Wantrouw, fort (Manipa)

Initially ‘Barricade Wantrouw’ (meaning distrust in Dutch) at Tumalehu village on Manipa island would have been a small wooden stronghold. In 1641 a small stone fortification was built where the deputy merchant Johan Comens was stationed. His main duty was to collect and store the cloves. In 1644 the defenses where upgraded under governor Gerard Demmer (1642–1647) when a 13 meter high blockhouse was built here. Five years later a one and a half meter high stone wall surrounding the blockhouse was added. The VOC made sure no more cloves where produced than needed for their trade and destroyed clove trees to control their monopoly position. Needless to say this harmed relations with the local population, which started a rebellion in march 1651. During the uprising the local peopled succeeded in taking over the redoubt and killed and destroyed everyone and everything. In June governor Arnold de Vlaming van Outshoorn arrived in June with 5 ships and 370 soldiers. While the local people fled to the mountain, he had all villages and plantations on Manipa Island destroyed. Without food many of the people that had fled died of hunger. Despite the island was no longer of big importance to the VOC, a new wooden fort was erected west of Tumalehu, which would eventually again be built-up in stone. Attacks staged against the few VOC soldiers guarding the post remained common, over the years many people lost their lives. February 17, 1674. a fierce earthquake caused great damage to the fort, destroying also the moat and the many houses around the fort. In 1768 the fort was reported to be in a very bad state of repair and in 1785 it even partly collapsed. Under Governor Bernardus van Pleuren (1775–1785) the blockhouse was rebuilt once more and new ramparts were built following the design of Captain Gabriel Nicolaas van Guericke. The remains of this can still be seen today. The main blockhouse structure and the entrance gate which was part of the surrounding walls are overgrown, but still largely intact. On the inside of the main gate, above the arch, a carving of a male figure in traditional European clothes flanked by stylized flowers is still visible.


Sources and literature

anoniem/anonymous, Landmonsterrollen (1691-1790)

Pusat Dokumentasi Arsitektur, Inventory and identification of forts in Indonesia (2010)

Wall, V.I. van de, De Nederlandsche oudheden in de Molukken (1928)