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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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The seeming paradox of the Ambonese, suppressed for centuries, who yet became loyal supporters of the Dutch is part of the background, and indeed one of the themes, of this

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Ambonese loyalty was a myth, fostered by Dutch propaganda during their colonial rule and believed by the inhabitants of other parts of the archipelago, who mostly came into contact with Moluccans who had served in the colonial army or civil service. But such writers have set themselves a very difficult task.


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purpose of this study is not only to describe what happened and when, but also how and why. There are obvious questions of causation and conditional factors. Our first aim must be to uncover the various lines of development and to disclose the mounting tendency towards rebellion. It is to this matter that we now turn.

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kilometres while each of the other three islands in the Uliasan group is even smaller. In 1855 Amboina's population numbered nearly 28 000, Saparua just over 10 000, Haruka slightly over 7 000 and Nusa Laut almost 3 500. Thus the islands were thinly populated Most of the people lived in the beach villages, partly because earlier the Dutch East India Company (V.D.C.) had forcibly compelled a large part of the population to move from the interior to the coast, in order to facilitate the exercise of stricter control over the growing of the cloves.

The island of Amboina consists of a smaller southern peninsula called Leitimor and a larger northern one called Hitu, joined by a narrow isthmus known as the Baguala Pass.

This pass is a mere one kilometre long and light boats were often man-handled across, to shorten the sea route from Ambon to the other islands in the group very considerably. The Bay of Ambon penetrates deeply between the two parts and i t is on the shores of this bay that the principal town, Ambon, was located.

Although the climate is favourable, the condition of the soil is unsuitable for the more intensive varieties of agriculture or for horticulture. The soil consists mainly of coral sand; the volcanic soil that constitutes the wealth of H.Kroeskamp, Early Schoolmasters in a Developing Country. p. 49.

the Indies is almost completely absent here. The land is most suitable for forestry; hence the extensive sago groves which, even today, supply the staple food for many of the population. This throws perhaps a different light on the complaint so often made by government officials, that the "laziness and indolence" of the natives was to blame for the poor results achieved with the introduction of new crops such as coffee, pepper or indigo, by the V.O.C. or the later East Indian Government. The report of an agricultural scientist in 1929 confirms that the ground is not capable of producing much beyond sago and cassava. Although sago is usually considered a poor diet, Olivier4, who visited the Moluccas in 1824, argued that contrary to popular belief, he could not agree that sago is the poorest of all cereals (sic) since he found the health of the inhabitants to be robust.

Land belonging to the ordinary people in the Moluccas had always been held communally. This applied to the sago groves as well as the waste lands. The village was divided into a fixed number of dati or family groups, each of which had the hereditary usufruct of certain lands, the so called dusun dati. Usually these were planted with sago trees to provide the main food crop. The village, however, retained the right of ownership of the dusun dati in the same way as exercised this right in respect of its wastelands where villagers could assert an equal and joint right of use. As A.J.Beversluis & A.H.Gieben. Het Gouvernement der Molukken. pp. 79-80.

3 A.J.Koens in Soerabaiaans Handelsblad, 28 Jan. 1929.

The author is indebted to Drs G.Knaap of Leiden for drawing his attention to this.

4 J.Olivier Jnz. Land- en Zeetochten in Nederlansch Indie. (1830) p.46.

the islands in the Ambon or Uliasan group themselves did not supply sufficient sago to meet the requirements of the population, each year numerous families, sometimes even whole villages, crossed over to their dusuns on Ceram, "the country overflowing with sago", to beat sago to supplement their stocks. Rice had been imported into the Moluccas for centuries, mainly from Java, but it had always been a luxury item, never a staple.

The Burger class, which will be discussed later in this chapter, stood outside the village communities and had therefore no claim on the product of the communal land.

The name "Moluccas" is generally accepted to refer to the entire island world between Celebes and New Guinea with the Banda islands as the southern boundary. The concept "Moluccas" has since time immemorial been identified with the concept "Spice Islands" i.e. the islands which of old were the sole producers of cloves, nutmeg and mace. These were Ternate, Tidore and Bachan and later the Ambon or Uliasan islands and the Banda group. Because of its valuable produce, traders from all parts of Indonesia, and well beyond, have always been attracted to the Moluccas. Plinius Major in 75 A.D. mentions cloves, thus proving that trade links between the Moluccas and the more "civilised" western part of the Indonesian Archipelago, which had trade links with Persia, are at least two thousand years old.

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Christianization and Islamization, there has been rivalry between the ancient tribal divisions of the Ulisiwa, or League of Nine, and the Ulilima or League of Five. This

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division in two groups conforms to the ancient Arnbonese cosmology with its classification system. It divides the cosmos into contrasts which have to be balanced because violation of the harmony causes harmful consequences for. 6 soclety This has been presented as a kind of unity in diversity but in reality unity was completely absent. The inhabitants of Hitu belonged to the Ulilima while those of Leitimor belonged to the Ulisiwa. The Sultan of Ternate considered himself and his subjects Ulilima, which gave him the overlordship of Hitu; The Dutch East India Company (hereafter V.D.C.), as an ally of the people of Leitimor, was considered to be Ulisiwa. The fact that the Ulilima embraced Islam while the Ulisiwa became Christians did nothing to alleviate the old tensions. While the Christians of Leitimor, in due course, formed a strong attachment to the Dutch royal house, the memory of the Kingship of the Sultan of Ternate never died completely in Hitu.

Islam had corne to Indonesia with Arab and Indian traders in the period from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century.

In the Moluccas it was gradually accepted by the coast dwellers but the mountain tribes and the inland regions generally remained aloof. The influence of Islam affected the entire Moluccan society; for one thing, it was now governed by laws of a more stable nature than had hitherto existed.

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Tidore and Batchan. As yet untrammeled by monopolies, the people of the Ceram peninsula of Haomoal, realizing its 6 Z.J • Manusama, "Hikayat Tanah Hitu ", Unpublished Ph. D.

thesis, Leiden University (1977) p.I (Summary).

See P.3S.

value, transplanted the clove culture to their land and from there it spread rapidly to Ambon and the rest of the Uliasan islands, which now contained their share in the general growth of prosperity of the area.

The Portuguese, under Vasco de Gama, reached India in 1498, established their headquarters at Goa in 1510 and took and settled Malacca in 1511. Realizing that spice prices in the Moluccas were considerably cheaper they soon put in an appearance there. At first relations with the local people were harmonious; the Portuguese paid reasonable prices for cloves and nutmeg and trading did not lead to any trouble.

Before long, though, religion did.

When Pope Alexander VI in 1493 partitioned the known world "with all its gold, spices and all manner of precious things" between Portugal and Spain, he imposed the condition that they should "exert all diligence in converting people of their new territories and..• institute them in the catholic faith and good manners".8 The Portuguese took this very seriously and established contact with indigenous people through the work of their missionaries. This contact was closest in the case of tribes with "primitive" religions or, in India, with lower caste Hindus. With the passing of time, the efforts by the missionaries to obtain converts became marked by excesses which not only defeated the original purpose, but also assumed greater significance as Portuguese pestige waned.

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On the Leitimor peninsula, on which Ambon town is situated, the population, whose religion was animistic, accepted Christianity readily, but the Muslim population of Hitu peninsula strongly opposed Christianity which became the prime cause of their alienation from the Portuguese.

The missionary zeal of the Portuguese was not

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when they established themselves on Ambon, a colony which wouJd act as a bulwark against the Muslims and perhaps as a catalyst for the Ambonese to adopt Christianity themselves, the Portuguese had brought with them seven Ternatese Catholic families. These were granted many privileges; they did not have to render compulsory labour services, they were allowed to ply a trade, own businesses and slaves and they were granted a plot of land near the Portuguese fort on which to

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The Portuguese now had a virtual monopoly in the spice trade, but this did not last into the seventeenth century_ Shortages of man-power and shipping, widespread corruption and private trading by officers of the crown and clergy 9 G.P. de Bruyn Kops, Eenige Greepen uit de Geschiedenis der Atnbonsche Schuttery. Aroboyna (1895) pp. 8-13.

a l e 10, but most of all the political and economic developl "k ments in Europe, were the reasons.

When Philip II succeeded to the Portuguese throne in 1580, he drew that country into his wars against England and France as well as his own rebellious subjects in the Netherlands, and this made its coveted spice trade a legitimate war-price for these powers, because of their supremacy at sea.

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teenth century increased, they gained their independence from Spain and at the same time replaced the Portuguese in the Malayo-Indonesian part of Asia, establishing forts and factories in Java and Malacca and founding Batavia as the centre point of their Asian affairs.

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command of Jacob van Heemskerk, dropped anchor off Hitu on 3 March 1599. The Vizier of the Sultan of Ternate, the ancient Kapitan Hitu Tepil, was under direct threat from the Portuguese and therefore welcomed van Heemskerk enthusiastically, but it was the next fleet in 1600 under Steven van der Hagen - Istewen ~varhage the Hituese called him - that made the link that led to close co-operation. The Hituese asked him for assistance against the Portuguese at Leitimor, and although the admiral had only one single ship available, he 10 Francis Xavier, the great missionary of Asia, who worked for a year in Ambon, later reported that their knowledge was restricted to the conjugation of the verb "rapio" - to steal - in which they showed an "amazing capacity for inventing new tenses and participles" in his letter to Father Rodrigues dated 27th January, 1545. Quoted by B.H.M.Vlekke "Nusantara, A History of Ihdohesia", The Hague (1965). p. 96.

fell in with their request and for eight weeks tried to

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part, the Hituese agreed that all spices were to be sold to the Dutch at prices to be fixed later.

But now the Portuguese staged a final all-out effort to regain their authority in the Moluccas with a fleet of eleven ships and 2700 men under the command of Andrew Furtado de Mendoza, which sailed into Ambon Bay on 10 February 1602.

The Dutch garrison of the Fort at Hitu had been taken off in

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On 21 February 1605 the Dutch fleet arrived off Hitu.

Kapitan Hitu, whose son was one of the three delegates, immediately added twenty Kora-koras to Van der Hagen's fleet

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and the sight of this armada was enough for the Portuguese who hoisted the white flag and with guarantees of safe conduct, they handed over their fort.

With the gradual decline of Portuguese power, Christianity had also declined in the Moluccas, but when the Company took over there were still 16,000 Christians in the islands, mainly in Leitimor, Saparua and South Ceram.

Initially the Christian Ambonese and the "Moradores" (Portuguese, often of mixed race, who had wished to stay behind in the Moluccas) were allowed to practise their catholic religion, but this was not to last long. Despite

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clastic orgy, smashing all "papist" statues; all Portuguese, including the priests, were now expelled from the Moluccas, given an old boat and left to make their way, as best they could, to the Philippines, the nearest Spanish territory.

The Christian Moluccans were at first hostile to the Dutch, but when the hoped for return of the Portuguese did not eventuate, they gradually transferred their loyalty from the king of Portugal to the States General of the Netherlands and the Prince of Orange., This transfer of loyalty had also religious consequences as it brought with it a change from Catholicism to Reformed Protestantism. After the departure of the mission fathers there was no option - if the islands were to remain Christian - but to accept not only the new rulers but also their reformed religion. The Portuguese, it should be remembered, had not differentiated between church and state. without this State-Church linkage it would probably have been much more difficult to win the Ambonese

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over to the Reformed Protestant V.D.C.

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