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A City of Migrants: Kota Ambon at the End of the Seventeenth Century

Author(s): Gerrit J. Knaap


Source: Indonesia, No. 51 (Apr., 1991), pp. 105-128
Published by: Southeast Asia Program Publications at Cornell University
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A CITY

OF MIGRANTS: KOTA AMBON AT


THE END OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

Gerrit
J.Knaap

Some fifteen
yearsago, Kota Ambon,thecapitalof theIndonesianprovinceofMaluku,
commemorateditsfourthcentennial.Kota Ambontodayis inhabitedby a largeIndonesian
from
population,includingChristianand MuslimAmboneseas well as Muslimimmigrants
from
Sulawesi.
The
of
is
elsewhere,mainly
proportion non-Ambonesemigrants high.The
Ambonese themselvesstillpreferto live in thecountryside,which is understandablebecause the cityis overcrowdedand livingconditionsare farfromcomfortable.The immigrantin Kota Ambonis, however,not a modernphenomenon.The cityhas always had a
largeproportionofnon-Ambonesesettlers.
In thisarticle,I discussthedevelopmentofKota Ambonin thefirst130 yearsofitsexistenceand demonstratethatKota Ambondeveloped intoa non-Ambonesecity,situatedin
an Ambonesecountryside.'In recentyears,the "early"colonial cityin SoutheastAsia has
been a topicofincreasinginterestto historians.In thisrespect,Kota Ambonshould notbe
overlooked,not only because it was one of the firstcolonial cities but also because the
archivalsources allow a systematicanalysisof mattersin greaterdetail thanhas yetbeen
elsewhere.The physicalappearanceofthetown,itsinstitutions
and
possibleforsettlements
and itseconomicand demographicstructure
willbe comparedwiththeresults
government,
of otherresearchthathas been publishedin thelast decade. Kota Ambon,althoughit had
severalfeaturesin commonwithotherearlycolonialcities,also possessed unique characteristicsofitsown.
Like manyothercitiesin theworld,Kota Ambonoriginatedfroma settlementoutside
thewalls ofa fortress.
This fortress
was foundedin 1576by thePortuguese,who needed a
new strongholdaftertheywere expelledfromtheisland ofTernatein theNorthMoluccas
was situatedon Honibopo beach,whichwas
by SultanBaab Ullah in 1575.The new fortress
ofthevillageofAhusu,one oftheAmboneseallies of thePortuguese.It
partoftheterritory
was constructedfromstone and named "Nossa Senhora da Anunciada." Around the
1 All archivalsourcesused forthisarticleoriginatefromtheAlgemeenRijksarchief
(ARA) in The Hague, in particularfromthe collectionof theVerenigdeOost-IndischeCompagnie[abbreviatedhereafter
as VOC]. The abbreviation"res."refersto a resolutionof thePoliticalCouncilin theprovinceofAmbon. "Zielsbeschr."refersto
Victoria"to thedailyregisterkeptin CastleVictoria.
"zielsbeschrijving"
(descriptionofsouls) and "dagregister

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106 Gerrit
J.Knaap
fortress
casados,former
Portuguesesoldierswho had marriedin Asia and had chosento stay
there,settled.In timesof crisis,theyservedas a militiato assist thegarrisonof thePortuguese Crown againstits opponents.Besides thecasados, severalChristianAmbonesevillages supportiveof the Portuguesecause had grownup near the fortressforprotection
Muslimcoalition.One ofthesevillages
againstattackfromtheTernatan-led
anti-Portuguese
consistedof orangmerdeka,
Asian Christians,who had followedthe Portuguesefromthe
NorthMoluccas to Ambonin 1575.These orangmerdekamayhave been indigenousNorth
Moluccans,but it is also possible thattheywere formerslaves who had been given their
freedomby theirmasters;orangmerdekameans "freepeople."2
The settlementwitnesseda constantstateof war in the firstthreedecades of its existence.It sustainedseriousattacksin 1591,1593,and 1598.The opponentsusuallywereAmbonese Muslims,who receivedconsiderablebackingfromTernatanand/orJavaneseforces.
In 1600,theMuslimswerealso assistedby Dutchships underthecommandofStevenvan
der Haghen. The Dutch had come to Ambon in searchof spices,in particularcloves. On
each of theseoccasionsthePortugueseheld theirposition,but on February23, 1605,when
Stevenvan der Haghen returnedon behalfof the "VerenigdeOost-IndischeCompagnie"
(VOC), the Dutch East India Company,accompaniedby a fleetof tenships,the desperate
and all itsdependenciesin theCentral
governor,Gaspar de Melo, surrenderedthefortress
Moluccas to theDutch.On thisoccasion,theDutch,forthefirsttimesincetheyhad arrived
in Asia,acquiredsovereignrights,
and as suchtheacquisitionoftheAmbonfortress
marked
thebeginningoftheircolonialempire.3
AlthoughStevenvan der Haghenguaranteedfreedomofreligionto theCatholicPortuguese, thistolerancedid not last long. In March 1605,thePortuguesegovernor,together
withseveral of his officials,soldiers,and theirfamilies,a group several hundredstrong,
sailed in two shipsto Melaka. The followingMay,250 oftheremainingPortuguese,including theJesuitmissionariesand perhapssome orangmerdeka,also had to leave, in thiscase
forthe Philippines.Altogether,approximately600 Portugueseinhabitantshad to leave.
Asian or mestizo familiespledged theirallegiance to the
Only 46 Portuguese-influenced
Dutchand stayedbehind,i.e. approximately
200-300personsin all.4
A preindustrialEuropean "city,"in modernterminology,
is consideredto be a phenomenonto whichsome spatial,economic,judicial,and institutional
characteristics
can be
ascribed.Generally,a cityis labeled as a settlement
that(1) is rathercrowdedand enclosed
with walls and/or ditchesforits defense,(2) has a populationwith mainlynonagrarian
specializationsthatto a certainextentdominatesthe surroundingcountryside,(3) has a
ofthecountryside,
populationwhose judicialstatuscontraststo thatoftheinhabitants
parin
the
sense
that
a
dweller
has
more
or
ticularly
city
rights privilegesthana villager,and (4)
is a politicalentitywithself-governing
institutions
thathave reacheda fairlyhighdegreeof
2 H.Th.M. Jacobs,"Wanneerwerdde stadAmbon
totde Taal-,Landgesticht?Bij een vierdeeeuwfeest,"Bijdragen
en Volkenkunde
131 (1975):447,451,453-54,456-57.
3 H.Th.M. Jacobs,"The PortugueseTown of Ambon1576-1605,"Paper presentedto the Second International
Seminaron Indo-PortugueseHistory,Lisbon,October1980,p. 11; G. J.Knaap, Kruidnagelen
en Christenen.
De
Oost-Indische
ende bevolking
vanAmbon1656-1696,Verhandelingen
van hetKoninklijkInstiVerenigde
Compagnie
tuutvoorTaal- Land-en Volkenkunde125 (Dordrecht:Foris,1987),p. 15.
4 I. Commelin,BeginendeVoortgangh
vande Vereenigde
Nederlantsche
Oost-Indische
vol. 2,
Geoctroyeerde
Compagnie,
(Amsterdam:Janszoon,1646),voyage 12,p. 36; P. A. Tiele,ed., "Documentenvoor de geschiedenisder Nederlandersin hetOosten,"Bijdragen
enMededeelingen
vanhetHistorisch
6 (1883):285,289; H.Th.MJacobs,
Genootschap
vol. 2., MonumentaMissionumSocietatisIesu 39 (Rome:Institutum
HistoricumSocieed., Documenta
Malucensia,
tatisIesu, 1980),pp. 681,690.

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A CityofMigrants107
autonomyvis-a-vistheruleroftherealm.Accordingto AnthonyReid, precolonialcitiesin
SoutheastAsia werequite different.
in whichliving
SoutheastAsian citiesweresettlements
space was not in shortsupplyand whichusually lacked walls and ditches.Its population,
althoughheavilydependenton nonagricultural
professions,had no special judicial status,
and formsofself-government
were limitedto foreignmerchantslivingin separatequarters
ofthetown.5Actually,a citywas a clusterofvillagelikesettlements
surroundinga courtor a
harbor.
The colonialcapitalsofSoutheastAsia in thesixteenthand seventeenthcenturies,such
as Melaka,Manila,and Batavia,verymuchresembledEuropeancities,withtheexceptionof
thefourthcharacteristic;
thatis, althoughsome featuresofautonomy,such as self-governmentforcertaingroupsofforeignmerchantsas in indigenousSoutheastAsian cities,were
of thePorfound,itis obvious thatthe"lordoftherealm,"in thiscase therepresentative(s)
of the
tugueseor SpanishCrown or theauthoritiesoftheVOC, dominatedtheinstitutions
town.
Kota Ambon fitsinto thisadapted European patternexceptforthe firstcharacteristic,
thespatial one. AlthoughKota Ambonwas a rathercrowded place, situatedin thecoastal
valleyat themouthof theRiversWai Gajah and Wai Tomo,it had no citywalls or ditches
elementwas dominantin thesettlement,
surroundingit.Economically,thenonagricultural
in particularin thefieldoftraderelationswhereinit had a clear advantage over thecountryside.Its populationhad a special judicialstatuswhen comparedwiththeinhabitantsof
the villages. It consistedof servantsof the VOC and "colonists"or burgers
(citizens).The
group of citizens,in principleat least,had to servethe state,theVOC, by formingarmed
militiasthatcould assisttheCompany'sstandingarmyin theeventof emergency.The villagers or orangnegeri,on the otherhand, were obliged to serve the colonial state with
"compulsoryservices"in the sense thattheyhad to carryCompany servants,letters,and
provisions,man thefleetofindigenouswar vessels,theso-calledhongi,and help build the
Kota Ambon,however,was notan autonomouspoliticalentitybeCompany's fortresses.6
cause ithad no government
ofitsown; thecitywas administered
by thelocal VOC governor
and council.
These criteriaexcludedthevillagersfrombeingpartofthecity.The Ambonesevillages
thatwere foundon thecoastal plain of theWai Tomo and theWai Gajah, such as Soya di
Bawah, Nusaniwe,Latuhalat,Urimesen,Halong, Amahusu,and Hatiwe,are consideredto
be nonurban.This label is also applied to the settlementsof Mardika and Batu Merah.
Mardika's populationconsistedof the descendantsof a sixteenth-century
group of orang
merdeka.Althoughits populationpossessed scarcelyany land, it was stillobliged to performcompulsoryserviceslike all otherAmbonesevillages.More or less thesame was true
forBatuMerah,whichbegan in 1656as a place to hold hostagedefeatedAmboneseenemies
of theVOC. Gradually,Batu Merahdeveloped intoa real village;its inhabitants,
like those
ofMardika,wereconsideredto be orangnegeriand notcitizens.7
Appearanceof theCity
The mostoutstandingbuildingin Kota Ambon,whichdominatedone's outlookwhen
approachingthetownby sea or by land, was thecastle.ThroughoutVOC rule in Ambon,
5 A. Reid, "The Structureof Cities in SoutheastAsia, Fifteenth
to SeventeenthCenturies,"JournalofSoutheast
AsianStudies9 (1980):240-42,247.
6 Knaap,
Kruidnagelen,
pp. 138-60.
7 Ibid.,pp. 272,301.

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108 Gerrit
J.Knaap
theDutchwerebusyimprovingtheconstruction
ofthecastletokeep itin a good stateofdefense.A fullaccountofitsbuildinghistorywould fillseveralpages; consequently,onlythe
mostimportant
eventsare dealtwithhere.WhentheDutchtookover,thecastlewas a brick
that
was
rectangle
veryvulnerableto damage by enemygunfire.Thus in 1605-1606,it was
encircledby a smallditchand smallbulwarkswereerectedat itscorners.In 1614,itreceived
a new name,Victoria,to commemoratetheseizure ofAmbonfromthePortuguese.In the
early 1630s, the ditch was broadened and the consequent available soil was used to
the fortress
walls. In 1654,Victoriawas enlargedon theseaside because it had
strengthen
becometoo smallfortheever-growing
activitiesoftheDutch.8
In thebeginningofthe1670s,probablybecause theVOC feltvulnerableconfronted
as it
was withthewar of theNetherlandsagainstthecombinedforcesof Englandand France,a
discussionbegan about thedefensivemeritsofthecastle.Theyeven contemplatedbuilding
an entirelynew castle in anotherplace. However,on February17, 1674,the castleand the
citywerestruckby themostsevereearthquakeofthecenturyand thecastlebuildingswere
severelydamaged. As a result,theVOC had to buya house in townto serveas a temporary
residenceforthe governorand his family,but the temporaryresidenceturnedout to be
thecastlebegan in 1679:a stoneencirclement
permanent.The nextmajorprojectconcerning
was builtoutside the walls,and new ditcheswere dug facingthe landside. This encirclement,whichwas in turnprotectedbya smallditch,was completedin 1682.In the1680s,the
questionofwhethera new castleshould be builtgainednew impetus.Finally,in 1697they
decided to stayat theold site.9
definitely
When the Dutch took over fromthe Portuguese,therewere fourbuildingsused for
Christianreligiouspurposesin thevicinityofthecastle,twoofwhichservedas churchesfor
the Ambonese village populations.Of the last two, probablywooden structures,
nothing
further
is heard after1605.The othertwo,St Paul's and the Misericordia,were obviously
meant to serve the Portuguesegarrisonand the urban population: the firstas a parish
churchand the second as a hospital.The Misericordiaprobablywas a hospitalunderthe
Dutch as well untila new buildingwas constructedforthispurpose in the period 16251630.St. Paul's was turnedintoa Protestant
Calvinistchurch,wheresermonsforboththe
Dutch-and theMalay-speakingcongregations
wereread.At theend ofthe1620s,however,
the alreadyshakybuildingfelldown aftera storm.On its site,a new stonebuildingwas
erectedto servebothcongregations.
Anothersmallchurchmustalso have been builtinside
thecastleforthegarrisonin thefirsthalfoftheseventeenth
century.A fundamental
segrebetween
the Dutch-and Malay-speakingreligiouscommunitiesonly came about,
gation
however,afterthecitychurchburnedin the greatfireof 1658.On thatoccasion,theVOC
decided thatthe ever-growingcommunitiesshould each have its own place of worship.
Temporarily,the Dutch-speakingcommunityattendedservicesin thesmall churchof the
castlewhilea special wooden structure
on thesiteof
was erectedfortheMalay community
the old burnedbuilding.A new churchforthe Dutch was builtin the 1680s,just opposite
8 G. E. Rumphius,"De AmbonscheHistorie behelsende een kortverhaal,"
Bijdragentotde Taal-,Land-en
Volkenkunde
vanNederlandsch-Indie,
64 (1910),pt. 1: 25,82; idem,pt.2: 74; W. Ph. Coolhaas,ed., Generale
missiven
van gouverneurs-generaal
en raden van Indie aan Heren XVII der VerenigdeOostindischeCompagnie,Rijks
GeschiedkundigePublicatian104 (The Hague: Nijhoff,1960),1:35;G. J.Knaap, ed., Memoriesvan overgavevan
van Ambonin de zeventiende
en achttiende
eeuw,RijksGeschiedkundigePublicatiin,Kleine Serie 62
gouverneurs
(The Hague: Nijhoff,
1987),p. 3.
9 VOC 1293:61r;1300:34r-35r,54r,494vres.;1344:127res.;1376:52v; W. Ph. Coolhaas,ed., Generale
missiven
van
en radenvan Indidaan HerenXVII der Verenigde
Oostindische
Rijks Geschiedgouverneurs-generaal
Compagnie,
1971),4: 602-3;idem,RijksGeschiedkundigePublicatian150 (The
kundigePublicatidn134 (The Hague: Nijhoff,
1975),5:389,825.
Hague: Nijhoff,

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A CityofMigrants109
thehouse of thegovernorin town.A new stonebuildingreplacedthewooden structureof
theMalay churchin 1696at theold site.10
When the Dutch took the cityin 1605,most of the inhabitants'houses were situated
directlyadjacentto thecastle.Froma militarypointofview, thehouses stood fartoo near
thecastle.Therefore,
theDutch immediately
startedtownplanning,among otherthings,by
movingthehouses a fewhundredmeterssouthward,thuscreatingan open space between
thecastleand thetown.The nextchangemusthave occurredaround 1625.The numberof
citizenshad grownconsiderablyand thesea had eroded a large portionof thecoast. The
Ambonesevillageswere thusobligedto move to theperipheryof thecoastal valley,while
theurbancitizensgraduallyhad to fillin thespace betweenthesevillageson theone hand
and thecastleand seashoreon theother.At theend of theseventeenthcentury,Kota Ambon's street patternhad reached its final structure,which can still be traced today.
Olifantsstraat
(ElephantStreet),which went fromthe castle southeasttoward the mountains,correspondswithtoday's JalanPatimura,and Chinese straat(Chinese Street)with
JalanAlexanderJacobPatty.Breedestraat(BroadStreet)on theseaside is probablyidentical
with Jalan Kemakmuran,whereas Prince straat (Prince Street) and Mardijkersstraat
(Mardijkers'Street)correspondswithJalanSultan Hairun and JalanTelukabesi,respectively.11
In the 1620s,attemptswere made to registerpropertyrightsto land and houses. Howit was notuntil
ever,because of thenegligenceofboththeauthoritiesand theinhabitants,
the 1680sthata reasonablyadequate cadastraladministration
Whatdid
was established.12
thesehouses look like?Usually,thewalls of thebiggerhouses were made of stoneup to a
heightof 1.5 m; above thislevel theywere of wood. The roofswere thatchedwith palm
leaves. The smallerhouses,pedak,were entirelywooden structures.
In the 1640s,to direct
house buildingin a moreor less orderlyfashion,theVOC nominateda rooimeester,
a kindof
who
builder
was
to
ask
the
was
building inspector.Every potential
inspector,
obliged
a
for
and
on
to
let
the
decide
always Company employee, permission
inspector
building
boundaries.The inspectoralso supervisedtheconditionof the town's streets,which not
lanes but also servedas drains.In therainyseason in particular,
onlyfunctionedas traffic
tremendousquantitiesof watercame down fromthemountainsto thesea. This waterwas
supposed to findits way not only throughthe riversbut also throughthe small ditches
along both sides of the streets.Each householderwas responsibleforthe upkeep of the
ditchesin frontofhis or herdwelling.The ditcheswerealways in dangerofbeingblocked
by animals,especiallypigs, whichran freeand fouled the streets,and humans,who dehad to see thatthestreetsand theditcheswere
positedall sortsofgarbage.The rooimeester
in
and
that
carried
thegarbageto theplaces allottedforthatpurkept good shape
everyone
near
the
seashore.13
pose
As thedutiesof the rooimeestergraduallyincreased,he was assisted by wijkmeesters,
overseersofcityblocks,who werechosenfromtheranksofthecitizenry.
The Companyhad
10 Knaap, Memories,p. 7; Rumphius,"AmbonscheHistorie,"pt. 1: 51, 77; pt. 2: 119; J.Mooij, Geschiedenis
der
Protestantsche
1602-1636(Weltevreden:
Kerkin Nederlandsch-Indize
1923),p. 213; Fr.Valentijn,Oud
Landsdrukkerij,
en Nieuw Oost-Indizn,
vol. 2 (Dordrecht:Van Braam, 1724), Beschrijvingevan Amboina [hereaftercited as
Beschr.],pp. 130-33;VOC 1243:1102.
11Rumphius,"AmbonscheHistorie,"pt.1: 53; Knaap,Memories,
Beschr.,pp. 125-26,
p. 11;Valentijn,Oost-IndiL'n,
134.
12 Rumphius,"AmbonscheHistorie,"pt. 1: 53;
AmbonscheZaaken [hereaftercited as
Valentijn,Oost-Indien,
Amb.Z.], p. 252;Knaap,Memories,
p. 250.
13Valentijn,Oost-Indien,
Beschr.,pp. 126-27;Amb.Z., pp. 251-53.

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110 Gerrit
J.Knaap
had to see thatthe
alreadydivided thetownintofourblocksin 1666.The fourwijkmeesters
inhabitantsdisposed of theirgarbagein the properplaces and thattheykeptsix to twenty
bamboo cylindersat hand,accordingto thesize oftheirhouses,each filledwithfivelitersof
and thewijkmeesters
waterformutualassistancein case offire.Moreover,therooimeester
also had to see thatno one distilledarak,i.e., locallyproduced spirits,or coconutoil in a
house thatwas consideredtoo small forthatpurpose.Nevertheless,afterthe greatfiresof
1686 and 1687,when whole streetswere reduced to ashes, GovernorRobertPadtbrugge
orderedthatfirst,all houses mustbe builtat least threemetersapartand, second,thatall
roofsmustbe made withtiles.The fulfillment
of thefirstobligation,in particular,caused
for
owners
who
had
theirhouses on relativelysmall pieces of
those
built
greatdifficulty
land.14
PortugueseKota Ambon had not possessed defensiveworkssuch as town walls and
ditches.The Dutch at firstleftit thatway. The Companywas of the opinion thatserious
enemieswould onlyapproachKota Ambonby sea. Therethecastlealreadyprovidedprotection.Enemiesfromthemountainswerenotexpected.However,on two occasions,in 1616
and 1636,the AmboneseChristiansfromthehinterlandrose up againsttheCompanyand
in 1636,
threatenedthecity,althoughin theend no full-scaleattacksfollowed.Nevertheless,
thethreatresultedin theerectionofa temporary
ofthecity.In 1665,
wooden encirclement
whentherewererumorsofa Makassareseattackon Ambon,thecitywas again surrounded
by such a temporaryconstruction.
Finally,in the 1680s,GovernorPadtbruggegave thecity
itsmoatsand ditches,whichwereonlyrealizedby usinglarge-scalecompulsorylaborfrom
theAmbonesevillagers.The complaintsabout theseexcessivelabordutieswere one ofthe
reasonsthatPadtbruggewas summonedback to Bataviaby theHigh Governmentin 1687.
Withina fewmonthsofPadtbrugge'sdeparture,Ambonwas struckby heavyrainsthatleft
his moatsand bulwarksin verybad condition.In Junethefollowingyear,therainsstruck
again withtheresultthattheworkswereirretrievably
destroyed.Afterthisfailure,no effort
was made again to fortify
thecity.15
GoverningtheCity
In VOC times,a separateKota Ambon governmentdid not exist.The body thatgovernedtheprovinceofAmboina,thatis Ambonislandand thesurroundingarchipelago,the
The
PoliticalCouncil,also made themajordecisionsconcerningthetown'sadministration.
councilresidedat thecastleand, at theend oftheseventeenth
consistedofthegovcentury,
(seniormerchant),who was the
ernor,who was the head of thecouncil,theopperkoopman
head of the internalVOC administration,
thecaptain,who was theleader of the garrison,
thefiscaal(an attorneyor judge),and thegarrisonbookkeeper.Wheneverpresentin town,
therulersof thedistrictsofHitu and Saparua also attendedthesessions ofthecouncil.The
to whichthePoliticalCouncilwas accountableweretheHigh Government
onlyinstitutions
in Batavia and, still fartheraway, the "Heeren XVII" (the directorsof the VOC) in the
Netherlands.16
Of course,thePoliticalCouncilfirmly
controlledthatpartofthetown'spopulationthat
was in the serviceof theVOC. The numberof Companyservantsin theprovinceof Amboina increasedsteadilyfroma fewhundredat thebeginningoftheseventeenthcenturyto
14VOC 1309:848r-849v;Valentijn,Oost-Indien,
Beschr.,pp. 126-27;Amb.Z., p. 257;Knaap, Kruidnagelen,
p. 195.
15H. T. Colenbrander,
1899),p. 230; Knaap,
ed., Daghregister
intcasteelBatavia1636(The Hague: Nijhoff,
gehouden
Kruidnagelen,
pp. 250,273; VOC 1260:res. 30-7-1666;1437: 100r-101v;
pp. 22, 39, 45-47,152; Knaap,Memories,
1453:62r.
16Valentijn,Oost-Indiin,
Beschr.,pp. 277-78,338; Knaap,Kruidnagelen,
pp. 269-70.

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A CityofMigrants111
almost one thousandat the end of it. About 50 percentof themwere concentratedin the
castle and the town. The largestsectorsin the VOC organizationwere the militaryand
naval, but the most powerfulwas the commercesector,which decided all mattersconcerninggeneralpolicyand trade.Apartfromthecaptain,all officialsin thePoliticalCouncil
were recruitedfromthissector.Consideringits duties,a more properlabel forit would
have been "civilservice."The non-Companyservantpopulationofthetown,usuallycalled
or colonists,were divided into threeverticallyorganizedsections:the European,
burgers,
Chinese,and indigenousburgerij
(citizenry).
Althougheach citizenrypossessed leadersofits
their
It
was
thePoliticalCouncil,whichafterconsultation
was
limited.
own,
autonomy
very
with the most prominentmembersof the respectivecitizenries,nominatedthe leaders.
These leaderspossessed executivepowersbutlackedanydecision-making
authority.17
or Vrijburgerij
The phenomenonoftheEuropeancitizenry,
(freecitizenry),
originatedin
about 1610.As soon as theDutch tookover fromthePortuguese,a fewCompanyservants
began regular sexual intercoursewith Asian women. As early as 1607, Adm. Cornelis
Mateliefallowed Dutchmento officially
marryAmboneseand otherAsian women.Because
it was verydifficultfora European marriedto an Asian woman to be repatriated,some
employeeslefttheserviceand triedto make a livingin town.Moreover,leading Company
circlesin the Netherlandsdeemed it necessaryto stimulatethe growthof thiscategoryof
settlersby sendingcolonistsdirectfromEurope. The motivebehindthisinitiativewas that
in timesof danger the colonistscould assist the VOC militarily,
just as the casados were
in
in
oftwenty-five
the
a
towns.
European
doing
Portuguese
Consequently, 1611, contingent
familiesarrivedin Ambonto founda colony.This attempt,however,was notverysuccessfulbecause,apartfromdifficulties
in earninga decentliving,themoralsofthepeople concerned leftmuch to be desired, at least accordingto the criticalGovernor-GeneralJan
thatafterthis firstattemptat directDutch
Pietersz.Coen. It is not surprising,therefore,
to Ambonnothingfurther
is heardabout thesubject.Consequently,Company
immigration
servantswho lefttheVOC weretheonlysourceofnew membersforthisgroup.Because the
VOC was not only a secure employerbut also an employerthatwas very oftenshortof
hands, the growthof the Vrijburgercommunitywas not veryimpressive.Moreover,because of the shortage of European females, its composition always was liable to
"mestizofication."
Around 1700,the European citizengroup,includingseveral mestizos,
was onlyseventymales strong.18
The historyof the Chinese citizenrystartedverysoon afterthatof the European Vrijburgerij.Itdates moreor less fromthesame periodas thefoundationofBataviain 1619.The
ofChineseto Ambonmaybe seen as an indirectresultofthepolicyoftheVOC
immigration
to attractChinesesettlersto thecolonialcapital.Justbefore1620,therewas alreadyword of
an influxofChinesemigrantsintoAmbon,and around1630,theynumberedone hundred.19
After1650,the prosperousand well-to-doChinese communitywas confrontedwitha
In thesecondhalfofthe1650sand thefirsthalfof
less favorablepolicyfromtheauthorities.
the 1660s,therewere initiativesin government
circlesto forbidall Chinese involvementin
theinternaland externaltradeoftheprovinceofAmboinaand to orderthemto concentrate
17Valentijn,Oost-Indidn,
Beschr.,pp. 270,338;Knaap,Kruidnagelen,
pp. 279-80.
18 Rumphius,"AmbonscheHistorie,"pt. 1: 27; H. T. Colenbrander, Pietersz.Coen.Bescheiden
omtrent
Jan
zijn
in
6:
Geschiedenis,
(The
49;
1934),
49;
Beschr.,p.
Oost-Indibn,
40,42, Mooij,
Valentijn,
bedrijf Indie"
Hague: Nijhoff,
p.
270.
19 Colenbrander,Coen, 271;
p.
Rumphius,"AmbonscheHistorie,"pt. 1: 83; L. Bluss6,StrangeCompany.Chinese
MestizoWomenand theDutchin VOC Batavia,Verhandelingenvan het KoninklijkInstituutvoor Taal-,
settlers,
Land-en Volkenkunde122 (Dordrecht:Foris,1986),pp. 80-81.

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112 Gerrit
J.Knaap
businesses.Those who were not willingto do so
exclusivelyon agriculturaland handicraft
were faced withthechoice of eitherleavingAmbonor becomingChristian.The reasonfor
thisratherhostileapproachcan be foundin theVOC's fearthattheChinese,by way oftheir
would stimulatethesmugglingofcloves,a tradethat
tradingnetworksand creditfacilities,
was themonopolyoftheCompany.The anti-Chinesepolicyalso mighthave resultedfrom
rivals,Europeancitizentraders,or a general
pressurefromtheirpoliticallymoreinfluential
fearoftheChinesein theseyearsbecause of theChinesetakeoverof theVOC's positionsin
Taiwan in 1662.In time,because theChinesewereconsideredindispensableforthetraderelationsof the province,in particularforthe importof rice,anti-Chinesesentimentdisappeared. Now and then,however,anti-Chinesetendenciesrose again. Nevertheless,the
numberof Chinese became quite substantial;by 1700 therewere some two hundredmen,
the majorityof themBuddhists.In theChinese citizenry,a mestizofication
tendencywas
visible as well. Because of the lack of Chinese women, many Chinese had to marry
Indonesianwomen,usuallyformer
slaves ofMakassareseor Balineseorigin.20
and earlytwentiethThe indigenouscitizenryis sometimesequated withthenineteenth
of
that
consisted
ethnic
Ambonese
that
a
is,
century
citizenry
citizenry,
Ambonese.21Howin
was a label used
times
this
is
a
mistake
because
ever,
grouping
"indigenous" Company
forAsians in general.In theseventeenth
and mostof theeighteenth
century,theindigenous
In
it
consisted
of
Asians.
1605, includedmainlyorang
non-Ambonese,"foreign,"
citizenry
or
call
who
had
been leftbehindby thePoras
the
Dutch
used
to
merdeka, Mardijkers,
them,
tuguese. During the entireseventeenthcentury,this group was reinforcedby mestizos
and/or migrantsfromotherpartsof Asia. In 1656,forinstance,a considerablenumberof
formerMakassareseprisonersof war strengthened
theirranks.The mostregularand substantialgrowth,however,was contributed
by theinfluxof freedslaves, usually ofMakassarese, Butonese,Buginese, and Balinese origins.Around 1700, Mardijker-labeledmen
numbered some 230, whereas the number of men of South Sulawesi/Balinese origin
approximated210. Accordingto theirnames,about 90 to 100 percentofthesepeople must
have been Christian.Froman ethnologicalstandpoint,theindigenouscitizenrycould have
been thelargestcitizenry.At theend of theseventeenth
century,however,thiswas notthe
case because ofadministrative
reasons.22
As mentioned,each of the threecitizenrieshad its own leadership,nominatedby the
PoliticalCouncilfromitsmostprominent
members.The Chinesewerethefirstto have such
a leader,called theChinesecaptain.In 1619,a ChristianChinese,Herman,became thefirst
to hold thisposition.The firstnames of European and indigenouscaptainsappear in the
recordsofthe1630s.It is possible,however,thatthefirstEuropeanand indigenouscaptains
werenominatedat a muchearlierdate.The Europeanand indigenouscitizenriescountedin
theirranks,besides a captain,a lieutenant,
an ensign,and even sergeantsand corporals.On
thecontrary,
theChinesehad to makedo witha captainonly.Thisdifference
resultedfrom
thefactthattheEuropeanand indigenouscitizenryeach raiseda militiacompanyas a town
ofa
guard.Insteadofmilitiaduties,everyChineseman had to pay one,laterthree-quarters,
rixdollarper monthto theVOC. Accordingto theinstructions
forthecitizen'smilitias,dating from1688,everymale citizenbetweentheages of sixteenand sixtyyearswas liable to
guard dutyand had to bringhis own weapon forthatpurpose.Only thecaptain,the lieu
20VOC 880:500; 888:599; 889:659;

Valentijn,Oost-Indien,
Beschr.,pp. 259,268,270.
21 H. J.de Graaf,De geschiedenis
vanAmbonende Zuid-Molukken
(Franeker:Wever,1977),p. 132.
22Valentijn,Oost-Indidn,
Beschr.,pp. 269-70;Knaap,Kruidnagelen,
p. 279;Knaap,Memories,
p. 201.

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A CityofMigrants113
tenant,the ensign,and thesix sergeantscould bear weapons thatwere paid forby their
company.Overall,one-thirdof a companywas requiredto be armed withpikes and twothirdsofthecompanywithmuskets.23
In 1647,theEuropeanmilitiawas 41 strongand theindigenous,74. In 1656,thenumbers
were 58 and 73, respectively.
Twentyyearslater,in 1676,therelativestrengthoftheEuromilitia
had
dwindled. Althoughit had grownto 80 members,the indigenousmilitia
pean
had grownmuchfaster,to 202. Accordingto Valentijn,however,around 1700bothmilitias
were250 strong.This lastfigureis rathersurprisingbecause thenumberofethnicEuropean
and mestizomen did not even total100.24What had happened? Because of demographic
trends,the ratherinfluentialand well-to-doEuropean citizenofficerstendedto become a
class of "generalswithoutsoldiers,"whereastheircounterparts,
betheindigenousofficers,
cause of the fast-expanding
of
were
almost
followers,
group relativelypoor
drowningin
soldiers.The PoliticalCouncil,therefore,
decided duringthelate 1680sto enlargetheEuropean citizenrywitha numberofpeople fromthepoorersectionsoftheindigenouscitizenry.
So, in the end, the European citizenrywas not "white-washed"but "painted black." This
as a tokenof theprivilegedpositionoftheeliteoftheEuropean
changemustbe interpreted
in
class
matters
of
Vrijburger
politicalconcern.Anothersign ofthiswas thefactthatall the
nominated
from
the1660sonwardwereleadingDutchcitizens.Of course,the
wijkmeesters
citizens
owed
this
favored
European
positionto thefactthatethnicallyand culturallythey
wereclose to thedecision-making
PoliticalCouncil.25
In theprovinceofAmboina,justicewas administered
accordingto thelegal statusofthe
there
was
a
Raad
van
of
(Council
Thus,
Justitie
Justice),thatpresidedover affairs
subjects.
in
a
which
theAmbonesevillagerswere
Landraad
for
cases
servants,
concerningCompany
involved,and a Schepenbank(BenchofAldermen),thatservedtheinterestsof thecitizens.
Only theCouncilofJusticeand theBenchofAldermenwill be dealt withhere.The Council
ofJusticeoriginatedfromthefirstdecades of VOC rule,and its memberswere largelythe
same as thoseofthePoliticalCouncil.The BenchofAldermenwas installedin 1628and had
as membersfourCompanyservants,fourAmbonesevillagechiefs,and fourprominent
citizens. In 1663,however,theBenchofAldermenwas dissolvedand henceforth
theaffairsof
thecitizensweredealtwithby theCouncilofJustice,
whichforthesespecial cases was temcitizens.Because ofthisdual roleas well
porarilyenlargedto includeone or two prominent
as the ongoing growthof the urban population,the numberof cases broughtbeforethe
CouncilofJusticegreatlyincreased.To lightentheload ofitsmembers,a special Council of
Small Affairsthatdealt withminorcivilcases, was establishedaround 1666.The compositionofthiscouncilcloselyresembledthatofthepreviousBenchofAldermen.26
Althoughthe role of the leading citizensin thegovernmentof the towndid not show
any substantialexpansion,no serious oppositionagainst the rule of thePoliticalCouncil
everemergedfromtheranksof thecitizenries.ApartfromthefactthattheVOC employed
40 percentofthemale nonslavetownpopulationand thatitcould counton a
approximately
strongmilitarypositionin thecastlevis-a-visthetown,theverticaldivisionof thepopulationalong thelinesofseparatecitizenrieswas probablyresponsiblefortheabsenceofoppo23 Valentijn,Oost-Indin, Beschr.pp. 268,341; P. A.
voorde geschiedenis
derNederlanders
in
Tiele,ed., Bouwstoffen
denMaleischenarchipel,
(The Hague: Nijhoff,1886),1: 253; Rumphius,"AmbonscheHistorie,"pt. 1: p. 132; VOC
1453:48v.
24 Knaap,Memories,
pp. 176,201;Valentijn,Oost-Indizn,
Beschr.,p. 347;VOC 1317:359v.
25VOC 1309:849vres.;7953,1436,1451,1461,1481:zielsbeschr.

26 Knaap,Memories,
pp. 94,211,422;Valentijn,Oost-Indien,
Beschr.,pp. 339-40;Knaap, Kruidnagelen,
p. 39.

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114 Gerrit
J.Knaap
sition.A coalitionofall threecitizenrieswas veryunlikely.In particular,theEuropeanand
the Chinese citizenrieswere at timesin fierceeconomiccompetition.The leaders of the
European citizensmust have been aware thatalthoughthe VOC limitedtheirfreedom,
withouttheprotection
oftheVOC theywould have been lost.The mostardentopponentsof
foundin quite anothercornerofsocithePoliticalCouncil in Kota Ambonwere,therefore,
in
the
the
Calvinist
ministers.
ranks
of
the
itself,
ety,notably
Company
As in theNetherlands,theaffairsof thelocal Protestantchurchwere takencare ofby a
Kerkeraad
(ChurchCouncil),whichin Ambon was foundedin 1625.Besides theministers
themselves,thiscouncilusuallyconsistedofa fewlaymen,suchas one Companyservant,at
least one European citizen,and two Ambonese village chiefs.The ministers,varyingin
numberfromtwo to five,always dominatedthescene. Throughouttheentireseventeenth
thereappeared to be a traditionof conflictbetween
century,as in otherVOC settlements,
the ministersand the PoliticalCouncil. These conflictswere partlypersonaland partlya
matterof principle.The backgroundof theconflictsbased on principlecan be foundin the
theocratic
tendencieswithintheseventeenth-century
Calvinistchurchin theNetherlands.In
theopinionofmanya churchminister,
thechurchshould notbe subjectto theintervention
ofpoliticalauthorities.The ministerswho wentto Asia, however,were on theCompany's
payroll,and as such,theywereCompanyservantswho had to obeytheordersofthePolitical Council. So one should notbe surprisedthatclashes tookplace at regularintervalsbetweenministersand governorsand thattheauthoritiesresponded to thisby curbingthe
autonomyof theChurchCouncilas muchas possible.The firststep in thisprocesswas the
introduction
of a delegatein themeetingsof theChurchCouncil,whose dutyit was to reon
the
port
proceedingsof theChurchCouncil to thePoliticalCouncil.Afterfierceopposition,theministerswereforcedto acceptthisintrusionin 1631.27
The nextstep thattookaway partof the ministers'authoritytookplace around 1660.
Beforethattime,everyChristianwho wished to marryhad to ask advice and permission
froma minister.This taskwas thengivento a special Council forMarriageAffairs,
which
afterward
with
for
Affairs.
The
the
the
Council
Small
VOC,
shortly
merged
Europeancitiand
in
the
had
this
Ambonese
chiefs
own
new council.
their
zenry,
village
representatives
the
were
excluded.
At
the
of
the
Church
Council
Ministers,however,
beginning
century,
also administeredtheincomeand expenditureofthepoor.In 1690,however,a specialBoard
ofDeacons was createdto whichno ministerswerenominated.Thus by theend oftheseventeenthcentury,
thepowerbaseoftheministers
had becomeverynarrow.28
The existenceofinstitutions
to takecareofthepoorsuggestsanotheraspectofurbanlife
thatshould notbe overlooked.GiventhemigrantnatureofKota Ambonsociety,theauthoritieswere moreor less obligedto provideforthecare oforphansand inheritances.
As faras
theChristianmajoritywas concerned,thesematterswere treatedby theBoard ofTrustees,
alreadyexistingin the1630sand consistingoftwoCompanyservantsand threecitizens,as
well as theVOC itselfand/or thepreviouslymentionedjudicial organizations.All matters
concerningthe inheritanceof non-Christians,mainly Chinese, were dealt with by the
CouncilofExecutorsofChineseEstates,foundedin 1647.Thiscouncilwas presidedoverby
the administratorof the Company's cloth shop and had as membersthe captain of the
and otherprominent
thecaptainoftheChinesecitizenry,
Chinese.29
indigenouscitizenry,
27Mooij, Geschiedenis, 206,208,218.
pp.
28 VOC 1497:64r-66v;
Knaap,Memories,
pp. 94,176.
29Valentijn,Oost-Indizn,
Beschr.,p. 340;Knaap,Memories,
pp. 94, 176.

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A CityofMigrants115
EconomicStructure
Froma politicalpointofview,
Did Kota Ambondominateitssurroundingcountryside?
it certainlydid. The governmentof the provinceof Amboina resided in town.But did it
dominatethecountrysideeconomicallyas well?Again thisquestioncan be answeredaffirmatively.The citywas the channelthroughwhichall importsand exportstook place, at
least aftertheVOC had subdued thefinalresistanceof theAmboneseagainstitsrulein the
1650s. All importantdecisions concerningAmbon's only substantialexportitem,cloves,
were takenby theVOC, whichhad alreadyestablisheda trademonopolyin thisproductin
the 1640s.The domination,however,was a VOC affair;the citizencommunitydid nottake
partin it to any substantialdegree.The VOC had forbiddenthecitizensto cultivateor to
tradein cloves. Thus, the only opportunitiesthe citizenshad to participatein the internal
economyoftheprovincewere in retailtrade,mainlyofimporteditemssuch as textilesand
Chinese earthenware.Theirchancesin thisfieldwere stilllimitedbecause the Ambonese
economywas verysubsistenceoriented.Thereprovedto be littlescope forpenetrationinto
thisratherclosed economy.The citizensdid notparticipatemuchin theexternaltraderelationsofAmboneither,fortheCompany'sshipscarriedtheentireclove export.The citizens'
outward-boundtradingvessels leftAmbonalmostempty,whichmeantthattheprofitson
foreigntradehad to be made on thehomeward-boundvoyage.Moreover,theVOC, always
afraidthatsomebodymightthreatenits clove monopoly,set limitationson the routesand
destinationsofprivateshipping.30
An examinationofthecity'sinternaleconomicstructurereveals,thatin 1694morethan
40 percentofthetotaladult male population,540 out ofapproximately1250,was in theservice oftheVOC, a verysubstantialnumberindeed.Numbering318,themilitarysectorwas
thestrongest
insideVOC ranks,whereasthenaval,thecraftsmen,
and thecommercesectors
had 83, 60,and 45 membersrespectively.
Kota Ambonwas notonlya centerofgovernment
but also a garrisontown. Many a Company servant,in particularthose in the military
group,had to live on a smallsalary,whichwas paid onlyoccasionally.The largerpartofthe
salarywas keptby theCompany,to be paid onlywhentheemployeelefttheservice.Exceptions to thisrule were possible,forinstance,when a person marriedin Asia and had to
spend thesalaryon theupkeep ofhis household.In theentireprovinceofAmboinain 1694,
thetotalannual sum ofsalariesforall Companyservantsshould have been some f200,000.
Onlyf120,000,60 percent,was actuallypaid; therestremainedon Companybooks.31
To give some examples of paymentsto Company servants:a soldier had a monthly
salaryoff9, a sergeantand an assistent(clerk)f20,a ministeralmostf 100,and thegovernor
f 200. In addition,everyemployeereceivedkostgeld(boardingmoney):the soldier f 4 per
f30. The govmonth,thesergeantand theclerkalmostf10,and theministerapproximately
his offiernorreceivedalmostf75 plus an extrasum off60 to coverthecostofentertaining
cial guests.The servantscould also count on provisionsfromthe Company's stores.The
lowerrankshad to makedo withone man's rationofrice.The highera person'srank,however,themorehe received.The governor,forinstance,could counton considerabledeliveries ofbeer,butter,vinegar,Persianwine,and so forth.His annual ricerationamountedto
3,000kg,whereashis rationofEuropeanwineswas 700 1.32
30 Knaap, Kruidnagelen, 22-23,218-22.
pp.
31 VOC 1551:zielsbeschr.;1573:508r-519v.
32 Valentijn,Oost-Indiidn,
vande Oost-Indische
Beschr.,p. 284; F. W. Stapel,ed., Pietervan Dam: Beschrijvinge
Compagnie,RijksGeschiedkundigePublicatidn87 (The Hague: Nijhoff,1943),3: 230, 265-66,286; C. R. Boxer,The
DutchSeaborne
Empire1600-1800(London:Hutchinson,1977),pp. 300-1.

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116 Gerrit
J.Knaap
The highestofficials,such as the governor,the seniormerchant,and the captain,beincome,thegovernorhad
longed to therichestclass in town.Besides theabove-mentioned
exclusiverightsto fisheriesat particularplaces in theBay ofAmbonand to theoverwichten,
thatis, theextraweightthatoccurredon cloves exportedto Batavia.This extraweightwas
theresultoftheclovesbecomingmorehydratedin theperiodbetweentheirdeliveryby the
villagersand theshipmentfromAmbon.The averagevalue oftheextraweightamountedto
f4,000to f5,000annually.Moreover,thegovernorreceiveda smallpercentageoftheCompany's turnoverofriceand Indiantextiles.The seniormerchantalso had extraincomefrom
theclove trade.He and hisassistantsweresupposed tochargetheAmbonesevillagers0.5 lb
of tareon thedeliveryofeach bag ofcloves.Because thebags wereneveras heavyas 0.5 lb,
betweenthe totaltheoreticaland the
theseniormerchantcould expropriatethedifference
involvedin buyingarak fromthe
senior
was
also
totalrealdeliveryofcloves.The
merchant
to
crewsofincomingCompanyvessels,whichhe thensold urbandwellers.The sale ofarak
seems to have been a mostimportant
businessforthecaptainas well. He appeared to be one
and captainwere
of theprincipalsuppliersof thegarrison.The governor,seniormerchant,
also moneylendersto Amboneseclove cultivators,
privateVOC employees,and citizens,as
well as to theVOC itself.Theycould always also earn somethingfrombriberyto promote
lower-ranking
employeesand in lawsuits.Finally,therewas thepossibilityofsqueezingthe
Amboneseby not turningover thewhole paymentforthedeliveryof cloves or by having
themwork as compulsorylaborersa fewdays extraforthegovernor'sor any otherhigh
official'sprivatepurpose.33
These practiceswerepartlylegal,partlyillegal.The linebetweenthetwowas notalways
easy to draw. Occasionally,the High Governmentin Batavia triedto cope withthe most
seriousabuses by investigating
theconductofa particularperson,such as GovernorJacob
Cops in 1672. He was accused of havingused slaves, craftsmen,
compulsorylaborers,and
materials
from
build
houses forhimself.He
the
to
at
least
Company
building
twenty-four
also appeared to be an "invisible"partnerin thefarming-out
of thearak monopolyand of
the monopoly forsago extractionin the Company's forests.In addition,he also partly
owned fourcitizens'vessels.Whenall thiscame to light,Cops repliedthathe had lawfully
needed forthebuildingof his houses,but,alas, had forgotten
paid foreverything
exactly
how much.As regardshis participation
in all kindsof farmcontractsand in privateships,
he statedthatthiswas notdeemed explicitlyillegaland pointedto thebehaviorofCornelis
Speelman,theconquerorofMakassar.34
Cops was recalledtoBatavia,which,ofcourse,does
not mean thathis successorsdid notact in thesame way. It is likelythattheywere notas
extensivelyinvolved as Cops and/or more successfullyconcealed theirdealings from
Batavia.
The "official"economicactivitiesoftheVOC, reveala largeturnoverofcloves thatwere
collectedfromthe villagersin the provinceunder monopolystipulationsand exportedto
Batavia by way of Kota Ambon.This activity-apartfromthementionedoccasional legal
and illegal opportunitiesforindividualCompany employees-did not,however,render
muchincometo theVOC branchofAmboina.At theend ofeach financialyear,theentryof
cloves vanishedfromthebooks:withinthespan ofone year,theentireharvestwas collected
and turnedover to Batavia, physicallyas well as administratively.
The VOC Amboina
branchhad to earnsurpluseson less important
of
trades,whichamountedto onlya fraction
its total expenditure.In 1694-1695forinstance,the VOC governmentat Victoriaspent
Beschr.,pp. 275,278,287-88,299-300;Knaap,Kruidnagelen,
pp. 243-45.
33Valentijn,
Oost-Indi'n,
34 VOC 1286:572v-578r;1297:482v-486r.

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A CityofMigrants 117
f193,000againsta creditbalanceoff70,000.This figureoff70,000was realizedin two ways:
and fiscally.Commercially,
everynow and again theVOC sold riceand mancommercially
ufacturedarticles,such as nails,sails,and so forth,
to privatepersons.By farthemostprofitabletradeitem,whichrenderedsome f28,000annually,was thesale of Indian textilesin
theCompany'sclothshop in frontofthecastle.Justoverone-halfof thereturnswere realized fiscally.Here one noticesa subdivisionbetweenincomeearned directlythroughthe
VOC servantsthemselvesand indirectly
throughtaxfarmers.35
The directlyrealizedincomefromfiscalsourcescame fromsuch thingsas small feesfor
forprivateshipping,thecollectionof
endorsinglegal documentsand issuingsafe-conducts
and
a
house
or makinga seru(semi-permanent
licenses
for
duties,
building
import
export
construction
forfishing)in Kota Ambon'sroadstead,and collectinga taxfromthepeddlers
who used the marketplace.36
The indirectlyrealized income was generallyderived from
out
taxes.
This
farming
phenomenonwas mainlyconnectedto the urban economy and
dated back fromabout 1620. Aftera few alterations,thisinstitutionreached its ultimate
shape in thesecondhalfofthecentury.Around1694,thetotalsum oftaxfarmingamounted
to approximately
f34,000annually.By farthemostimportantformof tax farmingwas that
ofarakand sageru,whichrenderedf24,000.Sageruwas thelocallyproducedpalmwine,the
sale of which was liable to a small duty.Arak was a spiritdistilledfromsageru and was
verypopularamongtheurbanpopulace. The taxfarmerand his partnershad theexclusive
rightto burnand deliverarak to privatepersonsand pubs. He also had therightto tax importedarak. This quite importantbusinesswas usually in thehands of a Chinese,but the
controlover it was oftenchallengedby the leadersof the European citizenry.To thisend,
Theirattempts,however,metonlywithtemporary
theyappealed to theVOC government.
successas in theend theChinesealways won theday.37
In theprivatesectoroftheurbaneconomy,as in almosteverypreindustrial
city,a large
of
the
In
still
oriented.
all
of
was
sections
the
segment
population
citizenry
agriculturally
one encountersagriculturaloccupations,but theChinese and Makassarese,in particular,
specialized in growingfood crops,albeit on a small scale. Rich European citizensowned
some cows to produce milkand butterforthe market.In the European-mestizoand the
one also comesacrosssome hunters,fishermen,
communities,
Mardijker-Makassarese
palm
winetappers,and, finally,firewoodcutters.In all ethnicgroups,Chinese,European-mestizo
as well as Mardijker-Makassarese,
one noticespersons,who withthe assistanceof slaves,
were workingas carpenters,blacksmiths,masons, tailors,or shoemakers. Then some
people, in particularin the European-mestizogroup,ran pubs. In 1662,therewere thirty
such publicansor inn keepers.Moreover,therewere people, men as well as women,probably mainlyfromthe Chinese and the Mardijker-Makassaresegroup, who were regular
markettraders.In 1675,theynumberedapproximately
ninety.The Chinesewere theshopfor
the
and
the
Ambonese
traveled
around
Most of thesesmall traders
keepers
countryside.
their
merchandise
from
who
Chinese
as well. At theend
merchants
were
got
bigger
usually
of theseventeenthcentury,therewere approximatelytensuch biggertraders.They dominatedthedistribution
ofIndian textilesfromtheCompany'sclothshop to theconsumers.In
35VOC 1573:508r-519v;Knaap, Kruidnagelen,
pp. 220-21,223-24.
pp. 177,211-12,216,218,221.
36 Knaap,Kruidnagelen,
37 VOC 1535:28v,104v; 1556:71v; W. Ph. Coolhaas, ed.,JanPieterszCoen.Bescheiden
omtrent
in
zijn bedrijf
Indi"
(The Hague: Nijhoff,
1953),7b:969-70;Valentijn,
Oost-Inditn,
pp. 258,341;Knaap,Kruidnagelen,
pp. 187Be3schr.,
88.

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118 Gerrit
J.Knaap
thisrespect,theleadingEuropeancitizensonce again complainedbitterly
about thisdomination,butto no avail.38
The biggerChinese merchantswere powerfulbusinessmen,as were the distillersof
arak,who usuallyemployedat least twelveslaves to keep thisbusinessgoing.It is difficult
to estimatethenumberofthesedistilleries.
Evidencefromthe1670ssuggeststhatthenumber variedbetweentwo and seven and thattheChinesedominatedthistrade.The Chinese
and a fewEuropeancitizensalso excelledin sawmilling;everymillusuallyemployedsome
fifteento twentyslaves. How manybusinessmenwere engaged in this professionis not
known.Anotherbusinessthatflourished,
at theend oftheseventeenth
century
particularly
because of the Company's buildingactivitieswas the productionof tiles and bricks.An
average tile-and brickworksoperatedwithapproximatelytwentyslaves and threeto four
buffaloesand earnedsome f3,000to f4,000annually.Chinese owned six or seven ofthese
worksand Europeancitizensthreeto four.39
As stated,Kota Ambon was theprovince'sexternalharbor.It also was as a centerfor
local trade,but I do nothave figuresabout theextentofthisphenomenon.The tradewas in
smallirontools,
locallyproducedfoodstuffs,
mainlysago and fishproducts,againsttextiles,
and salt. For externaltrade,itis noteworthy
thatin thelast halfof theseventeenth
pottery,
to fifty
VOC ships and thirty
centurytento fifteen
privatelyowned vesselscalled annually.
The Company ships served as communicationlinks with Batavia and the neighboring
provincesof Ternate,Banda, and Makassar and were mainlyused forcarryingtroops,
ammunition,and all kindsof equipment.Theyalso carriedimportedIndian textiles,Javanese rice,and European hard currency.The currencypaid forthe only importantexport
cargo,cloves, of which approximately600,000lbs were shipped annually.The privately
owned vessels musthave departedwithalmostemptyholds as therewas, apart fromthe
VOC cloves monopoly,no exportitemofany value. Theyreturnedwithloads ofSulawesiproduced textiles,rice fromJavaand Makassar,Chinese and Tonkinesepotterythatwas
taken in at Batavia, and, finally,Balinese,Makassarese,Buginese,and Butonneseslaves
boughtin Bataviaor Makassar.The importofslaves,however,was graduallylimitedby the
because it fearedthoseofcertainorigin,principallyBalineseand Makassarese,
government
whichweredeemed to be "dangerous."Whetherthislimitativepolicyhad any real effectis
hardtosay,however.40
The biggerships of theVOC thatcalled at Kota Ambon's roadsteaddid not have this
townas theirhomeport.The AmboinabranchoftheVOC possessedonlya fewsmallervessels forlocal transportand/or patrolduties. In 1694,theynumberedthree.One can only
guess at thenumberof privatelyowned ships thatwereused forinternaltradeor journeys
to neighboring
fromthe1680s.The numberprobably
provinceson thebasis of information
musthave been twenty-three,
all ofwhichcould carryno morethan30 last(one lastequaled
2,000kg). The numberof vessels witha capacityof over30 last sailingto Makassaror distantJavaand Batavia has been calculatedat twenty-two-onemorethanin theyear 1679vesselsbelongedto Europeans,ten to Chinese,
1680.In thatyear,seven out of twenty-one
and fourto membersoftheindigenouscitizenry.
Again,theChineseplayed a moreimportantrolethanothergroups.Theselargershipswere,accordingto Valentijn,usuallymanned
fifteen
sailorseach,whichmeans thatthenumberofsailorsin Kota Amby approximately
38 VOC 1240:728;Valentijn,Oost-Inditen,
pp. 211,224.
Beschr.,pp. 257-58,269,349-50;Knaap,Kruidnagelen,
39 VOC 1271:32r;1309:824v res.;1334:74rres.;Valentijn,Oost-Inditen,
Memories,
257;
Knaap,
pp. 251,
Beschr.,p.
281.
134-35,212,219-22.
40Knaap,Kruidnagelen,

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A CityofMigrants 119
bon musthave been at least threehundred.Many of themwere recruitedfromthepoorer
at f9 permonth.41
segmentsoftheindigenouscitizenry
Demography
Accordingto populationfigures,Kota Ambon witnesseda steady growththroughout
theseventeenth
century.WhentheDutchtookover fromthePortuguesein 1605,thepopulationcould be countedby thehundred.Justafter1610,therewerealreadymorethan1,500
In 1673,thepopulationwas 4,089and in 1694,5,487.In 1673,thestrength
inhabitants.
ofthe
group of VOC servantsand theirfamilies,theEuropean,theChinese,and the indigenous
citizenrywas 1,198,748, 967, and 1,176,respectively.In 1694,thesenumberswere 1,500,
1,868,1,109,and 1,010.The turnoverofmanyAsians fromtheindigenousto theEuropean
at theend ofthe1680shas alreadybeen discussed.42
citizenry
Fromapproximately
1670onward,theVOC held annual censusesfortheentireprovince
of Amboina.Those fromthe years 1671 to 1695 have been preservedand have been anaOn the
lyzed criticallyelsewhere,as faras the Amboneseruralpopulationis concerned.43
basis ofthesecensuses,zielsbeschrijvingen
ofsouls),itis also possibletoanalyze
(descriptions
thecompositionof theurban population.One of themoststrikingfactsderivedfromthis
analysisis thatthenumberofslaves always exceededone-halfofthetotalpopulation,usually between50 and 60 percent.For theadult population(because childrenwere not listed
accordingto sex),theunbalancedsex-ratiois striking:
only40 percentwere women-the result of the highproportionof unmarriedCompanyemployeesand the unequal sex-ratio
amongslaves,whichwillbe discussedlater.44
On thebasis of thecensuses one can also estimatetheethniccompositionoftheurban
population.For thenonslavepopulation,almost50 percentwas ofSoutheastAsian,mainly
Malay-Indonesianorigin(Ambonese,Mardijker,Makassarese,etc.),followedby 25 percent
of Europeanand 15 percentof Chineseorigin.SoutheastAsians were foundin theindigenous and/orEuropeancitizenry;
themajorityoftheEuropeanand Chineseinhabitants
were
in theVOC groupand theChinesecitizenry,
Whenone takestheslave popularespectively.
tionintoaccount,a morecompletepictureofthesituationarises.Because over90 percentof
theslaves had a SoutheastAsian ethnicbackground,it is notastonishingto findthat75 percentofthetotalpopulationwas ofSoutheastAsian origin.Less than5 percentof theSoutheast Asians were ofAmboneseorigin,whichleads to theconclusionthatKota Ambonwas
are meantnon-Ambonesewho had
clearlya SoutheastAsian migrantcity.By "immigrants"
been residentin thetownforone, two,or sometimeseven threegenerations.Compared to
the 70 percentSoutheastAsian immigrantmajority,the European and Chinese segments
wereonlysmallminorities.45
The censusof1694has been analyzedin detailto obtainextrainformation
aboutdemoand
behavior.46
This
on
what
will
focuses
be called the
however,
graphicpatterns
analysis,
is
"Settled"
in
defined
here
as
or
a
household
and/or
"having living
"settled"population.
familystructure."
41VOC 914:1390-1;1356:Dagregister
Victoria;1551:zielsbeschr.;Valentijn,Oost-Indien,
Beschr.,p. 348).
42Knaap,Memories,
p. 11; VOC 1293:zielsbeschr.;1551:zielsbeschr.
pp. 99-137,279-82.
43Knaap, Kruidnagelen,
VOC
1551:
zielsbeschr.
44
1293,1385,
45 Ibid.
46VOC 1551:zielsbeschr.

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120 Gerrit
J.Knaap
Table 1. DivisionofthePopulationAccordingto theDegreeofSettlement
(1694)
VOC
Group
Not settled

558

Settlement
uncertain
Settledpopulation
Totalpopulation

65

European
Citizenry

Chinese Indigenous
Citizenry Citizenry

Total
City

558

38

21

42

166

968

4,763

1,010

5,487

877

1,830

1,500

1,868

1,088
1,109

The 558 nonsettledpersonsare foundentirelyin theVOC group.Itconsistsof409 VOC servantsand 149 otherpersons.The categoryof "otherpersons"contains,forinstance,the23
poor livingat the expense of the Board of Deacons and the 101 persons in jail. The nonto
settledVOC servantsgroup includesall anonymousemployees,who were onlyreferred
in totalnumbers;75 were ordinarysailors,and 234 were commonsoldiers.These anonymous employeesmusthave lived in thebarracksinsideVictoriacastle.The settledand settlementuncertaincategoriescontainpersonswhose names are individuallywrittenin the
census. The differencebetween certainand uncertainsettlementhas been taken to be
whetherthe person in question possesses a male or femalepartnerand/or childrenor
slaves, or, is listedwithoutany partner,child,or slave. When thiscriterionis applied, the
conclusioncan be drawn thatmanymale personshave to be consideredas uncertainsettlers.An exceptionin theapplicationofthiscriterion
is made,however,forthefewindividlisted
female
without
or
relatives
slaves.
ually
persons
Usually these were labeled as
"widow" or "freewoman,"whichcan be interpreted
as an indicationthatthesewomenhad
separatehouseholdsthatjustifiedtheirinclusionin thecategoryofdefinitesettlers.
it is easy to establishthatonly12.5 to 24.5 percentofa total
Accordingto thiscriterion,
542 Companyservantsresidingin townwerelivingin a householdand/orfamilystructure.
Of Companypersonnellivingin theoutpostsoftheAmboinaprovince,18 percent,moreor
less thesame proportion,
were accustomedto familylife.Of thesettledCompanyservants
in
it
is
not
town,
living
surprisingto see that78 percentwerebornin Europe.For thesmall
sectionof settledethnicEuropean citizens,thispercentagewas even higher:86 percent.
Thirty-one
percentof theCompanyservantsand 42 percentof theEuropeancitizensoriginatedfromEuropeoutsidetheNetherlands.
of themale Mardijkersin the Europeanand indigeFiftyand 77 percent,respectively,
nous citizenrieswere born in theAmboinaprovince.This leads to theconclusionthatthe
in thesecondpartoftheseventeenth
class ofMardijkers,
non-Ambonese,
century,
ethnically
mustprobablybe consideredas a groupofsecond-or third-generation
freedslaves. In contrast,thegroupofMakassareseand relatedpeoples,by whichall Sulawesi and Nusa Tenggara ethnicitiesare meant,was usually not Ambonia born. Consequently,this category
should be labeled as comprisingmostlyfirst-generation
freedslaves. The southernpartof
theisland ofSulawesi,includingButon,appeared to be thebirthplacefor60 and 52 percent
In bothcitizenries,
ofthesepeople in theEuropeanand indigenouscitizenries,
respectively.
39 and 36 percentof the Makassarese and relatedpeoples were born in Nusa Tenggara,
whichmeans thattheirethnicity
usuallymusthave been Balinese,Timorese,or Bimanese.
in
of
all
Chinese
males in theChinesecitizenrytheplace ofbirthis not
cases
Unfortunately,

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A CityofMigrants121
given.One can onlyguess thattheymusthave been borneitherin China or in anotherarea
ofSoutheastAsia wheremigrantChinesewereliving.
It is also possible to say somethingabout theplace of birthof femaleheads of households because when a householddid not have a male head thename and place of birthof
thefemalehead was listedinstead.Mostofthesewomenwerewidows. Fifty-five
percentof
theEuropean citizenryoriginatedfromSulawesi and Nusa Tenggara;fortheChinese and
which
indigenouscitizenriesthesenumbersamountedto 54 and 56 percent,respectively,
indicatesthatthe recruitment
of marriagepartnersformale citizenswas to a large extent
freeingtheirfavoriteslave women.
Table 2. CompositionofHouseholdsoftheSettledPopulation(1694)

Numberofhouseholds

VOC
Group
89

European Chinese Indigenous


Citizenry Citizenry Citizenry
257
197
130

Total
City
673

Withmalehead

68

193

91

149

501

Withfemale
head

21

64

39

48

172

ofmembers
Averagenumber
ofchildren
Averagenumber

9.85

7.12

8.37

4.91

7.08

1.03

0.91

1.25

0.88

0.99

ofslaves
Averagenumber

6.55

4.34

5.53

2.29

4.26

Most strikingis therelativesmallnessof theaverage householdin theindigenouscitizenry,which resultedfromthe factthatsuch a household was not able to compete with
householdsin theothergroupsas faras slave ownershipwas concerned.In theindigenous
theaveragenumberofslaves did noteven exceed 50 percentofits totalmembercitizenry,
In
all
ship.
groups,thereis thesame low numberof children.Obviously,thismigrantcity
could nothave been able to maintainitsnumbersby naturalreproduction.
Table 3. Proportionate(percentage)Distributionof
ofHeads ofHouseholds (1694)
Ethnicity
Male

Female

European
Mestizo

16.77

2.33

6.59

7.56

Chinese

19.56

11.05

Mardijker
etc.
Makassarese,

25.55

27.32

29.54

49.42

2.00

2.33

Ambonese
Total

100

100

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122 Gerrit
J.Knaap
The percentagesforthemales are notsurprisingin view of what was said previously.
Sufficeto say,thattheEuropeanmalescould be foundfirstin theVOC groupand second in
the European citizenry;the mestizosmostlyin the European citizenry;and the Chinese
mostlyin theChinese citizenry.The Mardijkersappeared firstin the indigenouscitizenry
and second in theEuropeancitizenry.
In theMakassareseand relatedpeoples group,it was
theotherway around:theyweremostconcentrated
in theEuropeancitizenry
and afterthat
in the indigenous citizenry.Among the femaleheads of households,the numberof the
Makassarese group (i.e., the relativelyrecentlyfreedslaves) was relativelylarge. Special
noticeshould be takenof the femaleheads of households in theChinese citizenry.More
thanone-halfof themappeared to be of Makassaresegroup originand less thanone-half
were pure Chinese.This should be a warningwhen one interprets
themarriagepatternof
the male Chinese citizenrywhereit seems thatmost of the wives of the Chinese were of
pure Chinese origin.Quite a large numberof these women, however,must have been
former
slaves,thatis,SouthSulawesi or Balinesewomen.47
Table 4. Proportionate(percentage)Distributionof MarriagePatternsof Male Heads of
Households (1694)
European
Male

Mestizo
Male

Chinese
Male

Notmarried

13.10

35.48

20.41

Europeanwife
Mestizowife

29.76

Chinesewife
wife
Mardijker

12.50
-

0.78

25.00

32.26

1.19

3.23

66.33

0.78

17.86

19.35

4.08

73.44

Makassaresewife

7.14

6.45

Ambonesewife

5.95

6.45

100

100

4.73

Total

etc.
Mardijker Makassarese
Male
Male

100

2.34
2.34

100

17.57

100

Obviously, it was almost impossiblefora non-Europeanto marrya European wife.


to marryEuropeanwomen,althoughmestizopartnerswerepopuEuropeanmenpreferred
lar as well. Mestizomen werein a difficult
situationbecause manymestizowomenmarried
not to (re)marryrather
Europeans.Apparently,a quite largeproportionof thempreferred
thanto choose a partnerfromtheSoutheastAsian ethnicgroups.As notedpreviously,the
percentageof Chinese marriedto Chinese women is too high in this table; quite a lot of
theseso-calledChinese womenwere of theMakassaresegroup.Finally,theMardijkerand
Makassaresepreferred
marryingwomenfromtheirown ethnicity.
Theymusthave had no
otherchoice.

47Valentijn,
Beschr.,p. 259.
Oost-Indi'n,

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A CityofMigrants123
Table 5. AverageNumberofChildrenand Slaves Accordingto Marriage
Groups(1694)
Numberof
Unions

Children

Slaves

European-European

25

0.92

20.64

European-mestizo

21

1.33

5.86

European-Mardijker
Mestizo-mestizo

15

1.40

2.93

10

2.90

23.80

Chinese-"Chinese"

65

1.55

6.95

Mardijker-Mardijker
Makassarese-Makassarese

94

1.26

1.26

115

0.80

2.25

As concernsthenumberofchildren,thesmallgroupofmestizo-mestizo
unionswithan
of
2.9
children
did
well.
was
The
number
of
children
realized by the
lowest
average
quite
of
union.
This factis not
Makassarese-Makassarese:
0.8
child
relativelylargegroup
only
per
difficult
to explainbecause itis moreor less in linewiththesituationin theslave population
fromwhichthisfirstgenerationof freedmenoriginated.Because thesecouples musthave
been fairlyold whenmanumitted,
itis verylikelythattheywould have been unable to have
a largenumberof children.In unionswithEuropeanmen,theaverage numberofchildren
increasedaccordingto thedegreeof"Asianness"oftheirwives.In relationto thenumberof
slaves theyheld an oppositetrendcan be seen,however:themoreAsian thewife,thefewer
slaves theypossessed.The highaverageofslaves in theEuropean-Europeanunion,usually
thetop-ranking
VOC employeesand theirspouses,is, nevertheless,
exceededby thatofthe
mestizo-mestizounion. However, the well-to-domestizo lineages dealt with here were
alreadylong establishedin Indonesiaand wereusuallyfoundin leadingcitizencircles.
As stated,the slaves were the largestgroup in Kota Ambon. In 1694,theynumbered
2,870,52.3 percentofthetotalpopulation.These slaves were almostentirelyrecruitedfrom
SoutheastAsian ethnicities,
althoughone may assume thatin the firsthalfof thecentury,
when theVOC was notyetfullyestablishedin theSoutheastAsian slave-tradingnetworks,
thenumberof Indian slaves muststillhave been quite high.Scarcelyany of theSoutheast
Asian slaves were fromAmbon itself.Most of themoriginatedfromSouth Sulawesi and
Nusa Tenggara.The Makassarese-Buginese
and Balineseethnicities
provedthemostpopularwithslave ownersbecause oftheireconomicskills.48
The occupationsoftheslaves werevaried.Slaves tilledtheland and slaves fished.Slaves
served theirmastersin theirhomes:theycleaned thehouse,cooked themeals,wentto the
market,carriedfirewoodhome,and accompanied theirmastersor mistresseswhen they
wentout. Slaves also wereskilledcraftsmen.
Some of themworkedin thearak distilleries,
tileand brickworks,
or sawmills,whereasothers,particularly
thoseowned by theVOC elite,
were hiredby theVOC when it was shortof hands. The mosttrustedslaves were sentby
theirmastersas traderson local sailingvoyages.Finally,Makassareseand Balinesewomen
were oftenused as concubines,particularly
by theChinese.Sometimestheseliaisons were
sanctionedwhen a concubinewas promotedto officialwifeofthemasterby marriage.The
pp. 128-33.
48Knaap,Kruidnagelen,

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124 Gerrit
J.Knaap
last few examples of the use of slaves suggestthatrelationsbetweenmastersand slaves
werequite good. Quite often,however,relationswerestrained.Throughoutthecenturyone
findsmanyreferences
to fugitiveslaves,who sometimesbecamedangerous,robbingtravelers in remotepartsof the islands. That relationswere strainedis also apparentfromthe
slave legislationof theVOC. On theone hand,thegovernment
triedto preventexcessesin
thetreatment
ofslaves by theirowners,but on theotherhand,itwas draconianin itsmeasuresagainstfugitives
and/orslaves who physicallyopposed theirmasters.49
Although52.3 percentof the totalpopulationof the town were slaves, when one excludes the nonsettledand uncertainsettled free population, the proportionof slaves
appeared to be 60.3 percent.Theyweremoreor less equallydistributedover thefourcategoriesof populationwiththeexceptionof theindigenouscitizenry,which,withonly46.7
percentslaves, can be consideredthe poorestgroup. From the 2,870slaves, 51.6 percent
were adult males; 33.5,adult females;and 14.9,children.The proportionofadult males to
adult femaleswas 1:0.65,whereasthatof adult femalesto childrenwas 1:0.45.Fromthese
male slaves, probablybecause
figures,one mayassume thatslave ownershighlypreferred
were
to
useful
be
more
for
they
supposed
heavy,productivework.The small numberof
childrenmakesitclearthatitwas continuallynecessaryto importslaves to keep theirnumber at a satisfactory
slaves
level. The policyof theVOC to prohibittheimportof unreliable
fromBali and South Sulawesi in 1666,1683,and 1688,respectivelymust,therefore,
have
been a considerablethreatto theeconomyoftheurbanpopulation.Populationstatisticsofa
laterdate,such as thoseof1694or 1708,stillshow such highnumbersofslaves thatitseems
wereeffectively
enforced.50
veryunlikelythattheseprohibitions
Table 6. Distribution
ofSlave Ownership(1694)
VOC
Group
583

Numberofslaves
Numberofhouseholds
Householdswithout
slaves
(Percentage)
Householdswith1 or2 slaves
(Percentage)
Householdswith3 to10slaves
(Percentage)
Householdswith11ormoreslaves
(Percentage)

89

European Chinese Indigenous Total


Citizenry Citizenry Citizenry City
719
452
1,116
2,870
197
257
130
673

24.72

40.08

25.38

41.62

35.66

22.47

29.18

26.92

32.99

28.97

33.71

22.18

31.54

21.32

25.26

19.10

8.56

16.15

4.06

10.10

Again thedata illustratethattheindigenouscitizenrywas thepoorestcategoryamong


the settledpopulation.The European citizenrywas thenextpoorest,as evidenced by 40
percentof households withoutslaves. Most of these,however, were found among its
Makassareseand Mardijkersections,notablythesectionsthathad ethnicallymuchin com49 Knaap, Kruidnagelen,
pp. 133-36.

Beschr.,pp. 342,344; Knaap,Kruidnagelen,


p. 135.
50Valentijn,Oost-Inditn,

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A CityofMigrants 125
mon with theindigenouscitizenry.The Chinese citizenrywas almost as richas the VOC
group,whichreflectsthattheChinesedominatedtheprivateeconomicsectorin tradeand
The settledVOC employees,the group thatdominatedtheadministration
craftsmanship.
and theeconomicaffairsoftheVOC, however,was therichest.
For thispresentationI intendedto list the largestslave owners in the 1694 census as
those who possessed at least 41 slaves, but theindigenousand Chinese citizenriesdid not
include anyone who had thatmanyslaves. In the indigenouscitizenrythe most wealthy
slave owner was thecaptain,JanTsjong,with31 slaves. He was a ChristianAmbon-born
Chinese,whichdraws attentionto the factthatthe leadershipof thiscitizenrygradually
came frompeople ofChristianChineseand mestizoorigin.The mostwealthyslave-owning
memberof theChinese citizenrywas, again, thecaptain,Limkitko,with37 slaves. In the
VOC group,twopersonsowned morethan40 slaves: first,
thegovernor,Nicolaas Schaghen,
fromthesmall DutchtownofWijkbij Duurstede,withtheexceptionalnumberof92 slaves;
and second,a representative
oftheAmbon-born
mestizoclass,PieterNuyts,who had risen
to the mediocrerankof bookkeeper,with49 slaves. The European citizenrycountedfive
personswithmorethan40 slaves,amongthemthecaptainwho, with177slaves,was by far
the richestslave ownerin theprovinceof Amboina.His name was JochemEngel,and he
was bornin GermanDanzig, now Polish Gdansk,as was the formercaptain,Hans Groo,
with 46 slaves. Furthermore,
therewas Adriaan Kakelaar with44, born in Veere,a small
townin Zeeland, one of themaritimeprovincesoftheDutch republic.These threewere all
formerCompanyemployees.Therewerealso two rich,slave-owningrepresentatives
ofthe
local mestizoclass,bothbornin thenearbyprovinceofBanda but withveryDutch-sounding names.TheywereJande Ruyterand FransColijn,who owned 64 and 41 slaves,respectively.
Conclusion
The cityofAmbonwas foundedby thePortuguesejustaftertheerectionof theirfortress
on theshoresoftheBay ofAmbonin 1576.It had no indigenouspredecessor.As such,it is
necessaryto modifythe image thatin SoutheastAsia "Manila and Batavia were the only
urban settlements
which were literallystartedfromscratchby Europeans duringthe sixteenthand seventeenth
If one triesto see beyondthecapitalcitiesofthecolocenturies."51
nial empires,one has to concludethatKota Ambonand, on theperipheryofSoutheastAsia,
Zeelandia on Taiwan,werealso createdfromscratch.52
We should notruleout thepossibilresearchintootherareas willproducemoreexamplesofthisphenomenon.
itythatfurther
On thebasis oftheanalyses,particularly
demographic,it is possibleto defineKota Ambon as a SoutheastAsian migrantcityin whichthemale elementwas disproportionately
largeand thenumberofchildrenrelativelysmall.Consequently,theonlyway forthecityto
keep itsnumbersgrowing,or at leaststable,was to attractnew migrants.To a considerable
extent,thismigrationwas forced;forexample,Companyservantsweresimplysenton duty,
or slaves were treatedas commoditiesby traders.The slave populationwas by farthemost
numerousclass in the town. Indigenous Ambonese,however,were absent in the urban
population.In thisperiodtheAmbonesewerestilla ruralphenomenon.
in particulartheeliteof
Politicalpowerin townwas in thehands oftheDutchminority,
VOC servants.The institutionsthatgovernedthe town were mainlyof Dutch originbut
51 Blusse,
StrangeCompany,
p. 78.
52J.L. Oosterhoff,
"Zeelandia,A DutchColonialcityon Formosa(1624-1662),"in ColonialCities.Essayson Urbanismina ColonialContext,
1985),p. 51.
ed., R. J.Ross and G. J.Telkamp(Dordrecht:Nijhoff,

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126 Gerrit
J.Knaap
onlyin so faras thesedid notthreatenVOC rule.Consequently,one does notcome across
and maylikea vroedschap
(a towncouncilofcityrepresentatives)
typicalDutchinstitutions
ors, recruitedfromthe ranksof theurban bourgeoiselite. Instead,the governorand his
To cope withtypicalnon-DutchsituaPoliticalCouncil held the reinsofcitygovernment.
to local circumstances
tions,however,theVOC had partlyadapted thecitygovernment
by,
forexample,organizingall significantethnicitiesin theirown citizenriesand providing
themwiththeirown leadership.This practicewas copied fromprecolonialSoutheastAsian
tradingcenters.The eliteof theVOC notonlyruledthetownbutwas one of themostpowerfuleconomicgroupsas well because theCompanywas at thesame timea politicaland an
economicorganization.This elitenot onlymade thedecisionsconcerningthe tradingand
fiscalaffairsof theVOC but also earnedconsiderablemoneyon theside. The second most
whichmore or less domipowerfuleconomicgroup was theeliteof theChinesecitizenry,
natedtheprivatesector.
As in all colonialsocietiesrace playedan important
role,forinstancein access to power,
in status,in marriage,and social stratification.
The divisionof thenon-VOC residentsinto
drawsattentionto theconsiderabledegreeof
European,Chinese,and indigenouscitizenries
formaladministrative
beThis
segregation.
segregationwas, however,somewhatimperfect
cause (1) therewere not enough Europeansor even mestizosto fillthe ranksof theEurowhichconsequentlyhad to be filledwithpurelyAsian ethnicitieslikeMarpean citizenry,
and
Makassarese
and (2) thelackofEuropean,mestizo,and Chinesewomenas mardijkers
riagepartnersforEuropeanand Chinesemen,who consequentlyhad to look forpartnersin
theSoutheastAsian migrantcommunitiesand nottheleastamongattractivefemaleslaves.
administrative
Moreover,in Kota Ambontheimperfect
segregationwas notparalleledby a
spatial one because, in general,therewere no special livingquartersdesigned forspecific
ethnicities.
The colonial characterof the internalstructureof thecitycan be distinguishedin the
politicaldominationby an Europeanminority.In externalrelations,thecolonialcharacter
as partofa commercialand politicalnetworksetup
expresseditselfin thetown'sfunction
to extractresources,in thiscase cloves,froma subjectpopulation.Moreover,thecitywas
thechannelthroughwhichall activitiesof thecolonizersintendedto controland to penetratethe indigenoussocietyfoundtheirway. In short,thecitylinkedthe metropoliswith
thecolonized population.53
By themiddleoftheseventeenth
century,theAmbonesecounThe cultivationofcloves was broughtunderthe
trysidehad alreadychangedsubstantially.
VOC monopoly,theindigenouspoliticallandscapewas reorganizedto makecontrolforthe
VOC easier,and partofthepopulationwas convertedfromnominalCatholicismto nominal
Protestantism.
These changes,however,could not be attributedto Kota Ambon's urban
as
the
community
promotorof change;thecolonizingVOC was, of course,nota phenomenon exclusivelylimitedto Kota Ambon.The decisionsto promotethedevelopmentswere
Faraway,thedirectorsin theNetherlandsand
onlypartiallytakenby Victoria'sauthorities.
theHigh Government
in Bataviaalso playedtheirpartsin theseprocesses.
A comparisonof theresultsofthisanalysiswithliterature
on otherDutchcolonialcities
in Asia duringtheperiodof the"Ancienregime"is interesting.
The outstandingpioneerin
thisfieldofstudiesis,ofcourse,De Haan, withhis two-volumeworkon Batavia.54His work
has been so impressive that it was not until the 1970s that any new studies on this
53A. D. King,"ColonialCities:Global PivotsofChange,"in ColonialCities,pp. 13-15.
54F. de Haan, Oud Batavia,2 vols. (Batavia:Kolff,1922).

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A CityofMigrants 127
subjectwereundertaken.It is obviousthata substantialnumberofthephenomenafoundin
Batavia can be tracedin othersettlements
as well. Generally,thisholds trueforthemultiethniccompositionofthepopulationand theinstitutional
whichalways,to some
structures,
extent,copied thoseofBatavia.
JeanGelmanTaylor,one oftheauthorswho recentlyundertookto rewritea volumeon
Batavia'shistory,
drawsattention
to theroleoftheAsian-bornwomenpartners,
particularly
Europeanand mestizo,oftheCompanyservantsin thefieldoflinking"clans" in thehigher
ranksofthegovernment.55
As HeatherSutherlandhas alreadypointedout,theroleofthese
in VOC setwomenin thestruggleforpower in Companycirclesmusthave been different
tlementsoutsideBatavia because themostsuccessfulVOC employeesonlystayedin these
places fora fewyears.Consequently,thatrole should have been moremanifestwithinthe
permanentlysettledEuropean citizenclass.56The data formestizomarriagepatterns,in
Kota Ambon,numbersof slaves, and the positionsof a Jande Ruyterand a FransColijn,
illustratethissituation.Obviously,as Taylorstresses,thewomenpartnersoftheEuropean
citizensand Companyservantswere to a largeextentbearersofa mestizoculture,defined
as a mixed culturewith several European and Asian elements.57A mestizo influenceon
culture,withotherelements,however,should also have been manifestwithintheChinese
wheremanyChinese men marriedBalinese or Makassaresewomen. Finally,the
citizenry,
othermigrants,such as Mardijkersand Makassarese,must have been to a certaindegree
culturallydrawnintoa mestizoorbitas well,because afterbecomingChristians,theymust
have copied European values and habits.Apartfromadoptingthe religion,forinstance,
theyalso changedtheirclothingand drinkinghabits.
Anotherhistorianof Batavia,Leonard Blusse,presentsthe readerwithmany original
pointsofview. His pointofdepartureis spatial:Bataviaconsistedoftwo parts,a castleand
a town,thefirsta cornerstone
in a Europeantradingnetworkand thesecond a keystonein
the SoutheastAsian tradingand migratory
networkof theChinese.In the castle lived the
in the town Blusse depictsa Chinese merwho
held
the
and
Europeans,
politicalpower,
chant community,which held the economic power. Demographically,the Chinese also
should have been thedominantgroup.58The pictureofpoliticalpower in thehands of the
Dutchand economicpower,to a largedegreeat least,in thehands oftheChinesewas also
thesituationin Kota Ambon.Fromthepointofview ofdemography,however,theChinese
were not dominantat all in Kota Ambon.Whethertheywere in Batavia,as Blusse states,
forit is obvious thattheChinesecan only
statistics,
depends on how one wantsto interpret
be called thedominantdemographicethnicity
whenslaves are notconsidered.Whenslaves
are included, the Chinese amounted to only some 20 percentof the population. From
Blusse's data it is not clear whetherthe marriagepartnersof the Chinese men, usually
Balinese women,are included in this20 percent.If these women and the majorityof the
slaves werebasicallyofSoutheastAsian origin,itis possiblethatBatavia,like Kota Ambon,
at least,have been a SoutheastAsian migrantcityas well.
must,demographically
55J.GelmanTaylor,TheSocialWorldofBatavia.Europeanand Eurasianin DutchAsia (Madison: Wisconsin,1983),
pp. 34,50-51.
56 H. Sutherland,"Ethnicity,
in
Wealthand Powerin Colonial Makassar:A Historiographical
Reconsideration,"
TheIndonesian
and Planning,
ed. P.J.M.Nas Verhandelingen
van hetKoninklijk
City.Studiesin UrbanDevelopment
Instituut
voorTaal-,Land-en Volkenkunde117 (Dordrecht:Foris,1986),p. 50.
57Taylor,SocialWorld,
pp. 17-19.
58 Blusse,Strange
Company,
pp. 74,83-84.

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128 Gerrit
J.Knaap
VOC townsotherthanthe capital,such as Colombo in Sri Lanka, Melaka in Malaysia,
Like Kota
Zeelandia in Taiwan,and Makassarin Indonesia,have also attractedattention.59
Ambon, these towns,in the second halfof the seventeenthcentury,had populations of
fromtheothers,notonlybeapproximately5,000.The articleon Colombo,however,differs
cause thatcityfallsoutsidetheSoutheastAsian settingbut also because itsmainconcernis
demographic,leaving otheraspects of urban historyoutside its focus. It describes the
demographicsituationof the 1694 intramuraspopulation,which in Kota Ambon can be
comparedmoreor less withtheVOC groupand theEuropeancitizenry.It appears thatthe
European and mestizogroups are similarin demographicbehaviorto those in Kota Ambon.6?On theperipheryofSoutheastAsia, thecityofZeelandia in Taiwan had a relatively
shorthistory:it was foundedin 1624and destroyedin 1662by theChinesewarlord,Zheng
Cheng-Zong.Blusse's conceptof a Chinese colonial cityunder Dutch protectionwas no
doubt moreideallyrealizedin Zeelandia thanin Batavia.61
In Melaka and Makassarsituationssimilarto thosein Kota Ambonand Bataviacan be
observed:theVOC eliteheld thepoliticalpowerand thetown-governing
institutions
were
Dutch
with
but
modified
to
the
colonial
situation
and
Southoriginally
adapted
originally
east Asian phenomenasuch as a certaindegreeofautonomyformajorethnicities.
The elite
of theVOC played a considerablerolein theeconomyas well. It appears,however,thatthe
Chinese were, perhaps,economicallynot as strongas in Batavia or in Kota Ambon. In
Melaka, theywere held in checkby Indiansand Malays and, in Makassar,by Malays,all of
themskillfultradingcommunitiesthatalreadyplayed an importantrolebeforethearrival
of the Dutch. Apparently,the Chinese did not meetan economicvacuum in these settlements.It is highlyprobablethatin Melaka,as in Makassarand Kota Ambon,theSoutheast
Asians weredominantin number.On thebasis oftheinformation
putforwardby Andaya it
to draw demographicconclusions.Sutherlandpresentsfurther
is, however,ratherdifficult
detail thatfacilitatescloser comparison.62One of the strikingfactsis thatthe sex-ratio
among theadult populationin Makassarwas muchmorebalanced thanin Kota Ambon.A
possible explanationcould be thatMakassarwas locatedin a slave-supplyingarea, which
made therecruitment
of femalepartnersforthemale foreigners
relativelyeasy. Assuming
thatthemajorityoftheslaves in MakassarwereofSouthSulawesi origin,one can probably
concludethatKota Ambonwhereall slaves had to be imported,whencomparedto Makassar,was a citywitha muchstrongermigrantcharacter.
59G. J.Knaap, "Europeans,Mestizo'sand Slaves:The PopulationofColomboat theEnd oftheSeventeenth
Cen5-2(1981):84-101;B. WatsonAndaya,"Melaka undertheDutch,"inMelaka.TheTransformation
tury,"Itinerario
of
a Malay Capitalc. 1400-1980,ed. KernialSinghSandhu and P. Wheatley(Kuala Lumpur:Oxford,1983) 1: 195241;Oosterhoff,
"Zeelandia,"pp. 51-63; Sutherland,"Makassar,"pp. 37-55.
60 Knaap, "Colombo,"pp. 88,91-96.
61 Oosterhoff,
"Zeelandia,"pp. 52,54-58.
62 Andaya,"Melaka,"pp. 198-213;Sutherland,"Makassar,"
pp. 41-42,48-50.

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