Page 132 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 132

Whereas in the Republic the organization of the Company had been established in its entirity at the VOC's foundation, and had not been subject to any basic changes afterwards, in Asia it was at the outset vague and indeterminate. Only in the course of time was it given definite shape.
The charter of 1602 included very little relating to Asia. According to clause 35 the VOC had the right to enter into treaties with rulers, to build fortifications and to appoint governors and judges, all in the name of the States-General. In practice the VOC procee- ded largely along the lines followed by the voorcompagnie├źn, and merchants were appoin- ted at the various trading posts who did business as representatives of the directors and kept the account books. The highest authority in Asia rested with the person appointed admiral of the fleet. Central direction and coordination of government were highly proble- matical since the admiral had no fixed abode. Being in regular charge of military opera- tions, his life was always at risk, and there was also the possibility of a new admiral appearing in Asiatic waters before the previous one had taken his leave.1
These defects in government began to be felt more strongly as the results of expeditions and military operations proved disappointing, and financial advantages remained below expectation. There were also fears that, after the Twelve Years Truce was entered into in 1609, Spanish and Portuguese opposition in Asia would increase. Therefore the Heren Zeventien decided in September 1609 to appoint to the fleet not an admiral but a Governor- General, who was to remain in Asia to take supreme authority over all Company settle- ments and possessions. The man of their choice for this post was Pieter Both, who had previously served as commander of a fleet of one of the voorcompagnie├źn. In accordance with the charter his appointment was proposed before the States-General, who confirmed it on November 27th, 1609, and approved the instruction.2
Thus the foundation was laid for Company rule in Asia. In addition the founding of Batavia in 1619 provided the VOC with a seat of government as well as a shipping rendez- vous. Batavia became by far the most important port in European-Asiatic shipping. But the development of trade was such that other Company settlements in Asia also became directly involved, for shorter or longer periods, in shipping with Europe. This development will also be discussed in this chapter.
The Governor-General and Council of the Indies
The first clause of Pieter Both's instruction ordered him, on arrival at Bantam, to dissolve the wider council of the fleet and to compose a council as 'body of government over all acti- vities and affairs of all of India concerning the Dutch Company'. This Council of the Indies was to consist of five members, including the Governor-General as chairman. In important matters decisions were to be taken by majority vote. The Council was also to act as court of law, with the fiscal as prosecutor. When a governor or senior merchant from another factory happened to be there, he had the right to attend the Council as avoting member.3
1 Stapel, Nederlandsen Indie III, 82-83.
2 The instruction is printed in Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 87, 517-531; Mijer, Verzameling van
Instructies, 5-22; Van der Chijs, Plakaatboek I, 32-33.
3 OnGovernor-GeneralandCouncillorsoftheIndies:VanDam,Beschryvinge,vol.87,2-76;Klerk

   130   131   132   133   134