Jan Pieterszoon Coen was an officer of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Indonesia in the early seventeenth century. He was the founder of Batavia, the capital city of the Dutch East Indies. Coen was known in his time on account of strict governance and harsh criticism of people who did not share his views, at times directed even at the 17 Lords of the VOC (for which he was reprimanded). Coen was known to be strict towards subordinates and merciless to his opponents. His willingness to use violence to obtain his ends was too much for many, even for such a relatively violent period of history. In 1624 he was reappointed governor-general in the East Indies. A major problem in the European trade with Asia at the time was that the Europeans could offer few goods that Asian consumers wanted, except silver and gold. European traders therefore had to pay for spices with precious metals, which were in short supply in Europe, except for in Spain and Portugal who plundered it from their colonial holdings. The Dutch and English usually obtained it by creating a trade surplus with other European countries but it was not sufficient. One solution Coen had considered was to start an intra-Asiatic trade system, whose profits could be used to finance the spice trade. In the long run this obviated the need for exports of precious metals from Europe, but a major drawback would be the required formation of a large trading-capital fund in the Indies which would be expensive. Coen settled himself on his desk. He was currently in Hoorn within the Republic, but would soon be required to depart in the coming days back to Batavia. The English might hamper them a bit on the way but he was not one who feared skirmishes, as he had been in quite a few over the course of his career. A map lay across the surface of the wooden top of his table as he carefully examined his options from both a strategic and financial perspective. He considered pursuit of the rather hefty trading-capital fund endeavour. It would take years and be a considerable investment, but he did not have any other clear option at the moment, and doubts the lords are shy with their money as long as ample reason is supplied. Though he could not ignore the difficulty he had with constantly having to balance the scales, how can the VOC last on frugality alone? “How easy it is for the Spanish and Portuguese” he thought “They swim in gold and silver like it’s nothing. They spend it freely to fund their exploits in both the West and East Indies, meanwhile we sit here playing with numbers and praying for good fortune. If that wasn’t enough of an irritation, the English are always giving me headaches.” The map that lay in front of him was that of the Southern coast of Africa, a region that the Dutch regularly passed on the way to the East Indies. Indicated on the map were several Portuguese holdings along the Western and Eastern sides of this cone. He had seen this type of map plenty of times and didn’t see it as much more than a waypoint marker or perhaps some help for an occasional stop to forage for supplies, which the ships often ran low on. In large lettering and with a very rough estimated area near the South eastern side of the cone, he saw the name “Mutapa”. From his general knowledge he knew the Portuguese interacted with this kingdom of sorts and often traded in gold, something that surely he could use some of. He considered the thought for about a second, but then dismissed it. ”The Portuguese have complete control of the East coast, chasing after some meagre trade posts, wasting manpower, funding, ships and starting conflict just to run into another obstacle of then dealing with a gold rich kingdom would be a waste of time, one must plan his moves carefully” he reassured himself. Nonetheless he still stared at the map. It just had writing around the coastline for various bays and geographic landmarks, hardly anything was known about the interior, or where perhaps Mutapa and other Eastern coast kingdoms may be obtaining their gold. He sat up straight, placed his elbows on the table and rested his chin on his hands. He knew the idea he was entertaining was very likely a waste of time but he had become irritated by the image of Portuguese traders sifting their dirty hands through ever increasing pots of gold and silver. Within this dark continent their might be something to gain if one just sent a well enough equipped force to investigate. Coen was familiar with the legends, the legendary mines of King Solomon may lie there as referred to in the Bible as Ophir, but he knew many of these tales were unfounded and most likely just a drive for young recruits into the Portuguese naval forces. However, gold was there in considerable amounts, so it should not be unlikely that there just has to be more waiting to be discovered, and taken. He considered that the VOC was already overspending anyway. Another few ships searching for trinkets off some rock where there was a large amount of traffic anyway would not be such a major expense, especially if one’s fortunes are good in the end. It wouldn’t be so much of a bad idea for a while either, if he could possibly convince the lords to let him do so personally even. However, he was sure the allure of possibly easing the company’s heavy expenses would be more than enough for them to permit him to lead an expedition. Also, the prospects of a strategic port didn’t sound awful either, if such an expedition turned up empty handed. “Despair not, spare your enemies not, for God is with us” he murmured silently. Coen thought that a point of entry would ideally be as far away from Portuguese trade posts as possible, and should to a degree be a healthy and fertile region that can offer the option of foraging, as well as function as a reasonable harbour. “Kaap de Goede Hoop” he said to himself, tapping his finger on the crudely illustrated tip of the coastline, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans met. The inhabitants of this region were for the most part docile but barbaric, they won’t be much of an obstacle, and their knowledge would prove valuable in safely traversing the terrain. Trekking inward however will be dangerous nonetheless, and he can’t consider leaving Eva, a woman he fancies. "I guess I’ll have to get a subordinate to do this. Hopefully their journey will at least yield some information regarding the interior, even if they do not find anything of value. Perhaps the Portuguese are already there? Who knows?” he thought. Jan Pieterszoon Coen would later petition the 17 lords of the VOC to allow the allocation of a fleet of ships to transport a small force to the Cape of Good Hope. Besides the rather shaky hope of finding a route to Mutapa without dealing with the Portuguese, and the source of their gold, he strengthened the argument for this expedition by adding that building a harbour as a re-supply point and way-station for Dutch East India Company vessels on their way back and forth between the Netherlands and the East Indies here would be extremely beneficial. The lords after some deliberation, much to his delight, informed Coen a few days later that they would allocate the appropriate amount of resources for establishing this settlement and funding an expedition. In 1625, Coen married Eva Ment, and in 1627 departed incognito for the East Indies with his wife, their newborn child and her brother and sister, starting work on 30 September 1627. Twice during Coen's term in office, Sultan Agung of Mataram besieged Batavia, in 1628 and 1629. Agung's military was poorly armed and had inadequate provisions of food, and was never able to capture the city. During Agung's second siege Coen suddenly died on 21 September 1629, likely due to the cholera outbreak in Batavia during this siege. Slightly before dusk on Saturday, April 6 1627, five of the thirteen ships that left the Netherlands more than three months before entered Table Bay under the command of Jan van Hessen. Their order was to establish a refreshment station at the Cape and map the interior, find a land route towards the kingdom of Mutapa and its gold mines and possibly survey the land for anything that can be of tangible interest to the VOC and warrant special attention. Van Hessen was an ambitious man. He was famous for conning a Spaniard out of his trading brigantine but couldn't find a seller willing to pay enough for him to make a quick daalder. To put the ship to use, he accepted a contract from the VOC for this mission in Southern Africa to establish a Dutch presence there and explore the hinterland. Armed with his wits, the cheapest cartographer money could hire, 500 men, some horses and a small number of cannons, Jan set sail. In his Daghregister he noted that on a Saturday afternoon there was a gentle cool breeze when they entered Table Bay. On Sunday there were sermons held on board the Dutch ships and on Monday April 8 1627, Jan and his men stepped ashore. They would later be joined by the remaining seven ships a few days later (the eighth one having ended up shipwrecked along the Western coast). About 100 of the 500 men were tasked with staying at the bay and to start construction of a Dutch fort. The rest would begin a long and treacherous journey into the unknown. Accompanying them was a man nicknamed “Herry” or Harry de Strandloper, the teenaged son of a local Khoi chief who had managed to learn Dutch and Portuguese from the passing sailors that occasionally made camp in the area, traded for supplies or who were dumped there for various offenses. He would serve as an interpreter for the Dutch during their mission. Herry explained to them that he did not know of any kingdom of gold which they described, and upon understanding the general direction that the Dutch planned to use (a North Eastern route from Table Bay) he expressed his displeasure. He warned them of the San that hunted in that region, and it’s general lack of water. For their sake he advised following the Southern coast where his tongue was spoken and then later turn North as soon as a better route was found. This direction would take long however, as it meant not using a more direct route and crossing several mountain ranges. Nonetheless Jan was to a degree a pragmatic man and understood its best wise to accept the advice of the locals. A few days after the initial landing about 400 Dutch men with their horses, cannons and a number of carriages carrying initial supplies departed the small concentration of labourers toiling away at Table Bay. They travelled up the Eastern mountains through a small pass known by the Khoi and vanished from sight. ******************************* Hope this is an okay start. Please give feedback and ideas so I stay relatively on the right track with this.