Fredrik Hendrik, fort (Solor)

The precious and aromatic sandalwood, which grew only on Timor and Solor , was sold on markets in China. The Portuguese Dominican friars were the first Europeans who traded with these islands. Around 1557 they settled in Lahayong on Solor and started with missionary work. In 1561 they build a stockade as temporary protection against slave traders from Makassar and in 1566 a stone fort.

In 1613 the Dutch captain Apollonius Schot conquered the Portuguese fort after a long siege. The thousand people inside, most woman and children got a safe conduct to Malacca. Adriaen van der Velde became the first commander of the fort, which was called Fort Henricus. The trade of sandalwood was quite booming. However in 1615 the sandalwood trade was no longer deemed lucrative and the Council of the Indies in Batavia decided to abandon and demolish Fort Henricus. The trade should be conducted by private traders from now on. In 1616 the Portuguese under padre Joăo das Chagas reoccupied the ruined fort, but they left Solor soon afterwards and went to Timor.

Governor General Jan Pietersz. Coen realized the VOC had made a mistake to abandon Solor. He sent merchant Crijn Van Raemburch to the island in 1618 to build a new redoubt. In 1620 the redoubt, which was square with four corners, housed 23 European soldiers and 80 Solor inhabitants, members of the family of important indigenous leader Kitchil Protavi, and 17 Chinese.

The sandelwood trade came to a standstill because of political unrest in China and was no longer profitable.
In 1628 Batavia ordered that fort Henricus should be dismantled and blown up to prevent that the Portuguese should use the buildings. In the future the trade with Timor should be done from the ships. In 1633 the Portuguese occupied the ruined fort, made some repairs and left a garrison of 25 men. In 1623 chief merchant Jan Tombergen arrived with a fleet of the VOC and chased the Portuguese from the fort. The Dutch departed and the fort was empty again.

Governor General Cornelis van der Lijn decided in 1645 to once again station soldiers in the fort. The 34 man should prevent a Portuguese occupation. Three years later an earthquake demolished a part of the fort.

In 1653 the VOC built fort Concordia in Kupang on Timor. The high costs of having two forts in the same area were not compensated by the revenues of the trade. In 1657 Fort Henricus was abandoned. The widow of Kitchil Protavi, Injay Chili, wrote a letter to Governor General Joan Maetsuyker to send arms and ammunition to defend het people against the Portuguese.

In 1667 the ruined fort was occupied again for political reasons. Two man and several canons were send to Solor. This minimal occupation manned Fort Henricus until 1760. In 1982 an earthquake destroyed the main part of the fort. The site is filled with houses and corn fields.


Sources and literature

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

Roever, A. de, De jacht op sandelhout: de VOC en de tweedeling van Timor in de zeventiende eeuw