(SALE) 1 Old Antique Print/Houtmans fleet / Virtual Print Fair


Title: Houtman's fleet.
Author: Pontanus, J.A.
PlaceAndYear: Amsterdam, 1611.
Description: From Johan Isaac Pontanus' 'Rerum et urbis Amstelodamensium historia'. Description of the first voyage of the Dutch to the East Indies - the so-called Eerste Schipvaart. On April 2nd, 1595 the ships 'Amsterdam', 'Hollandia', 'Mauritius' and the 'Duyfken departed from Amsterdam for the East Indies under command of Cornelis de Houtman (2 April 1565 – 1 September 1599). At the time, the Portuguese Empire held a monopoly on the spice trade, and the voyage was a symbolic victory for the Dutch, even though the voyage itself was a disaster.
The voyage was beset with trouble from the beginning. Scurvy broke out after only a few weeks, due to insufficient provisions. At Madagascar, where a brief stop was planned, seventy people had to buried. The Madagascan bay where they were anchored is now known as the "Dutch Cemetery". On June 27, the ships finally arrived at Banten, a northwestern port in Java. Jan Huyghen van Linschoten had told them not to pass through the Malacca Strait, which was controlled by the Portuguese, but through Sunda Strait.
De Houtman was introduced to the Sultan of Banten, who promptly entered into an optimistic treaty with the Dutch, writing "We are well content to have a permanent league of alliance and friendship with His Highness the Prince Maurice of Nassau, of the Netherlands and with you, gentlemen." The local Portuguese traders became very conspicious when De Houtman did not buy any black pepper, and wanted to wait on the next harvest. Unfortunately, De Houtman was undiplomatic and insulting to the sultan, and was turned away for "rude behaviour", without being able to buy spices at all.
The ships then sailed east to Madura, but were attacked by pirates on the way. In Madura, they were received peacefully, but De Houtman ordered his men to brutally attack and rape the civilian population in revenge for the unrelated earlier piracy.[2]
Next the ships sailed for Bali, and met with the island's king. They managed to obtain a few pots of peppercorns on February 26, 1597. Two of the crewmembers stayed on the island. At Bawean one of the ships, the Amsterdam was purposely set on fire, and the crew divided over the other three ships. When the sailors had enough of the exhausting voyage, it was decided not to go to the Moluccas and return to Holland.
Portuguese ships prevented them from taking on water and supplies at St. Helena. Out of the 249 man crew, only 87 returned, too weak to moor their ships themselves.
Though the trip was a humanitarian disaster and financially probably just broke even, it was a symbolic victory. It may be regarded as the start of the Dutch colonisation of Indonesia. Within five years, sixty-five more Dutch ships had sailed east to trade. Soon, the Dutch would fully take over the spice trade in and around the Indian Ocean.
Dimensions: 11 x 15 cm (2x), uncoloured, very good condition.
  • Number: 1012206
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum

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