no case extreme, indeed of a “civil” sort.

What it exactly amounted to we know from eye-witnesses. The accused man was hoisted up and tied spread-eagle fashion in a doorway. In the water torment “they bound a cloth about his neck and face so close that little or no water could go by. That done they poured the water softly upon his head until the cloth was full up to the mouth and nostrils … till his body was swollen twice or thrice as big as before, his cheeks like great bladders, and his eyes staring and strutting out beyond his forehead.” It was the  slow agony of bursting, joined to the acute but long-drawn-out agony of suffocation. In the fire torture, they held lighted candles beneath the most sensitive parts of the body – under the armpits, the palms of the hand, and the soles of the feet. Emmanuel Thomson, like John Clarke, it was said, had no surgeon to dress his burnt flesh, so that no one “was able to endure the smell of his body.”

To the torture by fire and water, admitted by the Dutch, the English accounts add “the splitting of the toes, and lancing of the breast, and putting in gunpowder, and then firing the same, whereby the body is not left entire, neither for innocency nor execution. Clarke and Thomson were both fain to be carried to their execution, though they were tortured many days before.” But the Dutch admissions suffice.

Towerson, who steadily asserted his innocence, on being confronted with some who had confessed, charged them as they would answer it at the dreadful day of judgment, they should speak nothing but the truth.” The sufferers implored his forgiveness and declared all they had said was false. But, threatened again with torture, they reaffirmed their confessions. The spirit of the miserable little band was completely broken.

Even Van Speult felt that he might be going too far, and for some days hesitated as to whether he should not remit the case to the Dutch governor-general at Batavia. But the English president and council at Batavia had, on January 10–20, 1623, resolved to withdraw their oppressed factories from the Moluccas, Amboyna, and the Clove and Nutmeg Isles. They had indeed thanked the Dutch president and council for agreeing to bring them away in Flemish ships. Orders in this sense were simultaneously sent to our agents at Banda and elsewhere. The Calendar of State Papers of the East Indies for 1622–1624 (p. 398) shows that while the tortured men lay waiting their doom, two Holland ships arrived from Batavia, bringing the letter from the English president and council ordering the withdrawal of our agency from Amboyna. “Which letter was opened and read by the Dutch governor while our people were yet in prison and not executed, and might well have secured him that there was no further danger to be feared of the English aid of shipping, whatever the English had through fear of torture confessed.” The statement is confirmed by Van Speult’s own admissions, and it gives a darker shade to his resolve on instant judgment.

The public prosecutor was instructed to demand sentence. This, according to the minutes, he did with irregular brevity – twenty-one lines of writing in all. According to the Dutch procedure, his requisition should have given a summary of the facts and evidence, which it did not. It should certainly have specified the separate names of the accused Englishmen, while it only contained that of Gabriel Towerson “and his creatures and accomplices.” These were not the omissions of ignorance. The “fiscal” who conducted the case was a lawyer, and in his haste for condemnation,

A scene at Darjiling

he set at defiance the safeguards of procedure which even the Dutch law prescribed. His demand was really the demand of Sieyes at the trial of Louis XVI – La Mort sans phrase.

On February 25, 1623, or February 23d

(for there are discrepancies as to the date), the prisoners, with certain exceptions, were condemned to death. The English from outlying factories, who had not even been at Amboyna at the time of the alleged plot, were released; three others were allowed to draw lots for their life; and in the end the elderly Beaumont and the terrified Collins were sent to give evidence at Batavia as “men condemned and left to the mercy of the governor-general.” Captain Towerson manfully proclaimed the iniquity of the proceedings. When ordered to indite a confession, he wrote out a protestation of his innocence. The governor gave it to the interpreter to read out in Dutch, “which I could not do,” said that officer, “without shedding of tears.” He had also to translate a dying declaration secretly written by Towerson in a Bible which he asked Van Speult to send to his friends in England – “which Bible after that time I never saw or heard mentioned.”

Yet some last words reached the outer world. William Griggs wrote in his Table-book, which was secretly saved by a servant: “We through torment were constrained to speak that which we never meant nor once imagined. … They tortured us with that extreme torment of fire and water that flesh and blood could not endure. … Written in the dark.” Captain Towerson wrote much; but all was suppressed, except an unnoticed sentence appended to his signature to a bill of debt due from the English Company: “Firmed by the Firm [i.e. signature] of me Gabriel Towerson now appointed to die, guiltless of anything that can be justly laid to my charge. God forgive them their guilt and receive me to His mercy. Amen.”

The old East India House (about 1650)

Samuel Colson, imprisoned with six of the others, on board the Dutch ships in the roads, wrote the following in his prayer-book and had it sewed up in a bed: “March 5, stilo novo, being Sunday, aboard the Rotterdam, lying in irons.” “Understand that I, Samuel Colson, late factor of Hitou, was apprehended for suspicion of conspiracy; and for anything I know must die for it: wherefore having no means to make my innocence known, have writ in this book hoping some good Englishman will see it. I do here upon my salvation, as I hope by His death and passion to have redemption for my sins, that I am clear of all such conspiracy; neither do I know any Englishman guilty thereof nor any other creature in the world. As this is true, God bless me, Sam. Colson.” In another part of the book, at the beginning of the Psalms, he declared: “As I mean and hope to have pardon for my sins, I know no more than the child unborn of this business.” These statements were written three or four days before the execution of the death sentence, as “March 5, stilo novo,” would correspond to February 23d, if we take the English dates.

On February 26th (English date) the prisoners were brought into the hall of the castle to be prepared for death. Captain Towerson was taken into the torture-chamber with “two great jars of water carried after him. What he there did or suffered is unknown to the English without, but it seemeth they made him then to underwrite his confession” – a confession of a plot so wild that, had it ever entered a man’s brain, “he should,” in the words of the English Company, “rather have been sent to bedlam … than to the gallows.”

The condemned men still protested their innocence. “Samuel Colson spake with a loud voice saying, According to my innocency in this treason, so Lord pardon all the rest of my sins; and if I be guilty thereof more or less, let me never be partaker of Thy heavenly joys. At which words every one of the rest cried Amen for me, Amen for me, good Lord. This done, each of them knowing whom he had accused, went one to another begging forgiveness for their false accusation,” under the torture; “and they all freely forgave one another, for none had been so falsely accused, but he himself had accused another as falsely.” Their last “doleful night they spent in prayer, singing of psalms and comforting one another,” refusing the wine which the guards offered them, “bidding them to drink lustick and drive away the sorrow.”

Next day, February 27th (English date), the ten Englishmen8, nine Japanese, and the Portuguese captain of slaves were led out to execution “in a long procession round the town,” through crowds of natives who had been summoned by beat of drum “to behold this triumph over the English.”

It is not needful, after the fashion of that time, to accept as manifestations of divine wrath a “great darkness” and hurricane which immediately followed, and drove two Dutch ships from their anchorage; or the pestilence, said to have swept away one thousand people. The innocence of Towerson and his fellow sufferers rests upon no such stories, whether false or true. The improbability of the enterprise, the absence of any evidence except such as was wrung forth under torments, the neglect of the safeguards imposed by the Dutch law on judicial torture, the dying declarations of the victims – suffice to convince any unbiassed mind that the ten Englishmen were unjustly done to death. This, too, without insisting on the circumstance that would place Van Speult’s conduct in the darkest light – his being on the outlook for conspiracies; or on the arrival of the English letter during the trial ordering the withdrawal of our agency from Amboyna; or on the existence of Dutch ships in the harbour which might even, if the shore prison were overcrowded, have carried those accused of the supposed conspiracy for judgment to the Dutch governor-general at Batavia, or served for their confinement till his confirmation of the proceedings was obtained.

Van Speult took possession of our Amboyna and neighbouring factories; “the poor remnant of the English” were removed to Batavia; and the great design for driving us out of the Clove and Nutmeg Isles was accomplished.

When the news of the tragedy reached England fifteen months later – May 29, 1624 – a cry of execration arose. The Company demanded justice. With English self-control it repressed irresponsible discussion by its members, and resolved, on June 16th, to trust to the state “to call for an account of the lives of the king’s subjects.” The governor refrained from speech until he was assured of the facts, and it was not until July 2d that he brought the matter officially before a general court of the Company.

The first feeling indeed was one of incredulity at so abominable an outrage on innocent men. King James apprehended the fact to be so foul … he could not believe it,” and, when convinced, threatened to extort reparation from Holland. At the Royal Council table “sundry of the greatest shed tears.” But James had resolved to break with Spain, in wrath at the treatment of Prince Charles on his knight-errant quest at Madrid for a Spanish wife in 1623. War with Spain meant an alliance with Holland, whose twelve years’ truce with Spain had also expired. Dutch envoys were, indeed, at that moment in London, negotiating a treaty of offence and defence. So the king and his Council dried their eyes, and the Dutch diplomats joyfully returned home, praising the good-will of a monarch who had said not a word about “the late accident at Amboyna.” Nor were courtiers wanting who blamed the Company for raising a difficulty “when his Majesty had resolved to aid the Dutch.”

Very different was the temper of the nation.

On July 2, 1624,

the governor of the Company declared that assuredly “God the Avenger of all such bloody acts will in His due time bring the truth to light” – “the unspeakable tyrannies done upon those unfortunate men, which is able to amaze the Christian world.” They still hoped that the king would help them; but their best comfort was that when man is at the weakest then God is strongest. On July 9th a general court of the Company decided that unless justice were “done on those Dutch that have in so great fury and tyranny tortured and slain the English,” the Company must wind up and “fetch home what they have in the Indies.” A petition in this sense was voted to the king – “and according to his answer and proceeding the trade to stop or proceed.” On July 11th they waited on the king in his bedchamber with the memorial, together with “A True Relation,” and received his promise of “a speedy reparation from the Dutch by the strength of his own arm, if they did it not suddenly themselves.”

The cry for revenge had gathered a strength which not even James could resist. Chamberlain, the Horace Walpole of his time, wrote to the English ambassador in Holland that “we should stay or arrest the first Indian ship that comes in our way, and hang up upon Dover cliffs” as many Dutchmen as had taken part in the outrage, “and then dispute the matter afterwards. For there is no other course to be held with such manner of men, as neither regard law nor justice, nor any other respect of equity or humanity, but only make gain their god.” The Company was believed to have collapsed. No man would pay in any money to it. If the king would not help, it was wildly propounded at a general court on July 22d, to “join with the Portugals and root the bloody Dutch out of the Indies.”

Marwario merchants, or traders of the Indies

The “True Relation” presented to James on July 11, 1624, had touched the sentimental fibre in his weak nature. On July 16th he promised to make stay of Dutch vessels if satisfaction were not given, and even offered to become himself a shareholder in the Company, and to allow its ships to sail under the royal standard. This offer of greatness thrust upon it, the Company respectfully declined. The king meanwhile ordered his ambassador at The Hague to demand satisfaction from the States-General before August 12th, under threat of reprisals by hanging, or even “an irreconcilable war.”

These were brave words, and if the Dutch Government had believed they would be followed by action, they might have proved decisive. For the outrage of Amboyna had come as an unpleasant surprise to the Dutch Company, and as a serious embarrassment to the Dutch Government. The governor-general at Batavia spoke his mind as freely as he dared to Van Speult. The Company in Holland, while making the best case they could against the English claims for compensation, refrained from sending back Coen to the East, although they had reappointed him governor-general in 1624. Members of the States-General openly expressed their disgust. The Prince of Orange wished that Van Speult with all his council had been hanged on a gibbet before they began “to spell this tragedy.”

The States-General accordingly appointed deputies to treat with our ambassador. But an English observer wrote that, although the king spoke valiantly, he could wish his Majesty would say less, so that he would do more. The Dutch deputies played on his irresolution, and the time allowed for redress expired. When at length, on October 15th, a royal warrant was issued for the seizure of Flemish ships, our ambassador at The Hague advised that this extremity should be avoided, and the Dutch were somehow warned of the danger. In November, 1624, the London Company officially informed the lord admiral that Holland ships were in the Straits of Dover, but they were allowed to pass unharmed.

The English Company was forced to realize that, in trusting to the royal support, it leaned on a broken reed. In July it had demanded satisfaction under three heads:, justice against the murderers, compensation for injuries, and absolute separation from the Dutch Company in the East. In October it despondently reduced its claims to the safe removal of the English from Batavia; the question of jurisdiction and Council of Defence; and the right to erect forts, and to be treated by the Dutch as allies and friends. James would not fight, and the Dutch knew it. They were willing enough to accept the first condition and allow the safe removal of the English from Batavia. But, while dangling before us a compromise, they would never surrender their sovereign jurisdiction in the Spice Islands or allow the English to erect fortifications.

On March 25, 1625, King James died.

Palace of Jahangir at Agra


By this time the facts were well known in England. A certain simplicity in Towerson’s character gave additional pathos to his death. He had sailed on the Company’s second voyage in 1604 and obtained his admission as a freeman gratis in recognition of long service. Eighteen checkered years brought him to the chief agency at Amboyna in 1622, with a salary of £10 a month. Once indeed he had emerged for a moment. Having married the Indian widow of Captain Hawkins, he attempted for a time to make a figure not justified either by her position or his own.

In 1617

Sir ThomasRoe, our ambassador to the Moghul Emperor Jahangir, wrote that Towerson “is here arrived with many servants, a trumpet, and more show than I use.” In 1620 we find him back in England vainly soliciting the command of a ship, and returning to the Archipelago along with other factors in “the great cabin of the Anne.”

The contemporary records show that he had not gained caution with years. Arriving at Amboyna in May, 1622, he became a close friend of the Dutch Governor Van Speult and gave him his entire confidence. In June of that year, as we saw, Van Speult was on the lookout for conspiracies and asking the Dutch governor-general at Batavia for leave to deal with them “suitably, unhesitatingly, and immediately.” In September Towerson, on the other hand, wrote to the English president at Batavia in warm terms of Van Speult’s “courtesies” and “love.” He asks our president to send Van Speult a complimentary letter, together “with some beer or a case of strong waters, which will be very acceptable to him.”

The president and council at Batavia saw more of the game. “In such kind of courtesy,” they replied in December, 1622, “we know he is free enough, but in your main affairs you will find him a subtle man.” There was to be no beer or case of strong waters for Van Speult. On the contrary, “be careful you be not circumvented in matters of importance, through his dissembling friendship.” This warning they followed up next month by commanding Towerson and his subordinates to quit Amboyna. “Prepare and make yourself ready to come away from thence with all the rest of the factors in the Dutch ship, except two you may leave there at Amboyna to keep house until our further order.”

Meanwhile Towerson continued his unsuspecting course. On January 1, 1623, he gave his official dinner to the little English group at Amboyna – the regular New Year’s Day party which was to serve the Dutch fiscal as a ground-work for the alleged conspiracy. How far any thoughts of seizing Amboyna were from the minds of the English may be known by the letter of our president and council in March, 1622, to the Company, desiring to retire even from Batavia; by Brockedon’s petition in August, 1622, for leave to return home, as he could “live no longer under the insolence of the Dutch;” and by the orders of January, 1623, to Towerson and other outlying agencies to withdraw to Batavia with the English under their charge. Towerson, “a sincere, honest, and plain man without malice,” as one of the Amboyna free burghers and a servant of the Dutch Company described him, discerned not the signs of the times, and the letter ordering him to leave Amboyna was intercepted by the Dutch governor Van Speult. So he went to his death – ” that honest good man, Captain Towerson, whom I think in my conscience was so upright and honest toward all men, that he has harboured no ill will of any.”

Such a character is pretty sure of sympathy from the English middle classes, always indulgent to sturdy mediocrity, especially of the jovial sort. The story

De Houtman’s Map of the sea route to India, Batavia, and Java, in 1597

Blank page of Amboyna gathered round his name, until it reached Dryden’s version of a murderous plot by Van Speult against Towerson in revenge for his killing Van Speult’s son in a duel. In 1625 the legend was still a long way from this climax. But the last weeks of King James’s life had been harassed by popular demonstrations. In February, 1625, the Dutch living in London complained to the lords of the Council that on the coming Shrove Tuesday they would be in danger from the fury of the people. Besides the pamphlets spread broadcast, a play was to be publicly acted setting forth the sufferings of the English; and a great picture had been painted, “lively, largely, and artificially,” of their tortures and execution. The reins were falling from the old king’s hands, and the Council gently admonished the Company not to exhibit this picture – at least till Shrove Tuesday be passed.

Next month, March, 1625, Charles succeeded to the throne. The main business of our ambassador at The Hague, Sir Dudley Carleton (afterwards Viscount Dorchester), was to strengthen the affiance of Holland with England against Spain, and he groaned audibly over the new labours and awkward questions to which the Amboyna imbroglio gave rise. Charles, keenly resentful of his personal treatment when in quest of a wife at Madrid, was eager to send a fleet to the Spanish coast, and promised large subsidies to the Protestant league in the North. The Amboyna difficulty had to be got out of the way, and

in September, 1625,

Charles agreed to make no reprisals on the Dutch ships for eighteen months, and at the same time appeased the London Company by promising that if, by that time, justice were not done, he would proceed to hostilities. This is shown by the treaty of Southampton, September 7, 1625.

A Typical Eastern Scene

But before the expiration of the eighteen months Charles had quarrelled with his Parliament and found a war with France oh his hands. The Dutch were masters of the situation and they knew it. So far from their giving satisfaction for Amboyna, Coen went out as governor-general for a second time in March, 1627, in spite of the protests of the English Company, who regarded his policy as the main source of their sorrows. When in April, 1627, the States-General were reminded that the eighteen months had elapsed, they dexterously got the question transferred to the law courts, and offered to proceed by way of a legal prosecution against the Amboyna judges who had sentenced the English to death.

Here they were on safe ground. Preliminary difficulties at once arose. The Dutch naturally insisted that the tribunal should be a Dutch one sitting in Holland. King Charles objected to his subjects being required to leave their country and prosecute before a foreign court beyond the seas. The feeling both in England and Holland was that, while the States-General would gladly have seen the matter settled, the directors of the Dutch Company were so intermingled with the Dutch Government that no justice would be done.

English protests against the re-appointment of Coen passed unheeded, and in August, 1627, Carleton despaired of redress from a government controlled by the votes of the interested parties, among whom “one oar which holds back, stops more than ten can row forward.” In September, however, a tribunal of seven Dutch judges was constituted, three from the high and four from the provincial council.

Meanwhile Charles, with the rising tide in Parliament and in the nation against him, was anxious to keep the London Company his friends. In a moment of vigour, he stayed three Dutch ships off Cowes (September, 1627) and held them fast for eleven months, although threatened with a, Dutch fleet to bring them away. The English Company declared that, if his Majesty let the Dutch ships go, it were better for the Company to abandon the trade. But the fit of royal resolution passed, and the king, in sore straits for money, suddenly released the Dutch ships in August, 1628: it was rumoured, for a gratification of £30,000. In vain his Majesty tried to soften the blow by the unprecedented compliment of sending the lords of the Council to a court meeting of the Company to explain that the release was due to an “extraordinary matter of State.” The directors of the Dutch Company gave out as far back as March, 1628, that they had arranged for the release of the ships on the condition of their redeeming his Majesty’s jewels.

The Company now knew that, if they had little to expect from the Dutch tribunal, they had nothing to hope from the king. The Dutch also knew it. In November, 1628, his Majesty feebly suggested, in reply to the repeated demands of the Dutch for the English witnesses to go over to Holland, that the Dutch judges should come to England under a safe-conduct – a proposal which merely furnished a good ground for further delay.

A year later, having sunk into still deeper difficulties with the Parliament and the nation, Charles yielded to the demands of the foreigner and sent over the witnesses. But he tried to save his royal honour by explaining that he had never submitted to the jurisdiction of the Dutch judges, although he would prefer to receive reparation at their hands than by any other means The English ambassador must be present in the Dutch court; the English witnesses must not be questioned on other articles than those on which they had already been examined in his Majesty’s Court of Admiralty; the Dutch judges, when ready to deliver sentence, must inform the king of it, so that he might weigh and consider its import. The Dutch tribunal naturally refused to concede these points. The king had put not only himself but also the English nation in the wrong by his method of procedure, and again the Dutch knew it.

His Majesty struggled for a time in the meshes he had woven around himself.



In December, 1629,

he insisted on reserving the final sentence either to himself or to a joint bench of English and Dutch judges, on the strength of the treaty of 1619. The Dutch quite truly rejoined that the treaty contained not a single article which implied joint jurisdiction in criminal cases, but only in what concerned the joint defence and trade. While the preliminaries were thus spun out from 1627 to 1630, the six Amboyna councillors who were supposed to be on their trial figured as patriots to their nation. The English witnesses, still unheard, were sunk in debt to obtain food from day to day. They mournfully complained to the Privy Council that they had attended in Holland for twelve months, that they were now destitute and like to be cast into prison, while their wives and children were perishing miserably. In March, 1631, the British ambassador at The Hague reported that in the Amboyna business all was silence.

It is doubtful, even if the Amboyna council had been promptly and impartially tried, whether the London Company would have obtained substantial redress. It is certain that no court administering the law then in force in Europe could have condemned the judges to death for the Amboyna executions. The two grounds which underlay the English contention were badly chosen. As a matter of fact, the Amboyna council had exercised a lawful jurisdiction, and torture was not only allowed, but enjoined by the law which they were bound to administer.


in 1615

the aged Puritan

View of Lucknow

Lucknow, a city now numbering nearly three hundred thousand inhabitants, is one of the largest cities of India, after Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. It has been the capital of the Province of Oudh since 1775, and the part which it played in the tragic events of the Indian Mutiny, in the following century, rendered the name of Lucknow famous.

Peacham had been examined “in torture, between tortures, and after torture.” In the same year O’Kennan was put to the rack in Dublin by commission of the king’s deputy. In each one of his three kingdoms James had used torture, and he defended it with his “own princely pen.”

Even such details as the Dutch complaint that John Clarke must be “a devil” or “a witch,” because he stubbornly refused to confess under torment, are reproduced in the English trials. On January 21, 1615, Lord Bacon condoled with his Majesty on the obstinacy of the mangled Peacham, “whose raging devil seems to be turned into a dumb devil.” Lord Burleigh’s defence of the rack on the ground that it was mercifully administered and that the sufferer was always “able to walk and to write” afterwards, is an exact anticipation of the Amboyna judge’s plea of the “civil” character of the water-torture.

Yet if history must allow that the Dutch had jurisdiction, and that under that jurisdiction the use of torture was lawful, it must also declare that a grievous miscarriage of justice had taken place. It is admitted that the record discloses grave irregularities in procedure – irregularities so serious that if an appeal had been allowed they might have sufficed to quash the trial. How far they were due to the careless character of the record itself will ever remain undecided. There was certainly an absence of the indicia sufficientia ad torturam, or reasonable presumption of guilt, which would have justified torture under the Dutch law. The confession of the Japanese soldier which formed the ground of the whole proceeding was signed on the day of his torture in defiance of the Dutch ordinances of July 15, 1570, and it was attested by all the judges, although one of them (Wyncoop) was admittedly not in Amboyna on that day. The minutes make no mention of the witnesses being confronted with each other after torture, and of their reaffirming their confessions made under torture, as required by the Dutch law.

Above all, if the English statements on oath are accepted, the whole evidence from first to last was wrung forth by torture or fear of torture. If the Dutch counter-statements be preferred, the great mass of evidence was thus obtained. Of the two witnesses not subjected to torture, according to the Dutch account, one, Edward Collins, swore that he had been tortured, and produced testimony on oath to his dismal outcries. The other, the invalid Beaumont, declared that he had confessed only after he had been tied up for torture, and that he repeated his confession at Batavia to save his own life after the death of the victims had placed them beyond reach of further harm. The survivors consistently affirmed that the only evidence against them at their trial was derived from confessions under torture; confessions which, according to the English depositions on oath, were withdrawn after the torture; and which were solemnly affirmed to be false in the dying declarations of the sufferers.

It is not needful to assume that the Amboyna Council wickedly, and against their conscience, condemned the victims to death. Van Speult, as we have seen, was on the lookout for conspiracies, when he and his fellow councillors were suddenly transferred into the judges of men who had been their keen trade-rivals and the great obstacle to the Dutch supremacy in the Archipelago.

The Durbar of an Indian Ruler

Among Eastern races the king or governor was both ruler and judge, and the early European settlements in Asia found themselves compelled firmly to unite all functions, executive and judicial, in the hands of one man or body of men. Cases inevitably occurred in which they were practically judges in their own cause; apt in moments of public danger or fear to bring their passions and preconceptions as governors to their seats on the bench. The Amboyna trial was such a case. It stands on the forefront of our history in the East as an example of the danger of combining the executive and the judicial authority in the same hands. That danger the English have striven to guard against by the separation of judicial and executive offices – a process commenced almost from the foundation of their territorial rule in India, yet reaching its final stages only in our own time.

But if we view with charity the cruel blunder of the Amboyna Council as a whole, it is difficult to extend to either the governor or the prosecuting fiscal the benefit of the doubt. The fiscal, Isaac de Bruyne, appears throughout the records in a sinister light. Intent on obtaining a conviction, he constantly urged on Van Speult, and forced incriminating answers upon the witnesses till the council itself had to interpose. His record of the trial was so irregular and incomplete as to render impossible a fair judicial review of the proceedings. On the face of the record as it stands, the accused were improperly condemned. Bruyne’s conduct called forth the reprobation of his superiors at Amboyna, and in the English depositions he appears as “the greatest adversary against the English.” Whatever may have been Van Speult’s own preconception as to their guilt during the first excited days of the prosecution, he can scarcely, after the seizure of the English factory and the perusal of Towerson’s correspondence with the English president at Batavia, have believed in the plot. But by that time he may have felt that he had gone too far to retrace his steps. Or he may have simply been one of those commonplace officials who jump to conclusions and then remain obdurate to facts. His interception of the letter from our president at Batavia ordering the withdrawal of the English from Amboyna, was only the last act in the suppression of proof of innocence.

The Dutch authorities themselves felt uneasy lest Van Speult should be examined as to his share in the business. On the expiration of his term of office at Amboyna, he had hardly returned to Batavia when a rumour arrived of a ship in the Straits of Sunda bearing a joint commission from the king and States-General for the despatch of Van Speult to Europe. He was hastily sent off to the western coast of India, whence he proceeded with an expedition to the Red Sea, and he died at Mocha, carrying his secret to the grave.

Meanwhile the English, with their agents drawn in from the Spice Archipelago, and huddled together at Batavia, waited wistfully for redress from home. They waited in vain. News of the Amboyna tragedy reached Batavia on June 20, 1623. At length, having suffered nineteen more months of insults and exactions, their ships dogged by Dutch vessels at sea and cut off from trade on shore, they resolved to quit “this perfidious people,” and, cost what it might, to seek shelter elsewhere. Some of them found refuge on the Indian coast, and


in October, 1624,

the miserable remnant sailed to the unhealthy Lagundy islets on the southeast of Sumatra.

There, amid terrible privations, yet stubbornly “affiant of a happy plantation,” they renamed the little group Charles’s Islands, and held out against fever and dysentery for eight months, dying “like sheep infected” under the equatorial sun and rain. In May, 1625, the skeleton survivors were so reduced as to implore the clemency of the Dutch, who in pity fetched them back to Batavia. The commander Verholt, be it recorded, showed them all “care and courtesy,” although he himself and many of his crew caught the disease. Nor did Dutch compassion end with their bare deliverance. They received the rescued men with kindness and granted them a factory house at a moderate price, the Dutch governor-general and our president, in an effusion of good feeling, exchanging chains of gold.

The Dutch had, in fact, accomplished the two fixed purposes of their policy – our expulsion from the Spice Archipelago and our complete subjection at their Batavian headquarters in Java. Their harshness had been deliberately designed to this end, and, with the exception of Van Speult’s judicial slaughter at Amboyna, they had kept fairly within their treaty rights. Their double object being now achieved, they allowed their national good nature free scope. But the excess of cordiality wore off, and the English soon became impatient of the restraints which the Dutch thought themselves entitled to impose. In July, 1627, we find our President Hawley bitterly complaining of the treatment meted out to his countrymen.

Their position was indeed an impossible one, and the Company at home, sick of King Charles’s fair words, realized this fact.

In November, 1626,

it proposed to abolish its factory at Batavia and to establish one under the protection of the King of Bantam. In

Javanese Princes

January, 1628,

these orders reached Batavia, and the English, putting the relics of their property on board ship, sailed to Bantam, where they were welcomed by the native prince. The sad fortunes of our Bantam factory, its repeated reduction by the London Company to a subordinate post, its blockades by the Dutch, and the gradual but sure withdrawal of its trade to our settlements on the Indian coast, belong to a later period. Its history may, however, be summed up in a single sentence. As the executions at Amboyna proclaimed the triumph of the Dutch in the Spice Islands, so the fate of Bantam declared the supremacy of the Dutch in the sea-approaches to the Far East.

By 1631 all hope of judicial redress for the torture and execution of our countrymen at Amboyna had flickered out. In 1633, and again in 1638, Charles, urged by the despairing Company, reverted to feeble attempts at negotiation, with equal unsuccess9. Innocent Englishmen had been tortured and executed under the forms of a foreign law, and for their slaughter redress could not be obtained either by diplomacy or by judicial proceedings. From the first, the Dutch were resolved not to yield, save to force of arms. As they had speedily discovered that James I would not fight, so they gradually found out that Charles I could not fight.

It was not till the unhappy distractions of the second Stuart’s reign came to their tragic close, and until the Dutch found that a real man again ruled England, that they conceded to Cromwell, after war, what a little firmness might have secured at the outset to James.

At length, in April, 1654,

the States-General agreed “that justice be done upon those who were partakers or accomplices in the massacre of the English at Amboyna, as the Republic of England is pleased to term that fact, provided any of them be living.” Cromwell brooked no delay. Within five months all claims and counter-claims arising during forty-one years had been examined. In August the general damages of £85,000 were awarded to the London Company, together with £3615 to the heirs of the men done to death at Amboyna; and Pularoon was restored to English rule.

But this tardy justice failed to efface Amboyna from the English mind. The spectres of the tortured victims stood between the two great Protestant powers during a century. The memory of a great wrong unredressed and of innocent blood unavenged embittered their trade rivalry, intensified each crisis of political strain, and furnished a popular cry for two wars. Dryden’s “Tragedy of Amboyna,” produced in the fiftieth year after the execution, has been not unfairly described as his one literary effort which is wholly worthless except as a curiosity. Yet it serves to show how the story deepened into a darker hue with age.

The opening dialogue between Van Speult and the Dutch fiscal reveals their hatred to the English. Van Speult’s son, whom Towerson has rescued at sea, plots with the fiscal against the life of his preserver, and, after again being saved from death by Towerson, ravishes the Englishman’s bride and is thereupon killed by him in a duel. Van Speult, in revenge, invents the story of the plot. The victims are tortured on the stage, fiercely reviled by the governor, and led off to execution. On his way to death Towerson breaks forth in a prophetic strain, foretelling the vengeance of his countrymen and the ruin and downfall of the Dutch. The characters are coarsely drawn from the “True Relation;” the picture presented of the Dutch is grossly unfair. But it struck a chord of popular feeling, and responded to an antipathy which had hardened and set into a national tradition.

That tradition not only affected our internal and dynastic politics, but it profoundly influenced the march of events in Europe. If Holland and England had been friends at heart instead of occasional allies by interest, the aggressions of Louis XIV would have encountered a very different strength of resistance. Our Charles II

would scarcely have dared to remain the dependent of -France. James II would perhaps have shrunk from forcing a Catholic reaction on England. The memory

of Amboyna wrought like a fever on the trade-rivalry of the two Protestant sea powers. The friendship of France might mean court corruption and Popery, but between England and Holland, as long as that bloody memory lived, there could be no real friendship at all. Politicians and poets appealed to the middle-class hatred of the Dutch as against the middle-class hatred of Rome. Amboyna is thus disclosed as one of the influences which lured on the Stuarts to the Revolution, and as one of the remote secret springs of the age of Louis XIV.

Nor had Amboyna less important consequences for the Dutch. The overthrow of the English in the Spice Archipelago and their subjection in Java enabled the Holland Company to create a colonial system which, for frank indifference to human suffering, stands out in the history of European settlements across the seas. The fault was not the fault of the Dutch nation, but of the particular period when the chance of a great colonial empire came to it. The Catholic tradition of conversion by conquest, cruel as were its practices, had given place to the industrial idea of conquest for trade.

Neither Spain nor Portugal, with their record of blood in the Eastern and the Western worlds, nor England, with its subsequent slave traffic, can afford to cast stones. But the comparative isolation of Holland in the East, and the absence of any strong native power in the Archipelago like that of the Moghul dynasty in India, enabled the Dutch to work out the industrial idea of conquest to its logical results. The same isolation enabled them to perpetuate that idea, after it had been profoundly modified by a humanitarian awakening in Europe. It survived as a relic of a century when the Protestant nations of the Continent, wearied with religious strife, lost sight for a time of that spiritual brotherhood of man which shot rays across the darkness

Page 158

of Portuguese misrule, and which had burned up afresh before the foundation of British territorial sway in India. Jan Pieterszoon Coen, the chief founder of the Dutch colonial system, became governor-general in 1618 – the date taken by European history for the commencement of the Thirty Years’ War.

Tomb of the Moghul official Itmad-ad-Daulah, at Agra

Coen has left in his own words a detailed description of the fabric which he designed. The Dutch charter expired in January, 1623, and on the 21st of that month the great governor-general, as the last act of his first term of office, drew up his political testament for the benefit of his countrymen in the form of instructions left with Peter de Carpentier, governor-general, and the Council of the Indies, and dated Batavia,

Page 159

21–31, January, 1623.


He realized that the sea-power of Holland in the Archipelago must rest on a territorial basis with a territorial revenue, the absence of which had drawn forth from Cosme Annes, nearly a hundred years earlier (1549), the Portuguese lament: “We sit still, perishing without lands out of which to support ourselves or find shelter.” Albuquerque discerned the same need a century before. But Coen deliberately worked out what Albuquerque had perceived, and, unlike Albuquerque, he was backed by a nation which loyally supported its great servants in the East.

He cherished no illusions as to how such a territorial sea-empire was to be acquired and maintained. It was easy to bring the scattered islands under subjection. The problem was to people them with workers. The idea of settling Dutchmen and Dutchwomen in sufficient numbers, although it had its attractions for Coen as for the other colonizing spirits of that age, he saw to be impracticable. He anticipated the conclusion which some of the European nations are only now reaching after long and cruel experience, that agricultural emigrants from the temperate zone perish in the tropics. The lands of the equator can be tilled only by equatorial races. The heathen whom the Papal Bulls had given to the Portuguese for an inheritance, to be converted with a rod of iron or dashed to pieces like a potter’s vessel, were to Coen merely a cheap labour-force. The “ingathering of a multitude of people from all parts to people our country withall” was

Page 160

his first object, and of far more consequence, he declared, than the buying of cloths and goods.

This object he proposed to accomplish by three distinct methods: the enslavement of conquered islands, the purchase of slaves from the African and Asiatic continents, and the seizure of slaves on their coasts. The first method needs but the single comment, that it went much further than the subjection of the native races enforced by the Portuguese. As regards the second, orders for the buying of slaves had been given in 1614; Coen resolved to carry them out on a large scale. “Divers fleets” were now to be sent to the Coromandel coast, to Madagascar, and to the African seaboard, to purchase as many slaves, especially young people, as could be got. This buying of slaves was to go forward before any other work, to the extent of “many thousands, yea, to an infinite number.”

The third method, by seizure, was to be conducted by a squadron on the Chinese coast. The shore-dwellers, especially the women and children, were to be carried away for the peopling of Batavia, Amboyna, and Banda. “Herein will be a great service done for the Company, and by this means will be found all the charge of the war.” The Chinese slaves might be redeemed for sixty reals (£13 10s.) apiece. “But by no means you must not suffer any women to return to China, or any other part out of the Company’s jurisdiction, but with them to people the same.” As the Dutch supremacy firmly established itself, a fourth system

Page 161

of recruitment was added, by treaty provisions for a tribute in full-grown slaves.

A typical scene in India

The Dutch industrial system in the East, thus founded on the most rigorous forms of slavery, was eventually softened through successive stages of forced labour. It produced for a time enormous profits. A tropical soil was made to yield as it had never yielded before, and its fruits were monopolized by Holland.

Page 162

As respects European rivals, the restrictions which the Anglo-Dutch still imposed on Coen, in January, 1623, were removed by the tragedy of Amboyna in the next month, and by the withdrawal of the English factories from the Spice Archipelago. As regards native competition, the islanders were compelled to root up their clove and nutmeg trees, where they seemed to threaten the profits of the Dutch. The produce of the most fertile regions in the world, cultivated on the severest system of human toil, was secured to the Dutch and to the Dutch alone.

While Coen founded the colonial empire of Holland on the sure basis of the soil, he strengthened it by all the devices of a skilful administration – by a lucrative coasting trade with the African and Asiatic continents, by a great sea commerce with Europe, and by a well-planned system of tolls and local taxation. The rich island empire which he thus projected, he secured by fortresses, built and maintained by the cheap labour of prisoners and slaves. Coen stands out from among all men of European race in the Asia of his day – a statesman of the clearest vision, and an administrator of the firmest hand, half-way between the Portuguese Albuquerque in the sixteenth century and the French Dupleix or the English Warren Hastings, in the eighteenth. But he could not rise above the morals of his time, and his strong personality during a double tenure of office impressed the stamp of a cruel age on the colonial system of his country. His crime, or his misfortune, was that he stereotyped in Dutch India the disregard

Page 163

for human suffering which brutalized Europe during the Thirty Years’ War.

Holland was the first European country to send a steady supply of really able men to the East, and she supported them by force of arms. James I would not and Charles I could not fight. The English East India Company was still a body of private adventurers for whose benefit Parliament felt by no means eager to go to war. In spite of the long list of lords and gentlemen who swelled the subscription book of the Company, in spite of the outburst of wrath and indignation which the news of Amboyna aroused in London, England had not yet learned to look upon her Indian trade as a national concern. Holland had, and she was willing to make sacrifices and to screen crimes, in order to maintain her position in Asia.

Home Table of Contents Previous: Chapter 3 Next: Chapter 5


7. The chief contemporary pamphlets on the Amboyna tragedy are six in number.

(i) A True Relation of the Unjust, Cruel, and Barbarous Proceedings against the English at Amboyna. This narrative was “taken out of the depositions of six several English factors “who survived the trial, as delivered on oath before Sir Henry Marten, Judge of. the Admiralty, supplemented by the testimony of Welden, the English chief agent in Banda at the time of the tragedy. The Privy Council in September, 1624, gave their opinion that the relation was justified by the statements of the six witnesses. Calendar of State Papers, East Indies, 1622–1624, par. 620.

(ii) A True Declaration of the Newes that came out of the East Indies, with the Pinace called the ‘‘Hare.” A Dutch pamphlet which appeared anonymously, and was thought by some to be the work of Boreel. The Directors of the Dutch Company denied the authorship, and, on complaint of the English ambassador, the States-General issued a proclamation declaring it to be “a scandalous and senseless libel,” and offering a reward of 400 guilders for the discovery of either the author or the printer.

(iii) An Answer to the Dutch Relation touching the pretended Conspiracy of the English at Amboyna in the Indies, being a reply to No. ii. (the libellous Dutch Declaration) drawn up by the English Company and issued under its authority. These three pamphlets were published together by the Company in 1624 with a preface. A third reprint is dated 1632, and there were several subsequent editions.

(iv) A Remonstrance of the Directors of the Netherlands East India Company presented to the Lords States-General … in defence of the said Company touching the bloody Proceedings against the English Merchants executed at Amboyna.

(v) The Acts of the Council of Amboyna. The official Court Record of the Trial and the confessions of the accused, as presented by the Dutch to the East India Company.

(vi) A Reply to the Defence of the Proceedings of the Dutch against the English at Amboyna. An answer to, and criticism of, Nos. iv. and v. These last three pamphlets were published by authority in London in 1632.

8. Captain Gabriel Towerson; Samuel Colson, factor at Hitto; Emanuel Thomson, assistant at Amboyna; Timothy Johnson, assistant at Amboyna; John Wetheral, factor at Cambello; John Clark, assistant at Hitto; William Griggs, factor at Larica; John Fardo, steward of the House; Abel Price (the drunken barber-surgeon); Robert Brown, tailor.

9. An English writer, who is not a lawyer and who has spent most of his life in the practical duties of Indian administration, should speak with diffidence as to the forms of Dutch procedure in the early seventeenth century. I have, therefore, taken the precaution to consult a Dutch jurist, Dr. Bisschop, who combines accurate historical research with a judicial training. He states, and quotes Dutch legal authorities for his opinion, that in extraordinary proceedings, in which the accused were examined without witnesses first being heard, the confessions of the accused were necessary for conviction, and that torture could be legitimately resorted to in order to obtain such confessions. The Amboyna trial came practically under this category, and the evidence from first to last was obtained by torture. But the Dutch law recognized the danger of a miscarriage of justice arising out of confessions thus wrung forth, and it provided safeguards accordingly. These safeguards were explicit in form and essential to the validity of the proceedings. They were disregarded in the Amboyna trial, although the prosecuting fiscal, in the words of the Dutch Governor-General and Council, “calls himself a lawyer, and was taken into the Company’s service as such


In 1625,

in addition to Central Java, Mataram was in control of central and eastern parts of the island’s northern coast, called the Pasisir. Now Agung wanted to take on Banten and Batavia.


Lahir : Gowa, Sulawesi Selatan, 3 Juli 1626
Wafat : Cape Town, Afrika Selatan 23 Mei 1699

Spoiler for Biografi Singkat

MESKIPUN Syekh Yusuf lahir di Gowa, Sulawesi Selatan, namun dirinya banyak menghabiskan waktu untuk berjuang di Banten bersama Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa. Perkenalan Syekh Yusuf dengan Sultan Banten terjadi lebih kurang pada tahun 1644 sewaktu akan menunaikan Ibadah Haji. Sebelum ke Makkah, Syekh Yusuf mampir ke Banten dan tinggal selama 5 tahun di kediaman Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa. Ketika itu, Banten sedang bermusuhan dengan Belanda.

Sekembalinya dari Makkah pada tahun 1664, Syekh Yusuf mampir kembali ke Banten dan membantu perjuangan Sultan Banten melawan VOC. Bahkan ia kemudian dijadikan menantu dan penasihat kesultanan. Ketika Belanda dan Sultan Haji berhasil menguasai Kesultanan Banten, Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa ditangkap dan dipenjara di Batavia. Sedangkan Syekh Yusuf bersama pengikutnya dibuang ke Sri Lanka pada tahun 1684.

Di Sri Lanka, Syekh Yusuf tetap berusaha berjuang dengan cara mengirimkan surat-surat kepada penguasa-penguasa di Nusantara untuk menentang Belanda. Di samping itu juga menyebarkan agama Islam. Perbuatan Syekh Yusuf tersebut membuat Belanda berang dan kembali membuang Syekh Yusuf ke Afrika Selatan.

Selama lima tahun di Afrika Selatan, Syekh Yusuf menyebarkan agama Islam. Oleh karena itu, penduduk di Cape Town hingga kini menganggap Syekh Yusuf sebagai orang pertama yang menyiarkan agama Islam di Afrika Selatan.





Agung launched a first offensive on Batavia in 1628. Having suffered heavy losses, he had to retreat. he launched a second offensive in 1629. The Dutch fleet destroyed his supplies and his ships in the harbours of Cirebon



Cirebon is a port city on the north coast of the Indonesian island of Java. It is located in the province of West Java near the provincial border with Central Java, approximately 297 km east of Jakarta, at .The seat of a former Sultanate, the city’s West and Central Java border location have…

and Tegal


Tegal is the largest city in the Tegal Regency, Indonesia. It is located on the north coast of Central Java about from Cirebon. Slawi, about to the south, is its suburb….

. Mataram troops, starving and decimated by illness, had to retreat again.

However, Agung pursued his conquering ambitions to the east. He attacked Blitar


Blitar is a city and also the capital of the regency of the same name on East Java, Indonesia, about 73 kilometers from Malang and 167 kilometers from Surabaya. The area lies within longitude 111° 40′ – 112° 09′ East and its latitude is 8° 06′ South…

, Panarukan and the Blambangan principality in Java’s eastern salient, a vassal of the Bali


Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It is one of the country’s 33 provinces with the provincial capital at Denpasar towards the south of the island….

nese kingdom of Gelgel


Gelgel may refer to:*Gelgel, Chad, a city in Chad*Gelgel, Indonesia, a village on the island of Bali, and a former kingdom…

. Agung died in 1646. His son succeeded him under the title of Susuhunan

Sunan (Indonesian title)

Sunan is the shorter version of “Susuhunan”, both used as an honourific in Java Indonesia.According to Hamka in his book Dari Perbendaharaan Lama the word derived from a Javanese word for position of hands in reverential salutation, done with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers……

outside the city walls


Lahir : Makassar, 12 Januari 1631
Wafat : Makassar, 12 Juni 1670







On September 4, 1635,

the Sultanate of Banjar make the first trade contract with the VOC and VOC will help conquer Paser Banjar. Since 1636, New York trying to be the center of the mandala to the other kingdoms in West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and East Kalimantan. Banjar saga noted the delivery of tribute to the Sultan of Sambas Banjarmasin, Sukadana, Paser, Kutai, Berau, Karasikan (Buranun / Sulu), Great Lease (Sawakung), Bunyut and countries in Batang Lawai. Sukadana (formerly named Tanjungpura) is the host for the kingdom Tayan, Meliau, Sanggau and Mempawah.



As early as 1628,

Batavia came under Javanese attack. Sultan Agung (1613-46), third and greatest ruler of the Mataram kingdom, was then aggressively expanding his domain and had receltly concluded a successful five-year siege of Surabaya. He now controlled all of central and eastern Java, and next, he intended to take western Java by pushing the Dutch into the sea and then conquering Banten.

He nearly Succeed. A large Javanese expeditionary force momentarily breached Batavia’s defences, but was then driven back outside the walls in a last-ditch effort led by Governor-General Coen. The Javanese were not prepared for such resistance and withdrew for lack of provisions. A year later in 1629, Sultan Agung sent an even larger force, estimated at 10,000 men, provisioned with huge stockpiles of rice for what threatened to be a protracted siege. Coen, however, learned of the location of the rice stockpiles and captured of destroyed them before the Javanese even arrived. Poorly led, starving and sick, the Javanese troops died by the thousands outside the walls of Batavia. Never again did Mataram pose at threat to the city.

Relations between the Dutch and the Javanese improved during the despotic reign of Amangkurat I (1646-77), one reason being that they had common enemies-the pesisir trading kingdoms of the north Java coast.

It was ironic, then, that the Dutch conquest of Makassar later resulted, albeit in directly, in the demise of their “ally”.

In 1641

there was a revolt of the Chinese population, of whom 12,000 were massacred by order of the governor, Adriaan Valckenaer. In 1811 it was captured by the English, but was restored to the Dutch after the peace.



Development of local Chinese society and culture was based upon three main pillars: clan associations, ethnic media, and Chinese language schools.[2][3] These flourished during the period of Chinese nationalism in the final years of China’s Qing Dynasty and through the Second Sino-Japanese War; however, differences in the object of nationalist sentiments brought about a split in the population, with one group supporting political reforms in mainland China while others sought improved status in local politics. Under the government of the New Order (1967–1998) the pillars of ethnic Chinese identity were dismantled in favor of assimilation policies as a solution to the “Chinese Problem”. Patterns of assimilation and ethnic interaction can be found in Indonesia’s literature, architecture, and cuisine.

The Chinese Indonesian population of Java accounts for nearly half of the group’s national population. Although they are generally more urbanized than Indonesia’s indigenous population,[4] significant rural and agricultural communities also exist throughout the provinces. Declining fertility rates have resulted in an upward shift in the population pyramid as the median age increases. Additionally emigration has contributed to a shrinking population, with communities emerging in more industrialized nations in the second half of the 20th century. Some participated in repatriation programs to the People’s Republic of China, while others emigrated to Western countries to escape anti-Chinese sentiment. Among the overseas residents, their identities are noticeably more Indonesian than Chinese.[5]







Identity card of The Hong Eng, c. 1943, indicating her Chinese ethnicity during the occupation of the Dutch East Indies by Japan

Sociologist Mely G. Tan asserts that scholars studying ethnic Chinese emigrants often refer to the group as a “monolithic entity”: the overseas Chinese.[6] Such treatment also persisted in Indonesia with a majority of the population referring to them as orang Cina, orang Tionghoa (both meaning “Chinese people”, 中華), or hoakiau (華僑).[Note 1] Current ethnographic literature describe them as Chinese Indonesians. They were previously described as the Indonesian Chinese, but there has been a shift in terminology as the old description emphasizes the group’s Chinese origins, while the more recent one its Indonesian integration.[7] Aimee Dawis, citing prominent scholar Leo Suryadinata, believes the shift is “necessary to debunk the stereotype that they are an exclusive group” and also “promotes a sense of nationalism” among them.[8]

Ethnic Chinese in the 1930 Dutch East Indies census

were categorized as foreign orientals, and registered separately from the indigenous population.[9] Citizenship was conferred upon the ethnic Chinese through a 1946 citizenship act after Indonesia became independent, and it was further reaffirmed in 1949 and 1958. However, they often encountered obstacles regarding the legality of their citizenship. Chinese Indonesians were required to produce an Indonesian Citizenship Certificate (Surat Bukti Kewarganegaraan Republik Indonesia, SBKRI) when conducting business with government officials.[10] Without the SBKRI they were not able to make passports and identity cards (Kartu Tanda Penduduk, KTP); register birth, death, and marriage certificates; or register a business license.[11] The requirement for its use was abolished in 1996 through a presidential instruction which was reaffirmed in 1999, but media sources reported that local authorities were still demanding the SBKRI from Chinese Indonesians after the instructions went into effect.[12]

Other terms used for identifying sectors of the community include peranakan and totok. The former, used to describe those born locally, is derived from the root Indonesian word anak (“child”) and thus means “child of the land”. The latter is derived from Javanese, meaning “new” or “pure”, and is used to describe the foreign born and new immigrants.[13] There is also a significant number of Chinese Indonesians living in the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong who are considered part of the population of “returned overseas Chinese” (華僑).[14] In order to identify the varying sectors of Chinese Indonesian society, Tan contends they must be differentiated according to nationality into those who are citizens of the host country and those who are resident aliens, then further broken down according to their cultu

Colonial attitudes (1600–1900)


Chinese workers await the preparation of their contracts by immigration officials at Medan’s labor inspectorate, c. 1920–1940.

By the time the Dutch arrived in the early 17th century, major Chinese settlements were already in existence along the northern coast of Java. Most were traders and merchants, but they also practiced agriculture in some inland areas. The Dutch contracted many of them as skilled artisans in the construction of Batavia on the northwestern coast of Java.[18] The new harbor was selected as the new headquarters of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) in 1609 by Jan Pieterszoon Coen. It soon grew into a major hub for trade with China and India. Batavia became home to the largest Chinese community in the archipelago and remains so today, though the city has been renamed as Jakarta.[23] Coen and other early Governors-Generals promoted the entry of Chinese immigrants to new settlements “for the benefit of those places and for the purpose of gathering spices like cloves, nutmeg, and mace”.[24] The port’s Chinese population of 300–400 in 1619 had grown to at least 10,000 by 1740.[25]

Most of those who settled in the archipelago had already severed their ties with the mainland and welcomed favorable treatment and protection under the Dutch.[26] Some became “revenue farmers”, middlemen within the corporate structure of the VOC, tasked with collecting export–import duties, managing land sales, and managing the harvest of natural resources.[27] Following the 1740 Batavia massacre and ensuing war the Dutch attempted to place a quota on the number of Chinese who could enter the Indies. Amoy was designated as the only immigration port to the archipelago, and ships were limited to a specified number of crew and passengers depending on size. This quota was adjusted at times to meet demand for overseas workers, such as in July 1802 when sugar mills near Batavia were in need of workers.[28]

When the VOC was nationalized on 31 December 1799, the freedoms the Chinese experienced under the corporation were taken away by the Dutch government. Among them was the Chinese monopoly on the salt trade which had been granted by the VOC administration.[29] An 1816 regulation introduced a requirement for the indigenous population and Chinese traveling within the territory to obtain a travel permit. Those who did not carry a permit risked being arrested by security officers. The Governor-General also introduced a resolution in 1825 which forbade “foreign Asians in Java such as Malays, Buginese and Chinese” from living within the same neighborhood as the native population.[30] Following the costly Java War (1825–1830) the Dutch introduced a new agrarian and cultivation system that required farmers to “yield up a portion of their fields and cultivate crops suitable for the European market”. Compulsory cultivation restored the economy of the colony, but ended the system of revenue farms established under the VOC.[31]



The first Dutch Chinese Schools were established in 1892 following a split in curriculum from the native population.

The Chinese were perceived as temporary residents and encountered difficulties in obtaining land rights. Europeans were prioritized in the choice of plantation areas, while colonial officials believed the remaining plots must be protected and preserved for the indigenous population. Short-term and renewable leases were later introduced as a temporary measure, but many Chinese remained on these lands upon expiration of their contracts and became squatters.[32] In the second half of the 19th century the colonial government began experimenting with the idea of an “Ethical Policy” to protect the indigenous population, casting the Chinese as the “foremost enemy of the state”. Under the new policy the administration increased restrictions on Chinese economic activities, which they believed exploited the native population.[33]

Chinese settlement in the archipelago was not limited to Java. In western Borneo the Chinese established their first major mining settlement in 1760 and ousted Dutch settlers and the local Malay princes, including establishing their own republic. By 1819 they came into conflict with the new Dutch government and were seen as “incompatible” with its objectives, yet indispensable for the development of the region.[34] The Bangka–Belitung Islands also became examples of major settlements in rural areas. Although only 28 Chinese were recorded on the islands in 1851, by 1915 the population had risen to nearly 40,000 and robust fishing and tobacco industries had developed. Coolies brought into the region after the end of the 19th century were mostly hired from the Straits Settlements due to recruiting obstacles that existed in China.[35]

[edit] Divided nationalism (1900–1949)



Chinese language school owned by the Tiong Hoa Hwe Koan in Sungailiat, Bangka

The Chinese revolutionary figure Sun Yat-sen visited southeast Asia in 1900[36] and later that year the socio-religious organization Tiong Hoa Hwe Koan (中華會館), also known as the Chinese Association, was founded. Their goal was to urge ethnic Chinese in the Indies to support the revolutionary movement in China. In its effort to build Chinese-speaking schools the association argued that the teaching of English and Chinese languages should be prioritized over Dutch, in order to provide themselves with the means of taking “a two or three-day voyage (Java–Singapore) into a wider world where they can move freely” and overcome restrictions of their activities.[37] Several years later the Dutch authorities abandoned its segregation policies, abolished travel permits for the ethnic Chinese, and allowed them to freely move throughout the colony. The 1911 Xinhai Revolution and the 1912 founding of the Republic of China coincided with a growing Chinese-nationalist movement within the Indies.[36]

Until 1908 there was no recognizable nationalist movement among the indigenous population; however, Dutch authorities feared that nationalist sentiments would spread with the growth of ethnically mixed associations, known as kongsi. In 1911 some Javanese members of the Kong Sing association in Surakarta broke away and clashed with the ethnic Chinese. This incident led to the creation of Sarekat Islam, the first organized popular nationalist movement in the Indies. Indigenous groups saw the Chinese nationalist sentiment as “haughty” which led to antagonism between the two sides.[38] The anti-Chinese sentiment spread throughout Java in 1918 and led to mass violence being carried out by members of Sarekat Islam on the ethnic Chinese in Kudus.[39] Following this incident the left-wing Chinese nationalist daily Sin Po called on both sides to work together to improve living conditions because it considered most ethnic Chinese, like most of the indigenous population, to be poor.[40]



Early draft of the Indonesia Raya, later adopted as a national anthem, in a 1928 weekly edition of the Sin Po newspaper.[41]

Sin Po first went into print in 1910 and began gaining momentum as the leading advocate of Chinese political nationalism in 1917. The ethnic Chinese who followed its stream of thought refused any involvement with local institutions and would only participate in politics relating to mainland China.[42] A second stream was later formed by wealthy ethnic Chinese who were Dutch-educated. This Dutch-oriented group wished for increased participation in local politics, Dutch education for the ethnic Chinese, and the furthering of ethnic Chinese economic standing within the colonial economy. Championed by the Volksraad‘s sole ethnic Chinese representative Kan Hok Hoei, this movement gained momentum and reached its peak with the Chung Hwa Congress of 1927 and the 1928 formation of the Chung Hwa Hui party, which elected Kan as its president. The editor-in-chief of the Madjallah Panorama news magazine criticized Sin Po for misguiding the ethnic Chinese by pressuring them into a Chinese-nationalist stance.[43]

In 1932 pro-Indonesian counterparts founded the Partai Tionghoa Indonesia to support absorption of the ethnic Chinese into the Javanese population and support the call for self-government of Indonesia. Members of this group were primarily peranakan.[44] This division resurfaced at the end of the period of Japanese occupation (1942–1945).[45] Under the occupation ethnic Chinese communities were attacked by Japanese forces, in part because of a suspicion that they contained sympathizers of the Kuomintang as a consequence of the Second Sino-Japanese War. When the Dutch returned, following the end of World War II, the chaos caused by advancing forces and retreating revolutionaries also saw radical Muslim groups attack ethnic Chinese communities.[39]

Although revolutionary leaders were sympathetic toward the ethnic Chinese, they were unable to stop the sporadic violence. Those who were affected fled from the rural areas to Dutch controlled cities, a move many Indonesians saw as proof of pro-Dutch sentiments.[46] There was evidence, however, that Chinese Indonesians were represented and participated in independence efforts. Four members of the Committee for the Investigation of the Preparation for Indonesian Independence (Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia, BPUPKI) and one member on the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (Panitia Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia, PPKI) had names that were clearly Chinese


Finally, in 1649,

the Dutch began a series of yearly sweeps of the entire area, the infamous hongi (war-fleet) expeditions de islands other than Ambon and Seram, where the Dutch were firmly established. So successful were these expeditions, that half of the islanders starved for lack of trade, and the remaining half were reduced to abject poverty.

Still, the smuggling of cloves and clove trees continued. Traders obtained these other goods at the new Islamic port of Makassar, in southern Sulawesi.

The Dutch repeatedly blockaded Makassar and imposed treaties theoretically barring the Makassarese from trading with other nations, but were unable for many years to enforce them.




(On the site of Jayakarta, the new town of Batavia had many of the features
of Amsterdaam)


The Dutch in Java

By such nefarious means the Dutch had achieved effective control of the eastern archipelago and its lucrative spice trade by the end of the 17th Century. In the western half of the archipelago, however, they became increasingly embroiled in fruitless intrigues and wars, particularly on Java. This came about largely because the Dutch presence at Batavia disturbed a delicate balance of power on Java.



Kerajaan Sukapura


Kerajaan/ Kadipaten SukapuraMerupakan kerajaan/ kadipaten lama di Jawa Barat. Lokasinya adalah sebagai berikut:




Sumber: Digital Atlas of Indonesian History by Robert Cribb.Raja-raja dan bupati swapraja yang pernah memerintah Sukapura adalah:
• Wiradedaha I (1641-?)
• Wiradedaha II (?-1674)
• Anggadipa Wiradedaha III (1674-1726)



however, soon declined and by 1650 Sukadana had recovered to dominate the entire west coast.




Lahir : Banten, 1631
Wafat : Jakarta, 1692

Spoiler for Biografi Singkat

NAMA kecilnya adalah Abdul Fatah.

Pada tahun 1651 Ia diangkat menjadi Sultan Banten pada usia 20 tahun dan mendapat gelar Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa. Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa memerintahkan rakyat Banten untuk menolak bekerjasama dengan VOC (Belanda) dan melakukan serangan-serangan gerilya terhadap kedudukan Belanda.

Ia juga berhasil membongkar blockade laut Belanda dan melakukan kerjasama dagang dengan bangsa-bangsa Eropa lain seperti Denmark dan Inggris.

Banyak kapal dan pekebunan teh VOC yang berhasil dirampas dan dirusak oleh pejuang-pejuang Banten. Hal ini sangat merugikan VOC.

Belanda akhirnya memakai strategi adu domba untuk menundukkan Banten, yakni dengan menghasut Sultan Haji anak tertua Sultan Ageng.

Sultan Haji termakan hasutan Belanda dan mengira ayahnya akan menyerahkan kekuasaan kepada Pangeran Purbaya, adik Sultan Haji, sehingga terjadi perselisihan bahkan sampai terjadi peperangan antara ayah dan anak. Kerjasama Belanda dan Sultan Haji akhirnya dapat mengalahkan Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa.






TERLAHIR dengan nama asli I Mallambosi, dia diangkat menjadi Sultan Ke-6 Kerajaan Gowa dalam usia 24 tahun (tahun 1655).

Dia juga diberi nama Arab Muhammad Bakir dan bergelar Sultan Hasanuddin. Sementara itu, Belanda memberinya gelar de Haav van de Osten alias Ayam Jantan dari Timur karena kegigihan dan keberaniannya.



Peperangan antara VOC dan Sultan Hasanuddin dimulai pada tahun 1660.

Saat itu, Belanda dibantu oleh Kerajaan Bone yang merupakan kerajaan taklukan dari Kerajaan Gowa.

Pada peperangan tersebut, Panglima Bone, Tobala, akhirnya tewas, tetapi Aru Palaka berhasil meloloskan diri. Perang tersebut berakhir dengan perdamaian.

Akan tetapi, perjanjian damai tersebut tidak berlangsung lama karena Sultan Hasanuddin yang merasa dirugikan kemudian menyerang dan merompak dua kapal Belanda, yaitu de Walvis dan Leeuwin. Belanda pun marah. Lalu mengirimkan armada perang yang besar di bawah pimpinan Cornelis Speelman. Aru Palaka, penguasa Bone, juga ikut memimpin pasukannya menyerang Gowa.






The Makassar wars of 1666-69,

and their aftermath, created a diaspora of Makassarese and Buginese refugees. Many of them fled to eastern Java, where they united under the leadership of a Madurese prince, Trunajaya. Aided and abetted by none other than the Mataram crown prince, Trunajaya succesfully stormed through Central Java and pludered the Mataram capital in 1676-7. Amangkurat I died fleeing the enemy forces.

Once in control of Java, Trunajaya renounced his alliance with the young Mataram prince and declared himself king. Having no one else to turn to, the crown prince pleaded for Dutch support, promising to reimburse all military expenses and to award the Dutch valuable trade concessions. The bait was swallowed, and a costly campaign was promptly mounted to capture Trunajaya. This ended, in 1680, with the restoration of the crown prince, now styling himself Amangkurat II, to the throne.


Makasar empire before 1667

Pre-colonial records are even sparser for eastern Indonesia than they are for Sulawesi, and only the sketchiest outline can be given of the region’s history before the 17th century.

The islands of Maluku had supplied cloves to other parts of the world since at least 1700 B.C., according to archaeological evidence from the Middle East, and they were also the only source of nutmeg. The small islands with their narrow coastal plains, however, could only sustain a relatively small population, and there appear to have been no large polities in the region before the 15th century, when the tiny clove-producing islands of Ternate and Tidore began to emerge as major political centres. Except in Sula, Buru, Ambon and Seram, where Ternatean aristocrats ruled directly, both empires operated as a network of alliances and vassalages, rather than as tightly ruled polities, and there was considerable ebb and flow in the degree of authority that each exercised. Ternate reached the peak of its power in the late 16th century under the warlike Sultan Baabullah.



Hasanuddin yang semakin terdesak akhirnya sepakat untuk membuat perjanjian yang disebut Perjanjian Bongaya pada tanggal 18 November 1667.

Pada tanggal 12 April 1668,

Hasanuddin kembali melakukan serangan terhadap Belanda. Namun, karena saat itu Belanda sudah mempunyai kedudukan yang kuat, pada tanggal 26 Juni 1668, Benteng Sombo Opu sebagai pertahanan terakhir Sultan Hasanuddin berhasil dikuasai Belanda.


Finally, in 1669,

following three years of bitter and bloody fighting, the Makassarese surrendered to superior Dutch and Buginese forces.

The Dutch now placed their Bugis ally, Arung Palakka, in charge of Makassar. The bloodletting did not stop here, however, for Arung Palakka embarked on a reign of terror to extend his control over all of southern Sulawesi



Hingga wafatnya pada tanggal 12 Juni 1670, Sultan Hasanuddin tetap tidak mau bekerjasama dengan Belanda.



Cornelis Speelman

Cornelis Speelman (2 March 1628 – 11 January 1684) was Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies from 1681 to 1684.



Cornelis Speelman, represented around 1800.

Cornelis Janzoon Speelman was the son of a Rotterdam merchant. He was born on 2 March 1628. In his 16th year, he left aboard the Hillegersberg for the India. He was employed as an Assistant (assistent) in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). In 1645 he arrived in Batavia, Dutch East Indies. He became Bookkeeper (boekhouder) in 1648 and Underbuyer (onderkoopman) in 1649. He became Secretary (secretaris) to the Dutch Council of the Indies (Raad van Indië). He travelled with the ambassador Joan Cunaeus to Persia that year, and wrote an account of the voyage. They were received by the Shah Abbas II with great festivity. Even before his voyage came to an end, in 1652,he was promoted to Buyer (koopman). On his return to Batavia, he took up a post in the office of the Bookkeeper-General (boekhouder-generaal), ‘for whom he deputised for a long time, and whom he succeeded in 1657. Meanwhile, he had married the fifteen year-old Petronella Maria Wonderaer, daughter to the Receiver-General (ontvanger-generaal). In 1659 he was placed in charge of the Company’s clerical and administrative staff (kapitein over de compagnie pennisten) in Batavia. In 1661, he became schepen van Batavia, ( a sort of alderman post connected with local government there).

On 12 June 1663, Cornelis Speelman was appointed Governor and Director of Dutch Coromandel, but was suspended by the Seventeen Lords (Heren XVII), being accused of having illegally engaged in private trading. He had bought a diamond for his wife and later re-sold it because she had not liked it. Despite his strenuous protests, the court in Batavia wanted to make an example of him and he was sentenced to a 15 months suspension and a fine of 3,000 guilders. In 1666, he was named admiral and superintendent of an expedition to Makasar. On 18 November 1667, he concluded the so-called Bongaais Treaty. (Treaty of Bonggaya[1]) In the same year, he was named Commissioner (commissaris) of Amboina, Banda and Ternate. Consequently, he became Counsellor-extraordinary (raad extra-ordinaris) to the Dutch Council of the Indies. He travelled once again, in 1669, as admiral of another expedition to Makassar where he completely subjugated the kingdom, receiving a gold chain and medallion in recognition of this the following year.

He became a full Counsellor of the Indies on 23 March 1671. The following year he was admiral of a fleet sent against the French. In December 1676, he led an expedition to Central Java, where the ruler of Mataram was in difficulties and he needed to support the alliance with that prince. On Java’s East Coast, he went to war against the so-called Toerana Djaja. It took some time before peace was re-established. He was called back to Batavia at the end of 1677 and on 18 January 1678 named First Counsellor and Director-General of the Indies (Eerste Raad en Directeur-Generaal van Indië). Also in that year he was appointed President of the College van Schepenen (to do with local government) in Batavia. On 29 October 1680 he was named Governor-General, a post he took up on 25 November 1681, succeeding Rijckloff van Goens.

During the term of office of Cornelis Speelman as Governor-General, the Sultan of Ternate was conquered. He ceded all his lands of his kingdom to the Company. Speelman also subdued the city of Bantam. Cornelis Speelman died on 11 January 1684 in the Castle at Batavia. His funeral was accompanied with great noise and splendour, for which no pains or monies were spared. He was buried in the Kruiskerk to the noise of 229 cannon shots. He was followed as Governor-General by Johannes Camphuy





Pada tahun 1683, Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa. Pada tahun 1683, Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa berhasil ditangkap dan dibuang ke Batavia hingga wafat di penjara pada tahun 1692. Sedangkan Pangeran Purbaya menyingkir ke daerah Priangan.



It was on the 12 th july 1685  that ralph ord, the repsentative of the honourable East india company, managed to establish a settlemen at bencoolen, concluding an agreement with the local rulers fort the supply of papper to the company, in return for an undertaking to protect them from the dutch.

Bencoolen was considered to be in a strategic position to control the trade route through the sunda strait. In fact its strategic infortance was never realised as most Europeen  shipping chose to use the starait of malacca, the more direct route from india to china. Bencoolen was to remain the head quarters for the company’s Operations in sumatra. A number of small trading post, or factories as the were called  from the title of factor, (the official responsible for the settlement), were established on the west coast of sumatra from Tapanuli, natal and moko moko in the north, to manna and krui in the south, near the modern border with lampung.





Gouvenor general VOC


Governor Jacob Christiaan Pielat 1733‑tfull.jpg


View of Batavia, 1730
View of the city of Batavia, seen from out to sea with many ships in the foreground, including four East Indiamen.

After the Dutch arrived in the East Indies in 1596, the VOC (Dutch East India Company) established its headquarters in the city of Jayakarta, on the island of Java.

Later renamed Batavia, the city (now Jakarta) soon became the capital of the East Indies and the principal harbour for Dutch ships sailing to and from Europe.

The Governor-General and Council in Batavia controlled all VOC trade in Asia, and the city reflected the company’s monopolistic approach. Private trade at most of the ports was prohibited, except in Batavia.


View of the city and castle of Batavia in two parts 1650–1700

The VOC was not the first to use the monopoly approach. But it was the VOC and its appetite for new markets that eventually put Australia on the map.

Soon after the company established its base in the city, Batavia became the launching place for the first of many Dutch voyages of discovery beyond the Spice Islands.

In 1605, VOC headquarters in Amsterdam issued an order to Frederick de Houtman, Governor in Batavia: ‘There must be more charting, mapping and exploring of the lands further east of the Spice Islands and a renewed search for a passage through to the Pacific Ocean’.

The twin objectives of the expeditions to the unknown south were trade and territory: commanders of the voyages were instructed to find new commercial prospects and acquire new land. They were the orders that effectively signalled the beginning of the Dutch discovery of Australia.


Desepascaert vertoont de wegh, soo int heen als in het weerom seylen, die gehouden is bij het jacht het Duijfien in het besoecken van de landen beoosten Banda, tot aen Nova Guinea.
Map of the islands in the Banda Sea and the New Guinea region showing the tracks of the Duyfken in 1606.
engraving; 61.5 x 56.0 cm
Monumenta cartographica, Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1925
National Library of Australia

Captained by Willem Janszoon, the voyage of the Duyfken in 1606 was the first of several planned voyages to the north of Australia. A secret map, Dese pascaert vertoont, shows the route of the Duyfken and the first European landfall on the Australian continent, at 11°45’S. Most VOC voyages, commercial or explorative, were secret. But maps of their voyages soon revealed to the world the extent of their discoveries. Janszoon’s discoveries were thought to be an extension of New Guinea as the Duyfken had missed Torres Strait.

No second voyage of discovery to the south lands was organised until 1623, though the Dutch did consider it. In 1620, prompted after a series of accidental landfalls on Australia’s west coast, the Seventeen urged closer investigation of the extent of Janszoon’s discoveries.

In 1622, Dutch exploration of the unknown South Land suddenly became urgent. In that year, the English ship the Trial (or Tryall) became the first European ship to come to grief on the Australian coast. The Trial was wrecked off the Montebello Islands, in north-west Australia. Captain John Brookes and 45 of his crew sailed in two boats to Batavia to mount a rescue, but 93 people left behind died.The safety of the VOC ships was paramount. On 29 September, VOC officials in Batavia instructed the captains of the de Haringh and Hasewint to combine the search for new trading opportunities with the pressing need to chart unknown, and possibly dangerous, stretches of coastline.

The main object for which you are dispatched on this occasion is, that for 45° or 50°S, or from the farthest point to which the land shall be found to extend southwards within these latitudes, up to the northernmost extremity of the South Land you will have to discover and survey all capes, forelands, bights, lands, islands, rocks, sandbanks, depths, shallows, roads, winds, currents and all that appertains to the same, so as to be able to map out and duly mark everything in its true latitude, longitude, bearings and conformation. You will moreover go ashore in various places and diligently examine the coast in order to ascertain whether or not it is inhabited, the nature of the land and the people, their towns and inhabited villages, the divisions of their kingdoms, their religion and polity, their wars, their rivers, the shape of their vessels, their fisheries, commodities and manufactures, but especially to inform yourselves what minerals, such as gold, silver, tin, iron, lead, and copper, what precious stones, pearls, vegetables, animals and fruits, these lands yield and produce.


Carten dese landen Zin ontdeckt bij de compangie ontdeckers behaluen het norder deelt van noua guina ende het West Eynde van Java dit Warck aldus
[Bonaparte Tasman map]
‘Map these lands were discovered by the Company’s explorers except for the northern part of New Guinea and the west end of Java.’
manuscript map, hand-coloured; 73.0 x 95.0 cm
State Library of New South Wales

While this project came to nothing, the following year the voyage of discovery of the ships Pera and Arnhem added significantly to Dutch knowledge of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the discoveries of Jan Carstensz began to appear on regional and world maps.

Twenty years later, the VOC was still probing, and Dutch discoveries reached their climax with Abel Tasman‘s two voyages in 1642–43 and 1644.

In August 1642, Anthonie van Diemen, Governor-General of the East Indies from 1636 to 1645, instructed Abel Tasman to ‘sail to the partly known as well as the undiscovered South and East lands, to discover them and find some important lands, or at the very least some practicable passages to well known rich places, to be used eventually to enhance and enlarge the general welfare of the company’.

New Holland, as the Dutch and for a time the rest of the world would come to know Australia, offered little through trade in the way of spices or precious stones or produce. With only a few exceptions, the Dutch navigators had experienced some of the most desolate and inhospitable of Australia’s coasts. They were confounded by their contact with Indigenous Australians.

After the loss of several ships and with little to show for its effort, the VOC began losing interest in the South Land with each expedition. The last significant voyage commissioned by the company was that of Willem de Vlamingh in 1696.

Some VOC expeditions that left Batavia to explore the South Land


Johannes Camphuys



Portrait of Johannes Campuys

Johannes Camphuys (registered as Kamphuis, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie) (Haarlem, July 18 1634 – Batavia (Jakarta), July 18 1695) was the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies from 1684 to 1691.[1]

[edit] Japan

At this point in Japanese history, the sole VOC outpost (or “factory”) was situated on Dejima island in the harbor of Nagasaki on the southern island of Kyushu. Camphuys was three times sent to Japan as Opperhoofd or chief negotiant and officer of the VOC trading post.[2]

  • 22 October 1671–12 November 1672[2]
  • 29 October1673–19 October 1674[2]
  • 7 November 1675–27 October 1676[2]

[edit] Legacy

The life of Camphuys is commemorated in the name of a street in the Lombok neighbourhood of Utrecht; and he is also remembered in the name of a street in the Bezuidenhoutquarter of The Hague.


Willem van Outhoorn



Willem van Outhoorn (4 May 1635 – 27 November 1720) was Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies from 1691 to 1704. He was born and died in the Dutch East Indies.

[edit] Biography

Willem van Outhoorn (or Oudthoorn) was born on 4 May 1635 at Larike on Ambon Island in Indonesia. His father was a Dutch East India Company (VOC) Buyer (koopman) there. He was sent to the Netherlands to study Law at the University of Leiden. On 28 November 1657 he graduated in Law.

[edit] Government career

In 1659 van Outhoorn returned to the Indies, employed as Underbuyer (onderkoopman). He was to remain in the East for the rest of his life. Even a journey to nearby Bantam was a journey too far for him. In 1662 he became a member of the Council of Justice (Raad van Justitie) in Batavia. In 1672 he became Receiver-General (ontvanger-generaal), and in 1673 he became Vice-President of the Council of Justice. In 1678 he was charged with a mission to Bantam and he became an extraordinary member of the Dutch Council of the Indies. He was named a full Counsellor, being confirmed in that post in 1681. He became President of the Council of Justice in 1682 and in 1689 President of the College van Heemraden (dealing with estate boundaries, roads, etc.). That same year he was appointed First Counsellor and Director-General of the Dutch East Indies.

On 17 December 1690 van Outhoorn was appointed Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, taking over from Johannes Camphuys on 24 September 1691. After ten years, the Seventeen Lords (Heren XVII) granted his wish to be honourably relieved of his duties, but it was 15 August 1704 before he could hand over all his official functions to his successor, Joan van Hoorn.

He requested that he be allowed to remain on his estate just outside Batavia. Such requests were generally not allowed, for fear that retired governors would interfere with the work of their successors. However, because he was in ill-health and was over 70, he was allowed to stay. He died at age 85 on 27 November 1720.

His term of office was not marked by many important developments or events. At the end of his term, Amangkurat II Sultan of Mataram died. As the VOC did not recognise his son as successor, a long war broke out just before Van Outshoorn left office. In 1693 the French overran Pondicherry. During his time, efforts were made to establish coffee growing in Java. The first harvest failed because of flooding, but the next harvest had more success.

Van Outhoorn was not a very strong ruler. Corruption and nepotism, in which he was also involved, became more blatant during his time. His son-in-law Joan van Hoorn, married to his daughter Susanna, followed him as Governor-General




The wreck Of Batavia Ship

Mutiny on the Batavia

This is the article  of the shipwreck of the Batavia, and the ensuing mutiny and massacre.

Well, despite all the carnage the surviving crew and passengers of the Batavia were lucky in one sense, they were eventually rescued. In 1711 another Dutch ship, the Zuytdorp, also wrecked upon the same remote coast. Actually many Dutch ships had disappeared before along this coast, which was bad news for the Zuytdorp, because when she didn’t make it to Indonesia, no search was made. Presumably becasue of the expense of previous fruitless searches. This was unfortunate for the Zuytdorp,  because some survivors made it ashore. Starting in the 1920s when westerners started penetrating this remote area of coast, many artifacts from a shipwreck were found, some clearly having been carried to cliff tops with unmistakable evidence of habitation found as well. And while the survivors may indeed have tried to signal passing ships, even if they were seen most likely ships simply regarded them as fires set by aborigines.


Both the wreck and the land sites were excavated in a  series of digs over many decades, and many artifacts discovered. Coins dated 1711 very early pegged the site as the Zuytdorp, it was carrying a cargo of said coins, and in fact when the site was first visited by divers, they reported  a “carpet” of silver coins.

The excavation took decades because the location is so treacherous that only a  few days a year is it safe to dive. And even on land the airstrip is extremely windy and dangerous. It was done though, and many artifacts were recovered. The big question, what happened to the survivors, was never answered. Did any of them join with the aborigines? Could there be aborigines with 17th and 18th century Dutch DNA in them? Remember, two of the Batavia mutineers were also marooned on this coast, and no doubt other unknown survivors made it ashore in the centuries that Dutch ships hugged this coast. Alas, a 2002 DNA study concluded, not likely.

As for the wreck of the Batavia, it was discovered in the sixties, and in pretty good shape all things considered. It was excavated in the early seventies, one of the first great underwater shipwreck excavations. It inspired laws to protect such sites, and many further recovery efforts. Much of the stern of the ship was recovered intact, as well as a stone archway intended for a Dutch fort in Indonesia. Both can be seen above, as they are on display in the Fremantle Maritime Museum, in Fremantle Australia. Human remains were recovered as well, and I read that some of them are on display too.

And on the islands where the actual fighting and battles took place, there have been excavations. The remains of the fort and the well built by Wiebbe Hayes and his men are still to be seen, and are in fact the oldest European built structures in Australia. Yes, the “barren” island Wiebbe Hayes and company had been left on actually had an aquifer, and a shallow well provided fresh water. And they had discovered that they could wade at low tide to another nearby island, East Wallabi Island. And on said island,  some sort of small island wallaby lived. They were delicious.

That was one of many details I left out of a fascinating but complicated story. Complicated in and of itself, and complicated by the fact that I had trouble finding good images or even maps of the area. I did find some pictures of Wiebbe Hayes Fort here. Unfortunately the images show two stone structures, with no explanation as to which is what. Still, the fact that the earliest structures built by Europeans in Australia are still intact shows nicely just how remote the Abrolhos Islands, or more properly, the Houtman Abrolhos, really are.

. The wreck of the Batavia happened over 400 years ago, yet multiple threads from this event are still unravelling.

It probably goes without saying that Jeronimus Cornelisz was a psychopath/sociopath.

The link above says he was a devil worshipper, which may or may not be true, it’s suspected but not proved that he had links with Johannes van der Beeck, a Dutch artist who was executed for atheistic and Satanistic beliefs. I suspect without Jeronimus Cornelisz the mutiny would never have happened or been a much more bloodless thing. A case can be made that many if not most of the murderous mutineers only became murderers because they got trapped on a deserted island with a psychopath. Imagine Gilligan’s Isle if Gilligan had been a psychopath. Yikes. This is why I never get in an elevator with strangers.




A bond issued by the Dutch East India Company, dating from 7 November 1623, for the amount of 2,400 florins





Pera and Arnhem, 1623


Sir Robert Dudley (1574–1649)
Carta particolare della costa Australe scoperta dall’Olandesi … d’ Asia Carta
Part of the coast of New Holland.
engraving; 47.5 x 37.3 cm
Firenze: Nella stamperia di Francesco Onofri, 1647
Northern Territory Library

Captain Jan Carstenszoon in the Pera and Captain Willem van Coolsteerd in the Arnhem explored the south coast of New Guinea and the western side of Cape York Peninsula. Carstenszoon went on to chart the Gulf of Carpentaria, naming it for Pieter de Carpentier, the Governor-General in Batavia. Meantime, van Coolsteerd charted the northern part of Arnhem Land.





After these initial West African slaves  were brought to the Cape the Dutch East India Company fell into line with agreements with the Dutch West Indian Company to focus its slaving operations on the African territories on Indian Ocean coast and East Indies.

In addition to the dedicated Cape based slaver ships, other slaver ships of many nationalities anchored in the Cape with ‘cargoes` destined for Europe and the Americas.


Some from amongst this ‘cargo` ware sent to Indonesia(Dutch Indie)







In 1638

in Yogyakarta tragedy occurred a massacre of the Dutch and Japanese so that the Dutch sent punitive expeditions and making threats against the Sultanate of Banjarmasin, the Kingdom and the Kingdom Sukadana Kotawaringin.

Heemskerck and Zeehaen, 1642

Abel Tasman, commanding the Heemskerck and Zeehaen, became the first European to sight Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), Statenlandt (New Zealand) and the islands of Tonga and Fiji. Tasman charted much of Tasmania, but missed Bass Strait and the east coast of the continent, proceeding east to New Zealand.

Zeemeeuw, Limmen and Bracq, 1644

Commanding a second expedition of three ships, the Zeemeeuw, Limmen and Bracq, Tasman charted much of Australia’s north and north-west coasts, from Cape York in the east to Point Cloates in the west.





When  Sultan Agung  died in 1646 his tomb at the holy hilltop of Imogiri was already built according to his own specifications: the mythical Nyai Loro Kidul, Queen of the Southern Ocean, had told Sultan Agung the very hour of his coming demise, it was said.


Great King: Sultan Agung

Sultan Agung had created the most magnificent Muslim kingdom that Java had ever known, a state to rival even the much-vaunted Majapahit, but once he was interred at Imogiri the rot set rapidly in.

His heir, Amangkurat I, did his best with offerings to keep the Queen of the Southern Ocean on side to keep the kingdom ticking over, but he was a brutal man, who according to the Javanese accounts was a ‘king who had sunk to the level of the beasts’.






Indonesia ,Indies, It became a Crown Colony in 1651 with the E.I.C. responsible for administration. The Cocos-Keeling Islands were found in 1609 during one of the early voyages when Captain Keeling was blown south, off course, and was making his way back to the Indies.



Dutch travel literature: the account of Wouter Schouten’s adventurous travels in the East Indies in a rare French edition, published in 1708 by Pierre Mortier. The ship surgeon Schouten travelled widely in the East Indies between 1658 and 1665, visiting Colombo (Ceylon), the Malabar coast, Bengal, Arakan, Batavia, Formosa (= Taiwan), Sumatra, the Moluccas and Amboina.

Being an observant traveller, his narrative contains much detailed information on life in the East, including an eye-witness report of the Dutch Siege of Makassar, Ceylon.




the Indian Ocean Slave Trade

As stated in other posts, the first slaves to be brought to the Cape Colony were from West Africa, but that soon changed to a position where slaves almost exclusively came from the Indian Ocean slave trade.

From the 1660s until 1742, a majority, over 57% of slaves, came from India and the Indonesian Archipelago. Thereafter the figures decreased.

After 1767 a combination of official reluctance to bring slaves from the east and, a decrease in the fortunes of Dutch shipping, finally resulted in the import of eastern slaves dwindling to a trickle. During the overall 180 year period of slavery around 51% of new slaves in the Cape came from Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarenes, 26% from India and 22% from the Indonesian Archipelago.

This post deals with the complex roots of the Indian and Indonesian components which dominated the early years of slavery at the Cape and has often been simplistically referred to as the Malay slaves.


The heyday of the Dutch dominance in the Indian Ocean Slave Trade is poorly understood in South Africa, in terms of where slaves actually originally came from. The confusion arises out of the ‘shorthand` accounts of ships bringing slaves from slaving ‘stations` or ‘centres` rather than where slaves originally actually were taken. Modern day Indonesia and Malaysia and its attributes are also overlaid on the situation pertaining in the 17th and 18th centuries. In South Africa we have also allowed the local construct of a ‘Cape Malay` Muslim identity cloud our understanding of the roots of eastern slavery.

According to Markus Vink, The World`s Oldest Trade: Dutch Slavery and Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean in the Seventeenth Century, Journal of World History 14, no. 2 (Fall 2003): the Dutch Indian Ocean slave system drew captive labour from three interlocking and overlapping circuits of sub-regions: the westernmost, African circuit of East Africa, Madagascar, and the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius and Réunion); the middle, South Asian circuit of the Indian subcontinent (Malabar, Coromandel, and the Bengal/Arakan coast); and the easternmost, Southeast Asian circuit of Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea (Irian Jaya), and the southern Philippines.

Vink goes on to establish that ‘in general, the Dutch slave trade took people from segmented microstates and stateless societies in the East outside the House of Islam to the company`s Asian headquarters, the Chinese colonial city of Batavia (Jakarta), and its regional centre in the western districts of the Indian Ocean, coastal Ceylon (Sri Lanka),` From here slaves were dispersed to strategic footholds in Malacca and Makassar and in eastern Indonesian islands of Maluku, Ambon, and Banda. The Cape Colony was also one of these strategic footholds of Dutch interest.

Markus Vink establishes that the first circuit or sub-region of the Dutch Slave Trade, the Indian subcontinent (Arakan/Bengal, Malabar, and Coromandel), remained the most important source of slave labour until the mid 1660s. Vink says that during the first thirty years of Batavia`s existence, Indian and Arakanese slaves provided the main labour force of the company`s Asian headquarters. The point is further made that until the Dutch seizure of the Portuguese settlements on the Malabar coast (165863), large numbers of slaves were also captured and sent from India`s west coast to Batavia, Ceylon, and elsewhere. After 1663, however, the stream of forced labour from Cochin dried up to a trickle of about 50100 and 80120 slaves per year to Batavia and Ceylon, respectively.


Amongst the Cape Colony slaves, Bengal, coast of Coromandel, Saloor (Ceylon), Cochin, Palicatte, Devanampatnam and other places of origin listed in slave inventories feature strongly in the last three decades of the 1600s. Vink makes the point that in contrast with other areas of the Indian subcontinent, Coromandel remained the centre of a spasmodic slave trade throughout the seventeenth century. In various short-lived booms accompanying natural and human-induced calamities, the Dutch exported thousands of slaves from the east coast of India. South African history does little to acknowledge these Indian roots of slaves in the Cape. Generally it projects that Indians first came to South Africa as indentured labourers and merchants in the late 1800s. That this migration occurred is absolutely true as the large KwaZulu-Natal Indian population has its roots therein. But it is not the only truth.

In the Cape Colony the much earlier forced Indian migration has left very little of a distinct Indian character amongst the population. The dubbing over of Indian roots with the ‘Cape Malay` construct whereby all eastern slaves got lumped together as a constructed ethnic identity, resulted in wiping out historical facts. This had more to do with dividing slave descendants who had the same roots, into Christian and Muslim entities as though distinct ethnic differences existed. The irony was that many who had been enslaved and sold to the Dutch were often the ‘heathen` victims of conquering Muslim religious armies in South-Indian wars. In the Cape many of these ‘hindu` or ‘heathen` slaves converted to Islam, while others converted to Christianity. When war and religious conquest was not the reason for enslavement, then famine facilitated enslavement. Markus Vink makes the point elsewhere that between 1620 and 1830, Hindu Bali, internally divided among various rival states after the collapse of the kingdom of Gelgel, exported at least 100,000 members of its own population and neighboring Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, and elsewhere as slaves.


Markus Vink in his study provides the following information: ‘A third short-lived boom in slaving took place between 1659 and 1661 due to the devastation of Tanjavur resulting from a series of successive Bijapuri raids, creating the usual famine-slave cycle. At Nagapatnam, Pulicat, and elsewhere, the company purchased 8,00010,000 slaves, the bulk of whom were sent to Ceylon while a small portion were shipped to Batavia and Malacca. A fourth boom (167377) was initiated by a long drought in
Madurai and southern Coromandel starting in 1673, exacerbated by the prolonged Madurai-Maratha struggle over Tanjavur and resulting oppressive fiscal practices.

Between 1673 and 1677,

the VOC exported 1,839 slaves from the Madurai coast alone. A fifth boom occurred in 1688, caused by a combination of poor harvests and the Mughal advance into the Karnatak. Reportedly thousands of people from Tanjavur, mostly girls and little boys, were sold into slavery and exported by Asian traders from Nagapattinam to Aceh, Johor, and other slave markets’.

Of the tiny pinch of spice that Malay has added to the bubbling semantic stew of the English language, one word above all has a particularly pungent tang.

Four more loaded letters (or five, depending how you choose to spell it) are hard to think of; between its two syllables it carries all the dark and incomprehensible threat of the foreign, and all the weight of half-a-millennium of dehumanising, denigrating European ideas about ‘the natives’.  The word is ‘amok’.


Negative Epithets: ‘The Malay Character’

The Malay Character

In the 19th century and beyond much was made by foreigners in the tropics about a curious concept called ‘the Malay character’.

Depending on the ignorance levels of the white man in question (and it generally was a white man, pontificating with gin and tonic in hand as the punkahs swished on the ceiling of the Club and the warm rain lashed down over the rubber plantations), the ‘Malay race’ could refer merely to the Malay-speakers of the Peninsula and southern Sumatra, or it could be expanded in great conquering sweeps of generalisation to encompass all of maritime Southeast Asia,

taking in everyone from the Bugis of southwest Sulawesi, to the Balinese, Javanese and Madurese; from the Dayak spearmen of the Borneo forests to the white-robed Achenese totting their prayer beads on Mecca’s Veranda in northern Sumatra.  Sometimes, sweeping aside the final feeble palisades of language, culture and geography with a rattle of the gin glass, it was cast further still to blanket even the Philippines, Thailand and the Buddhist lands of Indochina.

But what mattered, wherever you drew their territorial limits, was that these ‘Malays’ were amongst the most indolent people on the planet.  They were very feeble, and they were shockingly lazy.  They would not work; they did nothing; they behaved in fact (though nobody mentioned this) very much like late-18th century Dutchmen during the dying days of VOC Batavia.  That, at least, was the theory.

Coupled to this alleged lethargy were various other adjectives of differing degrees of negativity.

The mythical Malay was often described as proud and even gentlemanly; they were soft – whether you viewed that as good or bad – and refined.  But they were also, like virtually every ‘native’ everywhere, ‘deceitful’ and ‘treacherous’.  And worse yet, there was a literally fatal flaw in all this slow-moving indolence: the most notable aspect of the Malay character, our gin-swiller would have had it as the sweat dribbled down his rosy cheeks, was their capacity to go on an unprovoked, motiveless rampage at a moment’s notice, to slash and stab with darkened eyes.

‘These acts of indiscriminate murder are called mucks,’ it was explained, ‘because the perpetrators of them, during their frenzy, continually cry out amok, amok, which signifies kill, kill’:

When the cry ‘amok! amok!’ is raised, people fly to the right and left for shelter, and after the blinded madman’s kris has once ‘drunk blood,’ his fury becomes ungovernable, his sole desire is to kill; he strikes here and there, he stabs fugitives in the back, his kris drips blood, he rushes on yet more wildly, blood and murder in his course; there are shrieks and groans, his bloodshot eyes start from their sockets, his frenzy gives him unnatural strength, then all of a sudden he drops, shot through the heart, or from sudden exhaustion, clutching his bloody kris.

This idea of Malays spontaneously combusting in the street without warning seemed almost designed to encourage contemptuous unease amongst Europeans.  In colonial Southeast Asia the very word amok was enough to set an Englishman trembling in his boots.

National Method of Suicide


Exotic: Southeast Asia through European eyes

Amok does not, in fact, ‘signify kill, kill’.  It is the root of a proper Malay verb which could best be translated as quite simply ‘to run amok’.

Accounts and explanations of the practice abound.  It was, one Englishman declared, ‘the Malay national method of committing suicide’, for they were never known to kill themselves in more conventional fashion.  Special – and especially brutal – methods of dealing with it were put in place.

In VOC Batavia, ‘In order, if possible to take them [the amok-runners] alive, the officers of justice are provided with a pole ten or twelve feet in length, at the end of which is a kind of fork, made of two pieces of wood, three feet long, stuck on the inside with sharp iron spikes; this is held before the wretched object of pursuit, who runs into it, and is thus taken.’

If the madman somehow survived being impaled in this way, he was ‘immediately broken alive upon the wheel’.  If an officer managed to catch an amok-runner alive his reward was ‘very considerable’; if he killed them in the attempt, however, he got nothing more than a pat on the back.

In the face of such evidence, and such accounts, it seems hard to dispute that amok existed.  The idea must have left the more imaginative Englishmen in the Indies in a state of permanent paranoid panic;

the sight of a gaggle of listless locals reclining at the roadside would have been full of ominous threat.  ‘What if one of them goes, right now?’ they must have wondered, hurrying nervously onwards under the hot tropical sun. But peer a little closer, and cracks begin to appear in the idea of amok.

For a start, there was a certain disagreement over just who out of all the ‘Malays’ was most likely to leap up shrieking, kris in hand.  William Marsden, one of the greatest British orientalists of the early colonial era, a man based in Sumatra, declared that ‘It is not to be controverted that these desperate acts of indiscriminate murder, called by us mucks, and by the natives mongamo [mengamuk, the full verb], do actually take place, and frequently too, in some parts of the east (in Java in particular)’.  But Raffles disagreed, stating that ‘It is a mistake,

however, to attribute these acts of desperation to the Javans… That such have occurred on Java, even during the British administration is true, but not among the Javans: they have happened exclusively in the large towns… and have been confined almost entirely to the class of slaves’.  Anywhere but here, it seems (though Raffles’ assertion on this point is rather contradicted by an account of a Javanese retainer of the toppled Sultan ‘running amok’ in Yogyakarta the night after the British sacked and looted the kraton).

And then there was the question of the process itself.  Though amok was always presented as an utterly unpredictable moment of madness, many of the accounts mentioned preparatory imbibing of opium or arak, which instantly turns terrifyingly spontaneity into something else entirely, something much less exotic.  If amok represented some unidentifiable breaking point in ‘the Malay character’, then how could people plan to do it in advance, and how on earth could people plan to do it en masse?  Yet all too often accounts speak of ‘bodies of Malays’ having ‘resolved to run amok’ together.

Very often these ‘bodies’ were simply soldiers opposing a party of European invaders – fighting with suicidal bravery and determination.


Berserk: The chilly Norse version of ‘amok’

Finally, there’s the idea that amok is unique to that much maligned Malay character.  There is considerable evidence that the word itself, and perhaps the idea of a mass military amok too, comes not from Southeast Asia, but from southern India.

In its four pages dedicated to the subject, Hobson Jobson, the great dictionary-encyclopaedia of the British Empire in Asia comes up with more examples of the practice from non-Malays than Malays: everyone was running amok from Sikh soldiers to Turks on the Black Sea, from the son of an Indian raja to a Spanish sailor in Liverpool…

Old Rope

Drunks, madmen and opium addicts have gone on the rampage on streets the world over since time immemorial, and they still do today (all too often with an automatic assault rifle in hand, it seems).  The idea of suicidally brave soldiers repeats in the Japanese kamikaze, and amok has both an absolute equivalent and a perfect synonym in berserk, drawn not from treacherous Asian natives, but from bearskin-clad Norsemen who fought in a furious trance.


The Indian Rope Trick: complete with eyewitnesses

In the 19th century Southeast Asia could be a violent place – and it still can be today.

Local cultures certainly did encompass the idea of possibly dangerous trances (the performers of the darker dance-dramas in Bali and Java,

for example, are supposed to go into a trance), the concept of ‘being entered by a demon’, and the notion of supernatural invulnerability in battle (easily confused, perhaps, with the near-superhuman strength of someone going berserk).  What was more, the very real local notions of decorum and good conduct meant that the universal point at which tempers are lost was rarely preceded in the Indies by the kind of demonstrative preliminary bluster familiar in uncouth English bar rooms.   But for all its exotic potency, take a magnifying glass to the idea of amok, and the dark eyes and spontaneous rampages all too often resolve themselves as little more than a drunken rage,

a cold-headed assassination attempt or a conventional riot, born of the frustrations of indigenous oppression or the heavy yoke of European colonialism.

Amok, in part at least, is perhaps not unlike the infamous myth of the Indian Rope Trick: repeat an exotic story often enough, especially if it is full of magic or barbarism, and eyewitnesses will begin to rise miraculously from the basket, like a lot of old rope…




By the time Sultan Amangkurat I  died in 1677 Mataram was a mess.  He had fallen out with his own heir; Gunung Merapi had erupted violently; there had been famines and earthquakes, and a rampaging rebel prince from Madura had sacked the Mataram court.

The Dutch VOC too had been drawn into Mataram matters for the first time as mercenaries and powerbrokers, and they played that role ever more often as the succession continued over the coming decades.  It was not necessarily something they wanted to do – the Javanese often invited them in.


The second Amangkurat moved the Mataram capital to Kartasura, halfway between Merapi and Mount Lawu, but despite this new and auspicious location the troubles continued.  There were more rebellions, more courtly intrigues, more ham-fisted VOC meddling, and more disputed successions.

However, the court was still in possession of powerful pusaka, the energy-laden heirloom regalia that fuelled legitimacy (in 1678 they had added the golden crown of the Majapahit kings to their collection), and as far as anyone knew the successive rulers were still regularly consorting with the Queen of the Southern Ocean.

That all brought a certain mystic authority to the throne of Mataram that was not to be taken lightly, no matter how much of a state the temporal realm was in.


In September 1687,

665 slaves were exported by the English from Fort St. George, Madras. The Dutch decision to participate was belated for the boom ended as abruptly as it had started as a result of the abundant rice harvest in early 1689. Finally, in 169496, when warfare once more ravaged South India, a total of 3,859 slaves were imported from Coromandel by private individuals into Ceylon.`

Vink goes on to elaborate that ‘after 1660 relatively more slaves came from the second circuit or sub-region, Southeast Asia. Warfare and endemic raiding expeditions provided a steady supply of slaves from the region`s stateless societies and microstates, especially after the collapse of the powerful sultanate of Makassar (Goa) in Southwest Sulawesi (1667/1669). The slave trade network in the archipelago revolved around the dual axis of Makassar and Bali. Makassar was the main transit port for slaves from Borneo (Kalimantan), Sulawesi, Buton (Butung), and the northeastern islands, as well as the eastern Tenggara islands (Lombok, Sumbawa, Bima, Manggarai, and Solor). The kingdoms of Bali were not only independent slave exporters, but also re-exported slaves from eastern Indonesia as far as New Guinea (Irian Jaya). Of almost 10,000 Indonesian slaves brought to Batavia by Asian vessels between 1653 and 1682, 41.66% (4,086) came from South Sulawesi, 23.98% (2,352) from Bali, 12.07% (1,184) from Buton, 6.92% (679) from the Tenggara islands, and 6.79% (646) from Maluku (Ambon and Banda).`

This post shows just the surface of the complexity of roots that exist behind those who were labelled Cape Malays in the Cape Colony, a term that has been accepted by some and rejected by others. Both Christian Coloured people and Muslim Coloured people have these roots that were dubbed ‘Cape Malay`, but which have a very strong Indian Hindu background as well as roots amongst islanders practicing animist beliefs and even Catholic converts of the Portuguese. Conversion to Islam largely took place in Cape Town when Muslim rebellious nobles, political and religious leaders captured in the East were exiled to the Cape. They had a profound and positive influence on the enslaved and offered social coherence and comfort in dire circumstances. The ‘Cape Malay` construct is here to stay but we should ensure that the historical distortions are cleared up so that all Coloured people may celebrate the hidden layers of cultures that are part of who we were and are. The Indian and multifaceted Indonesian Archipelago roots can be celebrated by us all and should not be allowed to be ghettoised .


Why they signed on for the VOC 1)

Reading the Journael of the Ongeluckige Voyagie van ‘t Jacht de Sperwer (the unhappy voyage of the jaght the Sperwer) makes one wonder what made people throw themselves in an adventure like this. One may consider the shipwrecking of the Sperwer and the involuntary stay of the surviving crew as a company accident, but who enlisted as a sailor on a VOC ship, should have known that one exposed himself at a considerable risk.

Though the Heeren XVII did everything in their power to make these risks as small as possible. And not totally without success. The health conditions of the crew for instance became little by little better. Around the middle of the seventeenth century contagious diseases like cholera, didn’t occur more on board of the ships than in contemporary Amsterdam.

From the records which have been kept, we know that he, who survived the first journey, made statistically a good chance to keep up for years. According to present standards these ships would have been hardly called seaworthy. Nevertheless it appeared from the ‘daghregisters‘ (daily records) in which the departures and arrivals of the ships were written down, that from the so-called return ships on route to the Indies in two centuries only two percent perished. From the ships on their way home only four percent didn’t return. So it is well possible that the perspective of being separated for a long time from family and acquaintances was a bigger drawback for signing on then the fear of possible dangers. But maybe was the desire for adventure sometimes bigger than the family ties. According to Arthur van Schendel the scent of pepper and nutmeg, which floated around the warehouses of the VOC, turned into many a young man’s head, and they let themselves seduce by the exiting stories which old seamen told, while sitting on their “lie benches”. This might have played a role. But the most important reason to take service with the VOC, will have been poverty.

A research done by the Department of Agricultural History of the former Agricultural Academy of Wageningen, shows that in the period, which is called in the History books of the Netherlands: the Golden Age, many civilians suffered from hunger. And for these people a VOC-contract meant a living. In the 17th century the social lower classes in Holland were better fed then in the rest of Europe, but hunger amongst them was not a rare occurrence.

In 1653,

the year in which the unhappy voyage of the Sperwer took place, many failed grain harvests in the East-Sea countries and war violence on the North-Sea (first English War) led in many cities of the Republic to severe shortage of food. J.A. Faber, Death and Famine in Pre-Industrial Netherlands (1980).

It appeared that when life circumstances of the lower class improved little by little, less and less Hollanders seemed to be willing to sign in as a sailor at the VOC. In the beginning of the 18th century only the officers on most VOC-ships were still Hollanders. The rest of the crew members were Scottish, Scandinavian or other immigrant workers. And already in the 17th century conjunctural fluctuations caused problems with getting people to sign on. Sometimes the shipbuilding industry of the VOC competed with the shipping industry. When many ships had to be built, there was much employment and this created a lack of sailors.

Then some coercion had to be practiced. Everywhere recruiters were active. With fine words and empty promises they appeased the doubters and irresolutes. A contract was signed easily. Illiterate, and those were the most, could suffice with putting a cross. How much would be known to them of the contents of the contract? Who signed once, stayed usually loyal to the VOC. Who was strong and didn’t drown, because the sea demanded its toll as well, completed his tour of duty and signed on for the next period. Because it was not easy to find a job ashore, and who had been at sea for a long time could not thrive well as a landlubber.

Few happy ones made a career, and became eventually a skipper. Ex-captains of the VOC sometimes had beautiful dwellings build in their place of birth. They had made it, but the rest just remained a motley crew.

How a jaght was designed.

In the course of the 16th century the appearance of the newly build ships changed somewhat. It became fashionable to build a new-built ship as a Spiegelschip (a ship with a straight stern, a transom). The types themselves didn’t change though, and it was quite possible to see two ships that were of the same type, but nonetheless were different, since only the newer ship would have a transom

By the end of the 16th century smaller, fast, but usually completely rigged, transomships, whatever their type, are indicated by the merchant navy with the word “jaght” (yacht, which is derived from the Dutch word: jacht, it means hunt, hunter, but also speed and in the latter meaning it was used for the ship).


Well-known jaghts are the Duyfken, which partook in a voyage to the Indies under the command of Cornelis Houtman in 1595, the Halve Maen, which Hudson sailed to North America in 1609, and the Sperwer, its voyage being described before, ending in a shipwreck on the coast of Quelpaert in 1653. Since the Sperwer was launched in Amsterdam in 1648, which was the year of the Munster peace treaty, when it shipwrecked, it was only five years old.

By its build the Sperwer should be considered a “Vlieboot” (also called a vliet, a boat that could be sailed through the “Vlie“, i.e.. to open sea). The size of such seaworthy jaghts was between the 15 and 80 last (A last is a: A measure of volume for ships; and b: A measure of cargo/deadweight capacity; a last is 2000 kg), at a maximum length of 135 voet (A voet is a measure of length; a Rijnlandse voet is about 30 cm) and a width of 25 voet. The water replacement was around the 540 tons.

The rigging consisted of three masts; a square rigged jibmast (or mast with a foresail), a big mast, a mizzen with a gallant, a topsail and a Latin sail. Jaghts were designed for the transportation of artillery.

Jaght” was not an absolute type indication but a relative one. A jaght was built more for speed, where other ships of the same type would be built more for transport. A jaght would therefore have had smaller hold, and less guns. It would still have been armed, though: The jaght the Sperwer had 30 pieces on board, which actually made it for a jaght rather heavily armed.

That “jaght” is not the name of a fixed type is demonstrated by the fact that sometimes the smallest type of warship was called “jaght” as well, though it was more commonly indicated as “pinnace“. Usually, however, the name was limited to the types directly below the warships in size.

Apparently sometimes even the transom was not considered a requirement. At least, this is apparently the only way to explain the occasional mix-ups with the transom-less Flutes [a a narrow type of ship also called a flyship], such as the following one:



Journael van ‘t geene de overgebleven officierin ende Matroosen van ‘t Jacht de Sperwer ‘t zedert den 16en Augustus A° 1653: dat ‘tselve Jacht aan ‘t quelpaerts eijland (staande onder den Coninck van Coree) hebben verlooren, tot den 14en September A° 1666 dat met haar 8en onvlught, ende tot Nangasackij in Japan aangecomen Zijn, Int selve Rijk van Coree is wedervaeren, mitsgaders den ommeganck van die natie ende gelegentheijt van ‘t land


Journal of what happened to the remaining officer(s) and sailors of the jaght the Sperwer, since August 1653. They lost the same ship off the island of Quelpaert (reigned by the King of Coree). Until September 14, 1666, when eight of them have fled and arrived at Nagasaki in Japan. What had happened to them in the same kingdom of Coree, the manners of the country and the circumstances of the country

Then follows, in a third handwriting, the actual Journael. Whether this is the handwriting of Hendrick Hamel or of a clerk, who copied the Journael in Batavia, cannot be retrieved anymore. Hamel starts his Journael as follows:



Naer dat wij bij d’Ed=e. Hr. gouverneur en d’E. H=ren raden van India naer Taijoan waren gedestineert, soo sijn op den 18en Junij 1553 met bovengenoemde Iacht vande rheede van Batavia ‘tzeijl gegaen, op hebbende d’E. Hr. Cornelis Caesar om’t gouvernement van Taijoan, Formosa , met den aencleven van dien te becleden, tot vervangh van d’E

After that we by the honorable Mr. governor-general and the honorable Mr. Councils of the Indies were destined for Tayoan, so did we go under sail on June 18, 1553 on the above mentioned jaght, from the roadstead of Batavia. On board were also honorable Mr. Cornelis Caesar, to take over the government of Tayoan, to hold this office, to replace the honorable.

B. The text editions of the Journael

/ Van de ongeluckighe Voyagie / van ‘t Jacht de Sperwer/ van Batavia ghedestineert na Tayowan/ in ‘t / Jaer 1653. en van daer op Japan; hoe ‘t selve Jacht door storm op het / Quelpaerts Eylandt is gestrant/ ende van 64. personen/ maer 36. / behouden aen het voornoemde Eylant by de Wilden zijn gelant: / Hoe de selve Maets door de Wilden daer van daen naer het / Coninckrijck Coeree zijn vervoert/ by haer genaemt Tyos/cen-koeck; Alwaer sy 13 Jaren en 28 dagen in slaver-/nye onder de Wilden hebben gezworven/ zijnde in die / tijt tot op 16, NA aldaer gestorven/ waer van 8 Per-/sonen in ‘t Jaer 1666, met een kleyn Vaertuych / zijn ontkomen/ latende daer noch 8. Maets /sitten/ende zijn in ‘t Jaer 1668. in het / Vaderlandt gearriveert. / Alles beschreven door de Boeckhouder van ‘t voornoemde / Jacht de Sperwer/ genaemt / HENDRICK HAMEL van Gorcum. / [Schip in woodcut] / Tot Amsterdam/ gedruckt by JACOB VAN VELSEN / in de Kalverstraet/ / aen de Ossesluys/Anno 1668.

8 sheets, sign. A2-A5, 4o alternating Gothic en Roman letter types. On the reverse side of the title on top the Namen van de acht Maets die van ‘t Eylandt Coeree af gekomen zijn. (names of the eight mates coming from the island Coeree) and the “Namen van de acht Maets die daer noch zijn.  (Names of the eight mates who are still there)

JOURNAEL, / Van de ongeluckighe Voyagie / van ‘t Jacht de Sperwer/ van Batavia ghedestineert NA Tayowan/ in ‘t / Jaer 1653. En van daer op Japan; hoe ‘t selve Jacht door storm op het / Quelpaerts Eylandt is gestrant/ ende van 64. personen/ maer 36. / behouden aen het voornoemde Eylant by deWilden zijn gelant: / Hoe de selve Maets door de Wilden daer van daen naer het / Coninckrijck Coeree zijn vervoert/ by haer genaemt Tyo-/cen-koeck; Alwaer zy 13 Jaren en 28 dagen in slaver-/nye onder de Wilden hebben gezworven/ zijnde in die / tijt tot op 16. NA aldaer gestorven / waer van 8 Per-/sonen in ‘t Jaer 1666. met een kleyn Vaertuych / zijn ontkomen/ latende daer noch 8. Maets / sitten/en de zijn in ‘t Jaer 1668 in het / Vaderlandt gearriveert. / Alles beschreven door de Boeckhouder van ‘t voornoemde / Jacht de Sperwer/ genaemt / HENDRICK HAMEL van Gorcum./[Schip in houtsn.] / Tot Amsterdam/ Gedruckt by JACOB VAN [VELSEN / in de Kalverstraet/] / aende Ossesluys/An[no 1668.]

8 sheets, sign. A2-A5, 4o alternating Gothic en Roman letter types. On the reverse side of the title on top the “Namen van de acht Maets die van ‘t Eylandt Coeree AF gekomen zijn.” (Names of the eight mates coming from the island Coeree) and the “Namen van de acht Maets die daer noch zijn.” (Names of the eight mates who are still there)

JOURNAEL, / Van de Ongeluckige Voyagie van ‘t Jacht de Sperwer/ van / Batavia gedestineert NA Tayowan/ in ‘t Jaar 1653

. En van daar op Japan; hoe ‘t selve / Jacht door storm op ‘t Quelpaarts Eylant is ghestrant/ ende van 64. personen / maar 36. / behouden aan ‘t voornoemde Eylant by de Wilden zijn gelant: Hoe de selve Maats door / de Wilden daar van daan naar ‘t Coninckrijck Coeree sijn vervoert/ by haar ghenaamt / Tyocen-koeck; Alwaar zy 13. Jaar en 28. daghen/ in slavernije onder de Wilden hebben / gesworven/ zijnde in die tijt tot op 16, NA aldaar gestorven/ waer van 8. Persoonen in / ‘t Jaar 1666. Met een kleen Vaartuych zijn ontkomen/ latende daar noch acht / Maats sitten/ ende zijn in ‘t Jaar 1668. In ‘t Vaderlandt gearriveert. / Als mede een pertinente Beschrijvinge der Landen/ Provin-/tien/ Steden ende Forten/ leggende in ‘t Coninghrijck Coeree: Hare Rechten/ Justitien / Ordonnantien/ ende Koninglijcke Regeeringe: Alles beschreven door de Boeck-/houder van ‘t voornoemde Jacht de Sperwer/ Ghenaamt / HENDRICK HAMEL van Gorcum. / Verciert met verscheyde figueren. / [houtsnede: de schipbreuk van de Sperwer] / Tot Rotterdam, / Gedruckt by JOHANNES STICHTER / Boeck-drucker: Op de Hoeck / van de Voghele-sangh/ inde Druckery/1668. 
16 sheets, 20 + 12 pages, sign. A – D, 4o Gothic letter type. On the reverse side the name lists (titles and spellings peculiarities as in the last edition-van Velsen ). The journal fills page. 3-20. In the text 7 rather rude woodcuts, which are used on this webiste as well: presenting the capture (page. 5) penal exercise (page. 8), crossing in four Korean ships (page. 9), in front of the King (page. 11), forced labor (page. 13), flight in a ship (page. 18), arrival at the Dutch fleet in Japan (page. 20). After the  Journael a new title: Beschryvinge / Van ‘t Koninghrijck / Coeree, / Met alle hare Rechten, Ordon-/nantien, ende Maximen, soo inde Politie, als / inde Melitie, als vooren verhaelt, / [Ornament woodcut] / Anno M.DC.LXVII J.

‘t Oprechte JOURNAEL, / Van de ongeluckige Reyse van ‘t Jacht de / Sperwer, / Varende van Batavia NA Tyoman NA Fer-/ mosa/ in ‘t Jaer 1653. En van daer NA Japan/ daer / Schipper op was REYNIER EGBERTSZ . van Amsterdam. / Beschrijvende hoe het Jacht door storm en onweer op Quelpaerts Ey-/lant vergaen is/ op
hebbende 64. Man/ daer van 36. aen Lant zijn geraeckt/ en gevan-/gen genomen van den Gouverneur van ‘t Eylant/ die haer als Slaven NA den Coninck / van Coree dede voeren/ alwaer sy 13. Jaren en 28. dagen hebben in Slaverny moeten blij-/ven/ waren in die tijdt tot op 16. nae gestorven: Daer van acht persoonen in ‘t Jaer 1666. / Met een kleyn Vaertuygh zijn ‘t ontkomen/ achterlatende noch acht van haer Maets: / En hoe sy in ‘t Vaderlandt zijn aen gekomen Anno 1668. In de Maent July. / [Schip in houtsnede] / t’ Amsterdam, Gedruckt / By GILLIS JOOSTEN SAAGMAN, in de Nieuwe-straet/ / Ordinaris Drucker van de Zee-Journalen en Landt-Reysen.

20 sheets, 40 numbered pages, sign. A – E, 4o Gothic typeface, 2 columns. On the reverse side of the front is a big woodcutde Faam,” printed by van Sichem, which has been printed in several older Journael editions of Saagman as well. The name on the globe has been replaced with the word d’Atlas. Under the picture is a rhyme of six lines:
Ghy die begeerigh zijt yets Nieuws en vreemts te lesen,
(You, who are desirous to read something new and strange)
Kond’ hier op u gemack, en in u Huys wel wesen,
(Can here, at ease and being well in your house)
En sien wat perijckelen dees Maets zijn over g’komen,
(And see what perils these mates had occurred)
Haer Schip dat blijft door storm, gevangen zijns’ genomen,
(Their ship that stayed, by storm, taken prison)
In een woest Heydens landt; in ‘t kort men u beschrijft
(In a wild heathen country; in short being described to you)
Den handel van het volck, d’Negotie die men drijft.
(The conduct of the people and the trade one does)
Hier nae een Beter.
(Hereafter a better one.)

On Page 3 starts “de Korte Beschrijvinghe van de Reyse.” In some lines the departure from Texel (10 Jan.1653) and the arrival  in Batavia (2nd of June) is told, and after that, like in the manuscript and in other editions, the departure from Batavia and the rest of the journey. In the edition are only slight differences with the manuscript and the other editions. The description of Korea is here, like in the manuscript, in the middle of the Journal. In the margins are dates and short summaries placed and on page 30-31 in the enumeration of the animals, a short description is added, with two big pictures of elephants found in Asia and the crocodiles or caimans of which “in this country” many can be found. A marginal comment indicates that this is a “note to fill these two pages” (Nota tot vervullinghe van dese twee pagiens). The Journal doesn’t end, as with the other printers, with the arrival in Japan, but gives, like the manuscript, in some lines note of the stay there, the interrogation before the departure (without the text itself) of the trip to Batavia, as addition the presentation of the Journal to “Den Generael” and the arrival in Amsterdam on July 20, 1668. Both the name lists follow. In the text 6 prints and 5 engravings and a woodcut from the storage of Saagman: On page 4: a ship wreckage, used before in the journey of the Bontekoe; on page 7: a crowd of armed people a carriage with two horses, and two camels on their way to a reinforcement; on page 13: prisoners in front of an oriental monarch; on page 22Straffe der Hoereerders” (punishment of the whore-hoppers from the 2nd journey of Van Neck; in the filler on page 30 a woodcut of a big elephant, already used by Saagman in his edition of Van Linschoten’s Itinerario, and on page 31 a big engraving, depicting a landscape with crocodiles and casuarisses. Copies are the Royal Library in the Hague and in the Koch in Rotterdam.

JOURNAEL / Van de ongeluckige Reyse ‘t Jacht de / Sperwer, / Varende van Batavia NA Tyowan en Fer-/mosa/ in ‘t Jaer 1653. En van daer NA Japan/ daer /Schipper op was REYNIER EGBERTSZ. van Amsterdam. / Beschrijvende hoe het Jacht door storm en onweer ver:/gaen is/ veele Menschen verdroncken en gevangen sijn: Mitsgaders / wat haer in 16. Jaren tijdt wedervaren is/ en eyndelijck hoe / noch eenighe van haer in ‘t Vaderlandt zijn aen geko-/ men Anno 1668. In de Maendt July. / [woodcut with 2 ships] / t’ Amsterdam, Gedruckt / By GILLIS JOOSTEN SAAGMAN, in de Nieuwe-straet/,/ Ordinaris Drucker van de Zee-Journalen en LandtReysen.

20 sheets, 40 numbered pages, sign. A-E, 4o Gothic typeface, 2 columns. On the reverse side the Faam with the poem as in “‘t Oprechte Journael.” Also the text is similar except some spelling differences, literally the same. On page 7 is another engraving: a fort on the waterside and the filler on page 30/31 is changed. The big crocodile print is replaced by a smaller print of a “krackedil”, the marginal notes which indicated the filler as such, disappeared, and from the elephants is said that they are “hier”(here). Both descriptions have been made bigger to fill the space. A copy is in the collection Mensing in Amsterdam.

JOURNAEL, / Van de ongeluckige Reyse van ‘t Jacht de / Sperwer, / Varende van Batavia NA Tyowan en Fer-/mosa/ in ‘t Jaer 1653. En van daer NA Japan/ daer / Schipper op was REYNIER EGBERTSZ. Van Amsterdam. / Beschrijvende hoe ‘t Jacht door storm en onweer op Quelpaerts Eylant / vergaen is/ op hebbende 64 man/ daer van 36 aen landt zijn geraeckt/ en gevangen ghe:/nomen van den Gouverneur van ‘t Eylandt/ die haer als Slaven NA den Koningh van / Coree dede voeren/ alwaer sy 13 Jaren en 28 daghen hebben in slaverny moeten blijven; / waren in die tijdt tot op 16 NA gestorven: daer van 8 persoonen in ‘t 1666. met een kleyn / Vaertuygh ‘t ontkomen zijn/ achterlatende noch 8 van haer Maets: En hoe sy in ‘t/ Vaderlandt zijn aen-gekomen/ Anno 1668. In de Maent Julij. / [Ship with woodcut.] / t’ Amsterdam, / By GILLIS JOOSTEN ZAAGMAN, in de Nieuwe-straet / Ordinaris Drucker van de Zee-Journalen en Landt- Reysen

20 sheets, 40 numbered pages, sign. AE 4o Gothic letter type 2 columns. On the reverse side the Faam with the poem as in the other two editions Zaagman. Also the text is page by page similar. On page 7 the fort on the waterside; on page 22 the print is disappeared; on page 23, where the worship of the idols is mentioned, a big engraved portrayal is added, borrowed from Van Linschoten en Houtman (see Werken Linsch.-vereniging, VII, page 124); the whole page filling with both the prints (elephant and crocodiles) on page 30/31 has been removed; in it’s place on page 30/32 (4 columns) a “beschrijvinghe van des Konings Gastmael” (description of the kings host-meal) from the”Javaense Reyse gedaen van Batavia over Samarangh NA de Konincklijcke Hoofd-plaets Mataram, in den jare 1656“(Javanese journey done from Batavia via Samarang to the capital Mataram, in the year 1656) printed in Dordrecht in 1666, is added. The host meal “van den Sousouhounan, Grootmachtighste Koninck van ‘t Eyland Java” (of the Susuhan, great mighty king of the isle of Java) is without any clue, transferred to Korea. This copy was in Hoetinks time still in the Prussian State Library (Kgl. Bibliothek) in Berlin.

4. MINUTOLI (1670), ‘Relation du noufrage d’un vaiseau hollandois sur la Coste de l”Isle de Quelparts. Avec la Description de Royaume de Corée’.
Traduit de Flamande, par Monsieur Minutoli. A Paris, chez Thomas Jolly, au Palis, dans la Salle des Merciers, au coin de la Gallerie des prissonniers,   la Palme & aux Armes d’Hollande.

5. MICHAEL UND JOH. FRIEDRICH ENDTERS (1672), ‘Journal, oder Tagregister. Darinnen Alles Dasjenige was sich mit einem Holländischen Schiff das von Batavien aus nach Tayowan, und von dannen ferner nach Japan, reisfertig durch Sturm im 1653 Jahre gestranded, und mit dem Volk darauf so das Knigreich Corea gebracht worden nach begeben ordentlich beschrieben und erzehlt wird: von Heinrich Hamel von Gorkum, damaligem Buchhalter auf denjenigen Schiff SPERBER genannt’, aus dem Niederladischen verteutschet.
Mit. Rom. Kays. Majest. Freyheit. Nurnberg. In Verlegung Michael un Joh. Endters, im Jahre M.DC.LXXII

The daily record of Batavia tell us that December 11, 1667, ‘

Hendrick Hamel, gewesen boeckhouder (*) van het jagt de Sperwer, nevens nog seven 7 personen van gemelte jagt, den 28e November jongsteden met de FLUYT de Spreeuw is aengecomen‘. (Hendrick Hamel, former bookkeeper of the jaght the Sperwer , beside 7 other person of the mentioned jaght, did arrive on last November 28 with the FLUTE the Spreeuw). But in the Hollantsche Mercurius, XIX, 1668, page 113, it is written that ” ‘t JACHT de Spreeuw 20 Julij 1668 in Tessel wel gearriveert” (the jaght de Spreeuw had well arrived).

The flute itself was derived from the “Vlieboot“, but it was shaped longer, which may account for its name. The first flute was built in 1595 by Pieter Jansz. Liorne. Though Flutes did not have transoms, they were nevertheless built in two styles. Flutes sailing to England or sailing South had an ordinarily shaped deck. However, since Danish taxes were calculated in relation to the size of the deck, flutes sailing North or East were built with a relatively small deck and a bulky trunk, to lower the costs of visiting Norway or passing through the Sont.

It has been established, however, that at least the Sperwer was indeed a jaght. Like any ship in the service of the VOC, jaghts were primarily meant for the transport of merchandise. Furthermore, since they were fast ships, they were used to transport persons and messages, and occasionally ammunition.

The bigger part of the trunk was taken by holds for the cargo. This left little room for the crew, who were accommodated rather tightly. Most of the crew was quartered on the tween deck, an area where one could hardly stand up straight. Here the mates slept and used their meals. There were no beds, inner walls or closets; their personal possessions were kept in chests. In the bow were some primitive toilets, however, in heavy weather when the bow plunged into the waves these sanitary provisions could not be used.


The officers were accommodated slightly more comfortably. They slept in cabins near the stern of the ship. However, most officers had to share a cabin, sleeping in bunks or hammocks, and sharing a common room next to the
galley. The
bookkeeper had his own office with a writing desk, where writing was done standing up, and a closet for the ship papers and the money chest, of which chest both bookkeeper and skipper had a key.

The most beautiful cabin on the ship was the cabin for the skipper. This was located on deck at the rear of the ship. It had windows to the front as well as windows that looked out through the transom, to let in as much light as possible. The aft windows also gave the captain the only clear view aft on the whole ship, except for guard in the crow’s nest, and it must have been through those aft windows that skipper Reijnier Egberse of the jaght the Sperwer saw, by coincidence, on August 1, 1653, the island the jaght had drifted precariously close to.

Food and drinks aboard were plainly bad, at least for the common sailors. They ate porridge or grit and prunes cooked in butter in the morning, yellow peas or beans with salted meat, stock fish or bacon covered with a butter sauce or just bread in the afternoon for lunch. Often dinner was was just a concoction of the leftovers. Additionally they received per week half a pound of butter and five pounds of bread or ship’s biscuits. They ate in groups of seven from one bowl or plate. Daily they received a mutsje [=1.5 deciliter] of wine or jenever, and a liter of beer. After about five weeks the beer would go bad and they had to drink water which on it’s turn turned undrinkable very soon as well because of the tropical heat. Sometimes they stirred the water with a hot iron rod to try to kill the vermin, but in order not to eat the worms, bugs or insects, they had to drink the water with their teeth closed.

The officers on the other hand, received daily fresh meat and vegetables. There was life-stock aboard and aft there was a small vegetable garden with herbs and other greens. They ate with pewter tableware in the cabin of the skipper.

The Lords XVII were strict in their orders about the hygiene aboard. The holds had to be aired on a regular base. It had to be fumigated with gunpowder and juniper berries and afterwards sprinkled with vinegar. The bunk linens had to be aired regularly on deck and between decks had to be cleaned with the fire-hose. The rotten keel water under in the ship, the bad hygiene and the fact that people sometimes took a crap anywhere (although heavily fined), was a breeding ground for diseases. Not to forget the fact that people didn’t wash themselves.

The one-sided food and the hygiene were a cause for many diseases. There was a lack of vitamins and scurvy and beriberi were common. The gums rotted and the legs got swollen, often the patient just died, since the barber was most of the times not a good doctor. When the Cape of Good Hope was opened as a refreshing station and also when ships took pots with fresh herbs along, scurvy was not the most important cause of dead and desease anymore, but other diseases like dysentery, spotted fever and typhoid fever were still rampant. Malaria was common in Asia as well.

Irregularities were severely punished. Blasphemy, inebriety and spilling food overboard, were fined, fighting, using dice or making them and gambling in general were usually punished with solitary confinement, flogging and when someone had been fighting, his hand was pinned to the mast with his own knife and he had to figure out how to free himself. Keelhauling was the punishement for insulting an officer. Mutiny and sodomy were considered fit for capital punishment. The culprits were just thrown overboard or hung from the yard. Murder was just punished if there happened to be a witness. There was a system with which there were three kinds of councils responsible for the discipline. The council of naval officers the so-called broad council and the militairy council for the soldiers aboard. Above all this stood the skipper or captain who had a final word in the verdict and could overrule the councils.

In the light of this information one should also read the Journael of Hamel. One should not only look at what he wrote, but also what he didn’t write.

Outside the territorial waters of the Republic, the skipper represented both the Company and the country of which his ship hoisted the flag. That’s why his cabin had a representative function and was furnished distinguishably. The skipper sometimes received highly placed guests over here. Important functionaries of the VOC, who sailed as passengers, used, with their family, this cabin as a day room. That’s why it was relatively spacey. On most of the jaghts there were two big cabinets, in which glassware, crockery and cutlery was stored. In the other the sea charts were stored. These were in brass cases. There was also a list, on which all the charts were mentioned, which was signed by the skipper. Because the skipper paid deposit for the charts, which was refunded when he handed back the undamaged charts after the journey.


Example of a hand-drawn chart like they were used in the 17th century on board of the VOC-ships.

Initially all these charts were made in Amsterdam. Later there was a map manufactory in Batavia. The charts were drawn by hand. They had only the coastlines with all the bays, coves and shoals. Again some time later the professional cartographers also published charts.. Of course these were printed.

They were beautifully decorated with mythological characters, like the sea god Neptune, depictions of existing or legendary animals and of ships. On board there were a limited number of navigational instruments, amongst which a compass, the cross staff, the back staff, and the mariners astrolabe. They formed the set of instruments that 17th century Dutch mariners used to measure altitude of objects and calculate latitude. The longitude could be determined with a clock, based on the determined latitude. The first marine clock however, did not appear until 1735, invented by John Harrison and it was 40 years later that Harrison developed a clock that won the prize from the English Board of Longitude. Marine chronometers were exceedingly rare aboard ships until well into the 19th century. Oceanic sailors used dead reckoning and empirical measures to determine longitude. Dead reckoning was a deductive way of reckoning; estimating location and speed using a variety of different methods including wind, waves, bird sightings, and current. Dutch ships of the 17th century did not carry sextants, which were not invented until about 1760. Even then, it was not practical until mechanical dividing machines were developed about 1775. The octant was more commonly used, with the sextant coming into greater use in the 19th century.

The octant came into being in the early 18th century (1730s) 1).

In the 10th century, Abd al-Rahmân b. Umar al-Sufî(d. 986-7) wrote 386 chapters, describing 1000 uses for the astrolabe, including finding latitude. Chaucer wrote the first English technical manual (1391?) on the astrolabe with similar procedures for solar sightings. Altitude readings could be taken with any available instrument and then applied to an astrolabe to use it as an analog calculator rather than a sighting instrument.

The cross-staff in use was a simple device that worked reasonably well for measuring the angle of the sun above the horizon at noon. It was fitted with one movable vane (transversally) that, with the end of the staff placed at the eye of the observer, was positioned so that it appeared to touch both the horizon and the sun. The angle was then read from a scale on the staff.

The mariner’s astrolabe in common use by the Dutch seamen at the time was a wheel-shaped, cast-brass instrument of perhaps 17 to 20 centimeter in diameter with a thumb ring at the top. The ring mount was designed to allow the instrument to hang vertically plumb and to provide for precise rotational control by the user. The disk was divided into four quadrants, two or more of which had scales divided into 90 degrees each. The astrolabe had a rotating sighting arm (alhidada), mounted through the center. Though the astrolabe offered a reliable and accurate method of measuring altitude, the mariner’s ability to read the degree scales along the rim was a limiting factor on the precision of the observation. Since each degree division for a 17 cm diameter instrument was only about one centimeter, the mariner could read the angle only to the nearest half degree. As with the quadrant, the mariner’s ability to make an astrolabe sighting at sea could be completely frustrated by movement of the ship.

A barometer was neither on board, this instrument was only invented in 1643 by the Italian Toricelli.

It didn’t belong to the standard equipment of the VOC-ships in the 17th century. A thermometer was missing as well. Celsius made his scale division only in the year 1742. Because these instruments were missing, a hurricane announced itself often, for crew and skipper alike, totally unexpected

A trip to the Indies of a return convoy

jaghts like the Sperwer made their journey from Holland or Zeeland to the East-Indies only once in their existence.

They stayed there subsequently to maintain the connection between the several factories.

The connection with the mother country was done by the so-called return-ships. These were much bigger than the jaghts, sometimes twice as big. During a trip to and from the East-Indies, they sailed always in convoy. Such a convoy was called a return-fleet.
Most return-fleets had Amsterdam as their home port. The ships from Amsterdam sailed out of the
IJ via the Zuiderzee to the roadstead of Texel. There they waited for the ships from Hoorn and Enkhuizen. Then the convoy sailed southward till the mouth of the Meuse. Here the ships from Rotterdam and Delft/Delftshaven joined the convoy. From there they sailed further until the mouth of the Scheldt, where they waited for the ships from Middelburg. Only after all the ships had joined, the journey started.
One of the skippers, most of the time somebody from Amsterdam, was in command of the convoy. He was called the commander and his ship the flagship.




A critical phase was passing the Iberian peninsula. To limit the chance of meeting a Spanish or Portuguese convoy, a western course was followed via the Cape-Verdian Islands and the Azores Islands. Off these islands, on the African coast there was a Hollands factory called Goree (see part of the map from 1806, nowadays Dakar. Click on it to see the whole map) . The convoy anchored here; fresh water, vegetables and fruits were taken in and messages exchanged. But nobody was allowed to leave the ship. Most of the times the convoy sailed on in 24 hours.

Usually the next place where the convoy anchored was the factory Elmina on the Ivory Coast (Jan Boonstra has been in Elmina and says it’s on the Goldcoast, nowadays Ghana). Thus some other factories were frequented and finally the convoy arrived after several months in Cape Town, where it stayed for at least one month. Everybody embarked and before they sailed on, the ships were cleaned thoroughly. There were almost always sick persons who had to stay behind. Sometimes there were so many sick persons that one of the ships had to stay behind as well.

Now the most dangerous part of the journey began: the crossing from Cape of Good Hope to the Island of Java, right across the Indian Ocean. It started already right east of Cape Town, in the area where the treacherous Cape storms raged (The Portuguese called the cape for a while Cape of Storms, but then the sailors didn’t want to go there anymore, so John II renamed it to Cape of Good Hope). When the convoy came into a hurricane, the skippers not rarely stayed on their post for days in a row.

While the mates worked in shifts and were regularly relieved, the skippers didn’t get out of their clothes. A myth had to be kept up. (Think of the myth of the flying Dutchman) If a skipper would hand over his task to his coxswain, the mates might conclude that he was just as well or maybe even better than the skipper. When the convoy had passed the area of the Cape storms, soon the island of Mauritius came into sight.

This island was conquered in 1598 by the Hollanders.

It was called Mauritius after the then Stadtholder Maurits of Nassau. The trip was interrupted for the last time over here. As much fresh water as possible was taken in and furthermore some fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. Damage caused by the storm was repaired over here. After that the journey continued. For several weeks after that, the persons on board didn’t see anything else than sky and water. Especially a lot of water. Sometimes towering waves. Like tiny nutshells the ships of the convoy floated on the immeasurable ocean. In the middle of the day it was often unbearably hot, the pitch ran out the splits.

To protect themselves against the burning sun, pieces of sails were stretched horizontally over the deck. The mates walked half-naked, but the skipper stood completely dressed on the castle. He even kept on his hat. The decorum demanded that.

At the end of the journey, there was often lack of certain foods. Cockroaches seemed to have eaten the beans and peas, worms were crawling in the flour and the drinking water started to smell. Though there was a regular hunt at rats, their numbers remained constant. The mates were also troubled by lice and fleas. On top of that they started to become bored, they longed to the end of the journey.

Everybody became overjoyed when the watch at the end of the journey of two months after Mauritius shouted: “Land a shore.”The commander and the other skipper skimmed the horizon with their binoculars. Had they sailed the right course? Or did the convoy go too much to the south and were they in front of the unknown Southland” terra australis?” The coast became clearer and clearer, the charts of street Sunda were taken out of their cases. On these was also a silhouette of the southwestern point of Java and of the south coast of Sumatra, as well as the small islands in-between. Finally the tension was broken. The convoy was in the entrance of Strait Sunda. Cheering went in the air. The mates received a drink. Carefully they sailed on. The first land birds were flying over the ship. On the horizon a dot appeared which became bigger and bigger. It appeared to be a VOC- jaght, which was on the outlook.

Some salute shots were exchanged, after which the jaght turned around and sailed to Batavia as fast as possible to report the arrival of the convoy.

The northwestern point of Java was rounded. They sailed that close to the coast that palm-trees could be seen with the bare eye. Some local ships appeared, fisherman boats and perahus. They passed Bantam. More ships could be seen. And there it was; the roadstead of Batavia. Again salute-shots were exchanged between the convoy and the batteries ashore. Some hours later the ships anchored. Relieved the bookkeeper of the flagship closed his Journael with the following words:


Heden den 18en Maij, zijn Godtloff, behouden te Batavia gearriveerd, na weijnigh tegenspoet, de Tijger, de Witte Leeuw, de Constantia en de Hollantsche Tuyn uyt Amsterdam, ‘t Wapen van Hoorn en de Westfrysia uyt Hoorn, de Lelie en de Vryheijt uyt Enkhuizen, De Hollandia uyt Rotterdam, De Spreeuw uyt Delft en het Wapen van Middelburg uyt Zeeland..



Today, May 18, safely arrived at Batavia , praise to the Lord, after little adversity, The Tijger , the Witte Leeuw , the Constantia and the Hollantsche Tuyn from Amsterdam, ‘t Wapen van Hoorn and the Westfrysia from Hoorn, the Lelie and the Vryheijt from Enkhuizen, the Hollandia from Rotterdam, the Spreeuw from Delft and the Wapen van Middelburg from Zeeland.

1) I want to thank William T. (Chip) Reynolds Captain of the Half Moon for some excellent remarks on this page especially about the instruments on board and some of the terminology. Also thanks to Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg who has sent email with corrections and additions. (Back to top)

Click on the image to learn more details about ship rigging and there you can also download the above uncompressed image (4,2Mb)

If you want to have an idea how the size of the sailors related to the size of the ship, follow this link (it also gives a good idea how small a boat like the Sperwer really was

Vink, 1657

The Vink sailed to Batavia with orders to search for survivors of the VOC ship Vergulde Draeck, which had hit a reef and sunk off the coast of Western Australia, about 100 kilometres north of present-day Perth, on 28 April 1656. After 75 survivors managed to struggle ashore, a crew of seven sailed to Batavia to raise the alarm. The Vink‘s rescue mission was unsuccessful.



Batavia 1656

Waeckende Boei and Emeloort, 1658

Joining the search for the Vergulde Draeck were the Waeckende Boei and Emeloort, commanded by Samuel Volkerson and Aucke Pietersz Jonck. They also failed to find any wreckage



A soldier of Amboina


The Macasser soldiers blow the poisons


The habit of Malayan and his Wife of Batavia


The Church of the cross of Batavia


The Fort of Ryswick


Hospital of  Batavia


Fish Market of Batavia


slaughter House Of Batavia








  • FrancoisValentijn (1666-1727): Batavia in ‘t Verschiet. Amsterdam 1726. Ca. 27 x 54cm. (private collection)
  • Arnoldus Montanus: Batavia (detail). From: Gedenkwaerdige Gesantschappen der Oost-Indische Maetschappy in’t Vereenigde Nederland, aen de Kaisaren van Japan […] Getrokken uit de Geschriften en Reiseaentekeninge der zelver Gesanten, door Arnoldus Montanus, t’ Amsterdam, By Jacob Meurs […] 1669. (private collection)
  • G. Leti: Waere affbeeldinge wegens het casteel ende stadt Batavia. Amsterdam 1681. Ca. 40 x 51 cm. (private collection)
    After Clement de Jonghe’s map on a smaller scale. Coastline comes to lie farer from the castle.
  • F. Halma: Batavia. Amsterdam 1705. 19 x 27 cm. Copied after Johannes Vingbooms.
  • Reinier & Josua Ottens: Afbeldinge van het casteel en de stadt Batavia […]. Amsterdam 1740. Ca. 40 x 49 cm, copied after Clement de Jonghe’s map of 1650.
  • Reinier Ottens (1698-1750), Josua Ottens (1704-1765)
  • Academie. Die innere Anssicht des Castells in Batavia. Augsburg 1750. Ca. 29 x 40 cm, handcoloured.


  • G. B. Probst: Vue de L’Hotel de Batavie. Augsburg 1750. Ca. 27 x 40 cm. (private collection)
    Optical print.The headquarter (Raadhuis) of the VOC in the center is nowadays used as the Jakarta Museum.



Batavia, circa 1670



het ommuurde oude Batavia (Benedenstad) in 1681 met het kasteel, inderdaad ligt het Noorden links


Vliegende Swaan, 1678

Captain Jan van der Wall mapped the north-west coast of New Holland in the Vliegende Swaan, from present-day Dampier to the Exmouth Gulf.



Batavia in 1682







Batavia 1683











The enterprise was not successful and the Company withdrew in 1683 or 84 returning in 1687 to establish a factory at Bencoolen on the S.W. coast of Sumatra; this later became a successful settlement.


St. Helena was a useful re-supply base on the long journey from Europe to the Indies



The Roebuck


Voyage to New Holland

Too late to take his preferred route via Cape Horn, Dampier departed England on January 14th 1699 for the Cape of Good Hope. Trouble had surfaced even before they left at Deptford, however, centring on acrimony between Dampier and his first Lieutenant George Fisher RN. One of his biographers Clennell Wilkinson indicates that from the moment of departure they were apparently;

‘behaving equally as boors without a spark of dignity or self-respect… alternately drinking together, backbiting one another to their confidants, and breaking into personal abuse and even fisticuffs in presence of the crew’

An inevitable state of indiscipline ensued, and en route Fisher was caned by Dampier, clapped in irons and confined to his quarters. The crew were divided on the matter and, concerned at the possibility of mutiny, Dampier had Fisher sent ashore and imprisoned at Bahia in Brazil.

Having regained control of the ship, Dampier then rounded the Cape of Good Hope, first making his landfall on the Australian continent at the place he subsequently named Sharks Bay on the mid-west coast.

Dampier, Australia’s First Natural Historian

There he collected many plants, shells and other specimens, and in full and detailed descriptions of the plant and animal life encountered, he was the first Englishman to do so. In also describing the landscape and soils and in describing the land and marine animals, some in scientific terms that are still in use today, Dampier deservedly earned himself the title Alex George has afforded him—‘Australian’s first natural historian.’ Dampier is not known to have been an artist, however, and the charming drawings in his A Voyage to New Holland are attributed to an unknown member of his crew, a man Dampier himself describes in the preface to his work as a ‘Person skill’d in Drawing’.



Of some importance to this narrative is Dampier’s comment that at;

‘Sharks Bay’ [now Shark Bay], the shore ‘was lined thick with many sorts of very strange and beautiful Shells…I brought away a great many of them…’. He also comments that further north, in what is now known as the Dampier Archipelago, ‘… I gather’d a few strange Shells, chiefly a sort not large, and thick-set all about with Rays or Spikes growing in Rows’.


After calling in to Timor, Dampier sailed around the northern part of New Guinea, naming it Nova Britannia (New Britain). Dampier Strait was subsequently named after him. Concerned at the state of his ship, at the end of March 1700, Dampier abandoned his plan to sail south to explore the eastern Australian coast, leaving these explorations to Lt James Cook RN well over half a century later. His reasons for doing so are evident in the following quote and here also appears the seed of his coming misfortune;

‘In the Afternoon I sent my Boat ashore to the Island, to see what convenience there was to haul our Vessel ashore in order to be mended…but we could not land. .I design’d to have stay’d among these Islands till I had got my pinnace refitted; but having no more than one Man who had skill to work upon her, I saw she would be a long Time in repairing; (which was one great Reason why I could not prosecute my discoveries further:)…’

Intending to touch again at New Holland (the west coast) in 20° latitude, he found himself too far west and then headed off in search of the elusive ‘Tryal Rocks’ scene of the loss of the English East India Company ship Tryal in 1622, the first known European ship lost on the Australian coast. Being sick and unable to continue, Dampier then elected to head for the nearest port Batavia, on west Java.


This vibrant entrepot was the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the centre of a vast trading network with links to China, Japan, India and Europe generally. A vast array of goods, including ceramics passed through this centre. Again this is of particular significance to this narrative.

Arriving at the end of June, Dampier then set about the repair of his vessel and again the cause of his change of plans and the reasons for the imminent demise of his ailing vessel at the hands of what appears to be an inept ship’s carpenter emerge.

‘… I supplied the Carpenter with such Stores as were necessary for refitting the Ship; which prov’d more leaky after he had caulk’d Her then she was before: So that I was obliged to carreen her, for which purpose I hired Vessels to take our guns, Ballast, Provision and Stores.’


A French view of New Holland c.1750. Note ‘Dampier Passage’, showing how close Dampier got to his goal: the exploration of the east coast.

The Loss of the Roebuck

On 17th October 1700, they left Batavia, arriving back at the Cape of Good Hope (another VOC centre) at the end of December, and departed thence on 11th January. On 2nd February, they anchored at St Helena till the 13th and then proceeded to Ascension Island, which they sighted on 21st February 1701.


Dampier’s account of the ensuing events reads thus:

An account of the loss of His Majesty’s Ship Roebuck February 21st 1700/1.

At three aclock in the afternoon being in Sight of the Island Ascension, and not having Light enough to carry us into the Bay where design’d to anchor, …we stood to the Eastward, At half an hour after 8 in the night we sprung a Leake on the larboard bow about four Strakes from the Keele, which oblig’d us to keep our Chain pump constantly going, at twelve at night having a moderate gale, we bore away for the Island and be daylight were close in with it, at nine aclock in the morning anchored in the N.W. bay in ten fathom and half water, sandy ground about half a mile from the shoare, the S. point of the bay bore S.S.W. dist. one mile and a half and the northernmost point, N.E.1/2 N.dist. two mile……


John Alcott’s impression of HM Ship Roebuck at Shark Bay

Being come to anchor I ordered the Gunner to clear his Powder roome, that we might there search for the Leake, and endeavour to stop it within board if possible, for we could not heele the Ship so low, neither was there any convenient place to haul her ashoare….

I ordered the Carpenter’s Mate…with the Boatswain and some others to goe downe and search for the Leake, the Carpenter’s Mate and the Boatswain told me that they could not come at it unless they cut the Ceiling, which I bid them doe, which done they found the Leake against one of the foothook timbers, it was very large, and the water gushed in with great violence… after the cutt the timber… the leake so increased…

I ordered a bulkhead to be cutt open to give passage to the water, and withall ordered to cleare away abaft the bulkhead, that we might beale…But about 11 aclock at night the Boatswain came to me, told me… that the Plank was quite rotten, and that it was now impossible to save the Ship…I therefore hoysted out the boate, and next morning, being the 23rd, we weigh’d anchor and warped in nearer the shoare, but to little purpose till in the afternoon we had a Sea breeze by which we gott in within a Cable’s length of the Shoare, then made a Raft to carry men’s chests and bedding ashoare., and before Eight at night most of them were gott ashoare, She struck not before nine aclock at night, and so continued, I ordered some sailes to be cut from the yards to make us some tents, etc, and the next morning being the 24th myself and Officers went ashoare…

(Additional information and details of events significant to the loss of the ship appeared in Dampier’s published account entitled A Voyage to New Holland that appeared a few years later, in 1703:)

…In the Afternoon, with the help of a Sea-breeze, I ran into 7 Fathom, and anchored; Then carried a small Anchor ashore, and warp’d in till I came into 3 Fathom and a half. Where having fastnd her, I made a Raft….

On the 26th following, we, to our great Comfort, found a Spring of fresh water, about 8 Miles from our Tents, beyond a very high Mountain, which we must pass over: So that now we were, by God’s Providence, in a Condition of subsisting some Time; having Plenty of very good Turtle by our Tents….The next Day I went up to see the Watering-place…where we found a very fine Spring on the South-East-side of the high mountain, about half a Mile from its top:…About 2 Mile South-East from the Spring, we found 3 or 4 shrubby Trees, upon which was cut an Anchor and Cable, and the year 1642….

[on 3 April] …appear’d 4 Sail, which came to anchor in this Bay. They were his Majesty’s Ships, the Anglesey, Hastings and Lizard; and the Cantebury East-India Ship. I went on board the Anglesey with about 35 of my Men; and the rest were dispos’d of into the other Men of War.

We sail’d from Ascension, the 8th…

From: William Dampier’s unpublished account of the loss of the “Roebuck.” (Public Record Office, Admiralty 1/5262) Dated 29 September, 1701


Kaempfer, Engelbert, 1651-1716

The History of Japan, giving an account of the ancient and present state and government of that empire; … Together with a description of the Kingdom of Siam(London, 1727) [Facsimile edition, Kyoto, Koseikaku, 1929]

Kaempfer was the physician to the Dutch Embassy at the Japanese Emperor’s court. He travelled to the East in 1688, and spent 1688 and 1689 visiting India, Ceylon, and the East Indies.

In 1690

Kaempfer left Batavia as physician in the Embassy being sent by the Dutch East India Company to Japan. They sailed via Siam, thus enabling Kaempfer to give a description of that country. He stayed for two years in Japan, leaving in November 1692. He had been assiduous in observing and travelling as much as possible while in Japan, and his book is partly history, and partly an account of his own travels in “the last Eastern country”.

Kaempfer describes the post-houses, inns and food establishments a traveller would encounter in Japan. Even “take-aways” were available.

There are innumerable Inns, Cook-shops, Sacki, or Ale-houses, Pastry-cook’s and Confectioner’s shops, all along the road, even in the midst of woods and forests, and at the tops of mountains, where a weary foot-traveller, and the meaner sort of people, find at all times, for a few farthings, something warm to eat, or hot Tea-water, or Sacki, or somewhat else of this kind, wherewithal to refresh themselves. ‘Tis true, these cook-shops are but poor sorry houses, if compar’d to larger Inns, being inhabited only by poor people, who have enough to do to get a livelihood by this trade: and yet even in these, there is always something or other to amuse passengers, and to draw them in; sometimes a garden and orchard behind the house, which is seen from the street looking thro’ the passage, and which by its beautiful flowers, or the agreeable sight of a stream of clear water, falling down from a neighbouring natural or artificial hill, or by some other curious ornaments of this kind, tempts People to come in and to repose themselves in the shadow; at other times a large flower-pot stands in the window, fill’d with flowering branches of trees, (for the flowers of plants, tho’ never so beautiful, are too common to deserve a place in such a pot,) dispos’d in a very curious and singular manner; sometimes a handsom, well-looking house-maid, or a couple of young girls well dress’d, stand under the door, and with great civility invite people to come in, and to buy something. The eatables, such as cakes, or whatever it be, are kept before the fire, in an open room, sticking to skewers of bambous, to the end that passengers, as they go along, may take them, and pursue their journey without stopping. The landladies, cooks and maids, as soon as they see any body coming at a distance blow up the fire, to make it look as if the victuals had just been got ready. Some busy themselves with making tea, others prepare the soop in a cup, others fill cups with Sacki, or other liquors to present them to passengers, all the while talking and chattering, and commending their merchandize with a voice loud enough to be heard by their next neighbours of the same profession (p. 426-127)

The illustration shows acupuncture needles, and a woman who has just undergone the procedure. Perhaps because he was a physician, Kaempfer devotes several pages to this treatment, particularly as a cure for Senki, a certain type of colic, “an endemial distemper of this populous empire




“A Malabar shewing tricks with Serpents,” from Johannes Nieuhof, “Voyages and travels, into Brasil, and the East Indies: containing an exact description of the Dutch Brasil, and divers parts of the East-Indies; their provinces, cities, living creatures, and products; the manners, customs, habits, and religion of the inhabitants: with a most particular account of all the remarkable passages that happened during the author’s stay of nine years in Brasil; especially, in relation to the revolt of the Portuguese, and the intestine war carried on there from 1640 to 1649. As also, a most ample description of the most famous city of Batavia, in the East-Indies,” 1693; in an edition from 1703



These coins of Sumatra were struck by the E.I.C.’s Bombay mint.
Top left: – silver 3 fanams (1693). Top right: – silver 2 fanams (1695).
Under left: – silver 1 fanam (1693). Under right: – copper 1 cash (1695).

The obverses use the “balemark” of the original London E.I.C. with an orb having a cross over. The letters inside the orb are said to stand for “G(overnor and) C(ompany of the Merchants of London trading to the) E(ast Indies)”. Often a “C” is used for a “G”.

Dr Iwan Also found this  EIC coin in  Bronze


These are the reverses of the previous Sumatra coins. The “Malay Arabic” is translated as “English Company”. The monetary system is 24 fanams = 1 Spanish dollar and 20 cash = 1 fanam. Value of a dollar fluctuated in some parts if the East Indies.


Geelvink, Nijptangh and Wieseltje, 1696

Commanded by Willem de Vlamingh, three ships were sent to look for the wreck of the VOC ship Ridderschap van Holland and explore New Holland. No trace of the ship was found but the expedition explored Rottnest Island, the mainland around the Swan River and landed on Dirk Hartog Island. Before heading for Batavia, de Vlamingh retrieved Hartog’s pewter plate and left one of his own in its place.

Dutch East India Company period – 17th to late 18th century


A map of Batavia showing step by step transformation from Jayakarta into Batavia.

The first type of colonial architecture grew from the early Dutch settlements in the 17th century, when settlements were generally within walled defences to protect them from attack by other European trade rivals and native revolt. Following the siege of Jayakarta (previously known as Sunda Kelapa) and its demolition by the Dutch in 1619, it was decided to build the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company on the site. Simon Stevin was commissioned to design a plan for the future settlement based on his concept of the ‘ideal city’. His response was a rectangular, walled town, bisected by the river Ciliwung which was to be channeled into a straight canal (later known as also known as Grote Rivier or Kali Besar or “Big River” in this area). This new city is called Batavia (now Jakarta). In accordance to Stevin’s model, the fortress of Batavia was the most prominent building in the city, symbolizing the center of power, while townhall, markets, and other public buildings were distributed. This layout of Jakarta can still be clearly recognized today in Jakarta Old Town through the layout of the streets and canals, although most of the original 17th structures had been destroyed or replaced with newer early 20th century structures.[2]

The architecture style of this period were the tropical counterparts of 17th century Dutch architecture. Typical features include the typically Dutch high sash windows with split shutters,[2] gable roofs,[2] and white-coral painted wall (as opposed to exposed brick architecture in the Netherlands). This earlier period of Jakarta had many of the buildings solidly built with relatively enclosed structures, a structure that is not very friendly to tropical climate as compared to the architecture of the next period in Jakarta.[2] Best example of these buildings were located along the Tygersgracht (now Jalan Muka Timur), all had been demolished.[2] Best surviving example is Toko Merah.

Several Portuguese colonial architecture also exist, usually outside the walled city of Batavia. Tugu Church and Sion Church, with its plain facade and domed windows, are some surviving examples.

In 1808, Daendels officially moved the city center to south because of the deteriorating condition of the inner town as well as the malaria outbreak. As a result, many buildings and structures from this period were left to deteriorated. Because of financial issues, many buildings were demolished in 19th century and the debris were used to construct newer structure in the south (such as the Palace of Governor-General Daendels (now the Financial Department of Indonesia) from the debris of Batavia Castle, and Batavia Theater (now Gedung Kesenian Jakarta) from the debris of the Spinhuis.

Later, these empty lots in Jakarta Old Town were filled with newer 20th century structures. Surviving 17th–18th structures were later converted as Jakarta’s cultural heritage, e.g. Toko Merah, Gereja Sion and Jakarta History Museum.

Other dominant architecture style from these period were the Chinese merchant houses, many were built during the 18th century.




BONTEKOE, W YZN., Journael, ofte Gedenkwaerdige Beschrijvinge van de Oost-Indische Reyse van Willem Ysbrantsz Bontekoe van Hoorn (1646). Reprinted as Prisma -pocket, Utrecht/Antwerpen 1971.
Jan Compagnie in Japan, 1600-1817 (1936).
The Dutch Seaborne Empire (1965).
Generale Missiven van gouwerneur-generaal en raden aan de heren XVII der Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (1975).
DAVIDS, K. et al.,
De Nederlands Geschiedenis als afwijking van het algemeen menselijk patroon (1988).
Holland in beroering. Oproeren in de 17e en 18e eeuw (1981).
Death and Famine in Pre-Industrial Netherlands , Low Countries Yearbook 13 (1980), pp 51-63.
Vasco da Gama und der Seeweg nach Indien (1964).
Magellan (1965).
The Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World (1982).
, J.H. VAN , Itinerario, voyage ofte schipvaert van J.H. van Linschoten naar Oost ofte Portugaels Indin, reprinted as Vol. II of the series of the Linschoten-Association (1910).
Reisgheschrift van de Navigatin der Portugaloyers in Orinten , reprinted as Vol. XLIII of the series of the Linschoten-Association (1939).
MANUSCRIPT Hamel, national archives (rijks archief Den Haag) archive number 1265
pages 1155 ~ 1179
De eerste Schipvaart der Hollanders naar Oost-Indi (1935).
Hollands welvaren? Levensstandaard in Holland 1450-1650 (1985).
Jan Peterszoon Coen en het Indi van zijn tijd (1952).
The Portuguese Pioneers (1943).
Jan Compagnie (1974).
The Embarrassment of Riches (1987).
Geschiedenis van Nederlands Indi (1939).
A History of Korea (1969).)
WITSEN , N. , Noord en Oost Tartarije, ofte bondig ontwerp van eenige dier Landen en Volken in de Noorder- en Oostelijkste Gedeelten van Asia en Europa, 2nd edition (1705).

WOUDE, A.M. VAN DER, The AAG-bijdragen and the study of rural history’ , in: The Journal of European Economic History, 4 (1975).

Many of these structures show eclectic mix of Dutch and Chinese influences.[2]


Sumatra and the Malay peninsula, 17th  century



After Iskandar’s death in 1636,

Acehnese influence began to contract, partly because Johor had found a new ally in the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC). The two joined forces in 1641 to drive the Portuguese from Melaka, and the Dutch then brokered a peace between Johor and Aceh which allowed Johor to recover its influence in Pahang.

In southern Sumatra, the arrival of Portuguese and later other European traders stimulated a massive expansion in the production of pepper. The most southerly pepper-producing region of Lampung was conquered by the western Java state of Banten in the second half of the 16th century and Banten’s influence also stretched up the west coast as far as Bengkulu. Further north on the east coast, pepper became the basis for a revival of the Palembang and Jambi regions, which had been the heart of Srivijaya. This prosperity, however, attracted the attention of the expansionist Javanese state of Mataram, which laid a general claim to Palembang in 1625 and sent a fleet in 1641–42 to force both Palembang and Jambi to become vassals of Java.

The Alienation (1601 – 1700)

(1601 – 1700)

1601 – Portuguese sent a fleet from Goa, India, to drive the Dutch from the Indies. The English set up fort at Banda. Aceh sends two ambassadors to Europe to observe and report on the situation to the Sultan. December 25-27: Five Dutch ships defeat the Portuguese fleet of 30 ships in battle in Banten harbour.

1602 – March 20: Dutch companies combine to form Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC); led by Heeren XVII representing different regions of the Netherlands; States-General gives VOC power to raise armies, build forts, negotiate treaties and wage war in Asia. VOC begins sending large, well-armed ships to the Indies (38 in the first three years). VOC establishes post at Gresik. Sir James Lancaster leads an (English) East India Company expedition, reaches Aceh, and builds a trading post at Banten.

1603 – Official VOC trading post founded at Banten.

1604 – English East India Company expedition under Sir Henry Middleton visits Ternate, Tidore, Ambon, and Banda.

1605 – Portuguese at Ambon surrender to ships under VOC and sends expeditions to Banda, Irian Jaya, northern Australia.

1606 – Spanish take Ternate and Tidore. VOC makes unsuccessful attack on Portuguese Melaka. VOC begins trading at Banjarmasin.

1607 – May: Sultan of Ternate appeals to the VOC for help against the Spanish. Aceh under Iskandar Muda and his successor, Iskandar Thani, was a center of Islamic scholarship and debate.

1609 – Portuguese fortress on Bacan falls to VOC.

1610 – Post of Governor-General is created for VOC in Asia, advised by Raad van Indie (Council of the Indies).

1611 – English begin setting up many posts in the Indies, including at Makassar, Jepara, Aceh and Jambi. Dutch set up post at Jayakerta.

1613 – April 18: Dutch take Solor from Portuguese. Portuguese Dominicans move headquarters to Larantuka, Flores. Iskandar Muda of Aceh defeats Johore, burns down the city, carries away the Sultan of Johore and VOC representatives. Mataram forces burn down Gresik; Krapyak asks VOC in Maluku for help against Surabaya. VOC sets up post at Jepara and first post on Timor.

1614 – Aceh wins naval battle against Portuguese at Bintan, continues on to attack Melaka. Johore throws out Aceh forces, creates alliance Palembang, Jambi, and other Sultanates against Aceh. VOC sends ambassador to Agung.


An attack in progress

1615 – VOC closes post at Gowa, hostilities drag on for years.

First Dutch Reformed church in the east founded at Ambon. English build warehouse at Jayakerta. Dutch abandon Solor after just two years.

During 1615-1616, the Schouten expedition became the first to sail around Cape Horn at the the southern tip of South America, then made the first visit by Europeans to many south Pacific islands. By the time they arrived in Batavia (Jakarta), Coen had them jailed for violating the V.O.C.’s monopoly, and confiscated their ships. Years later, in 1722, the Dutch explorer Roggeveen would run into the same trouble after discovering Easter Island.

1616 – VOC military expedition against Banda.

1618 – Jan Pieterzoon Coen becomes Governor-General of VOC. English merchants attack Chinese ships in Banten in a dispute over the price of pepper. Coen begins secretly fortifying the VOC warehouses at Jayakerta to the east. December Sultan of Banten encourages English to drive Dutch out of Jayakerta. Coen leaves for Maluku to muster ships and soldiers. Agung bans the sale of rice to the VOC. Agung’s governor of Jepara attacks the VOC post there; Dutch burn down much of Jepara in retaliation. Dutch reoccupy Solor.

Chinese traders

1619 – January: English force Dutch surrender at Jayakerta, but Banten forces take over from the English in a surprise move. The English and the Pangeran of Jayakerta retreat. March 12: Dutch rename post at Jayakerta to Batavia (today’s Jakarta). May: Coen passes through Jepara, and burns down the city again, including the English trading post. May 28: Coen arrives at Jayakerta, and burns down the original town of Jayakerta, leaving only the Dutch post of Batavia remaining to become VOC headquarters. August: VOC begins building city at Batavia.

1620 – VOC under Coen almost exterminates population of Banda to prevent “smuggling”. Survivors settle on small islands near Seram.

One of Coen’s goals was to make the VOC strong enough on its own so that it did not have to depend on the goodwill of neighboring rulers. He intended to do this by changing the VOC from a trade empire to an empire that ruled actual territories, then settling those territories with colonists from the Netherlands. Military strength was important, both for maintaining a position of power among the local kings and sultans, and for keeping the Spanish, Portuguese and English away.

1621 – British found trading post at Ambon.

1622 – Agung and VOC make overtures to each other.

1623 – VOC agents in Ambon arrest, torture and execute English agents on charges of conspiracy. Aceh sacks Johore. Carstenz expedition for VOC explores southern coast of Irian Jaya. Coen returns to the Netherlands. Carpentier is new Governor-General of the VOC. VOC takes nominal claim to Aru Islands.

1625 – The first “hongi” raids took place in Maluku. These were attacks, usually by local allies of the VOC, against anyone who was growing cloves without authorization of the VOC.


1627 – Coen returns from the Netherlands to serve as Governor-General of the V.O.C. again. December 25: Soldiers from Banten infiltrate the fortress of Batavia, kill some guards, and escape, but do little damage.

1628 – Agung sends army against VOC in Batavia; dams Ciliwung River in attempt to deny fresh water to the VOC. He fails to oust the Dutch, who prevent his army from receiving supplies by sea. Commanders of the Mataram army are executed for failure. Last of the English leave Banda.

1629 – Agung attacks Batavia again. He is defeated, although Coen dies during the siege. Banten, fearing Agung now more than the VOC, pleads for peace with the VOC. Iskandar Muda sends navy of Aceh against Portuguese Melaka, but the Aceh navy is destroyed. September 20: Coen passes away. Introduction of sugar cultivation in Banten.

1630 – Dutch abandon Solor, which is retaken by the Portuguese.

1633 – Agung raids east Java; the Hindu kingdom of Balambangan asks for VOC help and is refused. Balambangan then asks the King of Gelgel in Bali for help. War between VOC and Banten.

1634 – Dutch arrest Kakiali, leader of Hitu in Maluku, on charges of smuggling.

This was the “mercantilist” age of trade empires. There were many powers that wanted to create trade empires: the Dutch through the VOC, the English, Banten, and Gowa were among them. There was no such thing as “free trade” under these empires. The VOC especially wanted total control of trade, and any selling to anyone outside the VOC was considered “smuggling”.


Batak warrior

1635 – VOC signs treaty with Kutai on Kalimantan.

1636 – Agung, realizing that he cannot defeat Dutch, makes overtures towards VOC. Van Diemen becomes Governor-General of VOC. Portuguese abandon posts on Solor after six years. VOC bans all private correspondence (until 1701).

1637 – VOC attacks Ternate. VOC releases Kakiali, who pledges friendship to VOC but makes anti-Dutch alliance between Hitu, Ternate, and Gowa. Local Muslims overcome Portuguese fortress at Ende on Flores. Agung gives permission for Portuguese and Catholic refugees from Batavia to settle around Jepara. Around this time the VOC started pushing the Portuguese out of many of their posts in Nusa Tenggara.

1639 – Chief minister Matoaya of Gowa is succeeded by his son Pattingalloang. Unlike his father, Pattingalloang did not maintain good relations with the Bugis. The bad feeling would eventually lead some Bugis to side with the VOC against Gowa and Makassar.

1640 – Portugal regains independent crown from Spain. Portuguese abandon trading post at Jepara.

1641 – Taj ul-Alam becomes Sultana of Aceh, starts period of female rulers; Johore and Aceh settle differences. January 14: VOC takes Melaka from Portuguese, with help from the Sultan of Johore. The Sultan opens ports in Riau to all traders. Kakiali and Hitu attack VOC on Ambon.

The VOC takeover of Melaka was the real end of Portuguese importance in the region. But after losing Melaka, some Portuguese started trading with Gowa on Sulawesi. With the English and Portuguese almost gone, and Batavia and Ambon relatively secure from neighboring rulers, this was the most profitable time for the VOC.


1642 – VOC gets monopoly on trade with Palembang by treaty. Tasman explores coasts of Irian Jaya for VOC on voyage back from New Zealand. “Statutes of Batavia”, based on Roman law, are introduced as a legal code for VOC territories.

1645 – Mandarsyah becomes Sultan of Ternate with VOC help. VOC established outpost at Perak.

1646 – Sultan Agung dies, and is succeeded by Susuhunan Amangkurat I. Relations between Amangkurat I and the VOC are good in the beginning. VOC finally takes Hitu. Dutch arrive again on Solor, abandoned by the Portuguese ten years earlier. September 24: Cooperation treaty between VOC and Mataram, involving promises of mutual assistance against enemies and extradition of runaway debtors, among other things. Ships of Mataram may trade at any VOC port except Ambon, Ternate or Banda, but must apply for a pass at Batavia if they are sailing for Melaka or points beyond. Portuguese begin building a settlement at the present site of Kupang on western Timor. VOC builds a trading post in the Tanimbar Islands.

1650 – VOC intervenes in uprising against Sultan Mandarsyah of Ternate, sparking civil war.

1651 – VOC reopens post at Jepara; Amangkurat I begins interfering in coastal trade. VOC takes Kupang on western Timor; Portuguese move to Lifau, in what is now East Timor. VOC outpost at Perak is destroyed.

1652 – VOC takes Sultan Mandarsyah of Ternate to Batavia, makes him sign agreement not to grow cloves, starts military moves against opposing faction in Ternate. Amangkurat I bans the export of rice or timber. Tensions grow between the VOC and Gowa.

1656 – VOC deports population of Hoamoal near Ternate to Ambon.

1657 – VOC forces population of Buru to relocate to Kaleji Bay.

1658 – VOC sets up post at Manado. War between VOC and Palembang.

1659 – VOC forces burn down Palembang, and reestablish the VOC post. Amangkurat I has several family members murdered, including the mother of the future Amangkurat II. July 10 Treaty between VOC and Banten: prisoners and runaway slaves are to be exchanged; VOC receives a presence at Banten free from rent or taxes; boundary between Banten and VOC territory is set. VOC builds fort in the Aru Islands, but soon abandons it.


1660 – VOC attacks Gowa, destroys Portuguese ships in harbor, and forces peace treaty on Sultan Hasanuddin of Gowa. Amangkurat I closes ports again; VOC leaves Jepara.

1662 – Portuguese headquarters in the east is moved from Larantuka, Flores to Lifau (today Oecussi or Pantemakassar) in what is now East Timor. VOC signs treaty with chiefs on Roti.

1663 – Spanish abandon post at Tidore. VOC allows Arung Palakka and followers to settle at Batavia. Banten begins direct trade with Manila. July 6, Treaty of Painan: coastal areas of Minangkabau, including Padang, become a protectorate of the VOC, which guarantees them security against raids from Aceh.

1666 – VOC sends out a fleet under Admiral Cornelis Speelman, with Bugis soldiers under Arung Palakka and Ambonese soldiers under “Captain Jonker”, to settle issues in Gowa and Maluku.

1667 – VOC expedition under Speelman lands at Butung, and clears the island of Gowa forces. Speelman expedition forces the Sultan of Tidore (now free of Spanish presence) to submit to the VOC. A peace treaty is signed between Ternate and Tidore, now both under VOC control. Future Amangkurat II begins seeking VOC help against his father. The English give up claims to Banda in exchange for Manhattan Island in America.

Sultan Hasanuddin of Gowa is remembered for fighting bravely against the VOC, but he eventually had to sign a treaty giving up almost all his territories to the Dutch.


Indonesian war boat

1668 – Speelman expedition finally defeats Gowa. November 18, Treaty of Bungaya: Gowa submits to VOC control, and Sultan Hasanuddin has no influence outside the general area of the city of Makassar. VOC extends claims to Sumbawa and Flores after the defeat of Gowa. VOC builds a fort at Menggala in Lampung.

1669 – Sultan Hasanuddin of Gowa passes away; continuing troubles against the VOC in Gowa finally end. VOC traders at Banjarmasin are massacred.

1670 – VOC establishes outposts at Bengkalis (across the straits from Melaka) and Perak, both for controlling the trade in tin.

1672 – Louis XIV of France invaded the Netherlands with 100,000 soldiers. The Dutch had to open the dikes and flood the fields to prevent Amsterdam from falling to the French. However, since travel and communication were so slow in the 1600s and 1700s, these events had little effect on the activities of the VOC, which had the power to govern itself in any case.

1675 – Rebels appeal to Islamic sentiments among the common people against both the court of Mataram and the VOC.

1676 – Amangkurat I sends his son, Pangeran Puger, to the VOC to ask for help. VOC sends Admiral Speelman to fight the rebels against Mataram in North Java and Madura. Speelman quiets the rebellion along the coast between Cirebon and Jepara.

1677 – February 25, VOC makes a treaty with Amangkurat I: VOC will help Mataram, VOC territory around Batavia will be extended eastward, VOC may establish a factory anywhere they like without any restrictions on exports or imports, Mataram will restrict Malays, Arabs and other outsiders from settling in Mataram, and Mataram will repay the VOC for the cost of putting down the rebellion. Speelman receives the right to make treaties on behalf of Amangkurat I. May: VOC pushes Trunojoyo out of Surabaya. Trunojoyo leaves behind over a 100 cannons. July: Amangkurat I dies. Amangkurat II seeks VOC help against the rebels. VOC occupies Sangir islands.

1678 – January 15 Amangkurat II gives the VOC a monopoly on the sugar trade in Jepara. Amangkurat II, without money to pay his debts to the VOC, promises to give up Semarang, his claims to the Priangan, and fees from coastal ports until debts are paid. VOC and Amangkurat II march on Kediri and destroy Trunojoyo’s headquarters after a fifty-day siege. Arung Palakka and his supporters fight for the VOC as mercenaries, and conspire to win away Makassarese mercenaries fighting for Trunojoyo. December 9: Nine Makassarese chiefs who had been fighting for Trunojoyo as mercenaries surrender to the VOC, and are allowed to return to Sulawesi.

1679 – VOC and Arung Palakka drive the remaining Makassarese out of East Java. VOC makes an alliance with Minahasans at Manado. December 25: Trunojoyo gives himself up to the combined VOC and Mataram forces, under the promise that his life will be spared. He is executed anyway. (In one story, he is promised the post of minister and executed by Amangkurat II himself, with a royal keris.)



A couple in discussion

1680 – VOC forces attack rebel areas in Mataram. Banten declares war on VOC. Sultan Ageng is replaced in coup by his son, Sultan Haji, who seeks help from the VOC. VOC forces invade Madura, supposedly on behalf of Mataram. Cakraningrat II, uncle of Trunojoyo, takes power in West Madura. VOC retains control of East Madura.

1681 – January 6 VOC signs agreement with the princes of Cirebon for mutual assistance in case of emergencies, and agreeing on severe punishment if any of the three heads rebelled against the VOC. Cirebon will not build any fortifications without VOC approval, the VOC has a monopoly on pepper in Cirebon, and the princes may control the export of sugar and rice from Cirebon. Pangeran Puger builds a new force and retakes the center of Mataram, but not Kartasura. VOC forces push him back and defeat him. VOC intervenes in Roti, puts allies in power.

1682 – Sultan Ageng’s supporters, including much of the population, retake Banten against his son. VOC reacts by taking Banten with superior firepower. VOC expels English and other European traders from Banten, and begins to control Cirebon, the Priangan, and Lampung. Syekh Waliyullah, Islamic scholar and enemy of the Dutch, is exiled to the VOC post in Ceylon.

1684 – April 17: VOC renews its 1659 treaty with Banten; in addition, Banten gives up its claims to Cirebon, and grants the VOC a monopoly in the pepper trade in Lampung. April 28: VOC cancels the debts owed by the Sultan of Banten, but only on the condition that the previous treaties between the VOC and Banten are obeyed. Surapati, (also called Untung), a former slave and outlaw, now employed as a VOC soldier, attacks a VOC column and escapes. He travels across the countryside of Java gathering followers. Surapati instructs his followers to kill two officials in Banyumas who were rebelling against the authority of Mataram. He receives the gratitude of Amangkurat II, and is given refuge by anti-VOC members of the court of Mataram at Kartasura.

1685 – Post is founded at Bengkulu by English traders who had been forced to leave Banten. VOC forces treaty on Sultan of Riau.

1686 – February 15 VOC receives a complete monopoly on pepper in Banten. VOC sends an embassy to the Mataram court at Kartasura, demanding the return of Surapati. Amangkurat II stages a fake attack on Surapati’s residence, then has his soldiers turn to cut down VOC representatives and soldiers, with the help of Pangeran Puger. The remaining VOC presence at court leaves for Jepara. Amangkurat II sends an ambassador to the VOC at Jepara claiming that he took no part in attacking the Dutch. Amangkurat II sends secret letters to Johore, Minangkabau, English East India Co, even Siam trying to find help against VOC.

1688 – Local leader on Bangka (claimed by Palembang) asks for VOC protection.

1689 – Plot against VOC in Batavia fails; rebels flee to Kartasura.

1690 – VOC abandons outpost at Perak. Tea is introduced on Java.

1694 – VOC begins contacts with Bataks around Lake Toba, Sumatra.

1696 – Sultan Muhammad Syah of Indrapura abdicates and VOC gains influence in the absence of a ruler there.


1699 – VOC introduces coffee cultivation to Java. VOC increases influence around Kutai on Kalimantan.


In the 1500s, the Netherlands were an important business center for Europe, where products from Russia, Scandinavia, Africa, Asia and America were bought and sold. The Netherlands during that time was ruled by Spain. By 1581, the Netherlands had rebelled against the King of Spain and had begun to govern themselves. But since Spain now had control of the Portuguese colonies, the Spanish could prevent Dutch businessmen from easy access to spices from the Indies. This was one reason that Dutch ships began to make their own voyages direct to the Indies in the 1590s. Many Dutch sailors had worked on Spanish and Portuguese ships. When De Houtman’s Dutch expedition set sail, there were experienced crewmen available to guide them to the Indies.

The Dutch introduced the fifth of Indonesia’s recognized religions: Protestant Christianity. Beside the missionary work on Java, there were soon many “orang Kristen” around Manado on Sulawesi, in Ambon, and around Kupang on Timor and nearby Roti. The VOC, being mostly a business, had very little interest in spreading religion. However, it banned the practice of Catholicism wherever it could.

By this time, the VOC was probably the largest business enterprise anywhere in the world, with tens of thousands of employees. The territories controlled by the VOC were not only in Indonesia: in the mid-1600s, they also included Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and the Cape area in what is now South Africa. The VOC also had “factories”, warehouses and offices in Thailand, Japan, Iran, Yemen, and Canton in China.

By the end of the 1660s, Banten was trading directly with China, Japan, Thailand, India and Arabia, using its own ships to compete with English, French, Danish and VOC traders. Sultan Ageng of Banten was a strong opponent of the VOC monopoly who insisted on promoting trade with other European, Arab and Asian traders as he pleased.



by Francois Valentijn, 1726:

in this print is showed also the map of the Spanish town Nuestra Seńora del Rosario (Gammalamma).

The Spaniards, that after the conquest of Ternate, in 1606,

were at least nominally masters of the spice islands, did not succed to contrast the successive return of Dutch that formed an alliance with the rebellious Ternatens. The Spanish occupation was mainly a military occupation, because of the hostility of theTernatens and the Dutch, than after the Spanish conquest of Ternate, returned more battle-trained.







The contest between Aceh and Johor revived during the first half of the 17th century, when Acehnese power grew once again under Sultan Iskandar Muda. Aceh dominated the western coast of Sumatra and challenged Johor on the peninsula and in the strait


Balinese kingdoms, ca 1700


Balinese kingdoms, ca 1800

To the east of Bali lies the long chain of islands known as the Lesser Sundas or Nusatenggara (Southeastern Islands). For the most part, these islands were involved only peripherally in the trade and civilization of the western archipelago until the colonial area. Although the Nagarakertagama (Desawarnyana) lists Timor and Sumba as tributaries of 14th -century Majapahit, Javanese culture has left at the most only scattered traces in the region. No significant local inscriptions have been found to attest to the existence of early kingdoms and Chinese records are vague. The region’s economic relations with the outside world seem to have been based on the export of sandalwood, especially from Timor, a trade which may have begun in the 7th century.

Islands of Nusatenggara

From about the 16th century, the western islands of Lombok and Sumbawa came under the increasing domination of outside forces. Balinese settlers from the kingdom of Karangasem displaced the indigenous Sasaks from western Lombok and by the end of the 17th century held a loose hegemony over the east of the island, while raiders and settlers from Makasar drew Sumbawa increasingly into their orbit. The island was effectively subject to Makasar from 1618, and Manggarai, at the western end of Flores, soon followed. The rest of Flores, however, and the whole of Sumba remained divided into a large number of small states until the colonial era.

Polities in Lombok and Sumbawa, 16th century

Polities in Sumba, 17th to 18th centuries

Polities in the Solor and Alor archipelagos, 17th to 18th centuries

Polities in Flores, 17th to 18th centuries

Lombok and Sumbawa, ca 1800

Balinese rule on Lombok was turbulent. By the middle of the 18th century, they had subdued the Sasak aristocracy in the east of the island. A few decades later, however, disunity led them to split into four separate kingdoms, while the Sasak domains in the east regained much of their independence. Even in times of Balinese control, the east of the island was often restive.

Evidence from the earliest European visitors to the Nusatenggara region suggests that the normal state of affairs was one of division into a large number of small polities, which were linked into larger confederacies or empires whose significance was sometimes political and economic but more often symbolic. Timor produced sandalwood, which was valued for trade to China, and management of this trade necessarily meant a relationship between port towns such as Sorbian, Insana and Dili, and the polities of the interior. In the centre and east of the island, the ruler of Wehale (Belu), sometimes based in the port of Dili, sometimes based in the interior, claimed a hegemony over some forty-six liurai or ‘kings’ along the coast and the interior. In the west the confederacy of Sonba’i (Sonnebait), sometimes based in Sorbian, claimed a similar hegemony over sixteen liurai. The port of Kupang seems to have been independent of both of these power centres.

Timor and nearby islands 1500-1800

The Portuguese began trading and missionary activities in the Timor region soon after they had captured Melaka, and they established settlements at Lifau and Kupang in about 1520 and a fort on Solor in 1566 to protect both their trading interests and their converts. The fort soon became the nucleus for a community of mixed race ‘Black Portuguese’ or Topasses. When Dutch vessels captured Solor in 1613, many of the Topasses fled to Larantuka, where they established an independent community, which later extended its influence to the northern coast of west Timor. In 1642, a Portuguese expedition devastated the confederacy of Wehale and intimidated the Sonba’i states into submission, but Portuguese power remained slight and until the end of the century it was represented mainly by the Topasses.

In 1653, the Dutch shifted their local headquarters from Solor to Kupang in Timor. They were defeated by the Topasses in a campaign in Amarasi in 1653, but signed treaties with five small states near Kupang in 1654 and 1655 which confirmed their foothold on the island. Battles with the Topasses continued on and off for the next century, and the strength of Topass resistance was the main reason why Portuguese influence persisted in the Timor region whereas the Dutch were able to remove it from everywhere else in the archipelago. Only with the defeat of Topass forces in the battle of Penfui in 1749 were the Dutch able to extend their influence into the interior of western Timor.

Although the Topasses from time to time nominally acknowledged the sovereignty of Portugal, they were entirely independent of Portuguese control, and from 1719 to 1731 joined an alliance of liurai in the east to fight the Portuguese. The defeat of this alliance and the rise of Dutch power in the west with the victory at Penfui led the official representatives of Portugal to shift their headquarters from Lifau to Dili in 1769.

The VOC was now free to extend closer influence over the west of the island, and in 1756 it signed a contract with fifteen liurai, taking them as vassals. In the following years, the VOC extended a loose hegemony over the middle of the island, with the exception of the Topass enclaves, but a clear demarcation of territory with the Portuguese was not made until the 19th century.

Borneo (Kalimantan)

Unlike Java and Sumatra, Borneo has not experienced volcanic activity in historical times and its soils are correspondingly poor. As a result, although some of the earliest known polities in the Indonesian archipelago were located on the Borneo coasts, the island was never able to support the substantial populations which underpinned empires such as Srivijaya and Majapahit. The interior of Borneo was consistently important as a source of minerals and forest products, but the kingdoms which emerged on the coast never became powerful enough to extend their control over more than a small part of the island, and there is no record of a Borneo state exercising influence further afield than Borneo’s offshore islands. Besides, very few early inscriptions have been recovered from Borneo, so that the record of early state formation there has to be based mainly on external records. Chinese records from the 10th to 15th centuries speak of a significant state called ‘Poni’ on the northern coast of the island which was tributary to China as a trading partner. The name suggests a connection with the later state of Brunei, but Poni’s location remains uncertain. Archaeological research suggests that ‘Poni’ may have centred originally at Santubong, near the mouth of the Sarawak River, before moving at some stage to Brunei Bay.

The most extensive early account comes from the 14th century Javanese Nagarakertagama (Desawarnyana), which records over twenty states in Borneo as tributary to Majapahit. Just how significantly this claim, like that of China, was felt by the Borneo states themselves is open to debate. Archaeological evidence indicates the existence of a state called Negaradipa in what is now the hinterland of Banjarmasin.

Borneo in the 15th and 16th centuries

Little is known of Borneo in the 15th century, but the most significant states were apparently Sukadana and Banjarmasin in the south (both of them tributaries to Demak and later Mataram), Berau in the east, and Brunei in the north. Sukadana is said to have been established by Brawijaya, a ruler of Majapahit, and to have converted to Islam in about 1550. Throughout these years, the interior of the island was the domain of indigenous Dayak tribes.

Shortly after the fall of Melaka to the Portuguese in 1511, however, Brunei seems to have converted to Islam, perhaps as the consequence of an influx of Muslim refugees (though Brunei’s own dynastic records suggest that conversion took place a century earlier). During the 16th century, the sultans of Brunei created an empire which stretched along the entire northern coast of Borneo and into what is now the southern Philippines, though their control was probably tenuous at that distance. The port of Brunei itself became a major entrepot on the spice route between the Moluccas and China and was described in glittering terms by members of the Spanish expedition of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.

With its mountainous, densely forested interior, Borneo could not easily be dominated by a single power, and each of its four coasts has generally had its own distinctive history.

In the south, the sultanate of Banjarmasin grew strong on the pepper trade. Large areas in the hills behind Banjarmasin were cleared for pepper cultivation and from the middle of the 17th century the region threw off its tradition of vassaldom to Java to become a significant regional power. Banjarmasin’s heartland was the basin of the Barito River, especially the fertile uplands of Amuntai, but at the height of its power, it claimed suzerainty over all the coastal states from Kota Waringin to Bulungan, and even claimed some influence in Sintang in the Kapuas basin. In the west, the main power at the beginning of the 17th century was Sukadana, a major exporter of diamonds and forest products, though its influence was being challenged by Sambas to the north, which was a vassal of Johor. The state of Landak came under Sukadana’s control in about 1600, but frequently sought its independence.

In 1622, forces from Mataram conquered Sukadana. Mataram, however, soon declined and by 1650 Sukadana had recovered to dominate the entire west coast. In 1699, rebels from Landak joined forces with the Javanese state of Banten to conquer Sukadana. Banten’s domination of Sukadana was brief. With the help of Bugis mercenaries based in Banjarmasin, the sultan managed to recover his throne and Sukadana once more became the major trading power of the west coast. Towards the end of the century, however, Sukadana’s power was increasingly challenged by the new state of Pontianak, founded by an Arab adventurer in 1772. In 1778, Banten ceded its defunct rights over Sukadana to the VOC, which joined Pontianak in 1786 in an attack which utterly destroyed the city. The royal family of Sukadana continued to rule the minor state of Matan (Kayung), but Sukadana was abandoned and Pontianak became the main centre of trade on the west coast. In the final years of the century, the rulers of Pontianak claimed Sanggau, Landak, Matan and Tayan as vassals, but they never ruled those areas directly. North of Pontianak, the states of Sambas and Mempawah were transformed from about 1760 by the arrival of Chinese miners to work the gold fields of the region. The miners came at first at the invitation of the local rulers, but their commercial organizations, or kongsi, soon developed into small republics virtually independent of the rulers. States of a different kind also emerged in this era in the interior of western Kalimantan, along the Kapuas River and its tributaries. For the most part, the elites of these states were Malays, often with trading interests, who established varying degrees of hegemony over the indigenous Dayaks. The largest of these states, Sintang, was moderately significant, but the states further upstream were small, sometimes claiming only a few hundred subjects.

Borneo, ca 1750

Brunei, meanwhile, was also in decline before the rising sultanate of Sulu, based in the archipelago between Borneo and Mindanao. In return for backing the successful claimant in a succession dispute in Brunei, Sulu received suzerainty over much of Borneo north of Brunei itself. Sulu’s influence also increased on the east coast of Borneo.

The principal state of the east coast was Kutai, a Malay kingdom in the Mahakam river basin which converted to Islam in the 16th century. From the late 17th century, however, many Buginese settled on the east coast, founding the state of Pasir and for a time dominating the Tidung, Bulungan and Berau regions, though these northern areas were to come under the Sulu sultanate.

States of western Borneo, ca 1800

Sulawesi and Maluku (The Moluccas)

Like Nusatenggara, the island of Sulawesi offers only a sparse historical and archaeological record before the 17th century. By the 14th century, states had begun to form in the southwestern peninsula (generally called South Sulawesi), but because there appears to have been little Indic cultural influence in this process, there are no significant inscriptions from this era. In 1300, the main states were Luwu’ (by tradition the oldest state in the region) and Soppeng, both of them consisting of powerful centres dominating a number of surrounding lesser states, including Sidenreng and Lamuru. Soppeng’s power seems to have been based especially on the export of rice, while Luwu’ exported iron from the interior. In the late 15th century, Soppeng appears to have declined in power, while Wajo’ emerged as junior member of an alliance with Luwu’. The dominance of Luwu’, however, was checked by the rise of Bone in the early 16th century, while a new power arose in the south in the form of Gowa. Little is known about the other peninsulas of Sulawesi in this period.

Southern Sulawesi, ca 1500

Minor states of northern Sulawesi, 16th century

From about 1530, the formerly small south Sulawesi state of Gowa began to grow in power, and its port, Makasar, became increasingly important as a centre of trade in the western archipelago. Gowa used military force to bring much of South Sulawesi under its domination, though the more distant and powerful states such as Wajo’ had the standing of slightly subordinate allies, rather than true vassals; only the Bugis state of Bone on the east coast successfully resisted Gowa’s campaigns. The port of Makasar became still more important in the early 17th century. Its ruler converted to Islam in 1605, making the port more attractive to Muslim traders, and it also became a centre for traders, both European and indigenous, excluded from Maluku by the monopoly practices of the VOC. Conversion to Islam led Gowa into a new bout of conquests in the region, including Wajo’ in 1610 and finally Bone in 1611. Further campaigns in the following decades took Gowa’s influence to Sumbawa, the east coast of Borneo and even the Kai and Aru Islands, though – except in Sumbawa and Butung – Makasar never exercised significant authority and in many areas, such as the northern parts of Sulawesi, the Makasar claim was a fiction supported only by the absence of significant local powers to question it.

Makasar and the subordinate states of south Sulawesi, ca 1600

As the centre for trade which the Dutch regarded as smuggling, Makasar soon became the target for intermittent Dutch hostility, and Makasar responded by assisting the Company’s enemies in Maluku. In 1666, the Dutch decided to make an end once and for all to Makasar’s resistance. They made an alliance with Arung Palakka, a Bugis prince from Bone, who had been exiled by Makasar to Butung in 1660 after an abortive uprising. The combined force defeated Makasar in 1667, and forced the sultan to sign the Treaty of Bungaya in which Makasar relinquished all its vassals, both in south Sulawesi and abroad, and allowed the Dutch to build a fort in the heart of its main port. The treaty was decisive in ending Makasar’s power, but it took a further round of fighting until 1669 before Makasar was fully defeated. Arung Palakka became ruler of Bone and the dominant political force in the region, but his authoritarian rule and destructive military campaigns against rebellious vassals led to a massive exodus of Buginese and Makasar warriors seeking safer homes elsewhere in the archipelago. The northern arm of Sulawesi had come under Spanish influence from the nearby Philippines in the 16th century, but was incorporated in the Dutch sphere of influence after the Treaty of Bungaya.

Makasar empire before 1667

Pre-colonial records are even sparser for eastern Indonesia than they are for Sulawesi, and only the sketchiest outline can be given of the region’s history before the 17th century.

The islands of Maluku had supplied cloves to other parts of the world since at least 1700 B.C., according to archaeological evidence from the Middle East, and they were also the only source of nutmeg. The small islands with their narrow coastal plains, however, could only sustain a relatively small population, and there appear to have been no large polities in the region before the 15th century, when the tiny clove-producing islands of Ternate and Tidore began to emerge as major political centres. Except in Sula, Buru, Ambon and Seram, where Ternatean aristocrats ruled directly, both empires operated as a network of alliances and vassalages, rather than as tightly ruled polities, and there was considerable ebb and flow in the degree of authority that each exercised. Ternate reached the peak of its power in the late 16th century under the warlike Sultan Baabullah.

Traditional kingdoms of Maluku, early 15th century, and the spheres of influence of Ternate and Tidore, early 16th century

As the main reason for European interest in the Indies, the Spice Islands were amongst the first to experience direct European military intervention. Ternate and Tidore were unable to prevent first the Portuguese and Spanish and later the Dutch and English from establishing fortified trading posts in the region, though Ternate had a number of military victories over the Europeans in the course of the sporadic hostilities of the 16th and early 17th centuries.

By the middle of the 17th century, however, Ternate’s need for free trade in spices was fundamentally in conflict with the Dutch aims for monopoly. In 1652, the Dutch extracted a treaty from Ternate giving the Company a monopoly of clove production, and broke the power of local Ternatean lords in a series of bloody campaigns during the next few years. The Company then centred clove production on Ambon and sent out periodic expeditions to destroy clove trees in other regions.

The great island of New Guinea was also a major centre of population, but its people were concentrated in the interior and except on the fringes close to Maluku there is no record at all of political forms before the 17th century.

Imagining the Archipelago

Although trade routes had tied the Indonesian archipelago to China, India and the Middle East since very early times, the region remained relatively unknown to outsiders until five or six centuries ago. Long distances and the hazards of travel, together with the fact that Indonesians themselves carried most of the products of their islands to the outside world, meant that scholars in the major centres of civilization generally relied on sparse and often second hand accounts of Southeast Asia.

In the West, the Egyptian geographer Claudius Ptolemy (c. 85–165 AD) prepared a major geographical work, the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, containing a compilation of information on the region gathered from traders and seafarers. Ptolemy described a Golden Chersonese, or peninsula, far to the east which is normally identified with the Malay Peninsula and he records the existence of many islands in the vicinity. Ptolemy’s geography formed the basis of most Western conceptions of the Far East until the 16th century, and also influenced some of the Arab geographers. The maps of Idrisi (d. 1165) show a good deal more detail than those based on Ptolemy’s account, but they clearly reflect an attempt to reconcile imprecise and contradictory information originating from several centuries and a wide variety of sources.



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