Brief History
Despite its relatively short-lived existence, the English East India Company's trading factory at Bantam would prove to be fundamental in developing Britain's relationship to Asia and its European competitor empires. It represented the English muscling in on the power of the Portugese and more importantly the dominant Dutch in the Spice Islands trade. Bantam provided a trading hub that would allow teas from China, spices from the Philippines and pepper from the Indies to all be coordinated for shipping back to the lucrative European markets.

Bantam was always a product of the ferocious commercial rivalry between the Dutch and English and Portugese which frequently spilled into outright warfare. The English set themselves up in Bantam at the end of 1602 - knowing that the Dutch were already well placed throughout the region. They competed for goods to be transported back to Europe. In 1620, the Dutch and English actually allied together to take on the Portugese (and Spanish). Part of this agreement was that the English would transfer their trading post from Bantam to Batavia.

This period of cooperation was to proove shortlived however as the English failed to keep up with their financial obligations and both sides found it difficult to rein in their local operatives. Indicative of these difficulties was the rather bizarre and bloody outrage at Amboina. This was when the Dutch Governor Herman van Speult tortured and executed The English East India Representative of Amboina, nine other Company men and nine Japanese samurai mercenaries! He had accused them of plotting to overthrow the Dutch fort there. Whether they were guilty or innocent, their treatment and penalty was enough to cause outrage back in Europe and soured Anglo-Dutch relations for generations. Besides, it was enough excuse for the East India Company to move forcefully back to their fort at Bantam in 1628.

The Dutch attempted to close off the Spice Islands to the English, but the vastness of the archipelego and the daring of the seamen made it difficult for any blockade to be one hundred percent effective.

A series of Seventeenth Century wars between the English and the Dutch did not help the trading post maintain its commercial focus fully. However, disaster for the colony finally came in 1682 when the local Sultan allied with the Dutch to force the English out of their trading post. Ironically, this expulsion came just six years before the Dutch King William took control of the English throne in 1688. In fact, the English would rapidly recover their position in the spice trade but from different trading posts to Bantam.

East India Company Flag
bantam Map
Map of Bantam
Bantam Images
Administrators of Bantam
1603 - 1682
Links about Bantam
The Blessing
This site recounts the story of the East India Company ship from 1641 to 1653 as it plied the Spice Routes.
Suggested Reading
Nathaniel's Nutmeg
by Giles Milton

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