Admiral Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge, a Director in the Rotterdam chamber of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) for three decades during the early 17th century, set sail from the Dutch Republic For Asia in 1605. He launched an attack on Portuguese Melaka in 1606 and subsequently signed landmark treaties with the rulers of Johor (1606) and Ternate (1607). After returning to the Netherlands in the autumn of 1608, he wrote a series of epistolary reports and memoranda that were carefully studied by leading policy makers in the Republic, among them the renowned jurist Hugo Grotius, and the statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt.
These materials yield candid insights into key issues of trade, security, the diplomacy of regional polities and relations with Spain and Portugal, and they contributed substantially to the formulation of early VOC policy for the Southeast Asian region in the period 1605–20. Here translated into English for the ﬁrst time, and illustrated with 70 drawings and maps from the period, this collection of treaties, reports and excerpts from Matelieff’ s travelogue make a substantial contribution to Southeast Asian and early colonial history, international relations, and international law.
“This book speaks to a new phase in historical studies of Asia: the critical re-examination of the source materials on which all historical interpretation has to be based. Borschbergs translations, annotations, and analyses give today’s reader a privileged inside view of tumultuous developments in early 17th- century Southeast Asia—when Europeans, Malays, Thais and others traded, fought, and negotiated with one another across bewildering inter-cultural divides.” — Anthony Milner, Australian National University
“This book is vital to all researchers interested in the military, commercial, diplomatic and company history of the VOC and its conﬂict with the Portuguese, as seen through the eyes of one of the ﬁrst architects of the Dutch empire in Asia. Acclaimed as one of the leading experts in the history of the early European presence in insular Southeast Asia, Borschberg excels in this piece of solid scholarship, meticulously introducing and annotating an essential set of Matelieff’s writings that are made accessible to English–speaking readers for the ﬁrst time. The book makes a major contribution toward understanding the generally neglected history of the Portuguese in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea region during the 17th century, and Borschherg demonstrates a remarkable grasp of Portuguese–language sources—a rare achievement for an English–speaking historian.” — Manuel Lobato, Portuguese Institute of Topical Research (IICT), Lisbon
About the editor: Peter Borschberg is based in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore. He is also an Associate Fellow at the Nalanda–Sriwijaya Centre, institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) and a Guest Professor in Modern History at the University of Greifswald.