Life in the time of …
the Amboyna Massacre of 1623
By Yvette Bostic
|The Dutch and English enclaves at Amboyna (top) and Banda-Neira (bottom). 1655 engraving — Wikipedia.|
In my quest for a suitable timeline for my novella, Light’s Dawn, I stumbled upon the Amboyna Massacre of 1623. I’d never heard of it, but was immediately drawn in by the tale.
The Ambon Island (now known as Maluku, Indonesia) was the setting for a brutal rivalry between the East India Trade Company of England and the Dutch Republic in the spice trade.
In 1605, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) conquered the Portuguese fortress of Victoria at Amboyna, thus taking over the trading interests as well. This did not set well with the other European traders as they feared the Dutch would monopolize trade in the area. Tensions increased with each passing year until 1619, when King James I and the Netherlands States General signed the Treaty of Defence in London creating cooperation in the East Indies. Despite the treaty, relations between the companies remained unsettled, with numerous grievances and accusations of treaty breaches.
Finally, at the end of the year 1622, the Dutch suspected the Sultan of Ternate of switching allegiances to the Spanish. They accused the English traders at Amboyna of swaying the Sultan’s allegiance.
In February of 1623, the Dutch apprehended a ronin spy within the fortress who admitted under torture that they intended to assassinate the Dutch governor at Victoria. The spy also implicated the English in the conspiracy. Subsequently, the Dutch imprisoned and questioned many of the English, Portuguese and Japanese and ultimately executed twenty prisoners. According to the Dutch trial records, most suspects confirmed their guilt and were charged with treason. Twenty men were executed, while four Englishman and two Japanese were pardoned and allowed to leave.
But the affair was not settled. The men who were pardoned took their plea to England, claiming severe torture and false accusations. The two sides agreed to an investigation which led to the trial of the court judges at Amboyna. The draft-verdict of acquittal was rejected by King Charles, but the accused judges were still released from house arrest.
In 1654, the VOC paid reparations to the heirs and the East India Trade Company, but the hostilities still did not end. The English and Dutch entered the first Anglo-Dutch war in 1652, followed by the second and third Anglo-Dutch wars.
It’s difficult to know the truth of the story as both sides claim innocence. But the event has been reported to be the catalyst of many disagreements and the spark that lit the flame of the first Anglo-Dutch war.
The first few chapters of Light’s Dawn guide us through Mikel’s escape from Ambon Island. I attempted to stay true to historical events, but mine is a story of demons and the powerful group of gifted men and women fated to stop them. It is my hope that history buffs embrace the nonsensical and fantasy lovers appreciate the history.
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=798763
A Novella (Light in the Darkness)
Mikel, a young merchant with the East India Trading Company, always considered fortune to be his mistress...until the Amboyan Massacre. The Dutch spare his life, but he’s forced into the deep jungles of South America to act as bait for a hidden menace picking off their scouts one by one. It works all too well: a demonic horde, drawn into the open, annihilates the entire Dutch battalion, leaving Mikel running for his life.
As he flees from the grisly battlefield, he falls in with the only other survivor of the demon attack, a Portuguese army scout named Raphael. Together, they scramble to escape the dangers of an impenetrable jungle, the pursuing demons, and their masters, a shadowy group of cultists intent on destroying the world.
Exhausted and disoriented, Mikel and Raphael are drawn to a mysterious stranger. But his gifts come with a choice: accept their destiny to fight against the darkness or allow it to consume humanity.
Light's Dawn is a stand-alone prequel to the Light in the Darkness historical fantasy series.
Yvette lives in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. During the day she has a full-time career, but when she gets home and kicks off her shoes she becomes absorbed in her next novel. She enjoys the company of her ever-patient husband who believes she's lost in her computer, and three dogs who are the only ones who can drag her away from writing-mostly because she has no desire to clean up their mess.