Dutch colonies & trading posts

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Dutch colonies & trading posts

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des. 8, 2006, 4:21pm

I'm reading The Island at the Center of the World.

Can anyone recommend a good book that goes into detail about the 17th century Dutch colonies/trading posts around the world?

des. 8, 2006, 5:24pm

Great book, but sorry, I have no other recommendations.

Editat: des. 8, 2006, 5:42pm

I recently read Simon Winchester's Krakatoa, which includes an overview of the Dutch in Indonesia prior to focusing in on the region in the late 19th century -- it is easily readable and also has a bibliography that may give you some more ideas, both on a more academic front or on the same more popular front. There are several really excellent books on Indonesia by Clifford Geertz, but they tend not to focus on the Dutch (though they can't avoid talking about them) and they tend to be more focused on 19th and 20th century concerns.

For more on New Amsterdam, you may want to look at books by Charles Gehring or Janny Venema. Gehring, in particular, has translated much of the source material for the New Netherlands colony, and that's just fun to poke around.

des. 8, 2006, 7:05pm


I'm looking for something that will include the whole picture; not just Indonesia, but Brazil, etc.

I'd love to poke around the Gehring translations, but they seem to be a bit out of my price range. (sigh)

Do you recommend Beverwijck: A Dutch Village on the American Frontier, 1652-1664? That looks tempting.

How about From New Amsterdam to New York: The Founding of New York by the Dutch in July 1625?
The reviews I saw were very mixed. Anything not covered as well in the Shorto book?

Btw, I'm closing in on finishing Shorto's book, and am starting to wonder if I imagined that there was a place called Esopus in between New Amsterdam & Fort Orange. Not even a mention?

des. 9, 2006, 6:38pm

myshelves, I don't remember whether Esopus was mentioned in The Island at the Center of the World, but there is now a town in Ulster County called Esopus and an Esopus Creek in the Catskills that flows into the Hudson near present-day Kingston NY, which is between New Amsterdam and Fort Orange. Both are named after the Esopus tribe.

des. 9, 2006, 7:02pm

Hi rebeccanyc,

Finished the book, and no mention of Esopus, or Wildwyck, or Kingston. On behalf of my ancestors who thought New Amsterdam was a nice place to visit, but settled in Ulster Co., I take umbrage. :-) After all, Stuyvesant was popping up to make them build a stockade, and to negotiate with the Esopus tribe. And the "Esopus Mutiny" against the British garrison should rate a mention.

For anyone interested in the "middle" settlement I can recommend The Early History of Kingston.

Mailman just delivered a copy of Batavia's Graveyard. Looks fascinating.

Editat: des. 9, 2006, 7:11pm

Myshelves: I'm looking for something that will include the whole picture; not just Indonesia, but Brazil, etc.

When you find it, let us know - it's an interesting topic.

This is not quite what you're looking for, but here's a book that brushes on it: Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History.

The book is actually broader in scope than the title might indicate - it talks about the global rivalry between the contending English and Dutch empires - and how English setbacks in the Spice Islands led directly to their wresting Neuw Amsterdam from the Dutch.

Edited to add:

OK - I can't vouch for this book personally,
but searching around, this looks close to the mark: The Dutch seaborne empire, 1600-1800

des. 9, 2006, 8:00pm

Thanks, Bob! I'll look into those.

des. 10, 2006, 9:23am

You can get "A Beautiful and Fruitful Place" online, which is a collection of essays on New Netherland including a number of essays on Dutch trading:


Here is the link to the essays specifically about trade:


des. 10, 2006, 9:26am

myshelves, sounds like I was telling you things you already knew!

des. 10, 2006, 1:47pm


"Doing" the family tree is a great excuse to buy history books. :-) I'm always realizing how much I don't know, and having to order a few more books.

Btw, I agree with you that it is a great book, but I do have a bone to pick with Shorto. He gives a mild disclaimer late in the book, but for the most part he portrays the natives of NA as spending their time getting drunk, fighting, and fornicating. (As I recall, a TV documentary took a similar line. Was it based upon the book?) That's what you'd expect to find when you are looking at official records, for Pete's sake! People weren't hailed into court for good behavior.

des. 10, 2006, 1:57pm


Thanks very much for those URLs! I'll probably want to read all of the essays.

Editat: des. 18, 2006, 1:29pm

I do remember The Dutch Seaborne Empire as being worthwhile back in the day and very readable. After that look at the writings of Jonathan Israel.

des. 18, 2006, 4:30pm

Thanks. I'm getting tempted by The Dutch Seaborne Empire. I've hesitated because it covers almost a century & a half beyond the period in which I'm interested. (Not that that wouldn't be interesting as well.)

Btw, I finished Batavia's Graveyard. Quite a story. I found it difficult to follow, as the author kept stopping to fill in background, or using the "meanwhile back at the ranch" technique. By the time he'd get back to the mutiny, I'd have lost track of which Jan was which. :) And I'd like to get my hands on whoever came up with
the system for Notes used in the book! Worst I've encountered.

Editat: març 9, 2008, 2:50pm

Jonathan Israel's Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740 gives a lot of what you are looking for. I think you'll find all the Dutch colonies. And it has in my (Dutch) copy more than 30 pages of bibliography. For Asia and Africa see also: http://www.tanap.net/

març 9, 2008, 3:29pm

A year and more upthread at #4, myshelves asked

Do you recommend Beverwijck: A Dutch Village on the American Frontier, 1652-1664? That looks tempting.

I finally got around to reading this over the winter, mostly because I work in Beverwijck (and live in Rensselaerwijck...). (Come to think of it, Charles Gehring and Janny Venema work in the next building over from my office.)

The book is Janny Venema's PhD thesis, which means that's it's at a much deeper level of detail than anyone actually needs. So it wouldn't be a first choice on the broader topic of the Dutch empire, but it's remarkable for its depth - it's fairly astounding just how deep the Dutch records go.

One interesting factoid I learned is that a lot of the early (mid 17th-century) residents of New Amsterdam were actually refugees from the failed Dutch settlements in Brazil. (Another is that only about half of the settlers were actually from Holland.)

març 9, 2008, 4:14pm

I have old relations in early New Amsterdam, and they are a truly international lot; there were a lot of people who moved to the Netherlands for religious reasons and then went on, and others who went directly.

I've got to get the Jonathan Israel book - that looks interesting.

juny 26, 2008, 9:55am

Maybe a bit of a tangent, but have you read The Embarrassment of Riches? by Simon Shama?

My review of Shorto's book is here http://www.librarything.com/work/161870/reviews/27216693. Thanks for the recommendation.

nov. 9, 2008, 2:37am

I just discovered this 19th century work of popular American history:

nov. 9, 2008, 3:12pm

Thanks for that link.

I'm here in the old Dutch colony/trading post of Albany/Beverwyck (my office overlooks the site of Ft. Nassau/Ft. Orange), and there's a local controversy heating up as we approach next year's 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage.

There are stories that Hudson was following a much older French map - and even reports that the French had a trading post here as far back as 1540. I think that this is currently not supported by the evidence.

But Fiske's "The Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America" is the most solid account of this story that I've seen.

So, thanks for that.