Hendrick Gerritsz Pot, Bernardus Paludanus , 1629
During the 16th century, the spice trade was extremely lucrative, but the Portuguese Empire had a stranglehold on the source of the spices, Indonesia. For a time, the merchants of the Netherlands were content to accept this and buy all of their spice in Lisbon, Portugal, as they could still make a decent profit by reselling it throughout Europe. However, in the 1590s Spain, which was at war with the Netherlands, was in a dynastic union with Portugal, thus making continued trade practically impossible. This was intolerable, and the Dutch would have been glad to circumvent the Portuguese monopoly and go straight to Indonesia, but the sailing directions needed in order to reach Indonesia were jealously guarded by the Portuguese.
However, in 1592 the cartographer Petrus Plancius published a series of charts showing, in exact detail, the route to the Indies.
Soon after these charts were published, however, three Amsterdam merchants began meeting in secret, plotting an expedition to Indonesia. Their names were Jan Jansz. Carel, Hendrick Hudde, and Reynier Pauw. One of the first things these men did was to sent Pauw’s cousin, Cornelis de Houtman, to Lisbon, posing as a merchant. His job was to confirm Plancius’ charts and see if he could find any more information on the East Indies. Then, in September 1592, Jan Huyghen van Linschoten returned from an extended stay in Goa, India, and soon after, in collaboration with noted traveler Bernardus Paludanus, he published an account of his journeys that included a large amount of information on the East Indies that confirmed all of Plancius’ charts and added more besides. In early 1594, de Houtman returned from Lisbon.
The Amsterdam merchants now had all of the information they needed, and they set about raising capital to fund the expedition. They recruited six other merchants and with them formed the Compagnie van Verre: Pieter Hasselaer, Jan Poppen, Hendrick Buick, Dirk van Os, Syvert Sem, and Arend ten Grootenhuys. The Compagnie was able to raise 290,000 guilders, and used it to build and equip four ships: the Mauritius, Amsterdam, Hollandia, and the Duyfken.
The First Dutch Expedition to Indonesia was an expedition that took place from 1595 to 1597. It was instrumental in the opening up of the Indonesian spice trade to the merchants that eventually formed the Dutch East India Company, and marked the end of the Portuguese Empire’s dominance in the region.
I frickin love history mannnnn. I love this stuff. It started becoming interesting after I moved here to Amsterdam and read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (which everyone should read because it is AWESOME). I have been to the Historisch Museum Amsterdam three times already in one year, I love seeing all the paintings of the VOC and learning more about the buildings I see every day.