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It all started in 1452, when Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum Diversas addressed to King Alfonso V of Portugal, giving Portugal sovereignty over all non-Christian lands their inhabitants, everywhere.

" We grant to you full and free power ... to invade, conquer, fight, subjugate the Saracens and pagans... wherever established their Kingdoms ,,, and to lead their persons in perpetual servitude "

Known World 1658

Yes, it all started in 1452, when Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum Diversas addressed to King Alfonso V of Portugal, giving Portugal sovereignty over all non-Christian lands their inhabitants, everywhere. An extract is depicted below:

Nicholas V Caption

Following being advised in 1493 of the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus, and following negotiations first with Spain and then with Portugal, Rodrigo Borgia (1431-1503), the father of Lucretia, who was Pope Alexander VI from 1492 until his death in 1503, issued four papal bulls, The bulls divided the world in two by drawing an arbitrary line between the poles.

On one half of the globe, Spain could claim dominion over any non-Christian land by merely setting foot on it, and effectively any other Christian nation, including Portugal, over the other half. The principal bull was Inter Caetera. An extract is depicted below:

Alexander VI caption

All other Christian nations, including England and Holland, jumped onto the bandwagon.

The Dutch East India Company was established by the Dutch Government in 1602, and given the Dutch monopoly over trade with Asia. It was given quasi-governmental powers, even the right to order executions. It established its headquarters on the Indonesian Archipelago on the island of Java at Jakarta, which it renamed Batavia. Over the next 200 years, it would trade in millions of tons of goods and thousands of slaves through its enormous fleet, which totalled nearly 5,000 ships during all that time.

On 28 October 1628, 11 vessels, all under the command of Francis Pelsaert, sailed from the island of Texel in North Holland, bound for Asia via the Cape of Good Hope. Pelsaert was on the Batavia, whose captain was AriaenJacobsz─Pelsaert’s mortal enemy. Pelsaert had recently threatened Jacobsz with demotion for engaging in drunken behaviour on a previous occasion. Jacobsz’s second-in-command was a previous, and then bankrupt apothecary turned merchant, Jeronimus Cornelisz.

The Batavia carried about 340 people, mainly officers, soldiers, and a small number of women and children. Its cargo consisted of the usual trade goods such as clothing, and also gold bars, caskets of jewels, and 12 large chests filled with silver coins, all for the purpose of trade. The ultimate destination was India.

After trading stops along the west coast of Africa, the fleet rounded the Cape of Good Hope in mid-1629 and sailed eastwards towards Batavia. In secret meetings below deck, Jacobsz, Cornelisz, and 11 others, plotted a mutiny. Their intentions were to kill all on board, take all the gold, silver, and jewels for themselves, and use the Batavia as a pirate vessel under the disguise of the Dutch East India Company flag.

The path to Batavia was off the coast of Western Australia, which was the only mapped part of Australia, as shown in the Map of the Known World 1658, at the beginning of this article. The early Dutch explorers who discovered Australia, which would be named “New Holland” in 1644 by Abel Tasman, included William Jansz (1606); Dirk Hartog (1616); Frederik de Houtman (1619); and Abel Tasman (1644).

Houtman had discovered a chain of islands off the coast of present-day Geraldton, which he named “Houtman Abrolhos.” Below are a photograph and a more recent map of the area:

Houtman Abrolhos Caption

Houtman Abrolhos WA

On 4 June, 1629, the Batavia was separated from the fleet during a storm, either deliberately or because of poor navigation by Jacobsz, and foundered on Morning Reef off Beacon Island, part of Houtman Abrolhos. 

640px Morning Reef Abrolhos Islands WA

 Shipwreck Batavia

Pelsaert, who had been sick in bed, rushed up onto the desk. It was night and the weather was fine. He ordered one of the crew to throw a lead line overboard to measure the depth of water below. The result was that there was 50 feet before, and less after. They threw overboard the cannon, the anchor, and attempted the mainmast─which became entangled in the rigging, but all to no avail. A severe storm then erupted, and the vessel began to sink slowly onto the reef.

An island was visible at a distance of about five miles. Most of the passengers and crew were transferred in the ship’s boats to the island with provisions, but little water. About 40 drowned in the attempt.

There was water in holes in the island’s interior which rose and fell. The survivors did not try to drink it, believing that it was undrinkable sea water. They did not discover until later that the sand below had filtered out the sea salt, and it was potable.,

Pelsaert, accompanied by Jacobsz and some crew members, set out in the ship’s longboat to search for water, and even though some water was found on the Australian mainland, they made their way north to Batavia.

Because of his seniority, Cornelisz was elected leader of those left behind. He retrieved some gold and silver from the Bataviabefore it disappeared below the water, and commandered all weapons and supplies. He then moved a group of 20 soldiers, under the command of Wiebbe Hayes, to Wallabi Island, about 6 miles to the northwest, on the pretence of having them search for water. Little did Cornelisz know, who had left them there to die, that there was water and wildlife on the island, so the men survived.

Cornelisz and his henchment then embarked upon a course of rape and murder of the survivors on the island. In total, about 130 were killed, including women and children.An attack upon Hayes and his men on Wallabi Island was repulsed. Hayes had been advised of the murders by escapees, and so he and his men constructed a fort out of limestone rocks.

 Fort Caption

Massacre Caption

On arrival in Batavia, Jacobsz was charged with negligence, and Pelsaert was given command of the ship Sardam to return to Houtman Abrolhos and rescue the survivors.

Some three months after his departure, Pelsaert arrived back and was immediately informed by Hayes of the atrocities which had occurred in his absence. Cornelisz and his men were captured after a brief battle, and confessions were extracted by forced ingestion of water. To save space on the journey back to Batavia, the worst offenders were tried immediately. They were sentenced to death by first having their hands cut off, and then being hanged. A chopping block and gallows were constructed out of the Batavia’s timbers on nearby Seal Island, where the executions were carried out.

Execution Caption

Batavia Victim Caption

Two lesser offenders, one of them a cabin boy, were marooned on the mainland and never heard of again. Some Aboriginals in the area have some Dutch DNA, so they must have been taken in by the locals. Prior to departure to Batavia, most of the chests containing silver coins were retrieved from the wreck with the assistance of divers wearing diving helmets connected to the surface with hoses, which allowed the passage of air.

On return to Batavia, the worst surviving offenders were tried and executed. Pelsaert was stripped of his assets for abandoning the survivors and died a broken man a year later. The fate of Jacobsz is unknown.

The Flysa Institute of Horrors recognises and respects the Traditional Owners of this Country ─ The Dinosaurs, and their connection to the lands, waters and skies. Traditional Owners are warned that this website may contain images of Dinosaurs who died 60 million years ago.

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