The Batavia

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During the voyage from Europe, the ship's captain Ariaen Jacobsz and a merchant named Jeronimus Cornelisz, a heretical bankrupt pharmacist fleeing the Netherlands, developed a plan to take over the ship. They were going to use the gold and silver the vessel was carrying to start a new life somewhere. 

Expedition commander Pelsaert, after an unsuccessful search for water, left the other survivors and headed to Batavia (modern-day Jakarta), a journey in open boats which took 33 days to complete.

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In Batavia, Governor General Coen gave Pelsaert command of the rescue mission, which arrived at the islands two months after leaving Batavia. 

They found the survivors diminished by mutiny, murder and mayhem, a strange and terrible saga that provided material for several historical accounts.

Cornelisz, left in charge of the survivors, planned to hijack the rescue vessel to seek another safe haven but needed to eliminate possible opponents. He started by sending a group of soldiers to nearby islands to search for water. 

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With one lot of rivals gone, Cornelisz and his allies set about killing anyone who might threaten their ambitions.

They were out to reduce the population to around 45 to make sure their supplies would last as long as possible. 

In the process, at least one hundred and ten men, women, and children were murdered.

Pelsaert's return produced a brief struggle before the mutineers were captured, tried and executed. 

Of the 341 people aboard Batavia, only 68 made it to Java.

© Ian L Hughes 2021