Commanders of Dutch East India Ships in the Eighteenth Century

Commanders of Dutch East India Ships in the Eighteenth Century

Jaap R. Bruijn


Boydell Press



Provides a detailed picture of the lives of the commanders and those around them, both at home and at sea.
'An original and evocative window onto the lives of men who bridged the two worlds of eighteenth century Europe and the Far East.' Professor Nicholas Rodger.

This book represents a major contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the East Indian maritime world of the European trading companies. The Dutch East India Company, which ruled large and important parts of what is now Indonesia, and which controlled the highly lucrative trade from the Dutch East Indies to Europe, much of it a monopoly trade in pepper and other spices, was in this period larger and better established than its British counterpart. The book reconstructs and explores the careers of the highly important and influential commanders of the Dutch East Indiamen, the ships which plied the trade routes between the East Indies and the Netherlands. It covers the company's system of examinations, how mates and masters acquired their navigational knowledge, how they lived their lives at sea and on land, and how, making use of the enormous opportunities for private trade, they were able to make substantial fortunes and climb the social ladder. The book contains a wealth of material on the social history of the commanders and those around them, both at home and at sea.

JAAP R. BRUIJN is Professor Emeritus of Maritime History at Leiden University. He is one of the leading maritime historians in the Netherlands.


June 2011
36 black and white illustrations
350 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843836223
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037030, BUS023000, HIS003000
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Table of Contents

Commanders from Outside the Six Chamber Cities
Naval Officers Employed by the Company
Appointment as Commander
Examinations, Ranks and Training
Normal Income
Private Income
On Board
Their Ships
Striking Differences in Personalities
Professionals in a Conservative Company
The English East India Company and Other Companies: Dutch Commanders in a Broader Perspective
The Commander in Retrospect


Offers a holistic picture of the special individuals who commanded the ships of the VOC, the world they inhabited and the company they worked for. MARINER'S MIRROR

(A) detailed, focused and comprehensive work. ... It is an effective and informative group biography of the eighteenth-century VOC commanders, replete with insights into the maritime history of key towns dominated by the presence of the VOC, and indeed into the history of the company and its activities. ANNUAL BULLETIN OF HISTORICAL LITERATURE

Recommended reading for maritime, social, and economic historians of the early modern period. THE HISTORIAN

A very informative book. . Nobody else could have provided us with such a well-written and significant account of this subject, which is so essential to both Dutch and international maritime history. NORTHERN MARINER


A noteworthy book that tells complex and illuminating stories. NAUTICAL RESEARCH JOURNAL

A welcome addition to the existing literature for those who have a general or a scholarly interest in the VOC. ITINERARIO

Represents a major contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the world of the European East India trading companies, whose wrecked ships figured so frequently in the early years of underwater archaeology. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NAUTICAL ARCHAEOLOGY

This is an important work that is an essential read for anyone interested in the history of the VOC at its zenith. Those who venture to do so will find a fascinating account of what it was like to be a commander in the Dutch East India Company. PIRATES AND PRIVATEERS