«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 ...»
The Muslims or "Moors" had a hard time in the early days of Dutch settlement in Ambon. To be sure, Steven van der Hagen had made common cause with the Hitu Muslims under their famed "Kapitan Hitu" and with their help had ousted the Portuguese in 1605, but thereafter they were unwanted and left to bewail the fact that the Dutch were more formidable foes than the Portuguese had ever been. The hatred of Muslims in general is obvious from a letter from the Governor General
in Council to the Governor of Banda, dated 21 November 1625:
"We strongly recommend the extirpation of the accursed Moorish secti no public or private Moorish religious services
either treated as slaves or enemies, and it was not until many years later, when most of the Ambonese had been christianised, that the fear of Muslim influence lessened and they were accorded milder treatment. After that the governors generally considered them reliable subjects, even though they did not belong to the ultra-loyalists such as the inhabitants of Leitimor who, after alI, were joined to the Gentlemen of the Company by bonds of religion.
It was not difficult to understand why the Hituese Muslims should look for wider bonds which would replace the lost VIi ties; for these they looked to Islam. The notion of being part of the world-wide Muslim community had more appeal than the knowledge that they were subjects of the Company which they had resisted so fiercely and so long. This is why the feeling of affinity with the Muslim sultanate of Ternate
remained, in spite of more lenient treatment by the Dutch, and why they still saw the Sultan, weak as he was, as their own King. This attitude persisted until well into the nineteenth century; i t was to be important in 1810, when the British took over the government of the Moluccas, and again in 1817 when as we shall see, it was the Hituese Muslims who rose en bloc to support the Pattimura revolt, while the Christians of Leitimor remained loyal to the Dutch.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the numbers
Doubtless the newcomers were made aware of the grievances of the earlier Muslim inhabitants.
Apart from the descendants of the Ternatese Christian immigrants, the half caste children of Portuguese men and native women, as well as emancipated christian slaves were counted as orang Merdika and by the time the Dutch replaced the Portuguese as masters of Ambon (1605) there was already a fairly large class of "free black folks" or mardikers.
Appreciating the usefulness of this category of inhabitants who were favourably disposed towards the westerners, the Dutch upheld the privileges granted by their predecessors and when sometime later a corps of armed townsfolk was formed, the Mardikers were recruited on the 14 This extra link with Macassar, the main centre of the smuggling trade, led to more "illegal spice trading" and thus helped to keep government and Muslims in two camps.
same basis as their white fellow townsfolk, in a company under a captain of their own kind. It is from these Mardikers or Mixtice Borgers that the Ambonese Burgers are descended.
The children of masters and slave women, together with emancipated Muslim slaves, formed a new category of inhabitants, the "Moorish Burgers". In the eighteenth century these
were enlisted in the "Sc'hutterij " companies of the militia, and those who lived too far away from Ambon to do active service became contributory members who had to give a yearly sum for the upkeep of the companies. Instead of having to perform plantation services all Burgers paid an individual tax.
Many plied a trade, had small businesses or aspired to government posts as village chiefs or Regents and they had their own Ambonese Burger School.
Whilst enjoying these privileges they did not share
the rights the negory people had. As mentioned above, they could not claim a share in the sago forests or the use of the waste lands of the village community.
The "monopoly" system, from which sprang many of the political, social and economic problems of the Jl.1oluccas, warrants a closer scrutiny.
It can be asserted with some justice, that it had its origins in pre-Europeans times. Then, the "nobles", besides holding a considerable portion of the clove forests, also virtually monopolized the sale of the cloves to foreigners.
(Before the Europeans mostly Javanese.) Most sales went through the hands of the "nobility "18. All that the Portuguese attempted to do was to put themselves in the place of the "nobility" as the top rung in the economic ladder.
Indeed it could be argued that the Portuguese, the Dutch, and (for a while) the English all continued a centuries old system in which the leading characters were replaced, without the system itself being subject to change. The biblical word seemed to come true "there is nothing new under the sun".
But the Portuguese never really managed to enforce their monopoly. The Dutch were different. The maintenance of the spice monopoly - the exclusive right to cultivate as well as trade in the spices of the Moluccas was a politicaleconomic dogma from which the Company would not deviate, even in trivial matters, as the following example will indicate.
In 1670 the future Governor General Speelman had planted a dozen clove trees from the Moluccas in his garden in Batavia, just for the fun of it. When the High Government came to hear of it, the harmless trees had to be destroyed.
The Company grafted its economic exploitative system onto the dati system in the Ambon islands. On the strength of the jus belli it assumed the sovereign right of ownership
the dati into tributary units, whose tribute consisted in making available the land appointed by the V.O.C. for the cultivation of cloves, in tending the clove plantations and in delivering the produce at a fixed (low) price. To ensure that the plantations were properly tended, the freedom of movement was curtailed; each villager was compelled to remain within the boundaries of the village and to work in his dusun dati on the cultivation of the clove crop. The producer was not able to sell his produce freely to the highest bidder.
To safeguard their monopoly on the world markets the Company proceeded to extirpate all clove trees outside Amboina and the Uliasan islands, using hongi expeditions for this purpose. This situation continued until ;864, when the Minister for the Colonies Fransen van de Putte abolished the monopoly. Something must be said about the somewhat infamous Hongi expeditions and the system of production with which they were associated. Olivier2l describes these expeditions as inspection tours made by a large fleet of Kora-koras their object was not only to destroy forbidden or unwanted plantations but (and this is less well known) to concern themselves with matters of justice and government.
W.B.Martin, the British Resident from 1811 to 1817 had this
duced with the benevolent view of listening to complaints and redressing grievances and, by periodic visits, to curb the tendencies of subordinate Residents to abuse power, it soon perverted from the beneficent ends of its establishment and became an instrument of governors for extending their deprecations and multiplying the abuses.,,23
basically because the islanders had known no other system;
provided there was no interference with the so-called "Tatanamans" there was little resentment against the V.O.C.
monopoly. The tatanamans were clove trees planted in the house gardens whenever a child was born. The link between the well being of a tree and the welfare of a person is woven into Ambon's folklore and in 1775 the South Moluccas counted 22 310 of suchtatanamans, to which no axe could be applied.
This, has been claimed, is proof that the compulsory clove culture was part of Ambonese cU1ture. It had become the only cash crop, and such dissatisfaction as there was was with the erratic way the government regulated it. Depending on the current demand, delivery quotas were increased or superf1uous trees cut down. As we shall see later, even Matu1esia took a strong stand in favour of the clove culture, when it was suggested to him, during the revolution, that all clove trees should be destroyed.
23 W.B.Martin Letter to Bengal dated 29 February, 1812.
Bengal Proceedings p.167/40 India Office Library and Records, (Henceforth I.O.L. & R.) London.
While the native people gained by the clove culture, in that it gave them a regular income, so did the Company officials fare very well indeed by it and corruption flourished, despite efforts by some of the well meaning Governors General such as Van Imho (1743-1750), who tried to curb it by dismissing offending dignitaries. Merely
charged with the collection of the clove harvest and the payments to the growers, knew how to feather their own nests.
As far as the negory or village people were concerned, the Company rule had the effect of tying the villagers to the land. This restricted their movement, but it must be born in mind that on small islands, such as those in the Uliasan group, there would have been very little demographic mobility in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in any case. On the other hand, Company rule reinforced the villagers' right to a share in the communal lands and prevented unlawful acquisition of neighbouring villages' dusUn dati.
their own land. They had to provide compulsory services which were divided in paid and unpaid services. In the first category were the services rendered in government stores where the cloves and nutmegs were dried, limed and stored;
in the counting house and civil and military building departmentsi the loading and unloading of government cargoes and rice; providing transport for traveling government officials, officers of the armed forces and other military personnel in
kora-koras or palanquins; the collection and transport of government moneys and goods to and from Ambon; the supply of timber and building materials for public works, both in Ambon and the outer islands and the carrying of mail to and from Saparua, Haruku and Hitu. The unpaid services comprised the building and upkeep of the regents' and schoolmasters' houses, the building of the village orembaais - a smaller typ'e of kora-kora - and other communal craft and the building and maintenance of roads and bridges. On top of this each family had to tend ninety clove trees and provide free transport to the plantations for inspectors. It has been estimated that the villagers had to render annually two months of unpaid and four months of paid services, leaving them six months in which they were free from forced labour.
Since clove and nutmeg plantations had been destroyed in all but Ambon and the Uliasan islands and the Banda group, the Company's interest in the other islands was confined to protecting the continuation of its monopoly position.
in frequent conflict with the V.O.C., especially after Kaliali, the Viz of the Sultan of Ternate, was imprisoned in 1634, and a number of wars were fought between them. The main reason for these wars was disagreement over the cloves monopoly embodied in the various contracts concluded over the years. The inhabitants of Hoamoal and Hitu did not always adhere to these contracts because the V.O.C. interpreted the
monopoly of sale to include a monopoly of price-fixing, while other merchants, English as well as Malay and Minangkabau, were prepared to pay much higher prices. This led to clandestine trading and harsher attitudes from the V.O.C., including the destruction of the "illegal" clove trees.
To break the resistance of the Uli Hitu the V.O.C. took far reaching measures. The were abolished and by order of Governor van Diemen, dated 25 April 1644 each village or negory in the Ambon islands had to govern itself. He sent a letter to the Sultan of Ternate which stated that "in future no Kapitan Hitu nor Heads of Ulis (who have forfeited their rights and authority through their rebellion and weapons) will be named or appointed, but in their place each negory will be ruled by its own Head, and the Dutch Governor shall rule over them all".
From that date each village in Ambon has been, as it were, a small independent republic. There was no longer a higher traditional Ambonese administrative body ruling over these village republics. They were mutually independent and only European administrators exercised a co-ordinating function. The village was divided in two or more Soas or neighbourhoods, each having a name and a kepala soa or Head of a neighbourhood, who had to be native-born. Each village also had the so-called Tua Agama, leaders of the religious community and the school. The Kepala Soas and the Tua Agamas elected the Regent who bore the title of Raja, Orang Kaya or Pattie and was usually, but not necessarily, from the traditionally or adat ruling families. These Regents and Kepala Soas were village heads, not government officials and Rijks Archief, The Hague. Archive No. 1058 f.158.
Quoted by Dr Manusama.
their remuneration amounted to a levy of four percent on all payments for clove supplies, while Regents were also entitled to certain unpaid personal services, especially in the fields or in their household, to be performed by villagers in turn.
But the power of the Regents was not unlimited, a degree of concensus was the norm in the village.