RGSSA Library Catalogue

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Discovering Asia: Discovering Japan

The final entry in the “Discovering Asia” series on the early travel narratives in the collection of the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia—

Discovering Japan

The existence of Japan had been known for some time to Europeans but real contact with the West did not begin until the Portuguese established trade relations in the mid-16th century and began sending out their Christian missionaries. This contact lasted for nearly a century, and then Japan instituted a policy of isolationism, closing its borders to foreign influences. Not surprisingly, in the isolationist years few works on Japan were published in the West. After contact was re-established in the 19th century, European travellers began heading eagerly for Japan, and things Japanese became intensely fashionable in Europe, influencing art in particular.


1543: The First Portuguese Black Ships

Japan’s contact with the West began in 1543, when Portuguese traders arrived. They set up a trade route linking Nagasaki to Goa, on the western coast of India, where they were already established.
“A Portuguese Nanban carrack, 17th century.” (Wikipedia}

The large Portuguese carracks had their hulls painted black with pitch, and the term “black ships” came to represent all western vessels.

The Japanese gained modern firearms, with refined sugar, optics and other inventions. Later, silver from Japan was exchanged with silk from China via Macao.

1549: St Francis Xavier Arrives in Kyushu

The first Christian mission to Japan began in 1549 with the arrival of the Jesuit Francis Xavier. Christianity spread along with the spread of trade, with eventually about 300,000 converts, mostly peasants but, significantly at a time of great internal conflict in Japan, some daimyo (warlords).

1609: the Dutch Arrive; 1613: the English Follow
In 1609 a Dutch mission finally arrived and an English trade expedition four years later, in 1613. Both companies received shuinjo from the shogun, permitting them to trade in Japan, the Dutch in 1611, the English in 1613. On both occasions the expatriate Englishman William Adams played a part in securing the trade privileges, but he exaggerated his rôle.

1637: East-West Relations Deteriorate
The Shimabara Rebellion, suppressed in 1637, was blamed on the Christian influence. Tighter and tighter restrictions were placed on the Portuguese traders and Jesuit missionaries.

1639: The Shogun Tokugawa Closes Japan
In 1639 all foreigners were expelled from the Japanese mainland by the shogun Tokugawa. The Portuguese traders were confined to Dejima island at Nagasaki. Isolationism became the policy. Japan remained cut off from Western influences until 1853.


The RGSSA holds a mixture of early texts and later editions or translations which relate to the period of early European contact with Japan. They include two accounts of extraordinary lives: those of the Portuguese Fernão Mendes Pinto and the Englishman William Adams.

An Early Account of Portuguese Jesuit Missions

“The Jesuits in Japan and China (1542-1618)” (Volume III, page 316-412), In:

PURCHAS, Samuel, 1577?-1626.
    Haklvytvs posthumus, or, Pvrchas his Pilgrimes.
London, 1625. 4 vols.
    (York Gate Library 2071-2076)

Pinto in Asia: Facilitator or Adventurer?
Pinto claimed in his autobiography (Peregrinação) to have been the first to introduce modern firearms (“arquebuses” or “harquebuses”) to the Japanese, when he landed at Funai (modern Oita) around 1452 or 1543.

PINTO, Fernão Mendes, -1583
    [Peregrinaçam. English]
    The voyages and adventures of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, the Portuguese, done into English by Henry Cogan; with an introduction by Arminius Vambery. An abridged and illustrated edition. London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1891.

His book was published posthumously in 1614, with an English translation appearing in 1663. Scholars disagree about its historical accuracy, including the firearms story, but some aspects have been verified. Pinto was from a poor family, and first went to sea as a ship’s boy. During his extensive travels he underwent amazing vicissitudes, with several episodes of imprisonment and enslavement. He went first to India, from 1537 to 1538, then through Ethiopia, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf (circa 1538). His second, much longer, series of Asian adventures took place from 1539 to 1558. In the East Indies he was based in Malacca (then under the Portuguese), establishing diplomatic alliances with local rulers against the sultanates of northern Sumatra.

Pinto in Japan
After his initial landing in 1542 or 1543 (accounts vary) Pinto was back and forth to Japan for about fourteen years, facilitating Portuguese trade. At one point he was shipwrecked on the Ryukyu Islands. Having earlier left Japan with a Japanese fugitive, he returned in 1549 with Saint Francis Xavier’s Jesuit mission. Pinto himself joined the Society of Jesus in 1554, donating a large sum from his trading to it. He left Japan again after Francis Xavier’s death, but was back there with the Jesuit leader’s successor from 1554 to 1556. He became viceroy to Portuguese India’s ambassador to the daimyo of Bungo, on Kyushu. However, he left the Jesuits in 1557, and finally departed from Japan.

    After this he went back to Portuguese Malacca, was sent briefly to Burma (Myanmar), and then Banten, in Java, after pepper, a trip from which he did return but only after shipwreck and enslavement. Finally, via Siam (Thailand), he returned to Portugal.

A Portuguese Jesuit Missionary & Linguist:
    João Rodrigues in Japan, 1576-1610
Rodrigues, who went to Japan as a boy of 15, arrived just in time to experience Japanese society before the country was closed. His works provide an insight into this significant early phase of the “East-meets-West” drama.
Rodrigues, João, 1558-1633.
    [História da Igreja do Japão. Part 1, books 1-2. English]
    João Rodrigues's account of sixteenth-century Japan. London, Hakluyt Society, 2001. (Works issued by the Hakluyt Society; 3rd. ser., no. 7)

Having entered the Jesuit Society in Japan in 1576, Rodrigues began missionary work there in 1583. His early studies and complete mastery of the Japanese language impressed Toyotomi Hideyoshi (or “Emperor Taicosama”, 1536?-1598), who made him a favourite and his personal interpreter. Rodrigues’s early works were issued in Japan: a comprehensive work on the Japanese language, Arte da lingoa de Iapam (“Japanese Language Art”, Nagasaki, 1604), and a Japanese-Portuguese dictionary (Nagasaki, 1603), translated centuries later into French by Pagès (Paris, 1862).

    The troubles which would lead to the installation of the shogunate and the closing of Japan were increasing during this period, and some of them involved foreigners. In 1610 Rodrigues was forced to leave Japan as the result of an incident in which Japanese sailors were killed. He then based himself in Macao, where he would die in 1633. There he worked on his history of the Jesuits in Japan, Histôria da Igreja do Japão (“History of the Japanese Church”), published in 1634.

    It is extraordinary that at this time, with the Spanish Inquisition at its height, and Catholics and Protestants at one another’s throats in Europe, Rodrigues provides an open-minded account of aspects of Japanese culture, even to the extent of praising the holiness of the Buddhist monks. Well-versed in both Western and Eastern cultures, he was a sympathetic and knowledgeable bridge between the two. His personal practice of taking tea served to advance him within Japanese society at a time when aesthetic interests and intellectual sophistication were greatly valued. Three full chapters of his História are devoted to the tea ceremony, chanoyu. His work gives us a fascinating and unique picture of Japanese life at the turn of the 16th century as viewed by a foreigner who was able to experience it as an insider. With Japan closed to the Western world, we may look in vain for another such sympathetic attempt to bridge the gap between the Western and Japanese cultures in the following two and half centuries.

    Hubert Cieslik. “Early Missionaries in Japan 7. Father Joao Rodriguez (1561-1632): ‘The Interpreter’”, Japanese Christian History, Sophia University Tokyo, Japan.

The Japanese “Boys’ Delegation to the West”: 1582-1586
In 1582 Alessandro Valignano, the Visitor to the Jesuit Mission in the East Indies, organised a trip to Europe for four teenage Japanese boys, two of whom represented important Christian daimyo (the Tensho Era Boys’ Embassy, 1582-1590)

Gualtieri, Guido, active 16th century
   Relationi della venuta degli ambasciatori Giaponesi a Roma sino alla partiti di Lisbona: raccolte da Guido Gualtieri. Roma, per Francesco Zannetti, 1586.

Sande, Duarte de, 1531-1600.
    Japanese travellers in sixteenth-century Europe: a dialogue concerning the mission of the Japanese ambassadors to the Roman Curia (1590). London, Hakluyt Society, 2012. (Works issued by the Hakluyt Society; 3rd ser., no. 25)

The boys left Japan on 20 February 1582 and disembarked in Lisbon on 11 August 1584. They then travelled through Portugal, Spain and Italy as far as Rome, the highpoint of their journey, before returning to Lisbon to begin the long voyage home in April 1586. They reached Nagasaki on 21 July 1590, amidst great rejoicing, more than eight years after their departure. During their travels in Europe they had audiences with Philip II, King of Spain and Portugal, and with Popes Gregory XIII and Sixtus V, and were received by many of the most important persons in the places they visited.

    Guido Gualtieri, a contemporary Italian scholar and writer, recounts the visit of the young Japanese to Rome and traces the history of the relations maintained by the Vatican, through the Jesuit Order, with the Far East. Although his picture has been seen as a slightly idealised one it nevertheless manages to present more than just the Western point of view. Until the boys’ arrival the Euro-Japanese encounter had been almost exclusively one way: Europeans going to Japan. The Embassy was an integral part of Valignano’s strategy for advancing the Jesuit mission in Japan and raising further support in Europe.

    As part of the plan, a book consisting of thirty-four colloquia detailing the boys’ travels was compiled and translated into Latin by “Eduardo de Sande” (i.e., Duarte de Sande, 1547-1600), under Valignano’s supervision. It was published in Macao in 1590 with the title De missione legatorvm Iaponensium ad Romanum curiam. The Hakluyt edition is the first complete version of this rich, complex and impressive work to appear in English, and includes maps and illustrations of the mission, and an introduction discussing the context and the subsequent reception of the book.

The First Englishman Arrives: William Adams in Japan, 1600-1620
William Adams (1564-1620) was the first Englishman to reach Japan. He shipped aboard the Dutch ship Liefde in 1598 as pilot, in a fleet of five ships heading for the Spice Islands via the Strait of Magellan and the Pacific Ocean. The fleet was scattered as it sailed into the Pacific and the men on the Liefde, having only heavy broadcloth to trade, which they knew was not wanted in the Spice Islands, headed for Japan, of which they knew nothing. They reached Japan on 12 April 1600 with only twenty-four men alive.

“Voyage by the Magellan Streights to Japon, 1598-1611” (Vol. I, page 125-[131]), In:

PURCHAS, Samuel, 1577?-1626.
    Haklvytvs posthumus, or, Pvrchas his Pilgrimes. London, 1625. 4 vols.
    (York Gate Library 2071-2076)

“The letters of William Adams, 1611-1617”, In:

Rundall, Thomas (editor)
    Memorials of the Empire of Japon in the XVI and XVII centuries. London, Hakluyt Society, 1850. (Works issued by the Hakluyt Society; no.8)
    (York Gate Library 2120)

Adams did not, surprisingly, vanish without a trace. In 1611 the merchants of the East India Company in England were astounded to receive a letter from Japan, written by Adams several years earlier. He had become an advisor to the ruling shogun, received great favours from him, taken a Japanese name, and was now offering his services as advisor and interpreter. The English sent out a mission which arrived in 1613 in ships under the command of Captain John Saris. Their aim was to set up a trading station (“factory’) at Hirado in the southwest. The trading post was headed by Richard Cocks (or Cockes). Adams’s claims for his influence on the two shoguns under whose reigns he lived are said by modern scholars to have been exaggerated, largely by himself. The English certainly did not establish themselves permanently as traders in Japan. Adams died before Japan was closed to foreigners, living out his life as a “gentleman of Japan” very comfortably. Does his story sound oddly familiar? It was the inspiration for the best-selling novel, Sho-gun.

    After his death in 1820 Adams was largely forgotten. Modern myths about him date from 1872, when an Englishman, James Walters, claimed to have discovered the tombs of Adams and his Japanese wife. There is no historical proof of such an attribution of these and other artefacts.

    (For a modern scholarly view of Adams, see Derek Massarella. “William Adams/Miura Anjin: man/myth”,

In the history of the European discovery of Asia, Adams’s importance is of course that his letter was the encouragement needed for the East India Company to send a party to Japan. The RGSSA Library holds works on the man who captained the expedition, John Saris (d. 1646), and the man who became leading trader at the English “factory”, Richard Cocks (1566-1624).

Saris, John, d. 1646.
   The voyage of Captain John Saris to Japan, 1613, edited from contemporary records by Sir Ernest M. Satow. London, Hakluyt Society, 1900. (Works issued by the Hakluyt Society; 2nd series, no. 5)

“Eighth Voyage set forth by the East Indian Societie, wherein were employed three ships, under the command of Capt. John Saris. His course and acts to and in the Red Sea, Java, Moluccas, and Japan (by the inhabitants called Neffoon, where also he first began and settled an English Trade and Factorie)...”, 1611-14, In:

    Haklvytvs posthumus, or, Pvrchas his Pilgrimes. Vol. I, p.334

COCKS, Richard, d. 1624.
    Diary of Richard Cocks: cape-merchant in the English factory in Japan, 1615-1622, with correspondence, edited by Edward Maunde Thompson. London, Hakluyt Society, 1883. (Works issued by the Hakluyt Society; no. 66-67). 2 vols.

”Relation of what passed in the General's absence going to the Emperour’s Court. ‘VVhereunto are added divers Letters of his and others, for the better knowledge of Japonian affaires’” [on Richard Cocks], In:

    Haklvytvs posthumus, or, Pvrchas his Pilgrimes. Vol. I, p. 395.

The Last European Witness? François Caron Sees the Closing of Japan

François Caron (1600-1673), born in Brussels to French Huguenot parents, served the Dutch East India Company (VOC) for thirty years, rising from cabin boy to Director-General at Batavia (now Jakarta), only one grade below Governor-General. He was later to become Director-General of the French East Indies Company (1667-1673). He first went to Japan in 1619, and left in 1641, after the 1639 banishment of the VOC’s Dutch traders to Hirado Island.

    The RGSSA has the 1663 English translation of his work on Japan, and a French version in Thévenot’s travel compilation of 1696.

CARON, François, 1600-1673.
    A true description of the mighty Kingdoms of Japan and Siam. Written originally in Dutch by Francis Caron and Joost Schorten: and now rendred into English by Capt. Roger Manley. London, printed by Samuel Brown and John de l’Ecluse, 1663.
    (The section on Siam is a brief account written by Schouten.)

“Relation du Japon par François Caron, avec les Remarques d’Hagenar desavouées par M. Caron...” (Vol. I, 30 & 31), In:

THÉVENOT, Melchisédec, 1620-1692
    Relations de divers voyages curieux...  Nouvelle edition, augmentée de plusieurs relations curieuses.... Paris, chez Thomas Moette, 1696, 2 vols.
    (York Gate Library. 2077)

Caron provides a meticulously organized record of Japanese customs and commerce in the early years of the 17th century, describing many facets of the way of life, covering not only those useful for commerce, but also a mass of background information, including, amongst many more topics:

Geography:   “How great the Countrey of Iapan is & whether it be an Island or no.”

Justice:         “What qualitie & authority the supreame Magistrate hath. His dwelling place, magnificence & Traine.” “Their manner of Justice. What Crimes they punish most severely.”

Religion:       “What Divine Service they use. What Churches they have. What Priests they entertain. What Sects are prevalent among them. The persecution of the Romish Christians.”

Home life      “How this Nation lives in their Houses and Families. How they receive each other, and of their Hospitality. Of their Conjugal State. Of the bringing up of their Children.”


This post was researched and created by Kathy Boyes 

Saturday 6 June 2015

Discovering Asia: East Indies - Companies and Conflict


I’ll conclude the story of the European “discovery” of the spice islands of the East Indies, as told by the early travel narratives in the library of the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia, with a look at the conflicts that arose from the European greed for spices, and the sufferings of the local peoples at the hands of the Dutch East India Company (the VOC).

We should bear in mind that the colonial history of the Dutch in Asia, though it does them no credit, was no worse than that of the British, the Portuguese, or the Spanish. These Europeans sprang from a culture that truly believed that non-Christians were lesser people, worthy at most of conversion, whether or not forced upon them. If they could not be converted, no blame attached to killing them. Ironically by the later 16th century there was no consensus as to what Christianity was: at home Catholics and Protestants were slaughtering one another. It’s hard, from a 21st-century perspective, not to heap blame upon those who victimised the peoples whom they discovered in the East—but let’s just keep telling ourselves that very few human beings have ever been capable of rising above their cultural conditioning.
As we’ve seen in earlier blogs, pepper was available from many trading ports in the East Indies: in India from the Malabar Coast ports, and further east from Malacca in the Malay Peninsula and from Banten In Java. Once the Dutch had a firm foothold in the Indonesian islands they found it easy to get vast quantities of pepper. Important and very valuable in Europe though it was, pepper was no longer of concern. The VOC did not manage to create a monopoly but they certainly had a lion’s share of the pepper trade.

Cloves, nutmeg and mace were another matter. These hugely valuable spices only grew naturally, as we’ve seen, in the Moluccas (the Maluku Islands of Indonesia). The vicious battles and inhumane repression which characterised the first part of the 17th century in the East Indies were therefore centred round the clove islands, especially Ambon (”Amboyna”) and the nutmeg islands, the Bandas.

“The Hollanders will doe no right, nor take no wrong”
In 1605, as we saw in the last blog entry, Stephen van der Hagen took the fort at Ambon from the Portuguese without opposition: the first territory officially captured by the Dutch in Southeast Asia. The remnants of the Portuguese and any Spaniards in the area would also need to be chased out. 

Pieter Willemszoon Verhoeff (or Verhouven, Verhoeven) (1573?-1609) was a Dutch sea captain in the service of the Dutch East India Company who commanded, and died during, a notable Dutch voyage to Asia from 1607 to 1612. The VOC had given his fleet explicit and “aggressive” instructions in its efforts to gain control of the spice trade. The fleet was to raid Portuguese and Spanish shipping, but “its special mission was to drive the enemy out of the Moluccas.” This latter aim was largely achieved. 

“By the time Verhoeff’s fleet sailed for home, the Dutch had built new forts on Banda and Amboina and had left only the stronghold on Tidore in Spanish hands.”
    (Lach & Van Kley, Asia in the Making of Europe, Vol. III (1993) p.471)

Fort Nassau at Banda Neira, circa 1646
The Portuguese monopoly on the spice trade was now well and truly over. But Verhoeff and a large number of his ship’s complement were killed during a Bandanese ambush in May 1609. 

Verhoeff: Early Texts
Bry, Johann Theodor de, 1561-1623?
    [India Orientalis. Pt. 9. Latin]
    Indiae Orientalis pars IX. Historicam descriptionem nauigationis ab Hollandis & Selandis in Indiam Orientalem, sub imperio Petri-Guilielmi Verhuffii, cum nouem maiorum & quatuor minorum nauium classe, annis 1607. 1608. & 1609. susceptae & peractae, &c. continens: addita omnium, quae hoc tempore eis obtigerunt, annotatione, auctore M. Gotardo Arthvsio Dantiscano. Elegantissimis in aes incisis iconibus illustrato & in lucem emissa per Ioann. Theodorum de Bry, &c. Francofvrti, ex officina typographica Wolffgangi Richteri, 1612-13.
    (York Gate Library : no. 2051)

The Catalogue of the York Gate Library notes that this volume contains the “Voyages of the Hollanders and Zealanders to the East Indies, under Admiral Verhouven, 1607-9.” That is, Verhoeff. The work is: “based on a report written by Johann Verken, a German soldier... [who] joined Verhoeff's fleet in November, 1607, as a ‘soldier and corporal.’ Verken took part in, and described in his journal, Verhoeff’s attack on Mozambique (July and August, 1608), the negotiations at Calicut and Cochin, the operations in the Straits of Malacca, and the journey to Bantam [Banten] and to the Banda Islands, where Verhoeff was killed in May, 1609. Verken remained in military service at the new Fort Nassau on Banda Neira until July, 1611...” His account was “extensively edited, perhaps rewritten, by Gotthard Arthus.” (Lach & Van Kley, Op. cit., p. 519.) One of the valuable aspects of the work is its description of Verhoeff’s activities in the Banda Islands and his death there. 

Purchas also picks up on Verken’s account, in Vol. I, Part II of his compilation. On pages 717-718, with the caption heading “Chap. 15. The Hollanders will doe no right, nor take no wrong” we can read the descriptions of the arrival at Banten, the journey to the Banda Islands past a volcanic island (“a Rocke burning in the Sea, halfe an houres journey in circuit”: possibly Banda Api), a fight with the Bandanese, their eventual concession that the Dutch could build a fort (“castle” as Purchas calls it) on Banda Neira, and the death of Verhoeff, who had gone ashore with a group of men: a great cry was heard from the depths of a “grove” in the forest and when the Dutch rushed in they found their admiral dead: 

PURCHAS, Samuel, 1577?-1626.
    Haklvytvs posthumus, or, Pvrchas his Pilgrimes: contayning a history of the world, in sea voyages, & lande-trauells by Englishmen and others, wherein Gods wonders in nature & prouidence, the actes, arts, varieties & vanities of men, w[i]th a world of the worlds rarities are by a world of eyewitnesse-authors related to the world, some left written by Mr. Hakluyt at his death, more since added, his also perused, & perfected, all examined, abreuiated, illustrated w[i]th notes, enlarged w[i]th discourses, adorned w[i]th pictures, and expressed in mapps, in fower parts, each containing fiue bookes; by Samvel Pvrchas, B.D. Imprinted at London for Henry Fetherston at ye signe of the rose in Pauls Churchyard, 1625. 4 vols.
    (York Gate Library, 2071-2076)
    (Title from the engraved title page.)

Companies at Loggerheads
Over the first two decades of the 17th century there was a bitter struggle between the two new powerful trading companies, the Dutch East India Company (the VOC) and the East India Company, the English equivalent, for possession of the lucrative spice trade. Not only Dutch and English sailors and traders, but also many of the local people were killed in the ensuing battles.

Intermittent fighting intensified from 1610, with the VOC establishing the post of Governor-General that year to take control of its business from the Asian end, rather than trying to control everything from the Netherlands. Ambon became the VOC’s headquarters in the East Indies and would remain so throughout the decade. In 1611 a Dutch trading post was also established at Jayakarta in the Sultanate of Banten in Java. This would later become Batavia, today’s Jakarta. The English were also present in some force, establishing several trading posts from 1611 to 1617 throughout the area. 

1619: Coen Takes Over For The VOC
1619 was a watershed in the history of the VOC: in this year Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1587-1629) was appointed as the VOC’s Governor-General. Coen, both shrewd and ruthless, saw that the VOC could become a real political and economic power in Asia. There had been ongoing trouble in Jayakarta for some time, involving either local forces or foreign influences, or both. On 30 May 1619 Coen led a successful attack on the city. He then ordered it burned to the ground and its population expelled. The Dutch established a closer relationship with the Banten Sultanate and assumed control of Jayakarta, renaming it Batavia. It became the Dutch East India Company’s Asian headquarters. Its defences would be strengthened during the century. 

Under Coen the Dutch would commence a brutal and repressive régime in the East Indies, at his orders driving out, starving or slaughtering almost the entire population of the Banda Islands, in a push to establish Dutch plantations growing cloves and nutmegs and thus a commercial monopoly. 

Victims of Greed: The Poor Little Bandas 

The Dutch East India Company and the East India Company fought over the Banda Islands for possession of the hugely lucrative nutmeg and mace trade throughout the first two decades of the 17th century. Verhoeff’s expedition had built a fort on Banda Neira and forced the Bandanese to agree to a treaty granting the Dutch sole trading rights, but it was almost immediately broken. The Dutch did not pay well, the English were also pushing for trade and offering higher payments, and in any case the Bandanese were traditionally a fiercely independent people, unwilling to knuckle under to any outside force. 

Meanwhile the English had built fortified trading posts on little Run (“Poolaroone,” in the early texts, for Pulau Run) and on Ai, which were under intermittent Dutch attack.

Courthope and the Fate of Run Island (“Poolaroone”)
On December 25 1616 Captain Nathaniel Courthope (or “Courthop”, etc.) reached Run in the Bandas to defend it for the English against the VOC. A contract with the inhabitants was signed, accepting James I of England as sovereign of the island. Four years of siege by the Dutch followed. In 1620 after Courthope’s death in a Dutch attack the English left Run. 

Courthope: Early Texts
In Haklvytvs posthumus (op cit), Vol. I, Part II, Purchas documents the history of Courthope and little Run in a set of articles listed in the Catalogue of the York Gate Library as: 

] Courthop, Nath. Journal of his Voyage from Bantam to the Hands of Banda, with his residence in Banda and occurrents there, 1616-20, with the surrender of Poolaroone by the Dutch, page 664 ff.

] Hayes, Rt. Continuation of the former Journal, [Courthop's] containing the death of Capt. Courthop, surrender of Lantore, news of the peace, and after the peace Lantore and Poolaroone seized by the Dutch 1620-21, p. 679

] Letter written to the East India Companie in England, from their Factors, 1621, p. 684

] The Hollanders Declaration of the affaires of the East Indies; written in an answere to the fonner Reports, touching wrongs done to the English in the Islands of Banda, 1622, p, 687

] An Answer to the Hollanders declaration concerning the occurrents of the East India p. 690

] Relations and Depositions touching the Hollanders brutish and cruel usage of the English, 1621 p. 693

] Fitz-Herbert, Capt. Humphrey. Pithy Description of the chiefe Ilands [Islands] of Banda and Moluccas, 1621 p. 697

And, appended to his account of Henry Middleton’s voyage, p. 701 ff.,

]... three severall surrenders of certaine of the Banda Islands, Pooloway, Poolaroone, Rosinging, and Wayre, to the King of England, 1620

Later in the century, when the First Anglo-Dutch War was ended by the Treaty of Westminster in 1654, Run should have been returned to England. Attempts to get the Dutch to return it failed. In 1665 all the English traders were expelled from the little island. The VOC exterminated the island’s nutmeg trees as part of their effort to keep the nutmeg monopoly. 

Some accounts claim that, in a strange twist of fate, in 1667 under the Treaty of Breda the English traded their rights to Run for Manhattan Island.

A Fateful Year for the Bandas: 1621
In 1621 Coen enforced a Dutch monopoly over the Banda Islands’ nutmegs & mace. He landed a force on Banda Neira & also occupied the neighbouring larger Banda Besar (“Lonthor” or “Lontar”). The orang kaya (leaders of the Bandanese) were forced at gunpoint to sign a treaty that was impossible to keep. Alleged violations of the treaty led to a punitive massacre by the Dutch, as Coen had intended. At Coen’s orders the Bandanese were well-nigh annihilated. The native population had been about 13,000 or 14,000. Only around 1,000 were left. 

The VOC Controls the Nutmeg & Mace Trade
The Dutch brought in slaves, convicts and indentured labourers to work the nutmeg plantations. Shipments of surviving Bandanese were sent to Batavia to work as slaves in developing the city and its fortress. About 500 Bandanese were later returned to the islands because of their much-needed expertise in nutmeg cultivation. 

Coen divided the productive land of approximately half a million nutmeg trees into sixty-eight 1.2-hectare “perken,” land parcels which were assigned to Dutch planters (perkeniers). 34 were on Lontar, 31 on Pulau Ai and 3 on Banda Neira. The VOC paid the growers 1/122nd of the Dutch market price for nutmeg—though it still gave them substantial wealth.

COMPANIES, CONFLICT & CLOVES: The “Amboyna” Massacre, 1623 
A treaty between the English and Dutch companies had been agreed in Europe in 1619, but on the ground the atmosphere remained hostile. In 1623 on Ambon Island, one of the clove islands of the Moluccas, agents of the Dutch East India Company tortured and executed twenty men, ten of them in the service of England’s East India Company, on charges of treason. This was one of the worst flare-ups in the rivalry between the English and the Dutch for control of the Spice Islands. 

The incident caused a furore back in Europe, both sides accusing each other, and resulted in a “war of pamphlets,” a popular way of stating one’s position in the 17th century. Several of these contemporary documents exist, some of them republished a century later in the compilation known as The Harleian Collection, that is: 

Osborne, Thomas, -1767 (publisher)
    [Harleian Collection]
    A Collection of voyages and travels, consisting of authentic writers in our own tongue, which have not before been collected in English, or have only been abridged in other collections. And continued with others of note, that have published histories, voyages, travels, journals or discoveries in other nations and languages, relating to any part of the continent of Asia, Africa, America, Europe, or the islands thereof, from the earliest account to the present time. Compiled from the curious and valuable library of the late Earl of Oxford. London, Printed for and sold by Thomas Osborne, 1745. 2 vols.
    (York Gate Library 2087-2088)

Volume 2 includes (pages 277-352):

] A True Relation of the Unjust, Cruel, and Barbarous proceedings against the English, at Amboyna, in the East Indies

] A true declaration of the News concerning a Conspiracy in the Island of Amboyna, and the Punishment following thereon, in 1624

] An Answer unto the Dutch Pamphlet, made in defence of the unjust and barbarous proceedings against the English at Amboyna.

] A Remonstrance of the Directors of the Netherlands East India Company, in Defence, touching the bloody proceeding against English Merchants, executed at Amboyna ; with the Acts of the Process, and the Reply of the English East India Company

Although the “Amboyna” incident caused outrage in Europe and a diplomatic crisis, in its wake the English discontinued their attempts to take over the spice trade by gaining control of the Spice Islands, and, contenting themselves with trading from Indonesia out of Banten, turned their attention to their other Asian interests, most notably in India.

What was the fate of the clove trade? Today’s cloves are grown not only in Indonesia, but also in India, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. The Dutch did their best to maintain a monopoly over 200-odd years, but as cloves grew on several quite widely separated islands of the Moluccas it was a difficult task, They instituted a policy of “extirpation”, burning down those groves that they couldn't control, which also enabled them to manage supply and keep the price high. One of the islands which suffered was Ternate, in the northern Maluku. You can read a most entertaining report from Ternate by Simon Worrall for the BBC News Magazine, “The world's oldest clove tree,” at http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18551857 Only a stump and a few dead branches remain of this tree, which is said to be the very one whose seedlings were stolen by a Frenchman named Poivre in 1770, transferred to France, and then later to Zanzibar, successfully breaking the back of the Dutch trade.

Empire of the VOC
So far I've painted a really black picture of Coen. But he was not just a brutal administrator: he was also a clear-headed and able businessman. Realising that Europe could offer Asia little that it needed it wanted by way of payment for spices except silver and gold, which were scarce in Europe outside Spain and Portugal, he started an intra-Asia trade system, using the profits to finance the spice trade with Europe. It required a large capital outlay but in the long run meant there was no need of further precious metals from Europe. Silver and copper from Japan were used to trade with India and China for silk, cotton, porcelain, and textiles. In Coen’s system these products were traded within Asia for the coveted spices. Examples of Chinese trade porcelain and Indian trade textiles are still prized possessions in Indonesia today. 

By the end of the 17th century the Dutch East India Company was the richest private company in the world, with over 150 merchant ships, 40 warships, 50,000 employees, a private army of 10,000 soldiers, and an enormous dividend payment on the original investment. The quest for spices had resulted in the creation of a mercantile empire.

East Indies: 17th & 18th Century Travel Narratives
So far I've only told you about the early works on the first European voyages to the East Indies. The Royal Geographical Society of South Australia also holds a great many later works, some of which document the more settled period of the Dutch occupation of the Indonesian islands, some of which are histories, and some of which recount voyages made by sea captains and adventurers from other nations. Here is a selection of works on the East Indies held by the RGSSA which were published up to the end of the 18th century. 

Duquesne, Abraham.
    A new voyage to the East-Indies in the years 1690 and 1691: being a full description of the isles of Maldives, Cocos, Andamants, and the isle of Ascention, and all the forts and garrisons now in possession of the French, with an account of the customs, manners, and habits of the Indians... London. D. Dring, 1696.
    (York Gate Library 3514)

1724 (printing)
Valentijn, François, 1666-1727
    Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën, vervattende een naaukeurige en uitvoerige verhandelinge van Nederlands mogentheyd in die gewesten : Benevens eene wydluftige beschryvinge der Moluccos, Amboina, Banda, Timor, en Solor, Java, en alle de eylanden onder dezelve  landbestieringen behoorende; het Nederlands comptoir op Suratte, en de levens der Groote Mogols. Te Dordrecht; Te Amsterdam, By Joannes van Braam, Gerard onder de Linden, 1724-26. 5 volumes in 8
    (York Gate Library 2079)

Forrest, Thomas, 1729?-1802?
    A voyage to New Guinea, and the Moluccas, from Balambangan: including an account of Magindano, Sooloo, and other islands; and illustrated with thirty copperplates: performed in the Tartar Galley, belonging to the honourable East India Company, during the years 1774, 1775, and 1776... Second edition, with an index. London, Printed by G. Scott and sold by J. Robson, J. Donaldson, G. Robinson, and J. Bell, 1780.
    (York Gate Library 2386)

1776 (printing)
Sonnerat, Pierre, 1748-1814
    Voyage à la Nouvelle Guinée: dans lequel on trouve la description des lieux, des observations physiques & morales, & des détails relatifs à l'histoire naturelle dans le regne animal & le regne vegetal. A Paris, Chez Ruault, 1776.
    (York Gate Library 2384)

1776 & 1779 (printing)
Raynal, abbé (Guillaume-Thomas-François, 1713-1796
    A philosophical and political history of the settlements and trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies. The second edition, revised and corrected. London, printed for T. Cadell, 1776. 5 vols.
—3rd ed., rev. & corrected. Dublin, Printed for John Exchaw and William Halhead, 1779. 4 vols.

Marsden, William, 1754-1836.
   The history of Sumatra: containing an account of the government, laws, customs, and manners of the native inhabitants, with a description of the natural  productions, and a relation of the ancient political state of that island. 2nd ed. London, Printed for the author, and sold by Thomas Payne and Son..., 1784.

—Another edition, 1811, with plates.
    (York Gate Library 4430)

1781 (printing)
Sonnerat, Pierre, 1748-1814
    [Voyage à la Nouvelle Guinée. English]
    An account of a voyage to the Spice-Islands, and New Guinea. Bury St. Edmund’s, Re printed and sold by W. Green, ... [&c.], 1781.
    (York Gate Library 2385)

East Indies: Travel Narratives 1801-1850
By the middle of the 19th century, with improvements in both transportation and printing, travel books similar to those we know today were becoming quite common. Those who wrote autobiographical accounts were often no longer explorers but travellers—though their journeys were frequently long and arduous. These books were published for a more literate, largely middle-class reading public in quite large editions, often reprinted many times, and are still quite widely held in libraries today. 

The books from the earlier 19th century, however, were not published in such large quantities, and many of them are much harder to find. Here are some of the RGSSA’s holdings on the East Indies from the first half of the century: 

1812 (printing)
Stockdale, John Joseph, 1770-1847.
    Sketches, civil and military, of the island of Java and its immediate dependencies: comprising interesting details of Batavia, and authentic particulars of the celebrated poison-tree. 2nd ed. with additions. London, Printed for J.J. Stockdale, 1812.
    (York Gate Library 4433)

1817 (printing)
Raffles, Stamford, Sir, 1781-1826.
    The history of Java. London, Printed for Black, Parbury and Allen, ... and John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1817. 2 vols.
    (York Gate Library 4434)

1824 (printing)
Raffles, Stamford, Sir, 1781-1826.
    Description géographique, historique et commerciale de Java et des autres îles de l'Archipel indien, par Mm. Raffles et John Crawfurd; contenant des détails sur les moeurs, les arts, les langues, les religions et  les usages des habitans de cette partie du monde; ouvrage traduit de l’anglais, par M. Marchal. Bruxelles, H. Tarlier, libraire, 1824.
    (York Gate Library 4436)

1825-1826 (1840 printing)
Kolff, D. H. (Dirk Hendrik), 1800-1843
    [Reize door der veinig bekenden Zuiddyken Moluschen Archipel. English]
    Voyages of the Dutch brig of war Dourga: through the southern and little-known parts of the Moluccan Archipelago, and along the previously unknown southern coast of New Guinea performed during the years 1825 & 1826. London, James  Madden & Co, 1840.
    (York Gate Library 2463)

 1830 (printing)
Raffles, Sophia, Lady, d. 1859.
    Memoir of the life and public services of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, F.R.S. &c.: particularly in the government of Java, 1811-1816, and of Bencoolen and  its dependencies, 1817-1824; with details of the commerce and resources of the Eastern Archipelago, and selections from his correspondence, by his widow. London, John Murray, 1830.
    (York Gate Library 4434)

Bennett, George, 1804-1893.
    Wanderings in New South Wales, Batavia, Pedir Coast, Singapore, and China: being the journal of a naturalist in those countries, during 1832, 1833, and 1834. London, Richard Bentley, 1834. 2 vols.
    (York Gate Library 4717)

Bennett's autobiographical work of natural history is “of merit for its good writing and generally sound observation; his only serious slip was in regard to the nesting habits of the lyrebird, upon which he was apparently misled by Aboriginals.” (ADB). The “Pedir Coast” which he visited was in the Sultanate of Aceh, now Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam in Indonesia. 

1839-1844 (printing)
Schlegel, H. (Hermann), 1804-1884.
    Verhandelingen over de natuurlijke geschiedenis der Nederlandsche overzeesche bezittingen, door de leden der Natuurkundige Commissie in Indië en andere schrijvers. Leiden, In commissie bij S. en J. Luchtmans en C.C. van der Hoek, 1839-1844. 3 vols.
    (York Gate Library 1646)

 1840 (printing)
Anderson, John, 1795-1845.
    Acheen, and the ports on the north and east coasts of Sumatra: with incidental notices of the trade in the eastern seas, and the aggressions of the Dutch. London, W. H. Allen, 1840.
    (York Gate Library 4443)

1844 (printing)
Raffles, Stamford, Sir, 1781-1826.
     Antiquarian, architectural, and landscape illustrations of the history of Java, by the late Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles; with a large map of Java and its dependencies. London, Henry G. Bohn, 1844.
1842-1846 (1847 printing)
Jukes, J. Beete (Joseph Beete), 1811-1869.
    Narrative of the surveying voyage of H.M.S. Fly, commanded by Captain F.P. Blackwood, R.N., in Torres Strait, New Guinea, and other islands of the eastern archipelago, during the years 1842-1846 : together with an excursion into the interior of the eastern part of Java.. London, T. & W. Boone, 1847. 2 vols.
    (York Gate Library 2177)

1843-1846 (1848 printing)
Belcher, Edward, Sir, 1799-1877.
    Narrative of the voyage of H.M.S. Samarang, during the years 1843-46: employed surveying the islands of the Eastern archipelago ... with notes on the natural history of the islands by Arthur Adams. London, Reeve, Benham, and Reeve, 1848. 2 vols.
    (York Gate Library 2478)

Edward Belcher is best known for his Arctic voyages, including a disastrous venture in which he abandoned his ships. He was a controversial figure, involved in more than one scandal, and his harsh treatment of his crew made him notorious. But he was also an energetic and brave man, with considerable scientific curiosity. His voyage to the East Indies in the Samarang resulted in the admirable publications listed here.  

1843-1846 (1850 printing)
Gray, John Edward, 1800-1875, et al.
    Zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Samarang under the command of Captain Sir Edward Belcher, during the years 1843-1846, by John Edward Gray, John Richardson, Arthur Adams, Lovell Reeve and Adam White. London, Reeve and Benham, 1850.
    (York Gate Library 1652)

The medical officer and naturalist Arthur Adams, R.N. (1820-1878) sailed as assistant surgeon on H.M.S. Samarang during its survey of the islands of the Malay Archipelago, subsequently editing and helping to write up the zoological discoveries. This was an interesting period for natural history. Naval officers like Adams were still involved in collecting specimens from around the world, though scholars like John Edward Gray, credited as the chief author of this work, had already begun to collate and analyse within the big institutions like the British Museum.

1846 (printing)
Velde, Charles William Meredith van de, 1818-1898.
    Vues de Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes et autres possessions hollandaises dans les Grandes Indes, dessinées d’après nature par C.W.M. van de Velde, officier de la Marine royale... Amsterdam, François Buffa et fils; Imprimerie de C.A. Spin & fils, 1846.
    (York Gate Library 4444)

The volume consists of fifty black and white lithographs, with a title page vignette, and the Table des planches preceding the plates. They show contemporary scenes of the Dutch East Indies, including landscapes, native inhabitants and their way of life, Dutch colonists and their buildings.

1848 (printing)
James, Rajah of Sarawak, 1803-1868
    Narrative of events in Borneo and Celebes, down to the occupation of Labuan, from the journals of James Brooke, together with a narrative of the operations of  H.M.S. Iris, by Capt. Rodney Mundy. London, J. Murray, 1848. 2 vols.
    (York Gate Library 4485)

The Englishman James Brooke (1803-1868) was the first “white rajah” of Sarawak. On a voyage to Borneo in 1838 in his 142-ton schooner, he arrived in Kuching during an uprising against the Sultan of Brunei. He and his crew joined forces with the Sultan to bring about a peaceful settlement. Having threatened the Sultan with military force, he was granted the title of Rajah of Sarawak, the official declaration being made in August 1842. Although his rule was not without controversy, Rajah James had great success as ruler of Sarawak. In appreciation the British Government warded him a knighthood in 1847, and appointed him governor and commander-in-chief of Labuan, and British consul-general in Borneo.

1848 (printing)
Marryat, Frank, 1826-1855.
    Borneo and the Indian Archipelago, with drawings of costume and scenery. London, Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1848.
    (York Gate Library 4486)

This post was researched and created by Kathy Boyes