The Banda Islands were an important trading centre until the mid-18th century for the VOC, the Dutch East India Company.
nutmeg and mace monopoly
The mountainous Banda Archipelago was the only place on earth where nutmeg and mace were grown until the mid-18th century. The enormous demand for these spices made Banda an important trading center. In the early 17th century, the VOC claimed its role in the lucrative spice trade. No means was shunned to gain a monopoly. Due to "violation" of an enforced contract, the VOC sent a punitive expedition in 1621 under the leadership of Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1587-1629) to conquer Pulau Lontar (Banda Besar). His performance is regarded as the gruesome final scene of a step-by-step conquest of the Banda archipelago by the VOC. The Dutch regarded the islands as their own territory after the bloody conquest and introduced a systematic cultivation of nutmeg trees with perken (plantations), perkeniers (supervisors) and forced labor. To this day, the Dutch colonial presence resonates in the culture and landscape of the islands.
This year, The National Maritime Museum will recognise, in various ways, the commemoration of the violent conquest of the Banda Islands by J.P. Coen 400 years ago and the relevant, interconnected history between the Netherlands and the Banda archipelago. Discover more on the commemoration of 400 years Banda.