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Batavia's graveyard : [the true story of the mad heretic who led history's bloodiest mutiny]
2002
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Summary
"It was the autumn of 1628, and the Batavia, the Dutch East India Company's flagship, was loaded with a king's ransom in gold, silver, and gems for her maiden voyage to Java. The Batavia was the pride of the Company's fleet, a tangible symbol of the world's richest and most powerful commercial monopoly. She set sail with great fanfare, but the Batavia and her gold would never reach Java, for the Company had also sent along a new employee, Jeronimus Corneliszoon, a bankrupt and disgraced man who possessed disarming charisma and dangerously heretical ideas." "With the help of a few disgruntled sailors, Jeronimus soon sparked a mutiny that seemed certain to succeed - but for one unplanned event. In the dark morning hours of June 3, the Batavia smashed through a coral reef and ran aground on a small chain of islands near Australia. The commander of the ship and the skipper evaded the mutineers by escaping in a tiny lifeboat and setting a course for Java - some 1,800 miles north - to summon help. Nearly all of the passengers survived the wreck and found themselves trapped on a bleak coral island without water, food, or shelter. Leaderless, unarmed, and unaware of Jeronimus's treachery, they were at the mercy of the mutineers." "Jeronimus took control almost immediately, preaching his own twisted version of heresy he'd learned in Holland's secret Anabaptist societies. More than 100 people died at his command in the months that followed. Before long, an all-out war erupted between the mutineers and a small group of soldiers led by Wiebbe Hayes, the one man brave enough to challenge Jeronimus's band of butchers." "Unluckily for the mutineers, the Batavia's commander had raised the alarm in Java, and at the height of the violence the Company's gunboats sailed over the horizon. Jeronimus and his mutineers would meet an end almost as gruesome as that of the innocents whose blood had run on the small island they called Batavia's Graveyard."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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The wreck of the Dutch East India Company's Batavia in 1629 still exerts a powerfully lurid lure across the centuries. The VOC (the fabled firm's acronym) could count on losing a tenth of the ships and two-thirds of the people it sent annually to Java. So what accounts for the Batavia's infamy? On one hand, it is a simple, brutal story of a mutiny and massacre; on the other, it's an appallingly strange case of one man's power of manipulation. VOC official Jeronimus Corneliszoon had no moral inhibitions against killing, and that horrified Calvinist Netherlanders when an account of his reign of terror reached home. Historian Dash succinctly backgrounds Jeronimus' apparent theological beliefs, then compellingly narrates Batavia's voyage, which ended when Batavia ran aground on bone-dry islets off modern Australia. The disaster also suspended, momentarily, Jeronimus' plotting. The top VOC official onboard, Francisco Pelseart, escaped by sailing to Java in an open boat but returned to rescue the treasure (always more important to the VOC than people), and he narrowly avoided being overpowered by the mutineers. Mining Pelseart's records of his ensuing investigation and punishments, Dash astutely incorporates material on ships, navigation, law, theology, and psychology. An extraordinarily riveting narrative. --Gilbert Taylor
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Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Map: The United Provinces c. 1628p. x
Map: Route of the Bataviap. xi
Map: Houtman's Abrolhosp. xii
Prologue: Morning Reefp. 1
1.The Hereticp. 15
2.Gentlemen XVIIp. 39
3.The Tavern of the Oceanp. 59
4.Terra Australis Incognitap. 87
5.The Tigerp. 107
6.Longboatp. 147
7."Who Wants to Be Stabbed to Death?"p. 165
8.Condemnedp. 187
9."To Be Broken on the Wheel"p. 205
Epilogue: On the Shores of the Great South-Landp. 235
Notesp. 259
Bibliographyp. 359
Dutch Pronunciation Guidep. 369
Acknowledgmentsp. 371
Indexp. 373
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