Allegory concerning the murder of the British at AmbonBeheading of Moluccan 'mutineers' in Fort Victoria on Ambon in 1653Bird's eye view map of AmboinaBird's eye view map of AmboinaBird's eye view map of Victoria Castle at AmbonBird's eye view of AmbonBird's eye view of Fort Victoria, AmbonBird's eye view of the fort of AmbonBird's eye view of the island of AmbonBird's eye view of Victoria Castle, AmbonBird's-eye map of the island of AmbonBuilding designs for guard towers at AmbonDesign for fortifications at AmboinaFour perspectives of buildings in Ambon cityFour views of buildings in Ambon CityFour views of buildings in Ambon CityGovernor's house at AmboinaHouse in Ambon cityInterior of a Protestant church in the city of AmbonLeft hand portion of a view of AmboinaMap of AmboinaMap of AmboinaMap of Amboina and South CeramMap of Amboina castle, expedition A. GijselsMap of AmbonMap of Ambon and environsMap of Ambon and environsMap of Ambon and environsMap of AsiaMap of AsiaMap of Boero, Ambon and part of CeramMap of Celebes, the Moluccas and the PhilippinesMap of Ceram, Ambon and the Banda islandsMap of Ceram, Boura, Amboina and adjacent islandsMap of East IndiesMap of Groot Ceram, that is, the MoluccasMap of Halmahera, Seram and Nove GuineaMap of India to JapanMap of IndonesiaMap of Indonesia and AustraliaMap of Indonesia and the PhilippinesMap of the Ambon districtMap of the bay of AmbonMap of the castle at AmboinaMap of the city and the castle of AmboinaMap of the coasts of New Guinea and AustraliaMap of the Indian OceanMap of the Indies archipelagoMap of the island of AmboinaMap of the island of AmbonMap of the island of AmbonMap of the island of AmbonMap of the island of AmbonMap of the island of AmbonMap of the island of AmbonMap of the island of CeramMap of the islands of Bouro, Ceram, Terra Alta and DaminaMap of the MoluccasMap of the MoluccasMap of the north coast of New GuineaMap of the Pacific OceanMap of the Pacific Ocean, from Malacca to JapanMap of the southeastern part of the Banda islandsMap of the southern part of Celebes, Ceram and TimorMap of the warehouses at AmboinaMap of Victoria Castle at AmbonMap of Victoria Castle at AmbonMap of Victoria Castle at AmbonMap showing several Moluccan islands and a view of SeramRendition of the islands of Solor, Ambon, Gunung Api and Banda NeiraRight hand portion of a view of AmboinaRight portion of a view on TidoreSea gate of Fort Victoria in Ambon cityThe 'old hospital or council hall' at AmbonThe bay at AmboinaThe Dutch in talks with the council of Ambonese peopleThe new Hollandsche church at AmbonThe passar, or market, at AmbonThe Passe redoubt at AmboinaThree views of buildings on AmbonVictoria Castle at Ambon, seen from the seaView of AmboinaView of AmboinaView of Amboina and maps of the forts of Hila, Larike and SeytView of Amboina, Moluccas, expedition A. GijselsView of AmbonView of AmbonView of Ambon and Banda NeiraView of Ambon cityView of Batavia and several fortsView of Fort Victoria on AmbonView of fort Victoria on Ambon and the hinterlandView of the bay of AmbonView of the bay of Ambon, with mountains in the backgroundView of the castle at Amboina, seen from the sea sideView of the castle of Amboina, seen from the seaView of the city of AmboinaView of the city of AmbonViews of Ambon and the islands of Banda and Gunung Api
In 1605 the VOC fleet, commanded by Admiral Steven Van der Hagen, arrived in the Bay of Ambon. The Company took the Portuguese Castle Victoria, with its garrison of 600 men, without bloodshed. The conquest was achieved so easily that it was later described as a miracle. The first governor of Ambon was Frederik de Houtman, who resided there from 1605 to 1611.
Ambon quickly expanded to become a major city. By 1683 it boasted a European population of 770, most of them soldiers. Besides the governor, there were 33 officials concerned with the trade in cloves, mace and nutmeg. These spices were exported to Holland through Batavia. Whenever there was a glut, surplus products were sold in India and Persia.
The islands administered from Ambon had their own fleet of rowing vessels called cora-coras. Once a year the governor would order all the cora-coras to assemble for a tour of inspection through his territory. This illustration shows one such voyage by the governor; his ship is flying the Dutch flag.
The VOC had but one objective in running Ambon; to secure a monopoly of the clove trade. Innumerable agreements were signed with local rulers, with the aim of ensuring that all the cloves went to the VOC alone. The local population could have sold their products for better prices to foreign traders; but when they did so the Company punished the villages by burning their harvest.
The task of the governor in Ambon was a difficult one: he had to protect the group of islands falling under Ambon's jurisdiction and to ensure the smooth running of the valuable spice trade. Besides the countless wars with the English, Spanish and French, who also had their sights set on these fertile islands, the Company had to contend with the local Islamic and Christian rulers. National courts were set up for both religions, at which the governor and councillors pronounced judgement together with the rulers, once a fortnight.
Prior to the founding of Batavia in 1619, the VOC's governor-generals were more or less peripatetic. They took up residence alternately in Fort Victoria on Ambon and in Fort Oranje on Ternate. After this period, Ambon became a 'gouvernement'.