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Cornelis Houtman

Cornelis de Houtman (? - 1598) was a Dutch explorer who discovered a new sea route from Europe to Indonesia.

In 1592 Amsterdam merchants sent Cornelis de Houtman to Lissabon[?] to discover as much information countries, trade opportunities and people in India. At the same time he returned to Amsterdam, Jan Huygen van Linschoten[?] returned from India. The merchants determiend that Bantam provide dhe best opportunity to buy spices. In 1594 the merchants founded the company 'compagnie van Verre', and on April 2, 1595 4 ships left Amsterdam: Amsterdam, Hollandia, Mauritius and Duyfken.

On June 27, after a long stay at Madagascar, and quarrels among the captains and traders, the ships arrived at Bantam[?]. Probably due to scheming by local Portuguese traders, and undiplomatic behaviour of the Dutch, they failed to buy the spices. They sailed east to Madura, where they were received peacefully. Fearing treachery, they brutally attacked the civilian population and fled with their ships. Houtman was dismissed as expedition leader by a revolt of the 'scheepsraad'.

They finally managed to obtain some spice on February 26, 1597. Portuguese ships prevented them from taking in water and supplies at St Helena. Out of the 249 man crew, only 87 returned, to weak to moor their ships themselves.

Though the trip was a humanitarian disaster and financially probably just broke even, the next year 6 expeditions left the Netherlands for present day Indonesia. It may be regarded as the start of the Dutch colonisation of this island chain.

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