Patronage, Patrimonialism, and Governors’ Careers in the Dutch Chartered Companies, 1630–1681

Careers of Empire


How did individuals advance to the highest ranks in the Dutch colonial administrations? And how, once appointed, was this rank retained? To answer these questions, this book explores the careers of Dutch colonial governors in the 17th century with a focus on two case-studies: Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, governor of Dutch Brazil (1636-1644) and Rijckloff Volckertsz van Goens, Governor-General in Batavia in the 1670s.

By comparing a Western (Atlantic, WIC) and an Eastern (Asian, VOC) example, this book shows how networks sustaining career-making differed in the various parts of the empire: the West India Company was much more involved in domestic political debates, and this led to a closer integration of political patronage networks, while the East India Company was better able to follow an independent course. The book shows that to understand the inner workings of the Dutch India companies, we need to understand the lives of those who turned the empire into their career.

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Erik Odegard studied history at Leiden University and obtained his Ph.D. there. He has held positions at the Mauritshuis, the Dutch National Archives and the National Maritime Museum. He is currently works at the IISH in Amsterdam on an NWO-funded project on private investment in Dutch Brazil.
George Bryan Souza, University of Texas, San Antonio

Editorial Board
Cátia Antunes, Leiden University
João Paulo Oliveira e Costa, CHAM, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Frank Dutra, University of California, Santa Barbara
Kris Lane, Tulane University
Ghulam A. Nadri, Georgia State University
Malyn Newitt, King's College, London
Michael Pearson, University of New South Wales
Ryuto Shimada, The University of Tokyo
General Series Editor’s Preface
List of Figures and Tables

Introduction: Agents of Empire and the Limits of Imperial Agency
 1 The Chartered Companies
 2 Family and Friends: Politics, Patrimonialism and Patronage
  2.1 Institutions and Interest Aggregation
  2.2 Factions, Families and Friendship
  2.3 Patronage and Clientage
 3 Governors and the Companies
 4 Johan Maurits Van Nassau-Siegen and Rijckloff Volckertsz. Van Goens
 5 Connecting Careers, Constructing Empire

1 Companies, Councils, and Careers
 1 Urban Politics: Parties, Factions, and Family Networks
 2 The Provinces: Building Blocks of the Federal State
 3 The Generality
  3.1 The Stadholders
 4 Security at Sea: Admiralties, Directorates and Corporations
 5 Chartering the Companies
 6 Organizing the Companies
  6.1 Directors and Investors
  6.2 Central Management: XVII and XIX
 7 Conclusion

2 Appointing a Stadholder for Brazil September 1634 – September 1636
 1 Company Government in Brazil, 1630–1636
 2 Johan Maurits Van Nassau-Siegen: A German Nobleman in the Dutch Army
 3 Appointing Johan Maurits: The Dutch Side
 4 Commanders, Directors, and Governors-General
 5 Conclusion

3 Becoming “The Brazilian:” Johan Maurits in Brazil, 1636–1640
 1 Establishing a Nobleman’s Court in the New World
 2 Commanding the Army of Brazil
  2.1 Operations: From Porto Calvo to Bahia, 1637–1638
  2.2 Force Size and Logistics
 3 The Arciszewski Case
  3.1 The Conflict in Brazil
  3.2 The Aftermath of the Conflict in the Netherlands
 4 Governance, Trade, Taxation and Religion
 5 Conclusion

4 Dismissing a Governor-General: Conflicts between the XIX and Johan Maurits, 1640–1644
 1 Company and State in the Netherlands: Between Business and Politics
 2 Points of Contention
  2.1 Claims of Corruption
  2.2 Karel Tolner’s Mission
 3 Angola and Chile: Increasing the Sway of the South Atlantic Empire
  3.1 African Embassies
  3.2 The Chile Expedition
 4 Enough is Enough: Dismissal of Johan Maurits, and his Attempts to Stay, 1642–1644
  4.1 Petitions from Brazil
 5 Setting Sail

Interlude: Imperial Transitions

5 Rising through the Ranks, 1629–1655
 1 A Career in Fast-Forward
 2 An Orphan in the Company’s Care, 1629–1633
 3 Coromandel and Batavia, Forging Crucial Links
 4 The Importance of Marrying up: Marriage as a Career-Making Tool
 5 The Old Boys’ Network: Sweers, Van Vliet, Coyett and Caron
 6 Diplomatic Missions and Military Command: Career Selling Points?
 7 Career Consolidation in the Republic

6 Fighting for Ceylon
 1 Persuading the Directors: Van Goens in the Republic, 1655–1656
 2 Undermining Van der Meijden
 3 Administration, Policy, and Personnel
  3.1 Fortifications, Diplomacy, Colonization and Trade
  3.2 Private Communications and the Role of Ceylon as an Entrepot
 4 Patron-in-chief: Van Goens’ Familial and Patronage Networks, 1662–1670
 5 Conclusion

7 Conflict in the Council, 1670–1680
 1 Information Control and Company Policymaking
 2 Fighting over Policy: Amsterdam, Batavia, Colombo
  2.1 The Emperor Strikes Back – August 1670
 3 A Breakdown of Reciprocity: Van Goens, Van Reede and the Malabar Command
 4 A Year of Disasters and beyond, 1672–1679
  4.1 Superintendency and Succession
  4.2 Criticism from Ceylon
 5 Batavia: Director-general and Governor-General, 1676–1681
  5.1 A Letter to Valckenier: Gossip from the Council
 6 The Sins of the Father: The Sons of Van Goens in the VOC

Conclusion: Forging Careers, Sustaining or Subverting Empire?
 1 Career Beginnings
 2 Mid-Career: Tenure in Brazil and Ceylon
  2.1 The Companies Compared
 3 Career End and Recollection
 4 Making a Career of Empire
 5 Principals and Agents

Manuscript Sources
Secondary Literature and Published Sources
Scholars working on the seventeenth-century colonialism in general and the Dutch companies specifically. The book addresses mechanisms of career-making and would be interesting for comparative purposes; scholars working in Brazil and Sri Lanka.
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