Unlike the Spanish, the Portuguese did not strike boldly inland but clung to selected ports which were united by their navy into a strategic network. The Portuguese made an end to that old and multi-shackled trade chain which had brought the Oriental spices and luxury goods to Europe. Did the drain of European money towards Asia stop herewith? This drain had been occasioned because the West had nothing to offer the East in the way of merchandise. But what is too often overlooked is that even before the advent of the Portuguese such a commodity had made its appearance: namely, artillery-pieces. When the Portuguese took Malacca in 1511, they captured three thousand pieces of artillery. How esteemed cannons were as trade goods and as presents may be shown by the following examples: Ca 1600 AD five English ships got return cargos of spices from the Spaniards and natives against delivery of cannons, guns and munition (Stapel, 96, p. 60). The ransom of Pieter van Raay in Jacatra 1619 was paid in two cannons and 10.000 reales (96, p. 65). Even when the Dutch were in command of the Moluccas (1621) the English acquired return-cargos of spices against fire-arms (96, p. 69). The prince of Jacatra had artillery in 1618 (96, p. 61). The second attack by Mataram on Batavia (June 1629) was made also with artillery (96, p. 83). The first V.O.C. embassy to Mataram offered four guns as a present (45, III, p. 38). Vice-admiral Van Warwijck in 1599 sold arms to the sultan of Ternate against delivery of spices. From De Iongh (54a) more examples can be quoted for the period of the V.O.C. Mataram and Makassar very often had more and heavier artillery than the V.O.C. They were also well supplied with hand fire arms. The fire arms were, however, badly handled and maintained (p. 90). In 1667 the V.O.C. forced a Makassar fleet of 200 vessels to surrender. Two larger ships mounted with 18 and 13 cannons were taken over (p. 107). From the forts which protected Macassar the king’s fort Sambupo, having walls of 12 ft thick, was equipped with 272 cannons (p. 112). Of course it is possible that as the V.O.C. gained power the purchase of armaments increased. They were however already considerable before the Portuguese showed up. This proves that the native princes spent much of their income on guns. He, however, who would give neither money nor guns had to impose contracts of forced delivery on the native princes or conquer the desired territories. This the Portuguese did in the Moluccas where they arrived somewhat before Magelhaen’s expedition, in the service of Spain, made its appearance (1522)8). The Portuguese were rather fervent in their Christianization. St. Francis Xaverius, the famous Jesuit missionary worked in Ambon in 1523 so that R.C. parishes came into existence: these were taken over later by the Dutch and gradually adapted to Protestantism. Had there not been a R.C. nucleus, no conversion by the Dutch had probably taken place. The majority of the people, however, adhered to the Muslim faith.


Luxury Good Strategic Network Dutch Colonial Muslim Faith Forced Delivery 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. ban Klaberen
    • 1
  1. 1.Chulalongkorn UniversityBangkok

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