«Its Causes, Course and Consequences A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in History in the ...»
Confirmation of Matu1esia's Death Sentence On 21 November the "Evertsen" had reached Ambon and her prisoners were transferred to the jail. They were tried in the Court of Justice and sentenced to be hanged. The execution of the four chief rebels took place on the square in front of the Fort Victoria.
On the evening of 15 December, Ver Hue11 visited the
prisoners, a visit he recorded as fo11ows:
"The Chief, Thomas Matu1esia, was surrounded by schoolmasters to prepare himself for death by the continuous singing of psalms. He seemed calm, completely absorbed in the religious service and oblivious of his surroundings. The other mutineers were silent..• At seven a.m. the rebels: Thomas Matu1esia, Chief; Anthony Rhebok, Captain; Philip Latumahina, Lieutenant and the Raja of Siri-Sori, Sajat Printa were led out. The sentence of the Court of Justice was read. When Matu1esia heard that his dead body would be hung in an iron cage, "as a deterrent for others", he looked up for a moment. After that he looked straight ahead.
Latumahina was first. He was a heavy man and the rope broke. Half dead he was hoisted up the ladder again and was definitely hanged. Matu1esia was the last. With firm steps he climbed the ladder.
As the noose was placed round his neck he greeted
the judges respectfully and said in a clear voice:
"S1amat Tinga1 Tuan Tuan", a polite eastern greeting which, literally translated is: "Happy staying behind Gentlemen". He entered eternity like a gentleman. The corpses were taken to the outergallows and Matu1esia's,was hung in a long iron cage".
The other rebel leaders were banished to Java to work in the coffee plantations. A number of them were later allowed to return to Ambon.
lished, but the Dutch still had to make their analyses of what had gone wrong. As we look at these contemporary analyses in some detail we may perhaps begin to formulate our own conclusions as to the immediate causes of the revolt.
We must remember all the time, of course, that most of our sources were provided by people with a direct interest, such as the Commissioners and the Rebel leaders, or are the Journals of naval officers who took part in the operations but who were often expressing personal opinions and/or hearsay when discussing causes. In the case of Ver Huell, his original Journals were lost with his ship in a shipwreck and rewritten from memory, two years later; in the case of Van Doren and J.Boelen, their accounts were written many years after the event, which must raise some doubts about their accuracy_ We should perhaps be prepared to admit at this point the possibility that even after close investigation, we may not be able to say positively where the
direct causes of the revolution lay. Reports from the responsible authorities, including Engelhard's version, must, under the circumstances, be read with the utmost circumspection. But we are obliged, as historians, to make what we can of these reports.
seem far off the mark when he describes the Governor as "that stupid Van Middelkoop,,2 and Engelhard as "Ineffectual" 3. To be sure, Van :£I.1iddelkoop was not a man of strength, or gifted in the art of government; the takeover from the co-operative English Resident went well enough, but with Engelhard beside him, he was in no way capable of handling a revolt. A closer look, however, should be taken at the Moluccas of his day. With neither money nor the personnel, with only pen and paper and many good intentions, the Commissioners' aim was to make a model Dutch colony out of the carelessly ruled British administration. When, at the reintroduction of Dutch Rule, the new administrators tried to run their regime along the old lines, the result, in the always unruly Saparua, was immediate and fiery conflict and under those circumstances neither of the Commissioners was in his right place.
2 P. V.d.Kemp, "Het Herstel van het Nederlandsch Gezag" Bijdragen Vol. 65 (1911) p.504.
3 P. V.d.Kemp, Het Nederlandsch Bestuur in 1817 tot het Vertrek der Engelschen. The Hague. (1913) p.21.
4 Letter from N.Engelhard to his brother-in-law, S.Van Basel, 12 June 1817. Rijks Archief, The Hague.
5 "As for his part in the revolt of Saparua,which he now blames on the unfortunate Van den Berg, by accusing him of actions, for which he himself gave the orders and which he now prefers to negate, assuming that the Saparuan archives will by now be lostll.
but in his Batavia Report he declares that the causes were "totally unknown" and that he was not able to throw any
ceased and communications with Ambon were at a complete standstill". Notwithstanding, he gives a lengthy opinion on the causes, seeking them in generalities: it is, he says, lithe dislike of the Saparuans in general for all subservience and social contracts, being by nature inclined to an independent, self-opinionated, easy lifestyle, which inclination induces them to reject any acceptance of a regular government, and to the misguided expectation that they, like the people of Ceram and elsewhere, could stand on their own without being bound by any obligations,,6.
Even if it were ethnographically correct, such a state of affairs could hardly be said, by a responsible government, to be an "extenuating circumstances"i it is the function of that government to control such circumstances.
The inhabitants of Saparua had long been known to be "difficult" and inclined to opposition. Buyskes acknowledges that lithe independence of Ceram invited emulation since its inhabitants did not come under the immediate control of Dutch military forces or its civil servants and that therefore they could trade as and with whom they liked.
The desire for independence and the advantages that came with it had long since been stirring in the inhabitants"?
7 Van Middelkoop's "Ambon Report" and "Sourabaya Repor.t.".
On 29 May 1817, at Saparua, Matulesia issued a manifesto listing fourteen points of contention. Rather than giving the full text of this elaborate document here,
we will give a short resume as follows:
1. Dutch authorities interfered with schools
This statement was signed by the twenty one regents of Saparua and Nusa Laut. It should be noted that among the signatories were Melojior Kesaulija, Patti of Siri-Sori Serani, and Sarassa Sanaki, Patti of Siri-Sori Islam. Of these two neighbouring negories, the first (Serani or Nasarani) was Christian and the second Muslim, which proves that, voluntarily or under coercion, the Muslims of Saparua sided with the Christians against the government.
the eight grievances embodied in Pattimura's fourteen points and the list of grievances given to Colonel Groot in Hatawano, and gives his version of the matters raised.
These points are, he says:
The grievances fall into two categories, economic and ethno-psychological. The first group comprises the compulsory supply of timber, atap,gaba-gaba, dried fish, dendeng and coffeei under the second heading come the questions of school, church and recruiting. We shall
consider these eight points one by one:
The "Publication ll of the Commission General in Batavia of 14 January 1817 started pompously: "Just as His Majesty has given an unshakable base to the monetary conditions in the Netherlands, so has he ordered an equal right for the Netherlands Indies, guaranteeing a wide and continuous circulation of money". It states that two million guilders, in specie, had been sent with the Commission and that paper money would be issued, declaring that "the paper coin will never be issued or accepted at a value above or below its nominal value and always at equal value with the specie of which it is completely representative". In reality the paper money was unexchangable - there were only three Exchange Banks to be opened in the whole of the Moluccas, one each at Ambon, Ternate and Banda - and at the time the paper money was put into circulation these Banks had not yet been organised - another example of poor government. In 1810 the Dutch had left the Moluccas under a cloud, after issuing emergency paper money that had had to be kept in circulation by force, and now, seven years later, they started in a similar way.
By Decree No. 18, dated 10 April 1817, the Commission
Residencies resorting under Ambon will be paid entirely in hard cash on account of the difficulties the acceptance of paper money will entail for the inhabitants of these island, as no exchange-banks could be established there, necessitating a journey to Ambon every time they would be paid."
This, says Van Middelkoop, meant that the inhabitants of those islands were favoured above those of Ambon itself, and he argues that therefore this could not possibly be a cause for revolt, "although there was an immediate dislike of the paper money, possibly for fear that it would in the long run be disadvantageous, as it had been in the past".
do, not the indigent Ambonese, who probably were being used as a means to stop the introduction of the paper currency;
the British had introduced the Spanish Dollar in 1811 and this was highly favoured"lO.
does prove the truth about the shortage of specie. As there were exchange offices only in Ambon, Ternate and Banda, paper could not be e:Xi.changed anywhere else. The government did not pay the inhabitant with paper money, but this applied only to payments for spices and other compulsory deliveries. In the same report we read that the Commissioners, to prevent the export of silver coins, "did not allow the exchange of silver coin during the first two months after the change over of the colony". To justify this, they refer to Banda where, "but for the timely intervention of the Resident, the entire stock of silver coins would have
he continues, "and the difficulty of obtaining the amount sent to this colony, I decided not to make silver available to everybody for their personal gain at the expense of the government, as this would have exhausted our silver coin holdings, which would have been exported to places from which not one stiver would have been returned to government establishments and this would surely have brought about the displeasure of Commissioners General (in Batavia).
Moreover, it is not the common man who is interested in silver, he much prefers to be paid in doits, while his entire wealth seldom amounts to more than four or five rupees". But complaints are so general about this
lay definitely with the Moluccan Commissioners and, indirectly, also with the Commission General in Batavia who were responsible for the paper issue and the unsatisfactory monetary system in general. Buyskes himself notes in his Report that "the payment in paper money created immediate dissatisfactionllj the people remembered what had happened in 1810 and now that the British were leaving "the
Matulesia says in his fourteen points: "Also the Resident ordered us to make salt, which the government wished to sell; but from the earliest time till the present, we have never done this kind of work for the government;
this is the reason for our dissatisfaction~.
By Decree No. 30 dated 10 April 1817, Van Middelkoop had requested the Residents to investigate the possibility of constructing saltpans in their areas; for the same purpose he appointed a commission for the island of Ambon, which, "after having completed its investigation reported that even the most likely places were not suitable". The governor's request stressed that nothing should be left untried in an effort to eliminate the shortage of salt, of which none was available either from the British or from private sources; none had been imported from Java and such imports were unlikely in the near future. The Governor's request was therefore an attempt to see if the Moluccas could be made self sufficient in this commodity. Van Middelkoop could not see any grounds for complaints of the local people because the measure had been prompted by his concern for their welfare, because in that way they would "have an easy way to obtain salt at a much cheaper price than if they were obliged to buy imported salt at high prices; or to obtain it by burning old wood impregnated by seawater or driftwood,,13.
of the clove and coffee plantations and yet we have been ordered to layout nutmeg plantations, this makes our men and women, who have to do a lot of heavy work for the government, very bitterll.
Van Middelkoop explains the nutmeg plantation as follows: He and Engelhard feared that the severe earthquakes of 1816 in Banda would have a long term effect on the nutmeg cultivation. In order to relieve the "disadvantages for the government and", he added somewhat grandly, "the inconvenience to humanity" the Commissioners had written to the Residents ordering them to layout "trial nutmeg gardens".
therefore, could not see any grounds for a revolt on account the nutmeg policy, since nthe population of this island is so large and suitable land is available so near to the
It is notable that Van· den Berg, both in the salt making project and in the matter of the nutmeg plantation was far more eager than most of his fellow officials; he clearly had not yet learned the 'festina lente' technique his colleagues in Hila and Haruku, both with many years of experience in