Detailof the above. Dutch flags on the typical Tanka house boat/barges.

View of Dutch loading boats for the upriver trip to Beijing. The bridge, demolished 2000 is seen and the Black Pagoda.

loading barges detail.jpg
Big building in town.jpg

Ambassador Pieter  Van Hoorn an his son offer gifts to King Singlamon of Hocksieuw at the time of the third delegation to the emperor of China, 1666-1668.

From the south of the bridge showing the wall and the black pagoda and a lot of imagination.

The Dutch made two Embassies to Beijing to appeal for free trade through Canton. The first journey leaving 17th March 1656, returning 28th January 1657 (10 months)   was from Guangzhou (Canton) up the Pearl river and into Jiangxi to join the Yangzi. Then by the Grand Canal to Tianjin then to Beijing - a distance of some 2,600km.

The second by Van Hoorn was from Fuzhou, up the Min River to Nanchang and then the same route as followed by Goyer and Keyzer. Van Hoorn arrived in Fuzhou 24 July 1664. He left for Beijing in December 1666  returned from Beijing on 7th October 1667. 

The Van Hoorn group wasted no time in Fuzhou and took the opportunity to chart the entrance to the port of Fuzhou which later became know internationally as Pagoda Anchorage.


  • Dutch Establishment in the Oriental Islands

  • Unsuccessful  Attempt on Macao

  • Settlement on the Picadors 

  • Negotiations with the Chinese

  • Hostilities

  • Evacuate the Picadors 

  • First Expedition to Canton

  • Advised to send an Embassy to Beijing Goyer and Keyzer

  • Their Reception at Canton

  • Voyage up the Beijing

  • Nan - yong - fou

  • Nanchang

  • Poyang Lake The Yangzi

  • Nanjing – The Great Canal

  • Arrival at Beijing, negotiations, Audience, Unfavorable Issue

  • Return to Canton

  • Koxinga drives the Dutch from Formosa. They aid the Tartars against him

  • Endeavour to obtain Free Trade, Embassy under an Hoorn. His Journey to Beijijng

  • Inter view with KangXi, 

  • Result of the Embassy Its Return




AFTER the Portuguese had, for upwards of a century, maintained a supremacy in the Eastern Seas, they were doomed to experience a gradual but complete reverse. They lost those energies which had raised them to such a height of prosperity, while they had to encounter a rising power, destined soon to eclipse them in the career of maritime enterprise. The Dutch having, after a glorious and severe struggle, emancipated themselves from the yoke of Spain, were naturally impelled by the small extent of their territory to seek for greatness and wealth at sea. This pursuit rendered them at once the rivals and the enemies of the Portuguese. Their efforts, at first timid and on a narrow scale, were at length crowned with such success, as enabled them to expel their opponents from Java, the Spice Islands, and gene rally from the shores of India. When the Dutch approached the coast of the great empire of which we are treating, their attention was very strongly attracted towards the profits which an intercourse with it might yield. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the subjects of Portugal, in the manner already related, obtained a settlement on the peninsula of Macao, whence they carried on some trade, partly regular and partly contraband. The Hollanders having formed the design of driving them from this post, appeared before it, in 1622, with a squadron of seventeen or eighteen vessels, several of which are said to have been English.  They landed 800 men and advanced towards the fort-  but the garrison, mindful of their former valour, made so vigorous a sally, that the invaders were routed, and obliged to re - embark, with the loss of 300 men and several ships. One heroine, dressed in male attire, killed three Dutchmen with her own hand. After this severe disaster, the Dutch turned their views in another direction. In exploring the sea towards the north - east, they came to a group of small islands, called the Picadors. Here they formed a settlement-  but, instead of endeavouring to conciliate the Chinese, soon commenced hostilities, and made numerous captives, whom they treated with such rigour that the greater part of them died. The natives resented this con duct with their accustomed pride, and even when an exchange of prisoners was offered, declared they would not take a thousand for one. Their naval force, however, not being able to cope with that of the enemy, they accepted a flag of truce, and came to a parley. They then stated, that the Dutch could attain their objects only by sending a deputation to the authorities on the adjoining coast.



Van Mildert was accordingly dispatched to the flourishing city of Amoy, situated at the mouth of the river of Zhangzhou, which the Hollanders imagined to be the greatest in China. The Chief mandarin, stated that he must go to consult his superiors at Fuzhou, a large city, sixty or seventy leagues to the northward.  At a council held at Fuzhou, it was determined to send a mission to the Europeans, now in possession of the Picadors. The leader, a very intelligent and agreeable person, stated, that his government could by no means admit of their continuing to occupy islands which formed part of the Chinese territory; but that, if they would remove to a station on Taiwan, their demands would be transmitted, with a favourable recommendation, to the imperial court. He earnestly and courteously pressed them to accede to this proposal, saying that he had under taken for the success of his mission, and if it failed his life would be in danger.

They felt very much inclined to consent, but did not think themselves authorized by their instructions to quit so advantageous a station. Hostilities were therefore renewed, and preparations made to attack the Dutch with the utmost vigour-  but, through the medium of a captive, they again obtained permission for Van Mildert to visit the city. He was received somewhat pompously, though not without kindness, and when he refused to perform the act of adoration by knocking his head against the ground, was allowed to do homage after the fashion of his country. A friendly disposition was again professed; but the evacuation of the Picadors was still declared to be an indispensable preliminary. On the return of this envoy, Reyersz, the commander-in-chief, considered appearances so promising, that he determined to set out himself for Fuzhou.


In proceeding by land from Amoy, he was struck with the rich and populous aspect of the country. Villages occurred almost at every cannon-shot; every inch of ground was cultivated; and the crowds, attracted by curiosity to view the strangers, were so immense that the Dutchman and his retinue could with difficulty proceed. They were well accommodated at Fuzhou; but according to the usual policy, were confined to their lodgings as to a prison, unless when called to appear before the Council of Seven. There the same demands and promises were made as on all former occasions and Reyersz, though he declared it impossible to accede to the proposed conditions on his own authority, promised to send an immediate dispatch, submitting them to the governor at Batavia. This was agreed to and he was conveyed back with a board carried before him announcing the nature and result of the mission, - doubtless in the terms most flattering to Chinese pride.

Unfortunately the answer from the authorities in Java did not arrive at the expected time, and hence infractions of the treaty took place, which ended in an opener up In hopes of compelling the Chinese to yield, the commodore sent four of his vessels to blockade the bay of Amoy-  and he accordingly soon received private intimation that the people were so much annoyed by this suspension of their trade, that the negotiation would be gladly renewed. The assailants went on shore, therefore, in two light yachts, having received on board three mandarins as hostages and an arrangement was speedily concluded, the terms of which seem to show that they felt their situation somewhat precarious. They engaged to use their utmost influence to make the government at Batavia consent to the removal of the colony to Formosa and they obtained in return the promise, not of a free trade, but merely that a sufficient number of vessels, laden with silks, should be sent to their new station, as well as to Java.

They were then splendidly entertained, though they had soon reason to suspect that deep treachery was concealed under this apparent friendship, and that an attempt was actually made to poison them. Accordingly, when they returned on board, they saw fifty fire-ships advancing towards their squadron, and that with such rapidity as to allow no time to prepare, either for defence or retreat. They lost several of their vessels, but as soon as they opened their guns the Chinese made off. The Hollanders now renewed the war with the utmost vigour, captured a number of merchantmen, and made some successful descents on the coast. As the enemy, however, landed 4000 troops and erected a fortress on the largest of the islands, and had, besides, assembled no fewer than 15,000 barks, it was deemed advisable to accede to their overtures, and a treaty was concluded, nearly on the terms formerly settled. The stronghold was demolished, and in its room was erected Fort Zeland, on the western coast of the island of Formosa. A considerable time now elapsed without any farther intercourse.

 Still the Dutch could not but lament  their commercial exclusion from so opulent an empire-  and, accordingly, about the middle of the seventeenth century, they determined to make vigorous efforts, and even some considerable sacrifices, in order to effect their object. Their hopes were the more sanguine in consequence of the recent conquest of the country by the Khan of the Manchu Tartars, who was reported to have proclaimed Canton a free port. In January 1653, a merchant, named Schedel, was sent thither in a richly-freighted vessel, called the Brown Fish. In nine days he anchored in the river, and soon procured an audience of the Admiral; but both the rulers and people were found imbued with the strongest prejudices against the Dutch nation, which their enemies, the Portuguese, carefully fomented. Schedel, when he presented the governor-general's letter, had it thrown in his face; the chests, with the presents, were opened and tossed about in the most disdainful manner; and he himself was openly reproached as having come with treacherous intentions. Even the mob, as he passed through the streets, were heard exclaiming,

“How finely iron fetters would become his legs ! ”

 and efforts were made to cover his followers with noisome insects. Yet, having obtained an interview with the Chief Mandarins, he succeeded in a few hours in effecting a complete change, and obtained from them professions of the most cordial friendship. This favourable turn the Dutch narrative represents as having been accomplished solely by treating them with a few glasses of wine; but according to the Portuguese statement, which we are inclined to believe, much more costly means were employed, and of a nature peculiarly calculated to act upon functionaries. They extended their gifts even to Sing-na-mong, the viceroy, who gave them a splendid dinner, where they were placed at a table covered with thirty two silver dishes filled with delicacies-  while liquor was served in cups of gold. Sing-na-mong, the young viceroy, though seemingly favourable to the Portuguese, likewise invited their rivals to dine with him. His mother, who, being newly arrived from Tartary, had not yet adopted the secluded customs of the native ladies, received them in a large hall, and appeared gratified by their appearance and the sounding of their trumpets. In short, they obtained permission both to erect a factory and to trade. The hostile party, however, was strengthened by the ar rival of an imperial commissioner, who gave as his opinion, that these were privileges much too ample to be granted to a strange people of doubtful character. The viceroy, considerably embarrassed, privately requested Schedel to depart for the present, and to advise his masters, in the view of obtaining their end, to send an embassy with rich presents to the court of the Great Khan. The government of Batavia were pleased with the proposal, but could not take so great a step without instructions from their superiors in Europe. They, however, sent Waggenaar, accompanied by Schedel, to keep open the communication. The former found the influence employed against his countrymen very powerful, but lets us into the secret of the means employed by them for counteracting it. He was told that a payment of 10,000 taels of silver would be necessary to procure even an interview with the vice roy. This sum he declared to be greatly too much though he was willing to pay high for a free trade; but that privilege, he was still informed, could only be procured through the medium of the proposed embassy.

The Dutch Company in Europe, on this communication being made to them, resolved without hesitation to adopt the expedient thus recommended to them. By their instructions it was fitted out at Ba tavia, having at its head Peter de Goyer and Jacob de Keyzer, two eminent merchants, with a train of fourteen attendants, and rich presents, consisting principally of the finest European manufactures. Nieuhof, the steward, wrote a narrative of their proceedings, which was esteemed superior to any account of China previously published in this part of the world. They set out on the 14th June 1655, and on the 18th July anchored in the river of Canton. The local government, though probably predisposed in their favour, proceeded with great caution, in consequence of the very unfavourable rumours spread by their enemies. They assumed the appearance of great strictness, pretending to reproach them as having come without due authority and they were closely examined as to their names, employments, and other matters. Great dissatisfaction was expressed with the external appearance of a letter to the emperor, which ought to have been stamped with a splendid seal, and enclosed in a golden box.

The Portuguese redoubled their activity, representing the Dutch as a band of apostates to their religion and rebels to their king as a race who, holding scarcely a spot of land, went round the ocean, committing the most atrocious piracies, and sparing neither friend nor foe. They recapitulated all the outrages of which they had been guilty, and predicted the most dreadful calamities to the empire were they allowed a footing within it. It is alleged, however, that the envoys smoothed everything before them by the sums which they lavished on all whom they thought likely to favour their views. They are even reproached with having bestowed forty taels to aid in the construction of an idol temple, though they alleged that the money had been obtained from them under a different pretext. The Portuguese agent assures us, that a Chinese officer, of great influence, undertook to render all their projects abortive, provided he were insured of receiving 800 taels of silver. He hesitated not for so great an object to enter into the engagement but as he could not immediately procure the amount, the negotiation was broken off, and the Dutch gained to their side the principal authorities in Canton. They were informed, indeed, that they could not proceed to the capital without an express answer from court but there was reason to hope, that the representations transmitted thither would produce a favourable result.


The Dutch waited about four months at Canton till this answer was received, which was very satisfactory. The emperor allowed liberty of trade (to Can ton, we presume), and consented that the ambassador, with a small retinue, should repair to his presence. The embassy, on the 17th March 1656, embarked on the Pe-kiang, in a large vessel hired by them selves, while the government provided fifty smaller ones for the baggage and presents. These boats were dragged up the opposing stream by the efforts of numerous labourers, whom their tyrannical masters compelled to toil in this service and if their efforts slackened through fatigue, “there is one who follows, and never leaves beating them till they go on or die. ” Although this was only a river-channel, it was rendered very dangerous by impetuous cur rents rushing between narrow straits, particularly in passing through the mountain-range of Sang wan-hab, the cliffs of which, in dark and awful forms, overhung the stream.

On the 24th, the ambassadors ' vessel struck against a sunken rock, and was in considerable hazard. On the 28th, they were exposed to a most furious tempest, in which several of the barks lost their masts and rigging, while a few were dashed against the shelves, and those on board perished. They passed several large cities, but almost all in a ruined state, in consequence of the late conquest by the Tartars, who, wherever they met any serious resistance, demolish ed all the more magnificent edifices, with the exception of the idol-temples. These being dedicated to Buddha, their own divinity, were sacred in their eyes.

At Nanyong, the embassy disembarked in order to pass that very rugged chain of mountains which separates Guangdong from JiangXi. They received a guard of 150 soldiers to defend them against robbers, and had thus, with attendants and bearers, a retinue of 600.

On passing the high ground, they were received with great honours at Nangan, where they launched on the Ganjiang,, the great river flowing northward through Jiangxi. Down its rapid stream they were wafted with the utmost velocity, like arrows from a bow-  but this too-favourable current, rendering it impossible to stop or guide the vessels, proved as dangerous as the contrary one. The bark containing the presents was caught in eddies, and stranded-  and to save her it was necessary to unlade the whole of her precious cargo.

On the 23 April, they arrived at Nanchang, a splendid city, capital of Jiangxi. The governor received them with extraordinary honours, censuring the Canton attendants for insufficient respect, and particularly for allowing them to proceed to the palace on foot. Men, he said, who came from such remote countries to congratulate his imperial majesty on his victories, ought to be welcomed with great state. Soon after, having passed the village of Ou-sien-yen, where a vast quantity of porcelain is shipped for every part of the empire, they approach ed the spacious lake of Poyang; to secure a happy passage across which all who could afford it offered a hog and a cock, presenting the feet, spurs, and comb, to the idol, while the worshippers themselves feasted on the flesh. Its shores were bordered by lofty hills on whose sloping sides stood large villages and even cities. The principal was Nanjjang, which, with its temples and triumphal arches, made a magnificent appearance from the water; but the interior was found to consist of mean houses arranged in winding and irregular streets. The mountains above were crown ed with sacred edifices, on one of which, called Quang liu, there were said to be as many monks as there are days in the year-  each residing in a solitary cell, and inflicting on himself frequent lashes, as in the most rigid orders of the Romish church. At Hou-keou hien, the next city, crowds of old and young flocked to see the strangers, who endeavoured still farther to amuse them by sounding their trumpets but this strange noise alarmed the natives, who fled from it with cries of terror. The flotilla soon after entered the stream of the Yangzi, the greatest in China, and per haps in Asia. Its channel, being very broad and bordered by lofty mountains, was subject to violent tempests, so that great skill was required in steering the vessels. These dangers had given rise to superstitious alarms. As the Dutch were cooking a comfortable dinner, the crew came in a body and implored them to desist, stating, that a mighty spirit, in the form of a dragon, who presided over these waters, had such an aversion to the smell of boiled or roasted meat, that the moment he scented it he would raise a destructive storm. The Europeans, without attempting to argue the point, prudently contented themselves with a cold repast. In descending the river, the embassy passed through a country finely variegated with mountain and valley, and richly cultivated. They passed a succession of great cities, among which Nanjing was par ticularly distinguished by its flourishing commerce. They arrived on the 4th May at Nanjing, the boast of China, long its capital, and superior to any other in the splendour of its edifices, and the polish, in dustry, and civilisation of its inhabitants. The Tartars, amid all their ravages, had spared every thing in it except the imperial palace. The commissioners remained there fourteen days, and were allowed much greater liberty in viewing it than is permitted in modern times.

The governor, a handsome young Tartar, invited them to his residence, and received them in company with his wife and a numerous train of her female attendants. This lady also, was pleasing in her person, and extremely frank in her communication with her visitors. She drew out their swords, discharged their pistols, and showed herself extremely curious as to every thing that concerned them. Tea, mixed with milk and salt, was placed in a large silver kettle in the middle of the apartment, and served out of wooden ladles. * The Dutch were dazzled by the grandeur of the temples of Nanjing, one of which, they assert, contained no fewer than 10,000 images. They observed also the Porcelain Tower, the most splendid structure in the empire, and which will be noticed else where. The principal streets were about 100 feet broad, and perfect order maintained amid crowds of people; yet, as in the other cities, the ordinary houses were mean, only one story high, with one room to eat and sleep in, and, as the substitute for a window, there was a small hole filled up with reeds instead of glass. The shops, however, were richly stored with the most valuable commodities, and had boards in front, on which the name of the master, and the commodities sold, were inscribed in golden letters, while above rose a lofty pole, waving with flags and pennons.

 The embassy, on the 18th May, began to sail down the river. Instead of the ordinary boats, they were now accommodated with two imperial barges, gilded and painted with dragons, and having a music-room at one end. They observed on its banks several pleasant towns, and on arriving at Houzhou, passed through a handsome stone sluice into the Great Canal. They call it the Royal Water, and consider the scene which it presents equal to any thing in Asia, or in the world. The banks were kept in high order, and planted with stately trees; the adjacent country being embellished with woods and pastures, and diversified by a continued succession of cities, villages, and fine seats. The Chinese earnestly desired to go into a lofty temple situate at its entrance, and to secure a prosperous voyage by a sacrifice of cocks, hogs, and goats but the envoys would not allow time to be wasted in such proceedings. The first city they reached was Yangzhou, which an extensive trade in salt had rendered one of the richest in the empire. It was celebrated for the beauty and agreeable manners of its females  qualities which had rendered them the object of a dishonourable traffic carried on even by the parents, and to ' such an extent, that the price was by no means exorbitant. In sailing along, they noticed a number of vessels curiously and splendidly ornamented. The serpent-boats, having the form of that animal, were brilliantly painted, and had on their stern numerous snakes fastened with variously-coloured ribands, and embellished with ensigns and tassels of silk, hair, and feathers. On the top of each mast stood an idol decorated with silken pennons, and on the poop another surrounded with ducks and drakes. The barks were edged with gold and silk fringes.

In a few days, they entered the great stream of the Yellow River, the muddy impregnation of which they much exaggerate, when they represent it as rendering the channel scarcely passable. They observed with surprise floating islands, where, on a foundation of twisted bamboo-cane, light wooden houses were erected, in which entire families, to the number sometimes of 200, lived and trafficked. After crossing the Yellow River, they entered what they imagined to be another canal, though it is only a continuation of the great one. The country, though flat, was still as fruitful as ever, and the cities of Tongchang and Lintsin were in magnitude and splendour entitled to rank among the greatest hitherto passed. At Sang-lo they found Tartars in much larger proportion, and of more polished manners, than in the southern districts. nor was absent  but his lady, with numerous attendants of her own sex, received them in great pomp, and conversed with them familiarly.

On the 4th July, they arrived at Tianjin, the great emporium of the north of China, which we shall find more fully described by Sir George Staunton. They then ascended a river till the 16th, when, arriving at Sanho, they landed, and soon reached the principal avenue leading to Beijing. They then placed them selves in regular order-  two trumpeters in front, behind them the Orange flag, then the ambassadors, with several Tartar lords while the officers and soldiers, about fifty in number, with the presents and goods, brought up the rear. The road is de scribed as in bad condition yet the multitude of people, horses, and wagons, was as if a great army had been on its march upon the capital.

On the 17th, the commissioners entered Beijing through two lofty gates, and, having first alighted and obtained refreshments at a magnificent temple, were conducted to comfortable lodgings. Next day, they were waited upon by a cortège of lords and mandarins, who, after sundry polite questions respecting their health and accommodation, proceeded to put various interrogatories regarding their dominions in Europe, and particularly the nature and amount of their presents. These last were exhibited and ap proved  but the other matters were attended with greater difficulty.

The Chinese, it appears, had been impressed with the idea, that the Dutch were a band of sea-rovers, who had perhaps a few islands, but not a foot of continental territory. The ambassadors, by showing a map of their country, sought to remove this impression. They durst not, however, mention the name of republic or commonwealth, which would have been equally strange and odious to oriental ears, but represented themselves as deputed by the Prince of Orange. They were then asked, what relation they bore to that sovereign  and they found that eastern embassies were not considered respectable, un less they had at their head a kinsman of the reigning monarch. Unable to claim any such consanguinity, they merely said, that in Europe no such custom prevailed. These mercantile envoys were then examined as to the posts they held at court, what were their titles of nobility, and how many troops each of them commanded. Their replies to these puzzling questions are not stated, and doubts may be enter tained whether they were given with perfect can dour. It was more easy to explain the rank of the Governor of Batavia, by comparing it to that of the Viceroy of Canton. After some farther queries, the interview closed-  and the foreigners received notice to appear next morning, with their presents, before the imperial council. The day being wet, they went without these accompaniments, from the fear of their being injured-  on which account their reception was far from gracious-  and in order to gratify the emperor's curiosity, they were obliged to send for them. They were here introduced to Adam Schaal, or Scaliger, a Jesuit, who had resided nearly thirty years at Pe king, and enjoyed great consideration. This person was employed to put in writing answers to a fresh series of questions respecting themselves and their country. His manners were prepossessing, and he received them at first with much outward courtesy-  but these appearances proved very treacherous, since he contrived to insert in his report that their country had formerly been subject to the Spaniards, to whom it still of right belonged-  however, the chancellor very properly caused this passage to be expunged. The emperor soon after sent notice that the presents were very acceptable to himself, the empress, and the empress-mother. A request was added for fifty additional pieces of white linen-  but the Dutch could only muster thirty-six.

A brief interval having elapsed, a mandate was issued to the “ Great and worthy Li-pou, " or council, in which it was stated, that the ambassadors of Holland having come to congratulate the emperor and pay homage, he had been pleased to grant them permission to appear before him on his throne, a happiness, it was observed, sufficient to make them forget the fatigues of their long journey by sea and land. The chancellor then began to treat respecting their future intercourse, and inquired whether they could come annually, or, at least, every two or three years, with homage and presents. The envoys, however, who suspected that this condition would not be agreeable to their employers, suggested that, considering the distance, an embassy once in five years might be considered sufficient-  but requested permission to send yearly four vessels to Canton for the purposes of trade. After some discussion, it was announced that the emperor considered eight years as a satisfactory interval. This was at first viewed as a gratifying concession  but they were dismayed beyond measure to learn, that their intercourse with the empire was to be limited to these periodical visits, and that the free trade to Canton, which they had understood to have been granted, and for which they had only come to render acknowledgments, was in no degree contemplated. The chancellor's secretary, who professed himself their friend, advised them, on this occasion, to be content with doing homage to his imperial majesty, and to aim at nothing farther. Such ad vice was wholly foreign to their views  but they soon found that the obstacles to the fulfilment of these were truly formidable.

The Portuguese missionaries, acting with Scaliger the Jesuit, had used every art to blacken their character, and to alarm the court as to the danger of giving them an entrance into the country  while the explanations which they themselves had been obliged to give had not probably heightened the respect in which they were held. Above all, the funds which it now appears had been placed in the hands of the Canton viceroys, for the purpose of gaining the lords of the court, had by those personages been diverted to their private benefit. Money, that all-powerful instrument of negotiation, was exhausted and they did not consider themselves justified in borrowing it at the rate of eight or ten per cent. Amid these troubles, it was announced that the time was come for doing homage to the throne  and to reconcile them to any want of dignity which might appear in this transaction, they were assured that it was more venerable than even the emperor himself, who, previous to his instalment, uniformly performed ko-tou to it. They were accordingly led to an apartment in the palace, which seemed to them like a library, as there were none present but persons wearing gowns, and with books in their hands. They were next ushered into an open court

filled with about 100 mandarins, whom they call doctors. The word being given,

“ God hath sent the emperor, ” they were made to perform the requisite movements by successive com mands::

“ Fall on your knees ! "

" Bow the head three times ! ”  

“ Stand up ! ”

They then returned home. The grand audience of the emperor in person, which ought to have followed in three days, was delayed for a month, in consequence of the death of his youngest brother, by which he was deeply afflicted.

At length, the 2nd of October being fixed upon, the Canton mandarins came at two o'clock of the preceding day and conducted the Dutch in great pomp into the second court of the palace. They were kept the whole night in gloomy durance, seat ed on the cold ground, waiting the emperor's ar rival, which was to take place at daybreak. Several other ambassadors were there in state-dresses-  one from the southern Tartars, with naked arms, in a long coat of sheepskin, dyed crimson, the tuft of a horse's tail rising from the crown of his head, and wearing a pair of boots so enormous that he could with difficulty walk. There was also the representative of the Mogul in a blue coat, so richly embroider ed that it looked like beaten gold, and one from the Llama in a yellow robe, with a broad-brimmed hat like a cardinal's, and beads resembling those used in the Romish church. An hour after daybreak, upon a signal being given, all started up. They were then led through successive courts into one very spacious, where stood the imperial throne, amid a scene of extraordinary splendour. On each side were 112 soldiers, holding different flags, and variously habited, except that all wore black hats with yellow feathers. Close to the throne were twenty-two persons holding rich yellow screens, and ten hold ing gilt circles that resembled the sun. then six with circles imitating the full moon. Fifty-two held poles and standards ornamented with dragons and silken drapery. On either side stood six snow white horses, whose richly-embroidered trappings were set with pearls and rubies. The throne itself, glittering with gold and gems, dazzled the eyes of the beholders. The ambassadors being asked their rank, answered, on what ground we know not, “that of viceroys" and a corresponding station was allotted to them. They were then made to arrange themselves in different places, and twice, by word of command, performed the act of adoration, but still before the empty throne. After they had been treated, however, with some dishes of tea, the bells were sounded, the people fell on their knees, and the emperor was seen ascending the steps. They were not called upon to perform any act of homage to his person, of which, from their position, they could catch only a very slight view. They flattered them. selves, that in departing he threw back on them an attentive glance  but they were not honoured with a single word. This mortifying omission they are willing to consider as required by oriental etiquette but the contrary is proved by numerous examples.

At two o'clock, all the ambassadors were regaled with a sumptuous banquet, where, according to Chinese custom, each guest had before him a table, on which were placed about thirty silver dishes  but the viands they contained were by no means palatable. They were made welcome to carry away all that was left, a permission of which the Tartars gladly availed themselves  stuffing their pockets with roast and boiled meat,  the juice of which was seen dripping from them, as they passed along the streets.

The emperor, notwithstanding his apparent in difference, continued to feel some curiosity respect ing the Dutch. He sent for a suit of their full dress, and expressed admiration at its magnificence. He caused strict inquiry to be made whether they could really live three days and nights under water-  for this it seems had been affirmed by the Portuguese. They solemnly abjured any pretensions to such a miraculous power, which they well knew had been imputed to them from no friendly motives. As their departure drew near, the imperial presents were delivered, consisting chiefly of small sums of silver, with some ornamented cloths.

On the 16th, they received notice to repair to the court of the Li pou, in order to receive an official communication ad. dressed to the Governor-general of Batavia. On their arrival, one of the officers took it from a table covered with a yellow carpet, and declared to them the contents. It was written both in the Chinese and Tartar languages, gilded on the edges, and painted on both sides with golden dragons. Being then wrapped in a silken scarf, and put into a box, it was deliver ed to the ambassadors, who received it kneeling. The contents, though civilly worded, were decidedly unfavourable. The Dutch were described as a brave and wise people, who, though dwelling in a country 10,000 miles from his, had shown their noble mind by send ing presents to the emperor. They had asked for a free trade, which would redound much to the benefit of his dominions  but out of his tender care for them, considering the distance and the tempests to which they would be exposed on the seas of China, he de sired that they might not come oftener than once in eight years, nor with more than 100 men in company, twenty of whom might repair to court. He expressed his hope (though well knowing the contrary) that this proposal would afford them satisfaction.

This answer fulfilled the warmest wishes of the Portuguese, who felt very little apprehension that the Dutch, if excluded from trading, would be disposed to send embassies with costly presents. No room was left for remonstrance  intimation being given that, having received their despatch, they could not, consistently with the rules of the empire, remain two hours longer at Beijing. During their residence, they had been regularly furnished with an ample store of provisions, though they had judged it proper to add something of their own but they were, all the while, kept closely confined to their lodgings, and never once allowed to go out for their own gratification. Such was the jealous policy of this government.

Their return to Canton being accomplished by the same route they had come, little opportunity was afforded for acquiring farther knowledge. On reaching the Great Canal, and finding only some un wieldy junks provided for them, they hired lighter vessels to convey themselves and their attendant mandarins. Twenty days were spent at Nanjing but the weather was so very bad, that they could make no farther observations on that great city.

On the 28th January 1657, they arrived at the end of their long journey, when the viceroys received them with great pomp, but soon showed a resolution to fleece them to the very uttermost. Besides presenting an enormous bill of expenses, they had the effrontery to ask the 3500 taels, which it seems had been stipulated as the price of that free trade which the petitioners did not obtain. They found them selves, however, completely in the power of these two grandees, who had so excited the inhabitants against them, that they were insulted as they passed along the streets, and one of their interpreters was barbarously murdered in his own house. Under the influence of fear, therefore, they submitted to this most unreasonable demand. They sailed on the 2d of March. The whole expense is calculated, with mercantile precision, at £ 5555, Is. 70. for the presents, and £ 4327, Os. 10d. for the voyage and journey.



{The Ming empire fell in 1644, but the coastal areas of the southeast, princes such as Prince Fu, Prince Tang, Prince Lu and Prince Gui, endeavored to fight back and prolong the political power of the Ming empire. Prince Tang had influence in Fuzhou, and received the support of Zheng Zhilong, and since Prince Tang had no sons to succeed him, Zheng Zhilong arranged for Zheng Chenggong to serve him, and so he became known as "Guo-xing-ye," which means "lord of the royal surname." [The Dutch later romanized the name as Koxinga}


Although this embassy had been on the whole so fruitless, certain information gained in the course of it led to the suggestion of a plan which appeared more promising. The seas and great part of the coasts of China, as we have already related, were then almost entirely possessed by Zheng Chenggong called by the Dutch Koxinga, who, taking advantage of the confusion occasioned by the Tartar invasion, and the hostility of the people towards their conquerors, had rallied round him all who were beyond the reach of their military power. He was born of very humble parents, in a small fishing-town on the coast of Fujian. After spending some time at Macao, he re paired to Japan, where he had a rich uncle, who re ceived him cordially, married him to a Japanese lady, and gave him the command of a well-laden vessel. With this he entered on the pursuit of trade and piracy with such success, that he soon became truly formidable, and at last acquired a control over the maritime power and foreign commerce of the empire. He was considered richer than the monarch himself, who, notwithstanding his crimes, was obliged to raise him to the dignity of admiral. When the Manchu Tartars, by the aid of civil dissensions, penetrated into China, it was thought, had Koxinga been inclined, he might at least have prevented them from entering Fujian. On the contrary, he was gained over, and secretly aided their designs.  though, when the khan had completed his conquest, so far from viewing him as an ally, he saw in him his only rival. With such address did he conduct himself, that he contrived to induce the pirate to visit the court, where he was treacherously thrown into fetters, and afterwards cruelly put to death. This crime was of no avail to the Tartar monarch,  for Koxinga, or Zheng Chenggong, the son, immediately hoisted his father's flag, and was joined by all his adherents.

Commencing a naval war, and attaching himself to the independent party among the Chinese, he soon became more powerful than his parent had been, commanding 100,000 men, with whom he at one time be sieged Nanjing, though without success. The chief seat of his authority was in some small islands on the coast of - Fujian, whence he spread his ravages in every direction -  nor was it until the whole strength of the empire was brought against him, that he sustained several defeats, and was driven from successive positions along the shore. Thus straitened, and conceiving himself to have some cause to complain of the Dutch, he cast his eyes on their settlement at Formosa, and determined to attack it. Fort Zeland was accordingly invested, and, after a siege of ten months, was forced to capitulate in March 1661, when, contrary to the express conditions of surrender, he put to death, or threw into prison, several of the principal merchants.

The authorities at Batavia, on being informed of the loss of a colony from which they had anticipated many advantages, immediately fitted out twelve vessels, carrying from eleven to thirty-two guns, and having on board 528 seamen and 756 soldiers, which they placed under the direction of Balthazar Bort. This commander, on the 12th August 1662, entered the mouth of the Min River, on which Fuzhou is situated  and, having taken a small garrison belonging to Koxinga, sent to that city intelligence of his arrival. The Viceroy of Fujian being encamped with his army at Quanzhou, the interpreter was sent forward to him  but, in the mean time, several mandarins from Fuzhou came on board, and received the Dutch with the utmost politeness.

On the 8th September, an officer arrived from the imperial lieutenant, requesting the admiral to send him the letter from the governor-general, and also some trusty persons to confer with him upon the great affair now in agitation. Bort selected Van Campen and Noble, the second and third in command, who were desired to press their demands with the greatest urgency, as the Governor of Fujian declined any co-operation with them, without express instructions from his superiors. They were told also to avail themselves of this opportunity to obtain freedom of trade, which had all along been their main object. These deputies from the Dutch squadron embarked on the Min upon the 18th September, and on the 20th, after passing several handsome towns, arrived at Fuzhou. Having obtained an honourable reception, they pursued their journey, on the 22d, through a finely-watered country, abounding in fruit-trees and plants, and covered with rich crops of rice. It was necessary, however, to have a body of troops perpetually scouring the country, to defend it against bands of robbers, who found shelter in the mountains. After quitting their junks, they came to Fuzhou, a fine town, pleasantly situated.

On the 29th, they passed the river Loayang by a bridge, remarkable for the immense masses of freestone with which it was paved, some being above 70 feet long. Benches were ranged on its sides, adorned with the figures of lions, dragons, and other animals. The country-people, influenced by the superstitious ideas usually excited by any wonder ful object, considered it the work of angels, who had reared this remarkable structure in a single night. The vice-admiral and his companion passed through Quanzhou at that time the seat of a very great trade, and Tan-way, which is described, probably with some exaggeration, as one of the most beautiful and populous cities in all China. They observed also a number of other towns and villages, some flourishing, others ruined by the recent wars.

On the 4th October, they reached Sink-sieu, a handsome city, situated on a river, paved with freestone, and surrounded by a broad wall. They were lodged in a spa cious inn, which, like a similar one at Tan-way, was capable of accommodating 1000 men with their horses. They now hastened forward to the camp, where they found the viceroy, the general, and the governor of the city, sitting in a large pavilion. They were received with much outward civility, though most of their presents were declined, and the arrangements in regard to business were not very satisfactory.

Free trade, the grand object of their solicitation, could not, it was said, be conceded with out an express order from the emperor. Even the naval co-operation was not accepted  because the viceroy had opened a negotiation with the towns on the coast attached to Koxinga, and hoped to obtain their peaceable submission. Much regret was there fore expressed, on learning that Bort had resolved to commence operations against them, in consequence of not having received a letter in which his highness re quested him to wait his return to Fuzhou. On the whole, they had no reason to believe that they were regarded with much cordiality, since, on the arrival of a number of vessels with goods, they were not al lowed for two days to stir out of their lodgings. On the 8th, they obtained permission to depart, and, on the 29th, it was not without pleasure that they found themselves again at Fuzhou.  

Bort, on putting to sea, immediately commenced a species of piratical warfare against the adherents of Koxinga, which included nearly the whole maritime population of Fujian. He took a number of their vessels, burned and plundered their harbours but not being able to effect any thing important, set sail for Batavia on the 1st March 1663.

The colonial government were exceedingly dissatisfied with the result of this expedition, and determined to redouble their efforts to obtain redress. They fitted out an armament on a greater scale, consisting of sixteen vessels, carrying 443 guns, and having on board 1382 seamen and 1281 troops. It was placed again under the command of Bort, with instructions to make war against both Chinese and Tartars, if it should be necessary, to obtain satisfaction for the loss of Formosa.

When, how ever, on the 29th August 1663, he arrived in the road of Fuzhou, he found the viceroy very much disposed to court his friendship. The negotiations with the maritime cities had apparently failed, and perhaps had been, on their part, only a feint. All the demands of the Dutch were granted, except free trade and the possession of an island on the coast. These, it was stated, must await the decision of the emperor, but great hopes were held out, that the commercial privileges, at least, would be the re ward of their active co-operation.

The Tartars, however, so warlike and formidable by land, were found, at sea, to be both unskilful and dastardly,  for being attacked by an enemy's force not exceeding a fourth of their own, they fled with loss, seeking protection under the flag of their allies. The latter were astonished at the bravery of the Chinese sailors, whom they could not vanquish without great difficulty  and of 180 vessels, which at one time they had completely enclosed, 177 valiantly cut their way through. By degrees, however, they sunk under the united force of the confederate powers  and the Tar tars having succeeded in landing their cavalry on the island of Amoy, stormed the city with great slaughter. The Dutch having also repeatedly defeated the enemy by sea, induced them to evacuate Quemoi, the other large island on the coast of - Fujian, which was thereby in a great measure liberated.

Bort, having thus aided the imperialists in accomplishing their objects, called upon them to second him in an attempt to recover Formosa  but the viceroy, alleging the shattered state of his own fleet, sent with him only two junks, having on board a detachment of 200 men. The admiral, however, sailed for Fort Zeland  but finding it exceedingly strong, and being disappointed of some co-operation which he expected on the island itself, he proceeded to Batavia in order to obtain supplies and re-enforcements. The agent on the coast of - Fujian now pressed for the enjoyment of that free trade which was to be the reward of the signal services rendered by his countrymen. The governor and mandarins referred to a communication from the emperor, allowing the Dutch to come once in two years  but this was considered very unsatisfactory, while the conditions with which these officers impeded the traffic actually enjoyed, rendered it of little value. A letter from the sovereign was indeed delivered with the utmost pomp, in which he thanked the Europeans for the services they had rendered, and begged their acceptance of valuable presents  but there was not in it a word of trade  and when they complained to the General Li-po-vi of this important omission, he urged, that a sealed letter from his imperial majesty, with such flattering expressions, was an ample reward, although they should obtain nothing farther. They durst not ex press how utterly they dissented from this conclusion but the viceroy was more reasonable, giving fair promises that, if they returned with their fleet recruited and re-enforced, the Chinese would assist in the recovery of Formosa  and if an ambassador came along with it, he would be dispatched to Beijing, with every reasonable hope of obtaining a free trade, and even some island, or convenient position, in which to deposite their goods. The governor-general, on learning all the particulars of Bort's expedition, did not think it advisable to embark the funds of the Company any farther in these costly and fruitless enterprises. It seemed better to relinquish all hopes of recovering Formosa, and merely to send a well-appointed embassy to procure, if possible, a free trade with the principal seaports, and places fit for erecting warehouses.



At its head was placed Peter van Hoorn, privy councillor and chief-treasurer of India, having under him Noble and nineteen other functionaries. They were attended by five armed vessels, laden with presents and merchandise,  the former, besides globes, lanterns, and other curious instruments, comprising horses and oxen of peculiarly fine breeds.




Having sailed on the 4th July 1664, they arrived on the 5th August at the mouth of the river of Fuzhou. After some difficulties with the mandarins of the port, they reached the city on the 24th, and were received in a polite manner by the viceroy and general, who were highly pleased with the gifts, and viewed with particular admiration the horses and a message was immediately dispatched to the emperor, to which a favourable answer was anticipated  though various obstacles occurred in the arrangement of their affairs, which led to a tedious and rather difficult negotiation. They were determined not to set out for Beijing till they had seen the whole of their cargo disposed of. But though the Chinese authorities did not positively refuse this, they threw in the way various impediments. They asserted that the merchants of Java adulterated their pepper with sand and water, and other wise carried on trade in a discreditable manner.  allegations which are declared to be wholly without foundation.

The most serious dissension, however, arose in consequence of a quantity of bullion being found on board a Chinese vessel from Batavia, whence its exportation was prohibited  upon which the Dutch made a seizure of the whole cargo. This ill timed step was very deeply resented  and the viceroy intimated, that until restitution were made, no amicable arrangement could be concluded. Van Hoorn seems to have regretted that, for such a trifle, he had involved himself in this dilemma, yet knew not well how to recede, without a direct contravention of the colonial regulations, and a loss of personal dignity. At length, finding the necessity urgent, he agreed to the very awkward compromise, that the goods should be lodged in a particular place, and that no opposition would be made to the owners who might come to carry them off. The viceroy accordingly sent a party, who, like a band of robbers, broke open the door, and possessed themselves of the articles. The captors pretended to be absent or unconscious, till, noticing that the persons employed took the opportunity to supply themselves with other commodities which lay within their reach, they were obliged to set a limit to the transaction.

 These troubles and difficulties being at length over, the ambassadors embarked, with about fifty vessels, on that branch of the river Min, which flows from the southern boundary of Zhejiang. They passed numerous towns and villages, and two great cities, Nanping and Kien-ning-fou, each al most equal to that which they had quitted.

On the 10th February (1667?), the river being no longer navigable, they landed, and prepared for the passage of the chain of mountains, which here separates the two provinces. It was then necessary to provide 600 coolies or porters, and to place the oxen in frames, the road being too rough for them to pass on foot. Yet the track, though high and steep, was bordered by numerous villages, and every conspicuous spot was adorned with temples. Having at length reach ed the plain, they embarked at Pou-tcheou, and descended the river Chang, which traverses Zhijiang. In navigating this stream to Hangzhou, they observed a fertile country, every where under high culture, and covered with a dense population. They spent several days at Hangzhou, but do not give any description of that celebrated city, whose beautiful environs they appear not to have visited. They were much more struck with Suzhou, though chiefly with its immense trade. The boats were so crowded that it was scarcely possible to penetrate through them  and they passed also numerous large barks belonging to the emperor. The customs levied at its entrance were said to amount to half a million sterling yet the houses were slightly constructed, and entirely of timber.

On the 6th, they entered the stream of the great river Yangzi, the genius of which was as usual propitiated by various ceremonies and offerings. Having again entered the Grand Canal, and landed at a village, they were accosted by two mandarins, who proved much more courteous and communicative than the rest of their order. They held out good hopes of success, assuring them, that “if they fed the courtiers well, nothing would be denied at Beijing ” The rest of the journey was confined to the great highway which leads to the capital  and the narrative consists of little more than an enumeration of towns and villages.

On the 20th June 1667, they arrived at Beijing, after. having travelled six months, during which they had seen thirty-seven cities and 335 villages. When passing through the streets to the imperial palace, they were annoyed by crowds of curious spectators. On reaching the court of the chief Tu-tang, they were required, not only to produce the emperor's letter, and to perform the usual threefold prostration before it, but also to exhibit the presents. On arriving at their lodgings, too, they were much mortified to find the apartments very small and incommodious, a deficiency which the proper officers promised to remove. They were, however, still more disconcerted when it was announced, that at daybreak the very next morning they must appear with the gifts before his imperial majesty. This prince was Kangxi, afterwards celebrated for his years and wisdom, but then only a boy of sixteen, who governed the empire under the direction of four Zou ta-zhins or guardians. He felt, probably, a youthful impatience to behold the foreign curiosities, which his guardians were not unwilling to indulge. They would listen, therefore, to no apology for delay. The envoys, accordingly, were led next morning in the dark through five gates into an inner court, where the supreme Zou-ta-zhin, an aged Tartar, with one eye and a white beard, surveyed the horses and oxen. He directed Hoorn and his colleagues, when the emperor came, to place themselves in a kneeling posture  and soon after there appeared four chargers with yellow trappings, on one of which sat the youthful ruler. He viewed the animals with apparent pleasure, and caused two of the horses to be rode before him. A cup of bean-broth was presented to him at his own request, and also to the embassy, which they drank on their knees. The cattle were then taken to a stable, and the strangers were dismissed, after having had a full view of his majesty above half an hour  but they had scarcely got home, when they were required to hasten back with the remaining presents. The monarch, however, did not appear on this occasion, though immediately after their departure, and while their attendants were arranging the articles, he came in to examine them.

On the 23d, two hours before daybreak, the Dutch were desired to repair to the palace and make a formal delivery of their gifts. Korean ambassadors were introduced at the same time, with a train of fifty attendants, dressed in the Chinese style, but with little magnificence  and they were placed in a less conspicuous situation. The articles, arranged in a spacious court, were regularly presented  but the emperor did not appear, though an interview was promised two days afterwards. They were asked to come next morning to do homage to his seal. In performing this singular ceremony they were led to one of the palace-gates, through which they saw a small octagonal edifice, which was said to contain the imperial signet. The word was then given: “ Kneel ! " then

“ Bow your heads three times and rise ! " then,

“ Kneel down and bow three times more ! ” lastly,

“ Stand up, and go to your lodgings ! " *

The 25th being appointed for the state-reception, they were conducted to a court in the palace soon after midnight, and were obliged to remain two hours in the dark. The rising sun shone on a brilliant spectacle-  numerous mandarins in their richest dresses,  umbrellas, flags, and standards of yellow, blue, and white  elephants with gilded towers on their backs, and horses richly caparisoned. All the ambassadors and chiefs then entered the palace, and half an hour having elapsed, a small bell was rung, when the emperor was supposed to arrive, and they were soon after called upon to do profound homage, though without seeing either the throne or himself. A place was then assigned, in which they had a full view of his majesty, who, after a brief space, rose and seemed to be coming towards them, but he suddenly turned aside and went out  so that they never enjoyed any share of his personal conversation.

On the 12th June, the embassy, according to usage, were entertained at a splendid banquet. When they had dined, they were asked if they had brought bags to carry away the remainder, and having replied in the negative, small sacks were brought into which the victuals were promiscuously thrust. The tu-tang presided, and had a splendid table  but others, even of the great mandarins, had very poor fare spread for them on mats upon the floor. A second festival was given in the same style on the following day-  and, on the 14th, the Dutch received, with signs of profound homage, the emperor's presents, the delivery of which portended their speedy departure. The ambassadors had taken an early opportunity to state their requests which were, that they might be allowed to come annually and carry on a free trade, not only at Canton, but at the principal ports of Fujian and Zhijiang  to traffic there with what merchants they pleased, and for all articles which were not prohibited  finally, to have warehouses in which their goods might be deposited. To smooth the way for these propositions, they had prepared rich presents for each of the principal grandees  but those persons, declaring the acceptance to be contrary to the rules and customs of the court, steadily refused them. In fine, the only result of this grand expedition was a sealed letter, of the contents of which they were wholly ignorant, but which did not in fact grant any of the privileges they so anxiously solicited. Soon after, Van Hoorn, according to the understood usage, took his departure from Beijing, and retraced exactly the route by which he had come-  so that little or no opportunity occurred for farther observation. After some transactions of minor importance at Fuzhou, he set sail for Batavia, where he arrived on the 7th October 1667


Timeline - Dutch in China



1644 Manchus help Mings drive out rebellion and set up Qing dynasty which will last until 1912.


1661: Accession of Emperor Kang-hsi;

When Manchu forces entered Fukien, his father succumbed to their offers of preferment under the new Ch'ing dynasty (the dynastic name of the Manchus) and abandoned the fragile Ming court at Foochow. The Prince of Tang was captured and killed; but Cheng Ch'eng-kung, resisting his father's orders to abandon a lost cause, vowed to restore the Ming dynasty and began to build up land and naval forces for that purpose.


1662: The Manchus order the evacuation of all the coastal regions

Forced back to his original base of Amoy, Cheng was still unbeatable at sea; but the collapse of Ming resistance in the southwest and the Ch'ing's new policy of forced inland emigration of the coastal population put him in a dangerous position. In these circumstances he hit upon the plan of taking Taiwan from the Dutch as a secure rear base area.


1661 April: Ming pirate Zheng Chenkong (also called Koxinga), who is ravaging the Chinese coast with a fleet of 3,000 junks lands in Taiwan besieges Dutch settlement at Fort Zelandia on Taiwan and drives the Dutch out; end of resistance by the Southern Ming


1662 Koxinga establishes a Ming Chinese government in Taiwan to resist the Manchus in power in China.


1662: His larger ambitions on the mainland and half-formed plans for ousting the Spaniards from the Philippines, however, were cut short by his premature death on June 23,.


1677: The Manchus re-conquer Fukien and the north-western provinces


1668: Manchuria is closed to Chinese


1681 Manchu emperor defeats Rebellion of the Three Feudatories and kills its leader, a former Ming general, in the south of China and establishes Qing rule over all of mainland China.


1683 Manchus invade Taiwan. Koxinga’s son surrenders Taiwan.


1683: Taiwan falls to the Manchus - His son, Cheng Ching, used the Taiwan base to sustain the anti-Manchu struggle for another 20 years. But after his death in 1681, the Cheng kingdom on Taiwan fell to a Ch'ing invasion fleet in 1683. This defeat ended the longest lived of the Ming restorationist movements.

Taiwan becomes part of Chinese Empire until 1895. Immigration to Taiwan increases greatly.

Holland Dutch East India Company (Verrinigde Oostndisches Compagnie, VOC)

Jan Huygen van Linschoten (1563-1611) left for Spain in December 1593 to continue his training as a merchant. The commercial ambitions of this adventurous son to a public notary in Haarlem reached, however, much further than the borders of the Iberian peninsula. While pursuing his fortune he gained the confidence of the archbishop of Goa, which made him the first Dutchman to get an impression of the gigantic colonial empire built by Portugal in the Far East. On his return to the Netherlands Van Linschoten sold the story of his travels to the Amsterdam publisher Cornelis Claesz, who published it in 1596 in a book elaborately illustrated with maps and prints. In the book Itinerario two of his other works have been included, both dealing with navigation: the Beschryvinghe van de gantsche custe van Guinea and the Reys-gheschrift vande navigatien der Portugaloysers in Orienten. The significance of this first Dutch survey of the former Netherlands East Indies lies in the valuable sailing instructions which Van Linschoten had managed to acquire, information that could only be found in the secret archives of the Portuguese administration. Abusing the trust put in him he had copied it page by

page. Thus, in one go, the greatly coveted shipping route to the Netherlands East Indies and the route between the Asiatic sea ports as such, came within reach. Even moered into full Pacific trade in her own crucially, Van Linschoten had also obtained information on very delicate nautical data that provided insight into the currents, deeps, islands and sandbanks, and such knowledge was absolutely vital for safe navigation. Besides, everything was elucidated by coastal depictions and maps of unprecedented accuracy for those days.

Dutch pilots had been preparing for the long voyage to the Far East for quite some time by research, study and practice. Since 1580 several foreign manuals, in which the technique of navigating the oceans was explained in full detail, had been translated into Dutch. Cartographic horizons had also been broadened. Within a period of scarcely ten years the nautical scope of Dutch navigators was improved to perfection and extended to the Mediterranean and the whole area between the Canaries and Russia. The publication of the Itinerario in 1596 added the missing link to the research into itineraries and trade routes to the Indonesian Archipelago. A fleet under the command of Cornelis de Houtman sailed for the Spice Islands in 1595. Another expedition, commanded by Jacob van Neck, put to sea in 1598 ; and their ships returned home with rich cargoes of cloves, mace, nutmegs, and pepper. At that time Holland was politically affiliated with Portugal. When this alliance was altered in 1602, Holland, with her excellent navy, ent



Let China sleep, for when she awakes she will shake the world.


Qing Dragon.jpg