History, The Development of Dutch Influence
Pieterszoon Coen, Banda Islands, trading rights, Mataram, eastern islands
The Dutch East India Company, founded in 1602, competed with the Portuguese and the English for the archipelago’s trade. The Dutch governor-general Jan Pieterszoon Coen arrived on Java in the early 17th century and established Batavia (now Jakarta) as the Dutch headquarters. Through direct force and alliances with native leaders, Coen tried to stop the interisland network of traders from engaging in international trade. In 1629 the Dutch clashed briefly with Mataram, then settled into a period of coexistence. The Dutch captured Malacca in 1641, but Malacca no longer had complete control of the spice trade to Europe. To gain a trade monopoly, the company allowed cloves to be grown only on the island of Ambon and nutmeg and mace to be grown only in the Banda Islands. The company destroyed the spice trees in other places. In 1678 Mataram was forced to cede the Priangan region of western Java to the Dutch company.
During the 18th century the Dutch East India Company introduced coffee and other new crops to Java. It also started a system of forced deliveries of crops that relied heavily on cooperation from agreeable Javanese aristocrats and from leaders of the growing local Chinese population, whose immigration the Dutch promoted. Dutch interference in Mataram’s affairs led to the kingdom’s division, in 1755, into the principalities of Surakarta and Yogyakarta. In the Moluccas, the Dutch extended their trading rights into political control. Elsewhere in the eastern islands, most local rulers retained their internal autonomy but were drawn into special relationships with the Dutch. Financial mismanagement and a decline in trade brought the East India Company to bankruptcy, however, and in 1799 it was dissolved. The Dutch government then assumed control of the company’s Indonesian possessions.
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