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Batavia Mutiny & Massacre (1628)

Batavia Mutiny & Massacre (1628)

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Published by draculavanhelsing
In 1629 the Western Australian coastline hosted a story that shocked Europe. It was the
Australian version of The Lord of the Flies and it took place off the coast of Geraldton.
In 1629 the Western Australian coastline hosted a story that shocked Europe. It was the
Australian version of The Lord of the Flies and it took place off the coast of Geraldton.

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Published by: draculavanhelsing on Dec 15, 2010
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05/02/2013

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46
| www.fishingwa.com
 
 TheBataviaMutiny
OUR MARITIME HISTORY
BY
BEN DERECKI
In 1629 the Western Australian coastline hosted a story that shocked Europe. It was theAustralian version of The Lord of the Flies and it took place off the coast of Geraldton.
THIS PICTURE: The Batavia’sappearance betrayed the quality of some of its crew.OPPOSITE: 1985 saw a replica of theBatavia commenced.
 
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www.fishingwa.com |
H
ands up who can recallreading William Golding’sbook The Lord o the Fliesin High School? I you’retoo young (or too old) to know aboutit the storyline went something likethis. A group o boys get maroonedon a deserted tropical island. Theevent starts o as a big adventure withleaders being elected, ood beinghunted and supplies being stored.But it eventually turns to chaos as theirtime away rom civilization grows. Allo a sudden sel-preservation kicksin, the group divides into tribes,the tribes are split by leadershipchallenges and it becomes the survivalo the ttest until eventually a shippassing by stops and rescues them.I that doesn’t ring any bells thenyou might be more amiliar with TheSimpsons version o it back in Series9. The show was called Das Bus andit saw Springeld Elementary goingon an excursion until Otto managesto drive the bus o a bridge, thebus sinks and the kids end up on adeserted island. The story ollowsthe Lord o the Flies plot but intrue Simpsonian style the group isapparently rescued by Moe… whichdiers slightly rom the original story.The Western Australian coastlinehas had its own Lord o the Flies storybut it’s a story that Matt Groening andhis crew o cartoonists would havesteered a wide berth o in the creationo their light hearted approach.And the story is o a level that evenGolding’s himsel may have thoughtwas too ar into the realm o ction towrite about. It’s a tale that the captainin the story later wrote about underthe title The Disastrous Voyage o theShip Batavia.
 THE SHIP
The Batavia was built in Amsterdamin 1628 under the commission o theUnited East India Trading Company.The ship was around 45 metres rombow to stern and was one o the largerships around at that time.It was primarily built or shippingcargo but was also required to betted or a range o other purposessuch as passenger transportationas well as be a quasi naval vessel tocounter attacks o rival cargo ships,pirates and even warships. Despite itscore purpose the Batavia still had anarmoury o 24 cast iron cannons and 8other guns or its own protection.Lie on board the Batavia was ne– i you were a wealthy passenger.Otherwise it was an uncomortablelie. There were approximately 340people onboard its rst and only journey and those who weren’tsuciently prosperous lived on top o each other while the tos mixed andate in the Captain’s cabin in completecontrast to those below.Food on these journeys wasgenerally limited in its variety andhealth value, drinking water waso poor quality and the conditionsthemselves led to an easy spread o disease i anything was to catch on.Scurvy was oten rie among the lowerclasses o passengers and crew giventhe lack o resh ruit and vegetablesavailable.
 THE JOURNEY 
The Batavia’s ill-ated voyage tookplace in October 1628 and it set sailrom Texel in the Netherlands travelingto Batavia, what we now know asJakarta.From the start o the journeythings just weren’t right and thebad relationship between the FleetCommander and the Skipper didn’tmake things pleasant either. Seven
 
48
| www.fishingwa.com
OUR MARITIME HISTORY
months into the voyage plans or amutiny were being hatched with theSkipper, Ariaen Jacobsz, being atthe oreront o the idea. The starto the plan saw the Batavia steeredaway rom the other ships in the feetand the idea was that when the shipwas suciently separated rom therest o the feet the captain and hisriends would be ed to the sharks. Butbeore any more could happen ateintervened.A ew hours beore dawn on June4 the boat struck Morning Ree, twomiles rom Beacon Island, in theAbrolhos Islands. Theboat held ast andater judging therewas no way it could beretrieved the evacuationbegan. Ater many tripsbetween the closestislands and the shipmost passengers andcrew were retrieved withonly thirty people drowning in theprocess o the rescue, which was anamazing eort considering the stormyweather and the number o people(340) people on the boat.The next days saw a survey o the islands take place and realisingthere was insucient water, ood andshelter the Fleet Commander, FrancoisPelsaert, and some crew members seto or Java in one o the Batavia’s 30oot long-boats. Leaving behind 280people they continued their journeyand on arrival in Java they sourced aship called the Saardam beore sailingback to rescue thesurvivors.What they ound ontheir return shockedthem to the core.
 THE WAIT
When Pelsaert and hismen had let or Java,Jeronimus Cornelisz wasset in charge o the people and theislands. Over the course o the eightweeks Pelsaert was away Corneliszbegan a vicious rule over the islandsand as ood and water began to runout he resorted to murdering hisellow survivors.Through the work o his henchmen,some o the original men who backedhis mutiny while the ship was stillafoat, around 125 men, women andchildren were massacred. Somewere clubbed to death, others werestrangled and some were drowned.On occasions a group o people wouldbe executed. Other times individualswere taken. Some o the women werekept alive only to service the menwhenever they needed it.This treachery saw the survivorsdivide into two groups on separateislands. One island housed Corneliszand his men with all the guns andswords. The other group, having noweapons, but on a separate island, set
“The event wastruly WesternAustralia’s Lordof the Flies.”
RIGHT: Golding’s originalcover – The Lord of the Flies.THIS PICTURE: The restoredsection of the Batavia’s hullin Fremantle.

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