«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 ...»
In the Moluccas, as elsewhere in the Indies s shrewd political use was made of the ancient influence of the Regents. Heredity, without being consolidated by law, became the custom already during his lifetime, as a reward for zeal and faithful service, the Regent received the promise that he would be succeeded by his son. It would require a very important reason to depart from this rule and where it should be the case the successor would, nevertheless, usually be chosen from the members of the same family. In Java the Regent, who spoke for many thousands was, even in the eyes of the government, a much more important person than the European official, whose discontent would occasion no apprehension; it was not difficult to replace the official but a disgruntled Regent might become the germ of disturbance or rebellion. Van Diemen's action in 1644 had reduced Moluccan Regents to the status of mere village heads and as a result they were less important, but Residents were still eager to keep the Regents on their side.
The final subject to be looked at in this chapter is the development of the school system, especially since the schoolmasters became highly influential figures in Ambonese society.
The credit for having introduced school education in East Indonesia must go to the Portuguese and Spanish missionaries. In 1538 the Portuguese military commander at the garrison centre of Ternate founded a school there which was later taken over by the Jesuit Fathers. It was a simple school where a priest gave religious instruction and in addition taught his pupils to read and write and perhaps some arithmetic.
work of the steadily progressing christianisation, but the whole of the missionary activity was inseparably bound up with, and dependent on, the colonial power. The kings of Spain and Portugal had been granted the right of patronage in the overseas territories by the Pope. In return they had to provide for the missionaries and the maintenance of the institutions. There was great similarity between this system and that of the later V.O.C. system, in which the clergymen were simply servants of the trading company and the Company exercised supreme control over the school system. Hence, here also, church and school were used to support the colonial policy. Apart from their religious function, the schools undoubtedly also served to tie the people of the Moluccas more closely to the Company. The education policy represented a mingling of religious intentions and politico-economic considerations. One of the essential points of the education policy was the right to prescribe the school language. The Company in 1607, when its first school was founded in Ambon, laid down that Dutch would be the school language. The underlying idea of this language policy was that teaching the 28 Kroeskamp (1947) pp. 8-15.
Dutch language was an effective means of raising and strengthening feelings of loyalty toward the Company.
The "General Church Order" of 1643 and the "School Regulation" of 1684 contained the provision that the Dutch language was to be spoken exclusively at the schools. The School Regulation of 1778 still enshrined this provision and
practice this language regulation soon became a dead letter.
Whereas in Ambon town, under the very eye of the high government officials, the Dutch language was maintained in the best possible way for quite a long time, the schools beyond the immediate field of vision of the officials soon switched to Malay and the government found itself compelled to accept Malay as the school language in the Moluccas. The schoolmasters usually combined two functions, teaching at the school and, in the absence of ordained ministers, the function of pastor of the parish. Practically none of these schoolmasters had ever received professional training for this dual responsibility. Anyone who had been to school was in effect a potential teacher. Occasionally a teacher selected by the minister received a certain amount of additional training at the minister's house, which consisted of learning to sing ps.alms, religious instruction and some reading. There was no question of pedagogic or didactic training and the education amounted to little more than a poor preparation for giving religious instruction. The conclusion to be drawn must undoubtedly be that schools were staffed with personnel poorly equipped for their task and that therefore this school system could hardly be expected to make any contribution towards promoting the well-being of the community. However, it should be viewed against the seventeenth and eighteenth century background, when ideas about education differed enormously from those we have today. If it were compared with popular education in the Republic of the United Netherlands of those days (a country which could certainly not be called backward in this respect), the education given to the Christian population of the East Indies could be said to be neither very different nor greatly inferior.
In the latter days of the East India Company the administration of the school system gradually began to slacken. The number of ordained ministers dropped to such a low number that it became absolutely impossible to provide the necessary guidance to communities and schools. The frequency of the visiting tours of the ministers also dropped and in the end had to be discontinued altogether. By the end of the British interregnum the top layer of the administrative body of church and school had disappeared and only the schoolmasters remained at their posts, without any support whatsoever. Now, in effect, the schoolmasters were the actual religious leaders of the Moluccan Christians. This does not imply that everything in the Christian communities remained as it was before. Once the visiting tours were discontinued, parish life languished. Because the celebration of baptisms, Holy Communion and marriage services, which had been the exclusive prerogative of the ministers, no longer took place and what could be taken to be a relapse to earlier religious forms began to intrude upon the islanders' Christianity30.
Yet a complete reversion to earlier forms was virtually
impossible; the islanders had been closely associated with Christianity for too long.
The schoolmasters' influence came second only to that of the village Headmen, and, as long as they were paid by the government, they were completely independent of the village community. When, at the beginning of the nineteenth'century, the Dutch government took over the administration from the V.O.C. and Daendels, forced through lack of finance, made the payment of schoolmasters' salaries the responsibility of the villages, with a consequent loss of their prestige, they alienated a group of people who could have been their most powerful allies in the troubles to come.
importance of the spice trade was waning on a world wide basis. The Company - the raison d'etre of which was the spice trade - went into a decline which foreshadowed its demise. Corruption, about which more will be said later in this chapter, contributed heavily to its fall, but the trade itself was seriously affected by changing European tastes and eating habits. Under the influence of the more sophisticated French cuisine there was a switch from the heavily spiced meat meals of the past to much more delicate dishes, causing a decrease in the European demand for oriental spices. Added to this was the most important cause of all, the loss of the monopoly of production combined with transportation difficulties due to the Anglo-French-American wars towards the end of the eighteenth century_ Despite the extirpation of clandestine trees on neighbouring islands and the unwanted ones in the Uliasan' Islands themselves, the 1 To make the events in this chapter to follow a
short chronology is given:
1784 Peace of Paris. British acquire rights of free navigation in the Moluccas.
1795 France occupies Holland.
15 September Holland at war with Britain.
1796 Rainier Expedition occupies the Moluccas.
1796-1803 First British occupation of the Moluccas.
1799 v.o.C. folds - this is irrelevant in the Indies until 1803.
1802 Peace Amiens, Moluccas to be returned to the Netherlands _ 1803-1810 Moluccas again under Dutch Rule.
1810-1817 Second British interregnum of the Moluccas.
situation became untenable in the end. In an effort to obstruct further inroads made by foreign traders after 1770, the supplying of firewood and water to European ships was officially prohibited, but still the number of interlopers in the Moluccas increased. In 1769-1770 a French expedition under Pierre Poivre - the father of the spice culture in the French colonies - entered the Moluccas and acquired clove tree seedlings. A protest was lodged by the Company, but by now its standing was such that its complaints went unheeded.
The order to re.fuse assistance and stores to European foreigners was stressed once again, but even this was no longer effective. Cloves had now been planted at lIe de France and Reunion in 1770 and three years later at Cayenne and the French Caribbean islands.
After the Peace of Paris (1784) the British were granted the right to cruise anywhere in the archipelago; but this, in effect, was only the legalisation of an already existing situation.
When, in January 1795, the French occupied Holland the Stadhouder William V went into exile in England, where his cousin King George II made Kew palace available to him. The British Foreign Minister Grenville persuaded William to sign a number of letters on 7 February 1795, in which the governors of Dutch colonies were ordered lito admit troops and ships directed hence by his Britannic Majesty and to consider them troops and ships of a friendly nation sent to prevent their invasion by French troopsll. This action was, arguably, in line with the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1788, which, in case of war, allowed the ally to occupy the colonies of the other and so keep it out of the hands of a common enemy. Fearing that the colonies would soon corne under the influence and
entered Holland, the ex-stadhouder preferred the protection of England. Britain purported to safeguard the colonies until the Prince of Orange was restored to his rightful position. Whether they intended to keep their promise is difficult to judge, but William obviously believed them.
Walter Lennon, in his Journal of Admiral Rainier's expedition against the Moluccans raises doubts about British intentions at this time when he repeatedly hints broadly at the possibility of the Dutch possessions being retained by
Britain. For example, he speaks of:
Lennon was not the British government, but he was also not just anybody. He was principal engineer and secretary to the expedition and his Journal and opinions are addressed to the Directors of the British East India Company which, if the Dutch possessions were retained by Britain, would hope to H.T.C.Colenbrander. Gedenkstukken der Algemeene Geschiedenis van Nederland van1795-1840. p.179.
3 IIJournal of an Expedition to the Moluccas in 1796, under the Command of Admiral Rainier". Text of this Journal in "Een Engelsche Lezing omtrent de Ver overing van Banda en. Ambon in 1796" by P.J.Heeres in: Bydragen Vol.60 (1908) play an important part therein. The question of British intention in this matter is importance since, after 1817, Dutch claims were made, and denied by the British, that the Moluccan population had been influenced to believe that the British were there to stay and, once Dutch reoccupation was imminent that they (the British) would be back very soon afterwards.
Whatever British intentions were in 1795 and later, it has to be recorded that the "Kew letters" in most Dutch colonies led to an acceptance of British protection without any resistance. The Rainier expedition which we have already mentioned sailed in October 1795 from Madras with orders from England to secure the Moluccas; "for the purpose of restoring these Islands to the ancient Government of Holland, if it again should be restoredi or, in case of their rejecting the offer of our protection, finally to reduce them by force".
Force proved unnecessary since Ambon's Governor Alexander Cornabe, on the strength of theKew letters, handed town and city over without any resistance when Rainier's flotilla appeared in Ambon Bay on 17 February 1796. Not a shot was fired from the impregnable (in Dutch opinion) walls of Fort Victoria.
The local Ambonese were amazed and shocked at this sudden change of government without any Dutch resistance.
The townspeople fled, leaving houses and shops unattended.
4 Lennon records that this day was the 173rd anniversary of the infamous "Ambon Massacre" of 1623. He claims magnanimously "not withstanding the recollection of former cruelties exercised on our countrymen, now by the return of the date made fresh in every person's mind, t~ere was now shewn the slightest tendency towards taking vengeance for that event." Lennon's Journal, p.277.
This led to plunder by both Dutch and British troops of private and also of government property, but the British authorities put a quick stop to that. Native troops deserted, taking their arms with them, to the dismay of the British.
The European troops, most of whom were Poles or Germans, including a company of Wiirttembergers (part of a regiment of mercenaries supplied by the Duke of Wiirttemberg) had no objection to soldiering under the British flag and took the oath of fealty. Most of the Rajas, Pattis and Orang Kayas did the same thing. Most of the Dutch officials retained their positions; they actually were most essential since very few of the British understood either Dutch or Malay. In the early days of British rule, therefore, government changed but little and the clove monopoly remained in force, even though clove plantations had by now been established outside the archipelago. But prices were increased, a move which the parsimonious Dutch officials could have afforded earlier, as is clear from Daendels' calculations.