Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Japan

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Japan

fort, voc, japan, hirado, decima, firando


Hirado, Factory from 1609 to 1641.
Nagasaki (Deshima), Factory from 1641 to 1800.
Firando (1609-1641)*
Initially the Dutch maintained a trading post at Hirado, from 1609–41. Later, the Japanese granted the Dutch a trade monopoly on Japan, but solely on Deshima, an artificial island off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan, from 1641 to 1853. During this period they were the only Europeans allowed into Japan. Chinese and Korean traders were still welcome, though restricted in their movements.
Hirado was a port of call for ships between Japan and the Asian mainland since the Nara period. During the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, the local Matsuura clan held the rights to trade with Korea and with Sung Dynasty China. During the Sengoku and early Edo Periods, Hirado role as a center of foreign trade increased, especially vis-a-vis Ming Dynasty China and the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The Portuguese arrived in 1550, and the Dutch established a trading factory in 1609, under the direction of Jacob Groenewegen with the help of former British sailor William Adams, who was serving as advisor to the Tokugawa bakufu. By the early Edo period, a large percentage of the population were Kirishitan due to the efforts of European missionary activity.

After the start of the national isolation policy, the foreign traders were forced to relocate to Dejima, a small artificial island in the present-day city of Nagasaki. The last VOC Opperhoofd or Kapitan at Hirado and the first one at Dejima was François Caron, who oversaw the transfer in 1641.[1][2] At its maximum, the 17th century Dutch trading center covered the whole area of present-day Sakikata Park.[3] In 1637 and in 1639, stone warehouses were constructed, and the Dutch builders incorporated these dates into the stonework. However, the Tokugawa shogunate disapproved of the use of any Christian Era year dates, and therefore demanded the immediate destruction of these two structures.[4] This example of Dutch failure to comply with strict sakoku practices was then used as one of the Shogunate’s rationales for forcing the Dutch traders to abandon Hirado for the more constricting confines of Dejima.[4] However, modern research indicated that this might have actually an excuse for the Shogunate to take the Dutch trade away from the Hirado clan.[4]


The artificial island, constructed in 1634 on orders of shogun Iemitsu, originally accommodated Portuguese merchants. The sakoku and Shimabara uprising of 1637, in which Christian Japanese took an active part, was crushed with the help of the Dutch. The Portuguese and other Catholic nations were expelled from Japan in 1638 except the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC). The shogunate ordered the Dutch to transfer its trading operations from the island port of Hirado to Dejima in 1641.
At its maximum the Hirado trading post covered a large area.[1] In 1637 and in 1639, stone warehouses were constructed within the ambit of this Hirado trading post. Dutch builders incorporated these very dates into the stonework, but the Tokugawa shogunate disapproved of the use of any Christian era year dates and so ordered the immediate destruction of the structures.[2]
From then on, only the Chinese and the Dutch could trade with Japan. It is significant that Dejima was an artificial island, and hence not part of Japan proper. Thus, the foreigners were kept at arm’s length from the sacred soil of Japan. Dejima was a small island, 120 by 75 meters,[3] linked to the mainland by a small bridge, guarded on both sides, and with a gate on the Dutch side. It contained houses for about twenty Dutchmen, warehouses, and accommodation for Japanese government officials. The Dutch were watched by a number of Japanese officials, gatekeepers, night watchmen, and a supervisor (otona) with about fifty subordinates. There were a number of merchants for supplies and catering and about 150 tsūji (“interpreters”). They all had to be paid by the VOC. Dejima was under direct central supervision of Edo by a governor, called a bugyō, who was responsible for all contact between the VOC and all contacts with anyone in the Japanese archipelago.
Every Dutch ship that arrived in Dejima was inspected by the bugyō, and sails were seized until that ship was set to leave. Religious books and weapons were sealed and confiscated. No religious services were allowed on the island.
Despite the financial burden of the isolated outpost on Dejima, the trade with Japan was very profitable for the VOC, initially yielding profits of 50% or more. Trade declined in the 18th century, as only two ships per year were allowed to dock at Dejima. After the bankruptcy of the VOC in 1795, the Dutch government took over the settlement. Times were especially hard when the Netherlands (then called the Batavian Republic) was under French Napoleonic rule and all ties with the homeland were severed. For a while Dejima remained the only place in the world where the Dutch flag was flown.
The chief VOC official in Japan was called the Opperhoofd, or Kapitan. This descriptive title did not change when the island’s trading fell under Dutch state authority. Throughout these years, the plan was to have one incumbent per year—but sometimes plans needed to be flexible.

Originally, the Dutch mainly traded in silk, but sugar became more important later. Also, deer pelts and shark skin were transported to Japan from Asia, as well as woolen cloth and glassware from Europe. In return, the Dutch traders bought Japanese copper and silver.
To this was added the personal trade of individual Dutch traders in charge of Dejima, called kanbang trade, which was an important source of income for the employees and allowed the Japanese to procure books or scientific instruments. More than 10,000 foreign books on various scientific subjects were thus sold to the Japanese from the end of the 18th to the early 19th century, thus becoming the central factor of the Rangaku movement, or Dutch studies.
[Ship arrivals
In all, 606 Dutch ships arrived at Dejima during two centuries of settlement, from 1641 to 1847.
• The first period, from 1641 to 1671, was rather free, and saw an average of 7 Dutch ships every year (12 perished in this period).
• From 1671 to 1715, about 5 Dutch ships were allowed to visit Dejima every year.
• From 1715, only 2 ships were permitted every year, which was reduced to 1 ship in 1790, and again increased to 2 ships in 1799.
• During the Napoleonic wars, in which the Netherlands was occupied by and a satellite of France, Dutch ships could not safely reach Japan in the face of British opposition, so they instead relied on “neutral” American and Danish ships. (Interestingly, when the Netherlands was made a province by France (1811-1814), and Britain conquered Dutch colonial possessions in Asia, Dejima remained for four years the only place in the world where the free Dutch flag was still flying, under the leadership of Hendrik Doeff.)
• After the liberation of the Netherlands in 1815, regular traffic was reestablished.
Sakoku policy
For two hundred years, Dutch merchants were generally not allowed to cross from Dejima to Nagasaki, and Japanese were likewise banned from entering Dejima, except for prostitutes from Nagasaki teahouses. These yūjo were handpicked from 1642 by the Japanese, often against their will. From the 18th century there were some exceptions to this rule, especially following Tokugawa Yoshimune’s doctrine of promoting European practical sciences. A few Oranda-yuki (“those who stay with the Dutch”) were allowed to stay for longer periods, but they had to report regularly to the Japanese guard post. European scholars such as Engelbert Kaempfer, Carl Peter Thunberg, Isaac Titsingh and Philipp Franz von Siebold were allowed to enter the mainland with the shogunate’s permission.[4] Starting in the 1700s, Dejima became known throughout Japan as a center of medicine, military science, and astronomy, and many samurai travelled there for “Dutch studies” (Rangaku).
In addition, the Opperhoofd was treated like a Japanese daimyo, which meant that he had to pay a visit of homage to the Shogun in Edo regularly (the so-called sankin kotai). In contrast to a daimyo, the Dutch delegation traveled to Edo yearly between 1660 and 1790 and once every four years thereafter. This prerogative was denied to the Chinese traders. This lengthy travel to the imperial court broke the boredom of their stay, but it was a costly affair to the Dutch. The shōgun let them know in advance and in detail which (expensive) gifts he expected, such as astrolabes, a pair of glasses, telescopes, globes, medical instruments, medical books, or exotic animals and tropical birds. In return, the Dutch delegation received some gifts from the shogun. On arrival in Edo the Opperhoofd and his retinue (usually his scribe and the factory doctor) had to wait in the Nagasakiya, their mandatory residence until they were summoned at the court. After their official audience, they were expected, according to Engelbert Kaempfer, to perform Dutch dances and songs etc. for the amusement of the shogunate. But they also used the opportunity of their stay of about two to three weeks in the capital to exchange knowledge with learned Japanese and, under escort, visit the town.
New introductions to Japan
• Badminton, a sport that originated in India, was introduced by the Dutch during the 18th century and is mentioned in the “Sayings of the Dutch.”
• Billiards were introduced in Japan on Dejima in 1794 and are mentioned as “Ball throwing table” (玉突の場) in the paintings of Kawahara Keika (川原慶賀).
• Beer seems to have been introduced as imports during the period of isolation. The Dutch governor Doeff made his own beer in Nagasaki, following the disruption of trade during the Napoleonic wars. Local production of beer would start in Japan in 1880.
• Clover was introduced in Japan by the Dutch as packing material for fragile cargo. The Japanese called it “White packing herb” (シロツメクサ), in reference to its white flowers.
• Coffee was introduced in Japan by the Dutch under the name Moka. Siebold refers to Japanese coffee amateurs in Nagasaki around 1823.
• Piano. Japan’s oldest piano was introduced by Siebold in 1823 and later given to a tradesperson in the name of Kumatani (熊谷). The piano is today on display in the Kumatani Museum (萩市の熊谷美術館).
• Paint, used for ships, was introduced by the Dutch. The original Dutch name (Pek) was also adopted in Japanese (Penki/ペンキ).
• Cabbage and tomatoes were introduced in the 17th century by the Dutch.
• Chocolate was introduced between 1789 and 1801 and is mentioned as a drink in the pleasure houses of Maruyama.
The Dutch East India Company’s trading post at Dejima was closed in 1857, once Dutch merchants were allowed to trade in Nagasaki City. Since then, the island has been surrounded by reclaimed land and merged into Nagasaki. Extensive redesigning of Nagasaki Harbor in 1904 has obscured the location.[5] The footprint of Dejima island’s original location has been marked by rivets; but as restoration progresses, the ambit of the island will be easier to grasp at a glance.
Dejima today has plainly become a work in progress. The island was designated a national historical site in 1922, but further steps were slow to follow. Restoration work was started in 1953, but that project languished.[5]
In 1996, restoration of Dejima began with plans for rebuilding 25 buildings to their early 19th century state. To better display Dejima’s fan-shaped form, the project anticipated rebuilding only parts of the surrounding embankment wall that had once enclosed the island. Buildings that remained from the Meiji Period were to be used.
In 2000, five buildings including the Deputy Factor’s Quarters were completed and opened to the public.
In the spring of 2006, the finishing touches were put on the Chief Factor’s Residence, the Japanese Officials’ Office, the Head Clerk’s Quarters, the No. 3 Warehouse, and the Sea Gate.
The long-term planning now anticipates that Dejima should again be surrounded by water on all four sides, which means that Dejima’s characteristic fan-shaped form and all of its embankment walls will be fully restored. This long-term plan will involve a large-scale urban redevelopment in the area. If Dejima is to be an island again, the project will require rerouting the Nakashima River and moving a part of Route 499. The project is ambitious, but the eventual completion of this restoration project will create a unique window through which Nagasaki’s past can be glimpsed.

fort, voc, japan, hirado, decima, firando

Bay Nagasaki-with-Deshima-1753

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Dejima-In-Nagasaki Bay

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Dejima-In-Nagasaki Bay

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Nagasaki-Dejima To Day

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Dutch former Colonies, Asia, China

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, China

fort, voc,china, canton


Amoy (Xiamen or)?
Canton, until 1728 (when other Europeans have long been preceded). Factory from 1749-1803. Main products: tea and porcelain;
Hoksieu (Fuzhou), Factory after 1662. Main products: porcelain and silk.
After the loss of Taiwan in 1662, the VOC tried to acced to the Chinese porcelain and silk trade at the port of Fuzhou. However, the Company’s attempts to trade there were hampered by a string of bureaucratic restrictions. Although the trading post at Fuzhou barely made a profit, the VOC kept it on until 1681.

Huangpu(1728) Whampoa, an island situated in the Zhujiang river, served as the harbour of Canton. A Dutch warehouse was built here.

Guangzhou, Kanton(1749-1803)*
Tea and porcelain were the principal products purchased by the VOC in Canton. In the 18th century the VOC rented permanent premises in Canton, next to the building occupied by the British.

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Some ships from China

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Quemoy and-Amoy

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Taiwan ( Formosa )

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Taiwan ( Formosa )

fort, voc,taiwan, formosa, fort zeelandia


Pehou (Peng-Hu)
Tayouan, 1624 to February 1662, Factory. Fort Zeelandia, redoutés Zeeburg (1627) and Utrecht (1635)
Saccam, Fort Provintia (1652).
Tamsuy, October 1642 to June 1661. Fort Anthonio (1642).
Kelang, from 1642 to 1667. Fort North Holland.
While the Spanish were in the Philippines, the Dutch had come to Indonesia in the early 1600’s and founded Batavia (Jakarta) in 1619. The Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) or United Dutch East India Company, formed in 1602, managed their colonial businesses and trade. In search of a mid-station for their Asian trade, the Dutch traders had already been to the Penghu archipelago (Pescadores) located in the Taiwan Strait in 1603. They had also made repeated attempts to dislodge the Portuguese from Macau but were unsuccessful.

When the Dutch decided to settle in Penghu, their actions drew a quick response from the Ming regime in China. The Ming government had maintained its restrictions on travel abroad and saw this as a threat. They attacked the Dutch on Penghu in 1624. After eight months both sides signed a truce agreement. This agreement had three main points. The Dutch would abandon Penghu; the Ming would not oppose the Dutch occupation of Formosa ; and trade would be maintained between the Ming and the Dutch. Since the Ming government did not claim sovereignty over Formosa, this was an easy arrangement for them to make. Following the treaty, the Dutch developed settlements at Anping near Tainan in southwest Taiwan. Soon however they were conscious of the Spanish presence on the north of the island. They also experienced Japanese attempts to establish firm trading bases in Formosa. As a result of this, the Dutch replaced the governor in Batavia and reassigned him as governor of Formosa. From there he could consistently look after Dutch trade activities and interests with both China and Japan.

The Dutch quickly established two forts in the Tainan area. One located at Anping was first called Fort Orange and then Zeelandia. The other, located nearby was called Provintia. Both were capable of defense. Zeelandia housed their trading functions while Provintia housed the administrative, sleeping and warehouse functions. From these solid bases, the Dutch gradually expanded their influence on the island.

Both aborigines and Chinese dwelt near the area where the Dutch settled but they offered little or no opposition. However as the Dutch began to confiscate more land and levy taxes, resentment and resistance slowly built up. In the meantime, the Dutch used missionaries to try to convert the aborigines and using Roman characters translated the Bible into their language. For those who refused to become Christians, the Dutch resorted to military force to drive them from the area. The Dutch also levied a 10% customs duty on all trading in Formosa whether import or export. This 10% duty was opposed by Japanese traders who had been used to trading with the Chinese on Formosa. In 1625, a Japanese sea captain named Hamada Yahiyoue refused to pay these taxes and declared himself exempt. This declaration would sour the trade between the Dutch commercial firm in Hirato and the Japanese samurai government. In 1627 , Japanese traders brought aborigines leaders to be presented to the Japanese Shogun, but hopes of an alliance were unsuccessful. Finally, trade would temporarily break off when in 1628, Hamada led some aborigines in a failed attempt to assassinate the Dutch governor. An international conflict loomed between the Dutch and Japanese but it dissipated when in 16 35 the Tokugawa shogun began a policy of isolationism (sakoku). They forbade trade and then outlawed shipbuilding of ocean going vessels and other ships from 1633-1636. In 1639 they formally entered into a self-imposed isolation policy that would last until 1853 when the ” black ships” of Admiral Perry would force their way into Tokyo Bay. With trade down to a trickle and with ship-building hampered, even the Japanese pirate groups lost their influence in the Taiwan Strait.

Dutch Colonial Profit

Using the labor of the aborigines and the Chinese immigrants, the Dutch were quick to gain profit from Formosa. Trade increased. The Dutch could get spices, amber, kapok and opium from Southeast Asia through Batavia. They also got silver from Japan and silk, pottery, Chinese medicine and gold from China. All this was exchanged for sugar, venison and deer hides from Formosa. Formosa was proving valuable to them.

The pirates who surrounded Formosa still existed but the Dutch made a treaty with Cheng Chih-lung a pirate leader, to guarantee the safety of their vessels at sea. The Dutch could now spend time developing agriculture in Formosa. Farmland belonging to the Dutch East India Company was established and immigration encouraged. Immigrants had to pay 10% of the profit they made in renting land from the company. The Dutch successfully improved the spice crop and introduced several new crops to the island such as cabbages, garden peas, tomatoes, mangos, capsicum, rice and especially sugarcane. They also brought in the Indian buffalo.


During the Dutch rule of the island, there were revolts from the aborigines and Chinese, but the Dutch were able to employ a policy of divide and conquer. The aborigines rose up in the Mattau incident in 1635 and the Xiaolung incident in 1636. As these revolts were crushed, the Dutch increased their hold on the island.

The Chinese whose immigration had been openly encouraged also became dissatisfied. In 1652, Guo Huai-i a subordinate of the pirate Cheng Chih-lung gathered the people together to resist the Dutch. Unfortunately Guo’ s brother leaked information of the planned revolt to the Dutch and the Dutch with 2000 Christian aborigines met and defeated them.

Lacking appropriate weapons, Guo and 4,000 of his men were routed and hunted down. But this and the other revolts indicated a growing tendency of the various groups on the island to seek their own freedom. They did not look to be united with either China or Japan but simply to be left alone to make a living. In the meantime, the practice of the Dutch to play one side against the other to maintain power, would become a practice among each incoming regime.

Cheng Ch’eng-kung and the Ming Flight

In 1628, the Ming Dynasty found itself with far greater matters of concern than what was happening on Formosa, which had been left to the Dutch. The Manchus in the northeast were expanding their influence and threatening the very existence of the Ming. Seeking both military and capital support, the Ming regime called upon the pirate leader Cheng Chih-lung for help. Chih-lung had been based in Hirato, Japan and had taken a Japanese wife, Tagawa. Chih-lung, who operated both as an opportunistic trader and pirate, was also a mercenary leader with a strong army of followers . The Manchus began their conquest of China in earnest in 1646. They sought to conquer both by using force and enticement. The high officials of the Ming court who had fled south were offered similar positions in the Ch’ing court if they ceased resistance. Chih-lung who posed a military threat was also offered the opportunity to switch sides for a court appointment. Chih-lung’s family suspiciously opposed this exchange, but Chih-lung decided to go for the bait and received a comfortable place in Beijing. When Chih-lung later failed to bring his forces along with him, the Manchus placed him under house arrest. Chih- lung’s wife Tagawa then committed suicide.

Ch’eng-kung , Chih-lung’s son (b. 1624) by Tagawa was away pursuing studies when news of this reached him. He abandoned his studies and having inherited the pirate enterprise from his father he became a scourge to the coastal cities on the east. Ch’eng-kung pledged himself to try to re-establish the Ming rule in China, despite the fact that by not joining his father Chih-lung, he would hasten Chih- lung’s execution in 1661.

In 1660, the Manchus ordered all inhabitants of China’s east coastal region to move inland 1.728 kilometers, in effect eliminating ports of refuge and supplies for pirates or Ming loyalists. Soon, there were few places on the mainland coast where Ch’eng-kung and his pirates could take refuge except for Kinmen (Quemoy) and the Amoy Islands. It was there that Ch’eng-kung met Ho-Bin a translator who had been working for the Dutch East India Company. Ho-Bin told him of the advantages of the island of Formosa.

Formosa, the Ming Invasion

Armed with maps of Formosa supplied by Ho-Bin, Ch’eng-kung set out with a fleet of 400 ships and 25,000 men to take the island. Penghu (the Pescadores) was their first stop. They quickly occupied Penghu and made plans to invade Formosa where the Chinese immigrants who had just suffered defeat in the rebellion of Guo Huai-i were sympathetic to a savior.

Upon landing Ch’eng-kung first seized food supplies for his troops. Then he attacked Fort Provintia because it had fewer defenses. Finally he laid siege to Fort Zeelandia. The Dutch were put in a predicament. They were outnumbered and supplies began to run low. They cried to the governor in Batavia for assistance and to the aborigines, but the distances were too great for sufficient help from Batavia and the aborigines could not muster a strong enough force to break the siege. Eventually after a siege of nine months, they surrendered in 1662. The Dutch had ruled Formosa for 38 years.

The Dutch maintained a base, Fort Zeelandia, on Taiwan from 1624 until 1662, when they were driven away by Koxinga. The island itself was a source of cane sugar and deerskin. It was also a place where Dutch VOC merchants could trade with Chinese merchants from the mainland. Here they could buy the silk needed for the Japanese market.
Fort Zeelandia (Chinese: 熱蘭遮城; pinyin: rèlánzhē chéng; POJ: Ji̍at-lân-jia Siâⁿ) was a fortress built over ten years from 1624–1634 by the Dutch Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, in the town of Anping (Tainan) on the island of Formosa, present day Taiwan, during their 38-year rule over the western part of it. Although the site has been previously named Orange City (奧倫治城), Anping City (安平城), and Tayoan City (台灣城), the current name of the site in Chinese is Fort Anping (安平古堡).

The Dutch chose a sandy peninsula off the coast of Tainan as the site of the fortress since this would allow the fortress direct access to the sea and with it, supplies and reinforcements from Batavia in event of a siege. Unfortunately, the site chosen lacked adequate supplies of fresh water, which had to be shipped in from the mainland.

The bricks used for the construction of the fortress were brought over from Java, and the mortar used consisted of a mixture of sugar, sand, ground seashells and glutinous rice. The fort was designed to be surrounded by three concentric layers of walls and the four corners of the fort were built into protruding bastions for better defence.

On 30 April 1661, General Zheng Cheng-gong (“Koxinga”) of Ming China (1368-1644) laid siege to the fortress (defended by 2,000 Dutch soldiers) with 400 warships and 25,000 men. After a nine-month siege with the loss of 1,600 Dutch lives, the Dutch surrendered the Fortress on 1 February 1662, when it became clear that no reinforcements were forthcoming from Batavia (present day Jakarta, Java, Indonesia) and when the defenders ran short of fresh water.

Under the Koxinga-Dutch Treaty (1662) signed on 1 February 1662 between Koxinga and Frederick Coyett, the Dutch governor, the Dutch surrendered the Fortress and left all the goods and property of the VOC behind at Fort Zeelandia. In return, all officials, soldiers and civilians were free to leave with their personal belongings and supplies.

On 9 February 1662, Frederick Coyett handed over the keys to the fort and led the remaining Dutch forces and civilians back to Batavia by sea, ending 38 years of Dutch colonial rule on Taiwan.

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Fort Zeelandia

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Fort Zeelandia

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Fort Zeelandia

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Penghu Island

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Taiwan and the Pecadores-1724

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The reef Pratas-South Chinese Sea

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Formosa-a thief life burried, his mother has to look

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The self sacrifice-of Minister-Hambroeck-op-Formosa,-1662

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Dutch East Indies

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Dutch East Indies

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie



The best Information is to read in

Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_East_Indies
Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_East_India_Company
In 1605, Portuguese trading posts in the Spice Islands of Maluku, Indonesia fell to the superior firepower of the Dutch. In 1619 a fortified base was established in Batavia (now Jakarta), and became the headquarters of the Dutch East Indies Company. Following the company’s bankruptcy in 1800, Indonesian territory under its administration was nationalised as the Dutch East Indies. By the early twentieth the Netherlands had under its administration all the territory that now forms Indonesia. Indonesian independence was declared on 17 August 1945, and officially recognised by the Netherlands in December 1949 following the Indonesian National Revolution. Dutch New Guinea however, remained Dutch, until 1962, when it was transferred to Indonesia following United States pressure.

(Nethertlands East Indies) (1602-1949*/1963*)

 oAmbon (1600-1963)
o Banda (1621-1963)
o Batavia, Capital of Java (1619-1963)
o Java’s North East Coast
o Makassar, on the island of Celebes (18 November 1667-1963)
o Molukken
o Bantam
o Sumatra’s Westkust
o Banjarmasin, city on the island of Borneo (1606-1963)
o Cheribon, Java
o Palembang, Sumatra
o Pontianak,  Borneo
o Timor (1640-1963)
+ Roti
+ Savoe
+ Soemba
+ Solor
+ het oostelijk deel van Flores
+ Kisar (van 1912 tot 1926)


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In 1513, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to land in Ambon, and it became the new centre for Portuguese activities in Maluku following their expulsion from Ternate.[2] The Portuguese, however, were regularly attacked from native Muslims on the island’s northern coast, in particular Hitu, which had trading and religious links with major port cities on Java’s north coast. They established a factory in 1521, but did not obtain peaceable possession of it until 1580. Indeed, the Portuguese never managed to control the local trade in spices, and failed in attempts to establish their authority over the Banda Islands, the nearby centre of nutmeg production.

The Portuguese were dispossessed by the Dutch already in 1605, when Steven van der Hagen took over the fort and without a single shot. Ambon was the headquarters of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) from 1610 to 1619 until the founding of Batavia (now Jakarta) by the Dutch.[3] About 1615 the English formed a settlement on the island at Cambello, which they retained until 1623, when it was destroyed by the Dutch. Frightful tortures inflicted on its unfortunate inhabitants were connected with its destruction. In 1654, after many fruitless negotiations, Oliver Cromwell compelled the United Provinces to give the sum of 300,000 gulden, as compensation to the descendants of those who suffered in the “Ambon Massacre”, together with Manhattan.[4] In 1673 the poet John Dryden produced his tragedy Amboyna; or the Cruelties of the Dutch to the English Merchants. In 1796 the British, under Admiral Rainier, captured Ambon, but restored it to the Dutch at the peace of Amiens, in 1802. It was retaken by the British in 1810, but once more restored to the Dutch in 1814. Ambon used to be the world center of clove production; until the nineteenth century, the Dutch prohibited the rearing of the clove-tree in all the other islands subject to their rule, in order to secure the monopoly to Ambon.

During the Dutch period, Ambon city was the seat of the Dutch resident and military commander of the Moluccas. The town was protected by Fort Victoria, and a 1911 encyclopedia characterized it as “a clean little town with wide streets, well planted”. The population was divided into two classes orang burger or citizens, and orang negri or villagers, the former being a class of native origin enjoying certain privileges conferred on their ancestors by the old Dutch East India Company. There were also, besides the Dutch, some Arabs, Chinese and a few Portuguese settlers.

Ambon city was the site of a major Dutch military base, which was captured from Allied forces by the Japanese in the Battle of Ambon (1942), during World War II. The battle was followed by the summary execution of more than 300 Allied POWs, in the Laha massacre.

Indonesia declared its independence in 1945. As a result of ethnic and religious tensions, as well as President Sukarno’s making of Indonesia a centralised state, Ambon was the scene of a revolt against the Indonesian government, which resulted in the rebellion of Republic of the South Moluccas in 1950.

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Ambon The-bay-of-Ambon,-with-Victoria-castle

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Ambon fort-Victoria-Ambon-1981

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Banda Islands

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, banda


The Portuguese http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banda_Islands

In August 1511 on behalf of the king of Portugal, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca, which at the time was the hub of Asian trade. In November of that year, after having secured Malacca and learning of the Bandas’ location, Albuquerque sent an expedition of three ships led by his good friend António de Abreu to find them. Malay pilots, either recruited or forcibly conscripted, guided them via Java, the Lesser Sundas and Ambon to Banda, arriving in early 1512.The first Europeans to reach the Bandas, the expedition remained in Banda for about one month, purchasing and filling their ships with Banda’s nutmeg and mace, and with cloves in which Banda had a thriving entrepôt trade.D’Abreu sailed through Ambon while his second in command Francisco Serrão went ahead towards Maluku islands, was shipwrecked and ended up in Ternate. Distracted by hostilities else where in the archipelago, such as Ambon and Ternate, the Portuguese did not return until 1529; a Portuguese trader Captain Garcia landed troops in the Bandas. Five of the Banda islands were within gunshot of each other and he realised that a fort on the main island Neira would give him full control of the group. The Bandanese were however hostile to such a plan and their warlike antics were both costly and tiresome to Garcia whose men were attacked when they attempted to build a fort. From then on, the Portuguese were infrequent visitors to the islands preferring to buy their nutmeg from traders in Malacca.Unlike other eastern Indonesian islands, such as Ambon, Solor, Ternate and Morotai, the Bandanese displayed no enthusiasm for Christianity or the Europeans who brought it in the sixteenth century, and no serious attempt was made to Christianise the Bandanese.[4] Maintaining their independence, the Bandanese never allowed the Portuguese to build a fort or a permanent post in the islands. Ironically though, it was this lack of ports which brought the Dutch to trade at Banda instead of the clove islands of Ternate and Tidore.

The Dutch followed the Portuguese to Banda but were to have a much more dominating and lasting presence. Dutch-Bandanese relations were mutually resentful from the outset, with Holland’s first merchants complaining of Bandanese reneging on agreed deliveries and price, and cheating on quantity and quality. For the Bandanese, on the other hand, although they welcomed another competitor purchaser for their spices, the items of trade offered by the Dutch—heavy woollens, and damasks, unwanted manufactured goods, for example—were usually unsuitable in comparison to traditional trade products. The Javanese, Arab and Indian, and Portuguese traders for example brought indispensable items along steel knives, copper, medicines and prized Chinese porcelain.

As much as the Dutch disliked dealing with the Bandanese, the trade was a highly profitable one with spices selling for 300 times the purchase price in Banda. This amply justified the expense and risk in shipping them to Europe. It is even likely that the resulting boom helped finance an artistic renaissance in Holland supporting the likes of Rembrandt van Rijn. The allure of such profits saw an increasing number of Dutch expeditions; it was soon seen that competition from each would eat into all their profits. Thus the competitors united to form the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) (the ‘Dutch East Indies Company).

Until the early seventeenth century the Bandas were ruled by a group of leading citizens, the orang kaya (literally ‘rich men’), each of these was a head of district. At the time nutmeg was one of the “fine spices” kept expensive in Europe by disciplined manipulation of the market, but a desirable commodity for Dutch traders in the ports of India as well; economic historian Fernand Braudel notes that India consumed twice as much as Europe . A number of Banda’s orang kaya were persuaded (or deceived) by the Dutch to sign a treaty granting the Dutch a monopoly on spice purchases. Even though the Bandanese had little understanding of the significance of the treaty known as ‘The Eternal Compact’, or that not all Bandanese leaders had signed, it would later be used to justify Dutch troops being brought in to defend their monopoly.

The Bandanese soon grew tired of the Dutch actions; the low prices, the useless trade items, and the enforcement of Dutch sole rights to the purchase of the coveted spices. The end of the line for the Bandanese came in 1609 when the Dutch reinforced Fort Nassau on Bandanaira Island. The orang kaya called a meeting with the Dutch admiral and forty of his highest-ranking men and ambushed and killed them all.

While Portuguese and Spanish activity in the region had weakened, the English had built fortified trading posts on tiny Ai and Run islands, ten to twenty kilometres from the main Banda Islands. With the British paying higher prices, they were significantly undermining Dutch aims for a monopoly, and as Dutch-British tensions increased, the Dutch built, in 1611, the larger and more strategic Fort Belgica, above Fort Nassau. In 1615, the Dutch invaded Ai with 900 men and the British retreated to Run where they regrouped. That same night, the British launched a surprise counter-attack on Ai retaking the island and killing 200 Dutchmen. A year later, a much stronger Dutch force attacked Ai which itself was initially hampered by cannonade fire, but after a month of siege the defenders ran out of ammunition and were slaughtered. The Dutch strengthened the fort renaming it ‘Fort Revenge’. European control of the Bandas was still contested up until 1667 when, under the Treaty of Breda (1667), the British traded the small island of Run for Manhattan, giving the Dutch full control of the Banda archipelago.

On August 9th, 1810. The British captured the Islands and accepted their surrender from the Dutch after engaging the Fortifications in action by Captain C. Cole, with the British warships of HMS Caroline thirty-six guns, HMS Piedmontaise, thirty-eight guns, Captain Foote and the HMS Barracouta, eighteen guns. Captain Kenah, having on board about one hundred men of the Madras European Regiment after sailing from Madras with supplies for Amboyna, recently captured by the British.

Newly-appointed VOC governor-general Jan Pieterszoon Coen set about enforcing Dutch monopoly over the Banda’s spice trade. In 1621 well-armed soldiers were landed on Bandaneira Island and within a few days they had also occupied neighbouring and larger Lontar. The orang kaya were forced at gunpoint to sign an unfeasibly arduous treaty, one that was in fact impossible to keep, thus providing Coen an excuse to use superior Dutch force against the Bandanese.The Dutch quickly noted a number of alleged violations of the new treaty, in response to which Coen launched a punitive massacre. Japanese mercenaries were hired to deal with the orang kaya, forty of whom were beheaded with their heads impaled and displayed on bamboo spears.

The population of the Banda Islands prior to Dutch conquest is generally estimated to have been around 13-15,000 people, some of whom were Malay and Javanese traders, as well as Chinese and Arabs. The actual numbers of Bandanese who were killed, forcibly expelled or fled the islands in 1621 remain uncertain. But readings of historical sources suggest around one thousand Bandanese likely survived in the islands, and were spread throughout the nutmeg groves as forced labourers . The Dutch subsequently re-settled the islands with imported slaves, convicts and indentured labourers (to work the nutmeg plantations), as well as immigrants from elsewhere in Indonesia. Most survivors fled as refugees to the islands of their trading partners, in particular Keffing and Guli Guli in the Seram Laut chain and Kei Besar. Shipments of surviving Bandanese were also sent to Batavia (Jakarta) to work as slaves in developing the city and its fortress. Some 530 of these individuals were later returned to the islands because of their much-needed expertise in nutmeg cultivation (something sorely lacking among newly-arrived Dutch settlers) .

Whereas up until this point the Dutch presence had been simply as traders, that was sometimes treaty-based, the Banda conquest marked the start of the first overt colonial rule in Indonesia albeit under the auspices of the VOC.

Having decimated the islands’ population, Coen divided the productive land of approximately half a million nutmeg trees into sixty-eight 1.2-hectare perken. These land parcels were then handed to Dutch planters known as perkeniers of which 34 were on Lontar, 31 on Ai and 3 on Neira. With few Bandanese left to work them, slaves from elsewhere were brought in. Now enjoying control of the nutmeg production the VOC paid the perkeniers 1/122nd of the Dutch market price for nutmeg, however, the perkeniers still profited immensely building substantial villas with opulent imported European decorations.

The outlying island of Run was harder for the VOC to control and they exterminated all nutmeg trees there. The production and export of nutmeg was a VOC monopoly for almost two hundred years. Fort Belgica, one of many forts built by the Dutch East India Company, is one of the largest remaining European forts in Indonesia.

Religious violence between Christians and Muslims, spilling over from intercommunal conflict in Ambon affected the islands in the late 1990s. The disturbance and resulting deaths damaged the previously prosperous tourism industry.


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, banda


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, banda


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, banda


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, bandafort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, banda



fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia

Within Batavia’s walls, wealthy Dutch built tall houses and pestilential canals. Commercial opportunities attracted Indonesian and especially Chinese immigrants, the increasing numbers creating burdens on the city. Tensions grew as the colonial government tried to restrict Chinese migration through deportations. On 9 October 1740, 5,000 Chinese were massacred and the following year, Chinese inhabitants were moved to Glodok outside the city walls.[3] The city began to move further south as epidemics in 1835 and 1870 encouraged more people to move far south of the port. The Koningsplein, now Merdeka Square, was completed in 1818, and Kebayoran Baru was the last Dutch-built residential area.[3]

In Indonesian National Revival era, Mohammad Husni Thamrin, a member of Volksraad criticized the Colonial Government for ignoring the development of kampung (inlander’s area) while focusing the development for the rich people in Menteng. He also talked on the issue of Farming Tax and other taxes which burdened people. Some of his speeches are still relevant in today’s Jakarta. An important street in today’s Jakarta was named after him.

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia

The new Gate 1682

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia

De-KRUYS-KERCK( church)-op-BATAVIA-1682

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia

Plattegrond (map)-van-Batavia-1740

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia

De-stad (city)-Batavia-1682

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia

 The old castel gate-Batavia-1888

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia

Murdering of thousands of Chinese in Batavia 1740

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie, batavia


Indies various

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,makassar

Attack-on-Makassar,-12th-of-juni-1660,Sombaopu,Panakok, Makassar

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,makassar


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,makassar


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,makassar


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,atjeh


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,banatam


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,surabaya


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,surabaya


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,moluccas


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,ternate


fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,moluccas

Moluccas Cambello-and-the-fortress-1724

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,moluccas

Moluccas Luhu-and-fortress-Overburg-1724

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,moluccas

Moluccas Suppression-of-the-Ihamau-of-Honomoa-(Saparua)-1663

fort, voc,dutch east indies, oost indie, nederlands indie,new guinee


Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Malaysia

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Malaysia


fort, voc, malakka, malacca


The Dutch captured Malacca on the west coast of Malaya (now West Malaysia) in 1641 from the Portuguese. In accordance with a treaty signed with stadtholder William V of Orange (then in exile in the United Kingdom) it was turned over to the British in 1806, during the Napoleonic wars. It was returned to the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1816. It was then ceded to the British in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.
Malacca, 1641-1795, government, including Riouw Lingga and territories included in Sumatra. International emporium. Product: tin.
Selangor, 1784 -? Product: tin. Fort Alting Burg, Fort Utrecht.
Riouw (Young Dental Pinang, now Tanjungpinang), from 1784, residence. Stack Location. Product: tin.
Kuala Kedah*
Kuala Linggi
Kota Belanda(1670-1743,1745-1748)
The origins of the fort can be traced back to 1670, with the coming of the Dutch. It is located in the village of Teluk Gedung , a fishing village in Pangkor island. At this time, the Dutch had a monopoly on the export of tin in Perak. An earlier fort was built in 1651 but was destroyed. In 1670, Batavia ordered the construction of a wooden fort, ten years later it was replaced by a brick one. In 1690, the Malays under the leadership of Panglima Kulup, attacked, destroyed and killed several Dutchmen. The settlement was temporarily abandoned until 1743, when the Dutch returned and repaired it. The Dutch stationed 60 soldiers , inclusive of 30 Europeans.

In 1748, the Dutch built another fort near the Perak river. Following this the Dutch administrators ordered to abandon this fort. Originally the fort was used as a store for tin ,and now it is called ” Kota Belanda”. In 1973, the Museums Department rebuilt the fort but without a roof as they did not know the original plans. The fort measures 3.5 sq meters and 6.7 meters high.

fort, voc, malakka, malacca

Cornelis Matelief-belegert-Malakka 1606

fort, voc, malakka, malacca


fort, voc, malakka, malacca



Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Vietnam, Cambodja

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Vietnam, Cambodja

fort, voc,Vietnam, tonkin, faifo, hanoi


Tonkin, Factory from 1637 to 1699. Main product: silk.
Faifo (now Hoi An), Factory from 1637 to 1652. Main products: silk, gold.
Towards the end of the 1630s, the Company signed an agreement with the king of Tonkin and opened a trading post in or near today’s Hanoi. The country was a major silk producer. The silk which the VOC bought there was particularly valuable for trade with Japan. The VOC maintained a trading post in Tonkin from 1636 to 1699. This trading post was run by an ‘opperhoofd’ or supervisor.

fort, voc,Vietnam, tonkin, faifo, hanoi



Phnom Penh*
The town of Lawec in Cambodia was situated halfway along the Mekong River on the way to Phnom Penh. The VOC set up a trading post at Lauweck in 1620, but the trade there proved disappointing, and just two years later the company shut the post down. The Lawec trading post was reopened on three further occasions, but in 1667 the VOC left Cambodia for good. Besides deer hides and ray skins, Cambodia functioned mainly as a source of provisions for Batavia such as rice, butter, salted pork, and lard.

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Thailand ( Siam )

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Thailand ( Siam )

fort, voc, Thailand ,  Siam , Judea,


Ayutthaya (also known Ajodja, Judia or Judea), Factory from 1613 to 1767. From 1630, the highest VOC staff chief. Main products: sappanhout, tin, animal skins and rice.
Patani (Pattani), Factory from 1602 to 1623. Main product: pepper.
Sangora (Songkhla), Factory of 1607 to 1623.
Ligor (Ligoor now Nakhon Si Thammarat), Factory until 1756. Main products: tin, sappanhout, ivory.

Thai history (Siam)

It is obvious that, previous to 1600, the Siam Kingdom has been powerful. The Kingdom ruled over parts of Laos, Cambodia, Burma and the peninsula Malacca.

Already at that time, the King had an international outlook which may be understood from e.g. the treaty with Portuguese since 1511 and the frequent employing of foreigners to the ministerial post of ‘phrakhlang’. For example, Persian, Chinese, Indian and Greek persons hold the post.

The King himself has been in charge of international trade and foreign affairs. Trade has been driven with the Dutch, the British, the French and the Portuguese. Moreover, diplomatic missions have been exchanged with France and with Holland.

Since 1518, the Portuguese had a trading post in Malacca and through that post they possessed an influential military power. Therefore, the King of Siam appreciated the Dutch as a welcome military power, stabilizing the situation. As a sign of this appreciation, the King offered the Dutch a special treatment: a preferencial site for their factorij, known as the Hollandze Logie. The VOC had this Logie, the settlement in Ayutthaya, from 1608 unto1767. This period is longer than any other European nation had in Ayutthaya. Also the VOC got a preferencial trading position, in fact a monopoly.

Though beautiful paintings have been produced concerning Judea by e.g., Alain Mallet, in none of them the Logie has been presented. Nevertheless, sketches of the settlement are available

Hollandze Logie: Rise and fall

After its foundation in 1602, the VOC commenced a fast trading effort towards Asia. In 1604, representatives of the VOC were in the busy harbour of Pattani where some Siamese ambassadors mentioned that the Siamese King wanted to send a mission to China soon. The Dutch wanted eagerly participate in that mission and maybe so getting access to the Chinese emperor and the silk trade

Later-on, diplomatic an trading relations with Siam have been established. As an outcome, Thai diplomats visited Holland, together with the company of an interpreter. They went on audience with King Maurits in The Hague. Maurits received a letter of the King of Siam together with some presents. The ambassadors visited some important VOC-cities such as Amsterdam, Hoorn and Enkhuizen

From time to time, for various reasons not to detail here, the VOC closed the settlement in Ayutthaya, e.g. in 1620. Both the King of Siam and the VOC director (Van Nijenrode) were not happy with that decision. Therefore the King sent a letter to the Prince of Oranje. As a consequence, in 1628, the office has been re-opened and new good relations were a fact. Dutch settlement in Ayutthaya has been closed several other times too: 1705, 1740, 1747.

In the 18th century an end came to both Ayutthaya as capital of the Kingdom of Siam and the Dutch settlement. First, in 1760, there was a Burmese attack on Ayutthaya. It was robbed, burned and destroyed. The VOC office was robbed too. Shortly later, in 1767, another Burmese attack followed. During this attack the VOC buildings burnt down and Ayutthaya destroyed.

As a consequence, the King moved to Thonburi and made this the new capital. Though the King of Siam has requested the Dutch to return to Thailand, to the new capital Thonburi, no trading post have been re-established anymore.

In the years after, the site of the Dutch settlement has frequently been flooded and sediment has been deposited on the remains.

View of Siam-1687

fort, voc, Thailand ,  Siam


fort, voc, Thailand ,  Siam


fort, voc, Thailand ,  Siam

Island of the coast of thailand 1753

fort, voc, Thailand ,  Siam

The island Condor 1753

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Myanmar, Burma

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Myanmar, Burma


Mrohaung (Arakan), Factory 1625-1665
Siriangh (or Syriam), Factory  of 1635-1679
Ava, Factory  approximately 1635-1679. Trade in indigo, saltpetre, quicksilver, vermilion.
Martaban, ( Mottama )Factory  from about 1660

The Dutch East India Company in Burma: 1634-1680

Shifting fortunes The VOC’s Burma trade formally began on 14 May 1634, when the Vlielandt sailed from Masulipatnam to Syriam. The Dutch planted three trading posts: the main office at Syriam, at the time the country’s main port of entry, a subsidiary office in Ava, the new capital, and a small post, no more than a shop, in Pegu City, Burma’s old capital. In the early years, the company also had a factory in Prome, a key market town on the Irrawaddy. The Burma office remained within the jurisdiction of Pulicat, the company’s head-office on the Coromandel Coast. The Company’s accounts show that customers came from all walks of life – from kings to governors down to the odd slave. The clientele was ethnically diverse and included Muslims, Hindus, Armenians, Portuguese, Chinese, Siamese, Turks, Peguans and, of course, Burmese. The VOC’s main interest in Burma lay in its market; considerable profits from the sale of Indian textiles and red cotton yarn provided the company’s factories in Coromandel and Bengal with much needed funds. The VOC’s years in Burma can be divided into three distinct periods: the early years of indecision (1634-1648), the golden middle years (1649-1669) and the final years of decline and departure (1670-1680). During the first period suggestions were made, in turn by Pulicat and Batavia (the company’s head office in Asia), to close down the Burmese factories. Pulicat and Batavia, however, seemed unable to agree, with the result that trade continued halfheartedly. The second period witnessed a great improvement in conditions for trade. In the final years, a new king with little interest in trade or foreigners ascended the Burmese throne. By this time the objectives of the Dutch East India Company had altered, while forces beyond its control were working to undermine the company. In the end the Burma trade became a casualty of the company’s new priorities. Ruby rings and elephant tusks During their time in Burma, the Dutch had dealings with four Toungoo Kings (Thalun, Pindalè, Pye and Minyèkyawdin). As with relations the world over, the exchange of gifts played a crucial role; this ritual provides us with detailed lists of gifts exchanged between the Dutch and the Burmese Kings as well as other dignitaries. Among Burmese gifts to the Dutch were ruby rings, betel boxes, tin, lac, chillies, elephant tusks, teak, musk and, as a great favour, the odd elephant. On occasion, Dutch gifts could be quite exotic: King Thalun was once presented with a lion and a bear. Typically, Dutch gifts consisted of luxurious and costly textiles. When comparing lists of gift and commercial textiles, it becomes apparent that these fabrics moved in different worlds. Exquisite, extremely expensive textiles were offered as gifts in the rarefied world of palaces and kings; cheap, coarse commercial textiles were traded in the dusty world of shops and marketplaces. It is this latter, common grade of textiles that formed the backbone of the VOC’s Burma trade. The textiles most in demand in Burma were of average quality and low price, such as the plain and coarse bethilles, chelas and allegias which Burmese used to make cabayas and lungis. However, it was the lowliest of textiles – chiavonis, tampis, cortis, coarse chintz and narrow black taffachelas and, above all, coarse and cheap brandams, blue boulongs and single-ply taffachelas that sold best. Colourfast Indian red cotton yarn was in such great demand that the Burmese mixed it with indigenous yarns to weave cloth of their own. Standard of living In addition to data on imports and exports and profits and losses, we now have access to precise figures for wages and the cost of daily necessities, from which the standard of living can be determined. The average Burmese could well afford an occasional length of imported Indian cloth in the middle and lower price ranges. When we compare the spending power of seventeenth century labourers in Burma and Coromandel, it becomes clear that Burmese labourers enjoyed a much higher standard of living than their counterparts in India. In fact, the high wages the Burmese labour force could command was one of the main reasons the Dutch brought in gangs of slaves from India to toil in their Burmese factories. Empire of trade Burma offered a large assortment of export goods. Statistics indicate that the Dutch generally took what they could get. Tin was a constant as were lac, elephant tusks, chillies (long peppers) and beeswax. In the 1650s, Chinese copper coins and Burmese ganza (a metal akin to bell metal) became major exports. The Company turned large quantities of Chinese copper coins, flowing into Burma from Yunnan, into money to be used as legal tender in Batavia and Ceylon. In the final years, the Dutch also exported a great deal of gold, much of it originating in China. The VOC, through its elaborate inter-Asian network, was in a position to trade Burmese goods in the most profitable markets throughout Asia. Their Bengal factory, always in need of additional funds, was sent valuable Burmese cargoes (including Chinese coins, ganza, and zinc). The copper extracted from Chinese coins and ganza was in great demand in Coromandel, as were gold, tin, timber and chillies. In Japan a profitable market existed for Burmese catechu, namrack, deerskins, buffalo hides and horns. Lac generated excellent profits in Mocha, as well as in Persia, where there was a good market for Burmese tin, elephant tusks, cardamom, and the costliest of Burma’s fabled rubies. Considerable quantities of Burmese elephant tusks were shipped to Surat, while in Holland there was demand for the excellent Burmese lac. As for Burma’s famous Martaban jars, there was constant demand throughout Asia for these huge, glazed pots used to store and transport a myriad of things, from potable water and rice to gunpowder and, on occasion, stowaways. Balancing the books One of the principal problems of the VOC’s Burma trade was that, due to a lack of sufficient export goods, the Dutch experienced difficulty in transferring their money (the proceeds from the sale of Indian textiles and yarn) from Burma to Coromandel and Bengal where additional funds were desperately needed. To this end, the Dutch in Burma provided Indian ruby merchants with large loans that they had to repay after their return to India. Nonetheless, large amounts of capital remained tied up in Burma and accumulated accumulated steadily, a regular cause of concern for the Company. In the final decade of Dutch operations in Burma, the 1670s, trade deteriorated steadily, a situation aggravated by a new king said to care little for foreigners or their business. Perhaps more importantly, the company had by now come under serious threat from forces working against it both in Europe and the Far East. To understand why the Dutch decided to abandon Burma at this point in time, both aspects need to be examined. Trading with seventeenth- century Burma had never been easy. The commercial and political climate in Burma was not, in fact, any worse in the 1670s than it was in the 1630s. Military commitments The main points of contention – the ban on direct trade with China at Bhamo, royal monopolies, high tolls, and the disarming of ships – were exasperating but not new. Rather, the circumstances and priorities of the Company had changed. Trade was no longer its main concern; the VOC had changed into a territorial enterprise with military and political commitments and began to operate increasingly from its two power bases, Batavia and Ceylon. More importantly, a radical shift occurred in its commercial priorities. Whereas in the early days the company’s inter-Asian sea-borne traffic was a key element in its drive to create a vast empire of trade – with the outcome of this traffic largely determining the flow of trade between Asia and Europe – by 1680 the situation was different. The VOC’s inter-Asian trade had peaked by the 1670s, and was replaced by direct trade between Asia and Europe. This is perhaps the main reason behind the Dutch decision to abandon Burma. Whereas Burma had been an integral part of the VOC’s inter-Asian trade for nearly half a century, the company’s new priorities now made it irrelevant. In the 1740s and 50s the Dutch made several attempts to re-enter the Burmese market. Although the reason for this belated policy change was never clearly specified, Batavia expressed hopes to trade with Burma again. By then, however, Burma was in the throes of a bloody civil war that would bring down the Restored Toungoo (1597-1752) and usher in the Kon-baung Dynasty (1752-1885), hardly the best of times to attempt a renewal of trade. This is where the VOC records on Burma finally fall silent.

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Ceylon

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Ceylon

Ceylon, sri lanka, galle, fort, voc

Galle Fort

Colombo Batticaloa Galle Jaffna Kalpitya Kalutara Mannar Trincomalee Matara, Negombo Tangalle Hammenhiel Pooneryn Elephant Pass Ruwanwella The Dutch first landed in Ceylon in 1602, it was then under Portuguese control. Between 1636 and 1658 they managed to oust the Portuguese, initially at the invitation of local rulers. The Portuguese had ruled the coastline, though not the interior, of the island from 1505 to 1658. Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims had all suffered religious persecution under Portuguese rule; the Dutch were more interested in trade than in religious converts. The VOC proved unable to extend its control into the interior and only controlled coastal provinces. Ceylon remained a major Dutch trading post throughout the VOC period. Ceylon’s importance came from it being a half-way point between their settlements in Indonesia and South Africa. The island itself was a source of cinnamon and elephants, which were sold to Indian princes. In 1796 the British seized control of the Dutch positions, at the urging of the ruler of Kandy. It was formally ceded in the treaty of Amiens.

Time Line

1505 – Galle Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, was first set up by the Portuguese as a trading station in 1505. Later it was taken by the Dutch who built a fort with 300 houses and shops inside the walls, all still standing. The Dutch passed off to the British for the last 100 years of the colonial period, so the French couldn’t get Ceylon

• 1602 – In 1602, the Dutch appeared in the east. They assumed to aid the people of Ceylon against the oppression of the Portuguese, ....  read more

Dutch former Colonies, Asia, Bengal

Dutch former Colonies, Asia,  Bengal

Suratte, Bengal


In 1608 the Netherlands created their first Indian colony. In 1625 Vereenigde Oostindische Companie of Holland, more commonly known as the Jan Companie or VOC, established a settlement at Chinsurah a few miles south of Bandel to trade in opium, salt, muslin and spices. They built a fort called Fort Gustavius and a church and several other buildings. A famous Frenchman, General Perron who served as military advisor to the Mahrattas, settled in this Dutch colony and built a large house here. The Dutch settlement of Chinsurah survived until 1825 when the Dutch in their process of consolidating their interests in modern day Indonesia, ceded Chinsurah to the English in lieu of the island of Sumatra (part of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824).

Fort Gustavius has since been obliterated from the face of Chinsurah and the church collapsed recently due to disuse, but much of the Dutch heritage remains. These include old barracks, the Governor’s residence, General Perron’s house, now the Chinsurah College and the old Factory Building, now the office of the Divisional Commissioner.

Hougli / Chinsura from 1635 to 1795 hoofdcomptoir. Main products: cotton, opium, ginger, hemp, silk, sugar. Present fort: Gustavus.
Patna, comptoir. Main products: nitrate, cotton fabrics, opium.
Cassimabasar (Cassim Bazar, Calcapore), comptoir with a chief merchant. Purchasing and processing of raw silk and silver coins were beaten.
Dacca (or Decca, now Dhaka) was a small establishment where the textile core, here was the seat of the Nawab (Governor) of Bengal and it was the headquarters for political reasons of importance.
Murshidabad (1710-1759) had a lodge where VOC-silver coin was beaten to Bengal.
Pipely, 1627-1635 hoofdcomptoir. Main products: nitrate and slaves.
Bellesoor (Balasore, now Baleshwar), from 1676 a comptoir. Fort William.

 Bengal, voc, Chinsura


Suratte, Bengal, Hoegly, voc