Superb map of the East Indies by Jodocus Hondius, showing the latest cartographic knowledge following the revelations contained in Linschoten’s Itinerario 1595, which revealed previously secret Portuguese information of the East Indies. The map’s decorative features include two ornate strapwork medallions, sea monsters, an ornamental scale of distances, a Chinese junk and a galleon. In 1604, Hondius bought the plates of Mercator’s atlas and to compete against Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, added thirty-seven new maps of his own, including two of Southeast Asia.
Following Houtman’s voyage to the Spice Islands in 1595, there were numerous further Dutch voyages to the Indies and the fierce competition of the spice trade led to infighting amongst Dutch merchants. The States-General resolved the situation in 1602 by creating the Dutch East India Company (VOC), giving it a monopoly over trade in the East for twenty-one years and crucially, the right to govern autonomously. The VOC charter not only set the conditions on which the monopoly was given but it also emphasised the ongoing importance of trade to the Dutch economy: ‘We let it be known that as the prosperity of the United Netherlands is principally a result of our shipping trade and commerce that has undergone praiseworthy increases from time to time…east of the Cape of Good Hope and in and beyond the Straits of Magellan, representatives of the aforementioned Company shall be authorised to enter into commitments and enter into contracts with princes and rulers in the name of the States General of the United Netherlands or the country’s Government in order to build fortifications and strongholds. They may appoint governors, keep armed forces, install Judicial officers and officers for other essential services so to keep the establishments in good order, as well as jointly ensure enforcement of the law and justice, all combined so as to promote trade.’
The effectiveness of the States-General’s policy for VOC trade quickly resulted in the loss of Portuguese control over the spice trade in the Moluccas which was further weaken by the numerous attacks on Portuguese bases in India, Sri Lanka, Malacca and Macau.
Published in Atlas sive Cosmographicae Meditationes de fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura.
Clancy p.33, ill. map 2.3, Parry p.98, ill. pl.4.11, Perry p.29, ill.pp.28-29, Quirindo p.102, Suarez (A) p.95, ill. Fig.111 pp.194-195, Reynders 6.