In dienst van de Compagnie
In the service of the Dutch East India Company (1602-1799) A hundred eyewitness accounts.
In a hundred small chapters this book provides readers a peek at the lives of the people who made the first multinational company in history a success but also a failure in the end.
For two hundred years the Dutch East India Company was a major player in international trade in Asia and with Asian nations. For a long time Batavia, on Java, was the centre of intra Asian trade and shipping networks. It even became an, unwilling, imperial force in part of Asia, especially on Java.
In this book we read the accounts of people from all layers of society who had dealings with the Company: soldiers, surgeons, ship captains, passengers, commanders, reverends, accountants and others.
This is not about statistics, facts and theory. This is about bewilderment, amazement, sorrow and (some) joy, victory and defeat, corruption, hardship and (human) tragedy, sickness and death. These are eyewitness accounts in a time when ships were still made of wood and men made of steel.
This book is divided in eleven parts which divide the stories in parts of the journey to the East, starting in the Dutch Republic, where sailors and soldiers were recruited to the journey south to the Cape, to the Indonesian Archipelago and the different other parts in Asia where the Dutch had their trading posts and their own territories, and finally ending with the return journey(which about a third of all EIC employees never made).
I am a part time volunteer tour guide on a replica of the EIC merchant ship 'Batavia' from 1628. This book provided me with enough stories to tell our visitors and make a part of Dutch history come alive.