Bantam was the Company's first base in Asia. After relations with the local rulers worsened, the Company relocated to neighbouring Jacatra, a vassal state of Bantam. The ensuing war was won by the VOC. In 1619, Governor-General Jan Pieterszoon Coen built the new city of Batavia on the ruins of Jacatra. This coastal town became the seat of the East Indies Council, the Company's administrative centre in Asia. The castle at Batavia was the first building visible from the sea. The governor-general and his councillors lived in this coastal fortress together with workers and a garrison of 1200 men. Batavia was the vibrant centre of the VOC's business in Asia; here the Company kept the accounts for all its trading bases and the East Indies Council held its meetings. Official receptions were also held at the castle. Batavia was steeped in European culture, with its small bridges over canals and warehouses along the waterfront. It also boasted numerous European institutions, such as orphanages, churches and hospitals. By 1700 the town had grown enormously: it had 70,000 inhabitants, of whom only 6,000 were of non-Asian origin. Batavia took over Bantam's function as a trading centre in the early 17th century. It became the largest port in Java, and a storage depot for goods from all over Asia. It was also the distribution centre for the money and goods coming out of Europe. Products from the Company's various trading bases were transported to Batavia, and from there they were shipped to Holland. Batavia also played an important role in the trade between the Asian countries. The castle at Batavia was where Company officials met to discuss trade and administrative affairs. It was here that the decisions were made with regard to what the factories and trading posts in Asia needed from the home country, and it was here that the annual reports
the General Missives
were written. VOC trading policies for officials at trading bases was also decided in Batavia. The administrators of this enormous trading network were accountable only to the 'Heeren XVII'. Supreme authority in the VOC in Asia was held by the East Indies Council which was chaired by the Governor General and based in Batavia. The Council served as the link between the different trading bases and the mother country.