De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 15, The Locations of the Sea Strait, the Harbor...
De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 15, The Locations of the Sea Strait, the Harbor, and the City Bantam Including the Surrounding Islands and Streams. From the “Little Voyages”
Plate XV, Was es mit der Meerpforte Schiff
From Part III of Johann Theodor de Bry (1561-1623) and Johann Isreal de Bry's (1565-1609) Orientalische Indien (“Little Voyages”), Dritter Theil indiae orientalis...Frankfurt: 1599 (first edition)
Engraving with original, early 17th century hand color heightened with gold on laid paper; paper dimensions: approximately: 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
Printed by Matthias Becker
van Groesen 52
THE DUTCH FLEET ARRIVES AT THE BANTAM COAST
The four ships sailed through the Sunda Strait and on June 23, 1596, they anchored outside port Bantam, nowadays called Banten, on the northwestern tip of Java. This illustration shows the bay of Bantam the way the Dutch found it.
For centuries, Bantam was the prime port of spices from islands further East (the Moluccas) and of the very sought-after pepper, which was grown around Bantam itself. It was pepper in particular, that attracted the Dutch. On June 27, the first Dutch went on land. De Houtman sent ahead four midshipmen as delegates.
On October 11, 1596, the Dutch closed their first commercial treaty with the Bantamese: That they would be loyal to each other, that they should oust the enemy together, should one of the two be assaulted. Soon enough, however, rumors had it that the Dutch were not safe, that the Portuguese had bribed the Bantam people to assault them.*
Translation of text:
Title: The Locations of the Sea Strait, the Harbor, and the City Bantam Including the Surrounding Islands and Streams.
Text: Bantam is the capital of the island Iaua, has a beautiful sea strait as shown above. A. is the city Bantam. B. an island with a name Paniam, for which the Portuguese bid one hundred thousand Cruciaten twice which would have redeemed the Indians for their kingdom's demolition but they refused the offer and kept their island. C. a rock that shows shallow water. D. five islands, behind which we anchored and which are called Pulo Lima by the Indians. E. two other islands called Pulo Duo full of Indian palm trees and other fruits and the Pinas were anchoring there with 24 boats. F. is in the very western corner there is a village with the name Anio and in front a smaller island. G. are two rocks. H. two little islands. I and K. two beautiful islands/ with nice yards. L. is an island/ at which at night all the warships dock to watch out in case of an emergency. M and N. two small streams.**
ENGRAVED PLATES FROM VOLUME III OF DE BRY’S ‘LITTLE VOYAGES’ OF THE EAST INDIES
Featuring Depictions of: The Azores, India, Sumatra, Madagascar, Pugnatan Island, Bantam Island, Sri Lanka, Bali, Nova Zembla and Kola
Documenting Linschoten’s Voyages (Contined from Vol. II), Cornelis de Houtman's Voyage to the East Indies (1595-1597), and Gerrit de Veer's Journal of Three Dutch voyages to reach the East Indies by the North (1594- 1597).
For years, the Dutch had watched Portuguese trade vessels sail to the Far East and return to the ports of Portugal loaded with valuable spices. Now, at the end of the 16th century, sweeping changes were about to happen. The nation was at war with Spain since 1568. It was made difficult for merchants to put in at the ports of Portugal, Spain's neighboring country with which the Dutch Republic had also been drawn into war. All this led a small group of Dutch entrepreneursentrepreneurs use to decide to establish a trade company enabling them to undertake voyages to the East by themselves. This would become the Compagnie van Verre (long-distance company). But how to go about it, without encountering enemy ship of the Portuguese?
On April 2, 1595, Cornelis de Houtman and his brother Frederik de Houtman set sail from Texel to the East with the Amsterdam, the Hollandia, the Mauritius and the pinnace Duyfken. The first voyage ("De eerste schipvaert") was actually not much of a success. On board, the crew was suffering from hunger and diseases like scurvy. The commander had to deal with exhaustion and mutiny among the crew. Only halfway through the journey, near Madagascar, a part of the crew had to be buried. Before long, flaming row developed between the skippers and the merchants, especially since no admiral of the fleet had been appointed.
The ships arrived at the Javanese city of Bantam on June 27, 1596. Here they assumed to be safe from the Portuguese. When a Portuguese ship did arrive, De Houtman let his men attack it. Bantam, too, got involved in the battle, for which the Dutchmen were not appreciated. They hurried out of the place. At a certain point, there were not enough men left to crew all four of the ships. Thus, they decided to set fire to the Amsterdam.
The ships sailed east past Java and arrived at Madura island, where they were received peacefully. Fearing betrayal, De Houtman ordered to attack the locals, which was executed with great cruelty, upon which they fled. Also on the adjacent island of Bali, the Dutch received a warm welcome. Some of the crew even decided to stay there. Since the crew did not want to sail any longer, De Houtman decided not to set course any further to the East, the Moluccas. Instead, he returned home.
The voyage hardly yielded any profit and the company could barely cover its cost with the revenues. Only 89 of a crew of 249 survived. The goal of the voyage however, proving the possibility of reaching Asia past Cape of Good Hope, without being troubled by the Portuguese, was achieved. This expedition was one of the contributing factors to give rise to the establishment of the East India Company (VOC) in 1602.
The journal of this first voyage ("De Eerste Schipvaert") is an outstanding source that still allows us to undergo the very adventures of De Houtman and his men. The story, together with its numerous illustrations, shows the tribes they encountered along the way and how these strangers lived, ate, sang and danced. The Dutchmen wondered about all the new things they encountered, sometimes in fear, sometimes in astonishment.*
*Research provided by Martine Gosselink, head of the History department at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Netherlands.
**Translated from original German by Karl Nesseler.
Description compiled by Erik Brockett who is pleased to provide additional information relating to this or other examples of the work of Johann Theodor de Bry available at Arader Galleries. He can be contacted at email@example.com