Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Antique map of Macassar by van der Aa

Stock number: 18984

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Pieter van der Aa (biography)


MACASAR, Capitale du Roiaume de meme nom.

First Published

Leiden, 1727


22.5 x 30.0 cms




Bird eye's view of the city and port of Macassar (also Makassar, Makasser), from Pieter van der Aa's exceptionally rare atlas series "Galeries Agreable du monde". The city is dominated in the center by VOC Fort Rotterdam, the largest fort of the Dutch East India Company of all and still a major historical landmark of Celebes.

La Galerie Agreable du monde was a 66 volume atlas series published 1724-1729. It contains maps, city views and costume prints, covering all parts of the world. In addition to copperplates produced by van der Aa himself, it also contains re-issues of old copperplates from notable publishers like Blaeu, Visscher, de Wit, Mortier and Allard. With more than 4000 maps and illustrations, it is the largest and most comprehensive atlas ever produced. Koeman notes that only 100 copies were produced, it is doubtful that it was a lucrative project.

Early printed views of Macassar are very rare, we only know of this one, and of a later copy based on this one that is published later in Valentijn's Oud en Nieuw Oost Indien in 1724-26.

Interestingly, this view by van der Aa is based on a watercolour by Johannes Vingboon of ca 1665. Vingboons was an Amsterdam artist who sold beautiful watercolour views (and some manuscript maps) of places all around the world. By combining his traditional expertise as a cartographer with his artistic qualities as a watercolourist, he produced water colors of exotic lands based on scrupulous research. These he based on reports and sketches that masters, helmsmen and merchants on their travels under the orders of the VOC and WIC. He made city elevations, plans, coastal profiles and sea charts, combining them until he had produced a unique series of images that gave an accurate image of a large part of the world then known to Dutch trade. For many of these areas, his are the earliest images. Vingboons's work was unique and a sought after collector's item in its own time for rich private individuals. The largest batch, a series of 130 watercolours bound in three atlases, was bought in 1654 by queen Christina of Sweden. After her death these atlases came into the possession of Pope Alexander VIII, and now rest in the library of the Vatican. The next largest collection, more than hundred works, is in the possession of the National Archives in the Hague. A small number of watercolours are in the Medici library in Florence.

In the printed view here, Pieter van der Aa closely follows the view of Vingboons, except for one major update. Where Vingboons shows the old Gowa fortress of Ujung Padang, with the buildings of the palace of Sultan Hasanuddin, Pieter van der Aa has updated the buildings inside the citadel to represent the new Dutch fort Rotterdam built on the same foundations. This reflects the situation after the Macassar War of 1667-1669 in which Cornelis Speelman, with the help of local allies, had conquered the Macassar kingdom for the VOC, and turned Ujung Padang into Fort Rotterdam. It would be the heaviest war that the VOC ever fought, and it would finally bring Macassar under their control, and secure the monopoly on the spice trade. From that time on, the VOC used the port of Macassar as an important entrepot and stopover for the spice trade from the Moluccas.

Speelman would later become Governor General of the East Indies from 1681 to 1684.

Macassar War

For much of the seventeenth century, the hard-fought VOC monopoly on cloves and nutmeg from the Mollucas was not watertight. Parallel export was common, in particular via the port of Macassar, capital of the powerful Kingdom of the same name, also known as the Sultanate of Gowa. Despite numerous negotiations and treaties with Macassar and their allies in the region, the VOC had been unable to solve the impermissable leak of spices. This parallel trade was so profitable, that the English East India Company, the Danish East India Company, the Portuguese and others had their own quarters and trading posts in the city.

The situation was harmful for the profitability and the credibility of the VOC, but because the Macassarese were the warlords of the Indoneasian Archipelago and they had many allies, the VOC had turned a blind eye on it. But in 1666, a much greater risk suddenly arose. In Europe, the Dutch Republic got entangled in the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667), a war essentially over the control over the seas and trade routes, where England tried to end the Dutch domination of world trade during a period of intense European commercial rivalry. After initial English successes, the war ended in a Dutch victory in 1667, but that outcome was not known in Batavia until 1668, with communication between Amsterdam and Batavia taking typically 9-12 months. The VOC got notice that the English were trying to establish an alliance with the Sultan to break the VOC monopoly on spices. That directly threatened the very existence of the VOC and changed the Macassar equation, it was a risk that had to be eliminated at all costs. Time was up.

In 1666, Governor General Johan Maatsuyker appointed Cornelis Speelman as admiral on what the VOC called a pacification mission to the Moluccas, to Macassar's allies in the East Indies (like Bouton), and to Macassar itself, to negotiate a new treaty to resolve the issues. The VOC also wanted to retrieve their East Indiaman "Leeuwin", that had accidentally stranded near Macassar of which the cargo had been looted and the vessel had not been returned to the VOC. The Dutch also wanted the extradition of one of their former employees, who lived in Macassar to help with the spice trade to the English East India Company.

Speelman first negotiated new treaties with Ternate, Bouton and other allies of Macassar, before arriving in the port of Macassar in July 1667.

After initial exchange of pleasanteries, the negotiations took forever as usual, and little if any substantial progress was made. That strategy had worked for Macassar for almost half a century. The king also knew that Batavia had given Speelman instructions to solve it peacefully, and had only given him a modest amount of 600 armed forces. Speelman had however also managed to bring an allied armed force of Bugis, who were allies of the VOC and enemies of Macassar. The longer it would take, the more Speelman would be in trouble for food supplies, and running the risk of the new monsoon season. The Macasarese were considered the most formidable military power of the East Indies, and they felt perfectly safe in the heavily armed fortress of Ujung Pandang. For over four months, envoys were sent back and forth.

Hostilities and negotiations went on for months. Speelman's strategy was to block the port to prevent rice and supplies to Macassar, and to prevent fishing. On November 6, Speelman reluctantly implemented orders from Batavia to resume peace negotiations. On 18 November of 1667, a new treaty was signed, known as the Bungaya Treaty. Even at the time of the signing of the Bungaya treaty on 18 November 1667, Speelman expressed his reservations about the efficacy of such a document to maintain the peace: " ... we still have so little trust in the Makassar goverment; it is as if we we re still at war, although outwardly they show us every courtesy and affection". When a copy of the treaty in Malay was shown to the Sultan of Banten, he remarked th at those in Makassar had promised more than could and would be fulfilled.

Despite the treaty, the fighting continued. The war took an unexpeeted turn with the outbreak of a plague epidemic in Makassar between April and July 1668. The disease took a particularly heavy toll among the already weakened Dutch garrison. In May 100 Dutchmen died, in June 125, and in July 135. Speelman himself contracted the fever, but he recovered by going out to sea to escape the epidemic on land. Speelman reluctantly implemented orders from Batavia to resume peace negotiations on 6 November 1668. Gowa however, used the period of the negotiations to reaffirm its ties with its former allies. On 16th November it unilaterally terminated the talks and four days later launched a war on the Dutch and their allies, confident to win an all-out war. It turned out to be a grace underestimation of Speelman and a fatal miscalculation that would lead to the end of the Kingdom.

The battles were fierce but the Dutch and their allies managed to hold their positions on land and on sea. In preparation for the assault on the heavily-fortified citadel, Speelman had a tunnel dug secretly under one of the walls where the attack was to take place. On the 13th of June of 1669, the tunnel was filled with gunpowder and sealed. The next day, the explosives were ignited and blasted a breach of 27 meters wide in the 3.5 meters thick red brick walls.

Although Speelman was convinced that Macassar would fall, he declared that nothing like this had ever happened before in the Makassar lands, and he had never believed that the enemy would offer as much opposition as it did. He called it "the heaviest encounter we have ever had during the entire existence of his commission". Heavy rain prevented hostilities for a week and the wide breach in the walls was barricaded. But by the 22nd of June 1669, Macassar fell and the Sultan fled. The amount of weapons captured by the Dutch gives some notion of Gowa's arsenal. There were 33 cannons weighing about 46,000 Ibs and 11 weighing about 24,000 Ibs, 145 small guns, 83 gun chambers, two stonethrowers, 60 muskets, 23 arquebuses, 127 barrels of muskets, and some 8,483 bullets. It was this impressive array of Macassar's firepower so effectively employed which made the conquest of this citadel one of the most difficult campaigns the Company had ever undertaken.


Pieter van der Aa (1659-1733)

"Records show that van der Aa, born in Leiden in 1659, made an early start in life by being apprenticed to a bookseller at the age of nine and starting his own in business as a book publisher by the time he was twenty-three.

During the following fifty years he published an enormous amount of material including atlases and illustrated works in every shape and size, two of them consisting of no less than 27 and 28 volumes containing over 3,000 maps and plates."

(Moreland & Bannister).