Setting Sail for Melaka

Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre

A Flemish Trader and Writer

A Flemish gem trader and writer known for his notes on Singapore and other trading centres around the early 1700s.

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A Flemish Trader and Writer

I was 20 years old when the Dutch Revolt
Also known as the Eighty Years War, the Dutch Revolt was a series of uprisings in the Netherlands against the rule of Spanish King Philip II between 1568 and 1648.
forced me out of my homeland of Bruges. But even after many years of travelling, I still have a great desire to explore the world and the opportunities it offers. Hence, I shall leave Goa and set sail for greater horizons.
Joseph de Coutre
Joseph de Coutre
Joseph de Coutre
Joseph de Coutre

Brother of Jacques de Coutre

The brother of Jacques de Coutre who had sailed with him for many years.

Brother of Jacques de Coutre
Circa 1592
My dear brother, safe journey ahead!

Orang Laut in the Straits of Singapore

Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre

A Flemish Trader and Writer

A Flemish gem trader and writer known for his notes on Singapore and other trading centres around the early 1700s.

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A Flemish Trader and Writer

On my trip to Pahang, I passed by the straits of Singapore
The Old Strait of Singapore lies between present-day Sentosa and Harbourfront, starting from Fort Siloso and ending after Pulau Brani. The New Strait of Singapore was opened up after Johor blockaded the Old Strait during the 1580s, and lies along the southwestern coast of Sentosa.
. Large and leafy trees covered the area around Singapore so completely that their branches brush the masts of passing ships – especially in the Old Strait of Singapore. The passage may be very narrow, but heavy maritime traffic…
A Portuguese Scholar
A Portuguese Scholar
Circa 1593
I read from a little-known manuscript – Explanation of the Maps and Description of all of the Fortresses, Cities and Towns which the Portuguese have in the Eastern Estado da Índia
The Portuguese manuscript dates from the first half of the 17th century, around the same period of time as Jacques de Coutre.
– that the Strait of Singapore has many narrow channels. The water is so clear that fish can be seen swimming in it. To buy fish, sailors first agree on a price with the çelates
Çelates (also: saletes, selates, orang laut, sea nomads or sea gypsies) is the Portuguese and Spanish name commonly used to refer to the Orang Laut. It originated from the Malay word selat, meaning “strait”.
, who then set out and spear the fishes to earn what they have promised.

Jacques' First-Hand Account of the Orang Laut

Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre

A Flemish Trader and Writer

A Flemish gem trader and writer known for his notes on Singapore and other trading centres around the early 1700s.

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A Flemish Trader and Writer

During our trip, I met the interesting fishermen living along these straits called çelates. They came aboard our ship, plying a variety of goods gathered from the hills. We bartered our rice and old fabrics for these:
  • fresh fish
  • local fruits such as durians, mangosteens, rambai and buah duku.…
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre

A Flemish Trader and Writer

A Flemish gem trader and writer known for his notes on Singapore and other trading centres around the early 1700s.

Explore
A Flemish Trader and Writer
1594
What is most interesting about the çelates is how they make the narrow sloops — sailing boats with a single mast — their homes. Their wives, children, dogs, cats, and even hens and their chicks all fit within their sloop that is only five to six varas (metres) long. I am amazed they can raise everything inside the little sloop. I have also found very old men among them, and some told me that all of them were 100 years old.

Spice Trade and Piracy in the Age of Commerce

A Flemish Trader
A Flemish Trader

I hear that the current climate in Southeast Asia is very tense – commercially and politically. Every power wants to control the lucrative regional trade. The Dutch and English have started competing against the Portuguese for a piece of the booming spice trade
Situated between the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, Singapore was located centre-stage in the commercial exchange of goods in the region, and helped usher in the rise of many important trading emporia.
since 1596. Every year, about 11 ships…
A Portuguese Apothecary
A Portuguese Apothecary
Circa 1600
I heard merchandise bought in Melaka for 500 Portuguese reis would fetch you a bahar (181–185 kilogrammes) of cloves in the Moluccas (Spice Islands). Back in Melaka, it would then sell for between 9 and 12 Portuguese cruzados (3,600 and 4,800 reis).

The Dutch-Portuguese Conflict in the Region

Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre

A Flemish Trader and Writer

A Flemish gem trader and writer known for his notes on Singapore and other trading centres around the early 1700s.

Explore
shared Manuel Godinho de Éredia's
Manuel Godinho de Eredia
Manuel Godinho de Éredia

A Portuguese-Malay Explorer

A Portuguese-Malay explorer and engineer most known for his hand-drawn maps of Asian regions in the 15th century.

post

A Flemish Trader and Writer

With the rising Dutch threat, it is ideal to build a fortress against Dutch rebels at Muar. Small vessels can enter the Muar River, while large ships can anchor close by. The locals also wouldn't protest the construction.

The Dutch-Portuguese Conflict in the Region

Manuel Godinho de Eredia
Manuel Godinho de Éredia
Manuel Godinho de Eredia
Manuel Godinho de Éredia

A Portuguese-Malay Explorer

A Portuguese-Malay explorer and engineer most known for his hand-drawn maps of Asian regions in the 15th century.

A Portuguese-Malay Explorer

Our Portuguese General of the South, André Furtado de Mendonça, reported that “the Dutch were holding the channels leading to the south between the islands on the east of Java.” As the officer commissioned to organise exploration work – the Descobridor – I surveyed and mapped out the territory between…
Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie
Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie
Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie
Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie

Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (the United Netherlands Chartered East India Company, also known as the Dutch East India Company) was formed in 1602 after the merger of six regional trading companies. It had the right to enter treaties and alliances, build forts, and even wage war.

Circa 1602
It doesn’t matter what you do; the Dutch will always be one step ahead!

A Series of Unfortunate Events

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Jacques' Encounters with the Dutch

Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre

A Flemish Trader and Writer

A Flemish gem trader and writer known for his notes on Singapore and other trading centres around the early 1700s.

Explore

A Flemish Trader and Writer

I could not have chosen an unluckier voyage. I almost died because of the Dutch. A word of warning: it is one long journal entry.
Manuel Godinho de Eredia
Manuel Godinho de Éredia
Manuel Godinho de Eredia
Manuel Godinho de Éredia

A Portuguese-Malay Explorer

A Portuguese-Malay explorer and engineer most known for his hand-drawn maps of Asian regions in the 15th century.

A Portuguese-Malay Explorer
1604
I’m guarding the South, commanding a squadron of 70 armed boats. We have founded a fortress in Muar, and I have given orders to construct new forts to defend the Straits of Singapore. We need to improve our defences in light of Dutch aggression and pirates.

Iberian Plans to Secure Singapore's Waters

Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre

A Flemish Trader and Writer

A Flemish gem trader and writer known for his notes on Singapore and other trading centres around the early 1700s.

Explore
shared Manuel Godinho de Éredia's
Manuel Godinho de Eredia
Manuel Godinho de Éredia

A Portuguese-Malay Explorer

A Portuguese-Malay explorer and engineer most known for his hand-drawn maps of Asian regions in the 15th century.

post

A Flemish Trader and Writer

Watching over these waters would send a strong message to the enemy.

Iberian Plans to Secure Singapore's Waters

Manuel Godinho de Eredia
Manuel Godinho de Éredia
Manuel Godinho de Eredia
Manuel Godinho de Éredia

A Portuguese-Malay Explorer

A Portuguese-Malay explorer and engineer most known for his hand-drawn maps of Asian regions in the 15th century.

A Portuguese-Malay Explorer

There is a need for more security in the waters near Singapore. I have hand-drawn this map of the island and its surrounding straits. At the same time, I have also urged for the construction of a Portuguese fortress around the Johor River estuary or Johor Lama.
A Johor Merchant
A Johor Merchant
Circa 1604
Singapore has become the best redistribution centre between the Johor Sultanate and the world for raw materials and finished goods coming to and from the towns in the upper reaches of the Johor River or even Riau.

Deportation to Lisbon

Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre

A Flemish Trader and Writer

A Flemish gem trader and writer known for his notes on Singapore and other trading centres around the early 1700s.

Explore

A Flemish Trader and Writer

To the Iberian Crown: Joseph de Coutre and I never colluded with the Dutch!
A Portuguese Merchant
A Portuguese Merchant
Circa 1624
With the entrance and attacks of the Dutch in these areas, the level of mistrust towards European foreigners living in our settlements is surely growing. It is unfortunate that the de Coutre brothers got implicated.

Suggestion to Fortify Singapore and Nearby Waters

Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre
Jacques de Courte
Jacques de Coutre

A Flemish Trader and Writer

A Flemish gem trader and writer known for his notes on Singapore and other trading centres around the early 1700s.

Explore

A Flemish Trader and Writer

Memorial
From 1623 to 1628, Jacques de Coutre wrote a series of memorials to the Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) Crowns on stepping up security in the Portuguese trade network – in an apparent attempt to prove himself and his brother innocent of any Dutch collusion. They were finally exonerated in 1632, and de Coutre was even knighted.
to the Iberian Crown:

Problem:
Various ships from Johor, Pahang, China, Cambodia, the Moluccas and other lands that travel to and from Melaka all pass through the Straits of Singapore. Unfortunately, the Dutch rebels have wrestled control and become the main beneficiary of this trade.…
A Portuguese Inquisitor
A Portuguese Inquisitor
Circa 1625
You’re just trying to gain favour through your recommendations! You’ve even deliberately signed off with your wife’s name to sound more Portuguese!
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