The impact of the Dutch East India
Company (VOC) on the history of the
Indian Ocean Region and its impact on
AAPI Lecture 15 May 2014
Dr Nonja Peters
History of Migration Experiences,
@ Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute; 15 May 2014
Hartog 2016 – 400 year anniversary.
How did the earth's peoples, cultures,
economies, and polities become so closely
When did our world become 'global' and
what role did the VOC, Asia and Africa play
in this new international community?
Aims and Objectives
• The formation and spread of the Vereinigde
Oost Indisch Compagnie VOC – Dutch East
India Company - in the Indian Ocean Region
1595 - 1800; and
• Its impact on pre and post-British settlement
Pre-European Trade Routes
Silk Road extended from Europe through Egypt ,
Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Afghanistan,
Central Asia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India,
Bangladesh, Burma, Java Indonesia, Philipines and
Vietnam into China.
Its land routes are red, its the water routes blue.
Portuguese begin to trade in the Indian Ocean
Asian tea, coffee, sugar, rice, rubber, tobacco,
silk, decorated textiles, gold, copper & tin,
textiles, porcelain, and spices: cinnamon, cassia,
cardamon, ginger, tumeric, pepper, nutmeg,
cloves and mace, plus opium, elephants, slaves
Colonialism & Imperialism 1450-1950
The Age of Entitlement begins?
The picture is of discovery and occupation. The heroical
depiction of the explorer, triumphant reflects the then prevalent
Western self-conception of Western man as the pioneer of all
progress, and as standing superior to all other civilization. Indeed,
the "white man's burden" obliged him to make his superior
knowledge available to the rest of the world and in so doing,
extend his world rule!
Main Regions Overseas
Nieuwe Paskaart van Oost-Indiën, Amsterdam 1689
Gezicht op de Tafelbaai, Vingboons-atlas, Bussum 1981, p. 29
Factorij aan de Hougli, 1665,
schilderij van Hendrick van Schuylenburgh, Rijksmuseum
The VOC in Ceylon
The island of Ceylon, was in 1600 the main producer of
cinnamon in the world. The coastal area was owned by
the Portuguese; the interior was dominated by the king of
In 1637 the VOC supported it against the Portuguese in
exchange for the promise of a monopoly on the export of
cinnamon and elephants.
1658 Portuguese expelled and the VOC secures the
monopoly on the world trade
Kaart van Batavia, circa 1652, gravure van Mattheus du Chesne, KITLV
Major VOC Trade Settlements Indian
Ocean & South-East Asian Region
VOC and Botanical collections
Rare and unusual plant and fruits become as
fashionable and expensive to acquire as porcelains
and lacquer work.
In 1677 VOC officials reported that:
“ the deck of a ship recently returned from the
Cape was covered and obstructed in such a way
with boxes, and in such great numbers as if they
were whole gardens, resulting in so great a
weakening and damaging of the ship by all the
weight on top that we were obliged to write it off
and prohibit herewith the sending of all those
cuttings, trees and plants” (Jardine 2008:241).
Portugal starts to Lose its grip on Indian Ocean Trade
Climatological Database for the World's Oceans 1750-1850
Royal Netherlands Meteological Society
Shipping Movements from the available observations in the
CLIWOC database for the period 1750-1854.
Treaty of Tordesillas (June 7, 1494),,
between Spain and Portugal
Spanish Shipping Movements for the
UK Shipping Movements for the
NL Shipping Movements for
the period 1750-1854.
" The Dutch East India Company
remained an important trading concern
for almost two centuries, paying an 18%
annual dividend for almost 200 years. In
its declining years in the late 18th
century it was referred to as Vergaan
Onder Corruptie (referring to the acronym
VOC), which translates as 'Perished By
Cultural Heritage Preservation
The Dutch East India Company (VOC, Verenigde Oostindische
Compagnie), founded in 1602, and liquidated in 1795, was the largest
and most impressive of the early modern European trading companies
operating in Asia. About twenty-five million pages of VOC records have
survived in repositories in Jakarta, Colombo, Chennai, Cape Town,
Chinsurah, Bengal and The Hague.
The VOC archives make up the most complete and extensive source on
early modern world history anywhere with data relevant to the history of
hundreds of Asia’s and Africa’s former local political and trade regions.
In 2003 the Netherlands submitted the necessary documentary heritage
needed to recommend the VOC archives be included in the Memory of
the World Register and realized this aim the same year.
How WA Figures in this story
Dutch Maritime, Military, Migration and Mercantile links
with Australia date back 400 years plus
• Mapping, naming coastline, cohabitation with Aboriginals?
• Trade with Captain Stirling 1829.
• Johannah Jacoba Bruce nee Herklots 1850
• 1942 ABDA Allies – bombing of Broome
• Evacuees from NEI 1945
• Indonesian Independence 1945 – unions, Australian
government, United Nations
• Migrants 1949 +
• Mercantilism – oil and gas, mining
• Heritage Tourism
• Mutual Heritage
• Cultural Diplomacy
Cultural Heritage Tourism
Culture has always been a major object of travel, as the development of the
Grand Tour from the 16th century onwards demonstrates. In the 20th
century, some people have claimed, culture ceased to be the objective of
tourism: tourism is now culture. Cultural attractions play an important
role in tourism at all levels, from the global highlights of world culture to
attractions that underpin local identities.
Cultural heritage tourism is important for various reasons; it has a
positive economic and social impact, it establishes and reinforces
identity, it helps preserve the cultural heritage, with culture as an
instrument it facilitates harmony and understanding among
people, it supports culture and helps renew tourism (Richards,
Cultural heritage tourism has a number of objectives that must be met
within the context of sustainable development such as; the conservation of
cultural resources, accurate interpretation of resources, authentic visitors
experience, and the stimulation of the earned revenues of cultural
The Story of VOC contact with Western Australia begins in 1616 when Dirk
Hartog in the Eendracht landed on what we now call Dirk Hartog Island on
25 October 1616 and left on 27 October 1616.
Dirk Hartog Story
Dirk Hartog in 1616 marked the first European
landing on Australia’s west coast.
Hartog left a hammered pewter plate inscribed with
his name and the names of the owners of his ship to
commemorate his visit to - Dirk Hartog Island. His
ship’s log notes that he called the country Eendracht
(Harmony or Unity) Land after his ship.
1697, de Vlamingh came upon Hartog Island in
1699 Englishman, William Dampier
Frenchmen St Alouarn in 1772 & Baudin1801 In
1818 Freycinet took De Vlaming’s Plate to France It
was gifted back to Australia in 1949.
Gerritsz, Hessel, 1581-1632. Chart of Malay
Archipelago and Dutch discoveries in Australia 1618]
Marooned on WA coast from VOC
Shipwrecks between 1629 -1727
Shipwreck 230 survived 2 marooned
4 June 1629
125 later murdered
Wouter Loos & Jan
Pelgrom de By van
Longboat sent to
13 October 1629
Sent to retrieve a
barrel of vinegar,
boat not seen again
5 missing sailors Abrolhos Islands
3 sailors lost
inland/ 8 sent to
26 February 1658
shore party under
Leeman & thirteen
10 Died en route to
4/14 made it alive
22 April 1712
100 survived; 12 missing
88 rescued after
many months on
75+/- assumed 173-225 or more
Hutt River or
6 sailors made it
Witte Valk &
Sent to find the 68
marooned from the
lost in the ocean
28 April 1656, the
five kms off Ledge
193 on board, 75
made it to shore
found in 1963
68 marooned, left
on the WA
on board. Officially
or more marooned
Goede Hoop shore
9 June 1727
never seen again
Wreck found 1927
Replica of the Batavia Lelystad NL
In the end, after
it was all over
and all the
out of 316
the Batavia, only
Batavia wreck 1629
The Dutch Fort on West Wallabi Island in Houtman’s Abrolhos
Gilt Dragon 1656
In 1890 kangaroo shooters stumbled on a
mast, ‘about 40ft [12m]’ long, 25 kilometres
north of the wreck site, large rusty iron pot
of about 50 litres capacity, a couple of horn
spoons, a copper shovel and two crescent-
shaped hatchets all indicating that it may
have been one of the survivors’ camp sites.
Incense urn handed over to the New Norcia Mission in 1846
found by Juat people at a well about 20 kilometres south of
where the Vergulde Draak was wrecked.
Single coin, from the Zuytdorp, was given to a station owner
at Shark Bay in 1869 found by a man at Woomerangee Hill,
40 km north of the Zuytdorp wreck site.
‘Circle of Stones’ first seen in 1875 in very inhospitable
country 200 km north of the Vergulde Draeck shipwreck
site, is thought to possibly be associated with survivors.
An extremely weathered and fragile skeleton and a clump of
coins, found on the beach opposite the Vergulde Draeck
wreck site in 1931. Another coin reputedly found on the
banks of the Moore Rive in 1957.
Inscribed brass‘Leyden Tobacco Tin’ similar to those found
at other wreck sites, discovered at Wale Well, 55 km north
of the Zuytdorp wreck site in April 1990 is also thought to
possibly have come from a survivor of that wreck.
of the Soldiers on
the Zuiddorp 1712
" Dutch 39
" Germans 44
" Belgians 11
" Norwegians 4
" Swiss 3
" Latvians 2
" Austrians 1
Mutual cultural heritage
Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘mutual heritage
policy’ created for ‘countries whose history intersects with the
Netherlands, generating many material and immaterial relics
of the past, which are collectively referred to by the term
‘common cultural heritage’.
As documented on the Ministry Buitenlandse Zaken website:
‘by maintaining, managing, using and highlighting this
heritage, we can foster a critical reflection on our past and
generate a mutual understanding of past, present and future.
This can strengthen relations and promote cooperation
between countries, both bilaterally and multilaterally’.
Mutual Cultural Heritage
In formulating the policy, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs settled on the term
‘common cultural heritage’ because it
reflects the idea that the Netherlands is
not the only party with an interest in and
responsibility for that heritage. Rather
[that] it is heritage the Netherlands as
well as a partner country - agree - must
The Agreement between the Netherlands and Australia
Concerning Old Dutch Shipwrecks (ANCODS) found off the
Western Australian coast was signed on 6 November 1972 and was
a schedule to the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act, 1976.
The Act protects all shipwrecks in Australian waters older than 75
Four VOC shipwrecks have been found off the coast of Western
Australian. These ships in order of discovery are Zuytdorp (1712),
Batavia (1629), Vergulde Draeck (more commonly known as the
Gilt Dragon) (1656) and Zeewyk (1727).
Three other old Dutch ships disappeared between the Cape of
Good Hope and Batavia (currently known as Jakarta, Indonesia)
and have not been located and could possibly be in Australian
waters. These ships are Aagtekerke (1726), Fortuyn (1724) and
Ridderschap van Holland (1694).
Cultural diplomacy relies heavily on the
exchange of ideas, information, values,
systems, traditions, beliefs, and other
aspects of culture, with the intention of
fostering mutual understanding.
Cultural exchange has been intertwined
with the pursuit of foreign relations
Garden Island 1829, Cpt Stirling send the Parmelia and
Sulphur to Java for food for the fledgling Swan River
Graden Island 1829 showing the ships Parmelia and Sulphur
John Bruce Pensioner Guard
John Bruce arrived in W.A. on the "Hashemy" in 1850.
He married Johannah Jacoba Herklotz daughter of a Dutch Judge at
the VOC settlement Chinsurah Bengal India in 1828 and all of their
seven children were born in India except for the youngest who was
born in France. They were Charlotte Elizabeth, Jane Mary, Mary,
Caroline, Clarrie, Emily Helen and Edward (Nedlands)
Staff Officer to the Pensioner Guard in charge of Convict Stations.
Commandant of W.A. Military Force, 1855; MLC and Executive 1854;
Acting Governor of W.A. 1868-1869. His daughter Mary married
Anthony O'Grady Lefroy;
Henry Bruce (later Premier of W.A.) was her son.