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«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 ...»

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- since the British had employed them in that function with great success - and also with the Military Commandant regarding the strict adherence to Article 5, he did do nothing to counteract their decisions. In his Batavia Report this First Commissioner wrote: "I considered useless to give my contrary opinion because the Military Commandant and Chief of Troops was not to be swayed to deviate from his instructions". Only after the outbreak of the revolt, when a large number of ex-soldiers had either joined the revolt or were sympathetic to it, did it dawn on the civil and military officials that giving in to the demand for service in the Moluccas exclusively would not only increase their troop strength, but would also ensure greater control over the dangerous elements of the Ambon Regiment.

Buyskes, who showed a much better understanding of the interests of the Ambonese soldier (perhaps with the benefit of hind-sight), was convinced that the Ambonese could even have been won over to serve in Java, common sense had prevailed. IIConsidering that the main reason for the. inhabitants' objection to military service in Java is 33 Decree No. 47 dated 8 June 1817.

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children and other loved relations, and the impossibility to provide for them after their (the soldiers')·departure.

Further considering that the knowledge that relatives are assured their essential needs may have favourable results

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decided: "that the parents, children, brothers or sisters of Ambonese soldiers serving in Java will receive a monthly allowance of twenty pounds of rice and half a pound of salt" •


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statement that no payment would be made. The inhabitants of Hila and Haruku had accepted this price but those of Saparua requested payment of 20 Rix Dollars per picul, a price that had been paid during the previous era of Dutch rule, on occasions when large quantities had been demanded.

The government agreed to pay this amount, provided the Saparuans could prove that this price had been paid in the

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because the ex-Governor states: "About this nor about any of the other alleged grievances, nor yet about mistreatment and oppression of which the Resident was accused after the revolt, no complaint or petition reached me;

The total quantity involved in this grievance was 1000 Ibs, of which Hila's share was 500 Ibs, Haruku's 200

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amount of money in dispute was 25 Rix Dollars, which makes this particular grievance seem - at least to the outside observer - rather trifling.


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the supply had been recommended because of the shortage caused by the non-arrival of supplies from Java and the demand for supplies by naval ships and troops, a fair price had been agreed to and orders had been issued that only coffee in excess to local requirements was to be requisitioned. A similar arrangement had already been in force under British Rule. In Van Middelkoop's opinion it could therefore not be advanced asa grievance against the Dutch.

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connected with compulsory deliveries of timber, salt, coffee or dried meat as well as those about paper money and charges about interference in school and church matters, as the reason for the revolt, Van Middelkoop quotes the statements of the ex-Raja of Pelauw and the Orang Kaya of Kailolo 37 that 36 Van Middelkoop's Sourabaya Report.

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the first meetings of the mutineers of these negories took place on 4 April, just ten days after the take-over from the British and barely two weeks after Van den Berg's arrival in Saparua. This was well before paper money was brought into circulation, requisitions were made, or salt experiments had been requested.

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the events in Saparua: "The causes of the unfortunate rebellion are said to be the paper money, the recruitment of people for Java, the fact that the Resident had had a woman stripped naked and flogged in the bazaar, that he had demanded supplies of fish and sago for the troops without payment and that he had relied too much on his clerk Ornek".

This was published in the Government Gazette of 7 August in calcutta. The Batavian newspaper Bataviasche Courant No. 49 of 6 December 1817 reprinted this, adding: "The experiences and reports, which anybody here can obtain, will show these reports and the opinions expressed therein, for what they The righteous indignation is somewhat puzzling since, are".

overall, the reports are in no way unjust. The fact that the Commission General and its money system might have been, at least in part, the cause of the revolt, did not dawn on them. "The sad affair of Saparua", Van der Capellen wrote in a private letter to the Minister of the Colonies, A.R.Falck, on 8 July 1817,38 "is conveyed to you in the Official Missive. Wrong direction, tactless treatment of people and affairs, and the misuse of authority are undoubtedly the causes". And on 14 October liThe Resident 38 A.R.Falck,Gedenkschriften p.467.

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Van den Berg seems to be mainly responsible for this revolt". liThe Saparuans are mostly so-called Christians and very fanatical. The British have maintained this spirit in the Moluccas and seem to have instilled the belief in the inhabitants that we would introduce an entirely

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Soehoka had told him the rumours about revolutionary meetings in the forest, the Resident had asked the Regents of Booy and Nollot for comment and was assured

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for certain when the Njora of Nollot visited the Resident's. f e 44, but it must have been very shortly before the w~ outbreak; the fact that she mentioned that weapons were

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Berg would still have doubted the truth of Soehoka's message after it had been confirmed by the wife of the man who had misled him, and it is equally unthinkable that he - who had 40 This judgement was clearly based on Van Middelkoop's reports.

41 Buyskes' Report 472.

42 Van Doren. op.cit. p.128.

43 Sensibly he chose Regents of two negories, one of which was situated in the South and one in the North of Saparua.

44 cf. p.78.

shown himself to be a man of action on several occasions would have failed to pass this on to his superiors in Ambon.

Van Doren claims that the Njora told Mrs Van den Berg "in all innocence" what was happening, but in view of the good relationship between the ladies, as evidenced by the coffee-visit, it is very likely that she intended this

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the warning delivered to him in person, by the Regent of Siri-Sori, Johannes Kyrauly, was disregarded by Van Middelkoop, but this is not mentioned by either of the Commissioners in their reports. Engelhard, according to Van Middelkoop, found all incoming warnings livery confusing,

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garrison of a sergeant, a corporal and six privates to be sent to Fort Hoorn at Pelauw and sent a few men to Hila to garrison Hitulamai but that was the sum total of his actions in this regard, since Colonel Kraijenhoff maintains that he could not spare one single man more.

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it appears that, within a very few days after our take-over, there were meetings here and there, that there was correspondence between the inhabitants of Hitu and the north coast of Haruku and most likely with those of Saparua, at which they committed themselves under solemn oaths to make themselves free and independentll.

These quotations from Engelhard's and Van Middelkoop's

reports prove:

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independence and freedom from the government, which had nothing to do with local government actions in Saparua;

2. that within a very few days after the change of government rebel meetings took place,so that any connection between these and the Resident Van den Berg's actions is non-existent, because

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is part of the island of Ambon and the invitations to the conspiracy originated from that island and that the source of the revolt was on Ambon and not on Saparua.

From the above the conclusion may be drawn that the list of grievances as compiled by Matulesia and the Heads at Hatawano was drawn up to secure villagers' support for a course of action which had been decided upon wholely or largely independently from them.

It is clear that Buyskes realized immediately that the revolt had been hatched in Ambon, even though the chief rebels Matulesia and Rhebok were in Saparua and the

revolution erupted there. He wrote:

"As soon as I had taken over the government and· had been briefed about the position, I realized

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that i t was absolutely essential to achieve the sUbjection of the rebellious negories in Hitu and restore peace on the island of Arnboina, before action against the mutineers of Saparua and the neighbouring islands could be undertaken advantageously and safely"50.

Ver Huell had suggested the immediate dispatch of his ship to Saparua "to occupy Fort Duurstede and forcefully suppress the revolt", but, as Buyskes reported to the King, "The Commissioners did not want to deprive Ambon of one of the capital ships in order to have them available to escape.

At least", Buyskes wrote, "all measures taken have confirmed me in this opinion" This action by the Commissioners, which seems to have been inspired by personal interest, could be seen as highly reprehensible because the execution of Ver Huell1s plan would have retaken the Fort in May (in fact it was not retaken until 3 August), the Beetjes expedition would not have been dispatched and the loss of his force of approximately two hundred men, not to mention the loss of military prestige, would have been avoided. All these factors contributed to the extended duration of the revolt, because they necessitated the preparation of a second expedition, thus giving the mutineers plenty of time to prepare fortifications on Saparua making reconquest so much harder.

We have looked at the part the grievances of the mutineers, whether justified or not, played in the actual

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that Van den Berg, as an inexperienced Resident, without any training for his difficult task, may have acted injudiciously and harshly, as both Van der Kemp and even Governor General

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if he represents Van Middelkoop as the only guilty party,

when he writes:

"It is certain that Van Middelkoop and the Decrees he issued, disregarding our instructions to conduct the government, provisionally, on the principles introduced by the British, contributed greatly to the troubles in Saparua".

In the same letter he accused Van Middelkoop of putting all blame on "the unfortunate Van den Berg for events to

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he carefully refrained from mentioning, in the expectation that the Saparua archives will by now have been burned or lostll. Those statements are of course an admission of guilt by Engelhard who, as First Commissioner, should never have consented to the orders issued by Van Middelkoop in

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contravention of their instructions.

Irrespective of the blunders of the Ambon Commissioners, a good deal of blame must attach to the Commissioners General in Batavia. Their mistakes and shortcomings can be

tabulated as follows:

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force to the Moluccas after authorities in Holland, at the Treaty of London of 13 August 1814, had parsimoniously declined to take over the Ambon Corps. The totally inadequate Dutch military might can only have encouraged the revolutionaries.

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send supplies of salt, dried fish and meat, as well as coffee, to the Moluccas, for both the population and the naval squadron, was the reason for the forced deliveries, the main grievance of the negory people, which, in their eyes, fully justified the war against the "Company".

The conclusion to be drawn from the above must be that the immediate cause of the revolt of 1817 was the dissatisfaction of the people, caused by the fear of the re-introduction of the tough, pre-British, Dutch rule, fanned by an elite of schoolmasters and village heads who saw their traditional ruling status threatened, and by the ex-soldiers, disgruntled by a Dutch refusal to re-engage them on acceptable terms; they, as newly created burgers fell outside the dati system and thus became dependent on the charity of their kinfolk. The incompetence of Dutch civil and military officials on the spot as well as the shortsighted policies of the Batavia and the Hague governments who approached delicate matters in the most hamfisted fashion, can only have confirmed the islanders in their resolve.

in Adat Dress showing strong P ortu

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What, if anything, had been achieved by the revolt to affect the Moluccas and the Moluccans either immediately or in the future? Peace was restored. The leaders had been tried by the Ambon Raad van Rustitie (Court of Justice).

Twenty three had been sentenced to death; fourteen of these had been executed and nine had had their sentence r'emi tted to banishment with hard labour in Java. These last joined a great number of prisoners considered dangerous to the public order. Buyskes had returned to Batavia, to his duties as Third Commissioner General and in his place Major-General H.M. De Kock was appointed Governor of the Moluccas.

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February 1818 and held the office for less than one year.

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