Expedition

The "Tweede Schipvaart" (Second Expedition) to Asia

1598 - 1600

Background

Before the creation of the Dutc East India Company (VOC), the 1590s saw the creation of many independent trading companies that sought to participate in Asian trade. The so-called 'Eerste Schipvaart' (First Expedition) organized by the Amsterdam ‘Compagnie van Verre’, despite its meager commercial results, had shown the promise of trade in Southeast Asia. This prompted one of the larger companies, the newly created ‘Oude Compagnie’ to launch an expedition of 8 ships to the region.

The expedition

The expedition launched on 1 May 1598 under the command of Jacob Cornelisz. van Neck. The objective of the expedition was to find opportunities to participate in the spice trade on Java, primarily Bantam, and islands in the east of present-day Indonesia: Ambon, Ternate and Banda. The Tweede Schipvaart was the first Dutch attempt to find direct access to the Moluccan spice trade. The spices produced in these regions, specifically, cloves, nutmeg and mace, were highly coveted on the European market. For a considerable time, Portugal had traded on these islands and the Dutch trading companies wanted to carve out a share of the local market for themselves. After passing the North African coast and then sailing with the prevailing winds in the direction of Brazil, the expedition sailed past the Cape of Good Hope and into the Indian Ocean. Here it briefly stopped at what it named the island of Mauritius – after stadholder Maurits of Orange. This island was home to the flightless dodo. The expedition then sailed on, passed to the west of the island of Sumatra and then arrived at the Bantam sultanate on. Not all ships arrived at the same time, but all eventually found their way to this destination. Four ships remained at Bantam to trade, while four others were sent on to the Moluccas.

NB The route as shown on the map is strongly simplified. The multiple occasions where the ships split up and rejoined are too complicated to present a complete and detailed overview.

Madagascar and Mauritius

20°15' S 52°20' E

After passing the Cape of Good Hope in late August 1598, the ships of the Tweede Schipvaart (Second Expedition) were driven apart by poor weather conditions. A smaller group of three ships found each other again and sailed from Madagascar to Bantam. A larger group of five ships also regrouped around Madagascar and sailed from there to Java, passing by an island they named Mauritius, after the stadholder and flagship of the expedition. The island proved a useful place to restock on supplies and was home to the flightless bird we now know as the dodo. In early October the ships continued their journey on to Java.

Sources and literature

Keuning, De tweede schipvaart der Nederlanders naar Oost-Indië̈ onder Jacob Cornelisz. van Neck en Wybrant Warwijck, 1598-1600 : journalen, documenten en andere bescheiden (1938-1951)

Java

6°02' S 106°16' E

In November and December 1598 the ships of the Tweede Schipvaart (Second Expedition) arrived in the port of Banten, the capital and namesake of the sultanate. Here four ships would remain while expedition leaders sought to obtain pepper and other products and establish diplomatic ties with the sultan. Four ships continued east to trade for spices and make valuable contacts in the Moluccas.

Sources and literature

Keuning, De tweede schipvaart der Nederlanders naar Oost-Indië̈ onder Jacob Cornelisz. van Neck en Wybrant Warwijck, 1598-1600 : journalen, documenten en andere bescheiden (1938-1951)

Ambon

3°68' S 128°17' E

When the ships of the Tweede Schipvaart (Second Expedition) arrived in Ambon in early 1599, the Portuguese had had a presence there, for decades. They had the southern half of the island under political control, had built various fortifications, but were in conflict with Hitu, a state on the northern side of the island. After arriving in Ambon in February 1599, the Gelderland and Zeeland soon continued onwards to the Banda islands, while the Amsterdam and the Utrecht stayed on Ambon until early May. The established friendly relations with Hitu, but had little commercial success. They subsequently set sail for Ternate.

Sources and literature

Keuning, De tweede schipvaart der Nederlanders naar Oost-Indië̈ onder Jacob Cornelisz. van Neck en Wybrant Warwijck, 1598-1600 : journalen, documenten en andere bescheiden (1938-1951)

Banda Islands

4°53' S 129°90' E

Under the command of Jacob van Heemskerck the Gelderland and Zeeland sailed to the Banda islands, where they spent several months from March to July 1599. The objective was to trade to obtain cloves and nutmeg. After a difficult start, the Dutch managed to acquire sizable stocks of the products by establishing good contacts on Banda Neira, and they left some personnel to man a lodge there. In early July the ships commenced their return to Ambon.

Sources and literature

Keuning, De tweede schipvaart der Nederlanders naar Oost-Indië̈ onder Jacob Cornelisz. van Neck en Wybrant Warwijck, 1598-1600 : journalen, documenten en andere bescheiden (1938-1951)

Ternate

0°77' N 127°38' E

From late May to early August 1599 the Utrecht and Amsterdam, under the command of Wybrand van Warwyck, remained in Ternate, where the Dutch traded to obtain cloves and established ties with the local sultan Saidi Berkat. They also obtained permission to leave behind a small crew of men with goods to trade until the next Dutch expedition would visit Ternate.

Sources and literature

Keuning, De tweede schipvaart der Nederlanders naar Oost-Indië̈ onder Jacob Cornelisz. van Neck en Wybrant Warwijck, 1598-1600 : journalen, documenten en andere bescheiden (1938-1951)

Sulawesi

5°78' S 121°71' E

The four ships of the Tweede Schipvaart (Second Expedition) which in 1599 were sent to the Moluccas under Wybrand van Warwyck and Jacob van Heemskerck sailed past the island of Sulawesi several times: on the way to the Moluccas, on the return journey from Ternate (Van Warwyck) and from Banda (Van Heemskerck). While the latter's journey went smoothly, Van Warwyck encountered major problems on the return voyage, as navigating the waters east of Sulawesi proved difficult due to a combination of adverse winds and currents and a lack of reliable maps. None of the ships went ashore at Sulawesi, but many coastline profiles were drawn in the region, to inform future expeditions.

Other images

Sources and literature

Keuning, De tweede schipvaart der Nederlanders naar Oost-Indië̈ onder Jacob Cornelisz. van Neck en Wybrant Warwijck, 1598-1600 : journalen, documenten en andere bescheiden (1938-1951)