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Ouch... Couldn't they do without that?

That is other fascinating instance of collonization clash.

Before the arrival of Europeans, [the] Bandanese had an active and independent role in trade throughout the archipelago. Banda was the world's only source of nutmeg and mace, spices used as flavourings, medicines, preserving agents, that were at the time highly valued in European markets; sold by Arab traders to the Venetians for exorbitant prices.

[In 1512, Portugese were the first Europeans to reach the Bandas.] Maintaining their independence, the Bandanese never allowed the Portuguese to build a fort or a permanent post in the islands. Ironically though, it was this lack of ports which brought the Dutch to trade at Banda instead of the clove islands of Ternate and Tidore.

[Dutch]-Bandanese relations were mutually resentful from the outset, with Holland's first merchants complaining of Bandanese reneging on agreed deliveries and price, and cheating on quantity and quality. For the Bandanese, on the other hand, although they welcomed another competitor purchaser for their spices, the items of trade offered by the Dutch--heavy woollens, and damasks, unwanted manufactured goods, for example--were usually unsuitable in comparison to traditional trade products. [As] much as the Dutch disliked dealing with the Bandanese, the trade was a highly profitable one with spices selling for 300 times the purchase price in Banda.

Until the early seventeenth century, [nutmeg] was one of the "fine spices" kept expensive in Europe by disciplined manipulation of the market, but a desirable commodity for Dutch traders in the ports of India as well; economic historian Fernand Braudel notes that India consumed twice as much as Europe.

[The] Bandanese soon grew tired of the Dutch actions; the low prices, the useless trade items, and the enforcement of Dutch sole rights to the purchase of the coveted spices. The end of the line for the Bandanese came in 1609 when the Dutch reinforced Fort Nassau on Bandanaira Island. The [leaders] called a meeting with the Dutch admiral and forty of his highest-ranking men, and ambushed and killed them all.

[The] English had built fortified trading posts on tiny Ai and Run islands, ten to twenty kilometres from the main Banda Islands. With the British paying higher prices, they were significantly undermining Dutch aims for a monopoly. [In] 1615, the Dutch invaded Ai with 900 men and the British retreated to Run where they regrouped. That same night, the British launched a surprise counter-attack on Ai retaking the island and killing 200 Dutchmen. A year later, a much stronger Dutch force attacked Ai; [after] a month of siege the defenders ran out of ammunition and were slaughtered. [European] control of the Bandas was still contested up until 1667 when, under the Treaty of Breda (1667), the British traded the small island of Run for Manhattan, giving the Dutch full control of the Banda archipelago.

Newly-appointed VOC governor-general Jan Pieterszoon Coen set about enforcing Dutch monopoly over the Banda's spice trade. In 1621 well-armed soldiers were landed on Bandaneira Island and within a few days they had also occupied neighbouring and larger Lontar. The [leaders] were forced at gunpoint to sign and unfeasibly arduous treaty, one that was in fact impossible to keep, thus providing Coen an excuse to use superior Dutch force against the Bandanese. The Dutch quickly noted a number of alleged violations of the new treaty, in response to which Coen launched a punitive massacre. Japanese mercenaries were hired to deal with the [leaders], forty of whom were beheaded with their heads impaled and displayed on bamboo spears for display.

The population of the Banda Islands prior to Dutch conquest is generally estimated to have been around 13-15,000 people. [The] actual numbers of Bandanese who were killed, forcibly expelled or fled the islands in 1621 remain uncertain. But readings of historical sources suggest around one thousand Bandanese likely survived in the islands, and were spread throughout the nutmeg groves as forced labourers. The Dutch subsequently re-settled the islands with imported slaves, convicts and indentured labourers (to work the nutmeg plantations), as well as immigrants from elsewhere in Indonesia. [Some 530 of enslaved surviving Bandanese]  were later returned to the islands because of their much-needed expertise in nutmeg cultivation (something sorely lacking among newly-arrived Dutch settlers).

A sudden potential for huge profit makes people insane. You can have centuries of slowly building trading realtions, and then a kind of whooping globalization...

by das monde on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 04:25:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but there was no centuries of building relationships. The Dutch and Portugese arrived in South Asia as the owners of cannon and an irresistable greed. They were like locusts except locusts go away after eating everything.

The subtleties of colonialism were explained by the British poet:

They don't like us
But we have got
The Maxim Gun
And they have not.

by rootless2 on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:35:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With "building relations", I was referring to the first paragraph of my citation.
by das monde on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 08:21:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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