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State Formation and the Role of Portfolio Investors in Cochin, 1663–1700

  • Hugo K. S'Jacob (a1)

Extract

J.C. van Leur was not very kind to his fellow historians in 1940 when he addressed the Historical Section of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences, reviewing the fourth volume of the Geschiedenis van Nederlandsch Indië by E.C. Godée Molsbergen. The gist of his talk, entitled ‘On the Eighteenth Century as a Category in Indonesian History’, was that colonial historical studies in the Netherlands and in the Netherlands East Indies were of a fairly parochial nature. For Van Leur, who was well acquainted with social and economic historical theory, it was not difficult to criticize the traditional approach of Godée's study of the eighteenth century. He pointed out that it made no sense to use the eighteenth century as a category in Asian history. The reverse in fact was true, he argued, as from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, Asian civilizations were characterized by a steady continuity. Nowadays many historians would agree with Van Leur's point of view, except for his refutation of the eighteenth century as a category in Asian history. The eighteenth century is now generally regarded as a period of change in many parts of Asia.

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Notes

1 Leur, J.C. van, Indonesian Trade and Society. Essays in Asian Social and Economic History (The Hague 1967) 268289.

2 Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber, ‘Presidential Address: State Formation in Asia-Prolegomenon to a Comparative Study’, Journal ofAsian Studies 46 (1987) 731746.

3 Ibidem, 738.

4 Stein, Burton, The New Cambridge History of India 1,2: Vijayanagar (Cambridge 1989) XI, 126134.

5 Stein, Burton, ‘State Formation and Economy Reconsidered’, Modern Asian Studies (MAS) 19/3 (1985) 387413. Frank Perlin, ‘State Formation Reconsidered,’ ibidem, 415–480. Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, ‘State Formation and Transformation in Early Modern India and Southeast Asia’, Itinerario 12/1 (1988) 91109, a more critical and slightly enlarged version of Aspects of State Formation in South India and Southeast Asia, 1500–1650’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (IESHR) 23 (1986) 357377.

6 Bayly, Chris, Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars. North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion 1770–1870 (Cambridge 1983) 165, 381. Perlin, , ‘State Formation Reconsidered’, 475. Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, ‘Staying on: The Portuguese of Southern Coromandel in the Late Seventeenth Century’, IESHR 22/4 (1985) 452. Subrahmanyam, , ‘Aspects of State Formation’, 370–72. Subrahmanyam, and Bayly, combined their findings on South and North India in: ‘Portfolio Capitalists and the Political Economy of Early Modern India’, IESHR 25/4 (1988) 401424. See also Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India, 1500–1650 (Cambridge 1990) 327336.

7 Schouten, Wouter, Oost-Indische Voyagie (Amsterdam 1676) 2nd book, 261.

8 S'Jacob, H.K., ed., De Nederlanders in Kerala 1663–1701. De memories en instructies belreffende het commandemenl Malabar van de Vermigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (The Hague 1976) LVIII.

9 Using the VOC records, the history of Malabar in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries can be at least partially reconstructed. These records provide a one-sided and biased interpretation of Malabar politics and trade, because they tend to justify the policies of the locally stationed Dutch officials, who often interpreted Malabar politics in their own terms. I have consciously tried to keep this bias in mind while evaluating the evidence. Preferably old Malayam records should be compared with the available Dutch evidence, but my linguistic limitations prevent me from doing so. Moreover, the archives of Cochin are still not accessible to historical research because inventories and indexes are not provided. Much work still has to be done by archivists before historians can move in. In view of these circumstances, the recent article of K.N. Ganesh on ownership and control of land in mediaeval Kerala is remarkable. Ganesh, K.N., ‘Ownership and control of land in medieval Kerala: Janmam-kanam relations during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries’, IESHR 28/3 (1991) 299323. Because the VOC records contain little information on land ownership, a fact also mentioned by Ganesh, I have been unable to connect the trend in landownership described by Ganesh with references in the Dutch records.

10 When not indicated otherwise, this paragraph is based on S'Jacob, , Nederlanders in Kerala, XXTV–XXXV.

11 Conlon, Frank F., A caste in a changing world. The Chitrapur Saraswnt Brahmans 1700–1935 (Berkeley 1977) 1428.

12 s'Jacob, , Nederlanders in Kerala, 86–88, 114116.

13 s'jacob, , Nederlanders in Kerala, 114116; VOC 1352, ff. 290v-291r (11–3-1680).

14 s'Jacob, , Nederlanders in Kerala, XXXIII; VOC 1582, pp. 58–60 (30–6-1696).

15 The Dutch took possession of Cranganur Fort in 1666. VOC 1256, f. 375r (12–9-1666).

16 s'Jacob, , Nederlanders in Kerala, XLVHI–LJ.

17 VOC 1252, 470 (304–1665); VOC 1256, ff. 379r-381v (12–9-1666); VOC 1274, ff. 127v-128v, 133r-v (14 and 15–8-1670).

18 s'Jacob, , NederUmders in Kerala, XLIII–XLIV; LXIX-LXX.

19 s'Jacob, , Nederlanders in Kerala, XXXI, 26, 28.

20 VOC 1266, f. 623r (12/22–1-1669); VOC 1256, ff. 415v-417r (12–11-1666); VOC 1265, f. 929r (30–6-1667); VOC 1274, ff. 135v-136r (14–8-1670).

21 VOC 1280, ff. 530r-531r, 539 (29–11-1671); VOC 1261, f. 831r (12–3-1668); VOC 1266, f. 623r (12/22–1-1669); VOC 1370, ff. 2337r-2339v (29–4-1671).

22 VOC 1274, ff. 121v-123v( 14 and 15–8-1670).

23 VOC 1280, f. 552r (29–11-1671); VOC 1370, ff. 2337r-2339v (294–1671).

24 VOC 1280, ff. 626v-628r, 553v-554r (29–11-1671).

25 VOC 1288, ff. 591r-592v, 642v (21–7-1672); VOC 1299, f. 363 (15–12-1674).

26 VOC 1321, f. 921; VOC 1299, ff. 363r-366v (15–12-1674); Menon, Sreedhara, A Survey of Kerala History (Kottayam 1967) 261; Heeres, J.E., ed., Corpus Diplomalicum Neerlando-Indicum II (The Hague 1931) 530532 (Union of Mouton there wrongly dated 3–12-1674).

27 VOC 1299, ff. 367r-373r, 413r (15–12-1674); Heeres, , Corpus Diplomaticum II, 489490, 502505.

28 s'Jacob, , Nederlanders in Kerala, LXX–LXXIV; VOC 1313, ff. 398r411v (13–8-1675); VOC 1308, ff. 799r-826r (7–6-1675).

29 VOC 1299, f. 91r; VOC 1307, ff. 690v (Febr/March, 1675), 695r; VOC 1308, f. 814.

30 VOC 1308, f. 737v (12–9-1675); VO C 900, pp. 43043 1 (26–9-1676); VOC 1321, ff. 832v-833r (9–3-1676); VOC 899, pp. 441442 (22–10-1675); VOC 1308, ff. 754–776 (9–12-1675); VOC 1321, ff. 919–951 (27–3-1676).

31 s'Jacob, , NederUmders in Kerala, 134138; VOC 1321, f. 925 (27–3-1676).

32 Heeres, , Corpus Diplomaticum II, 454459; VOC 1288, f. 618r (21–7-1672); VOC 1324, f. 391 (7–12-1677); VOC 1329, ff. 1385r-1386r (14–3-1677); VOC 1340, ff. 1460v-1463v, 1468v-1469r; Heeres, J.E. ed., Corpus Diplomaticum III ('s-Gravenhage 1934) 110112; VOC 1340, f. 1463v. Haman in the Old Testament a governor who persecuted the Jews.

33 VOC 1340, ff. 1481r-1488r (244–1678); Heeres, , Corpus Diplomalicum III, 143146; VOC 1349, ff. 1442v-1443r (17–8-1678); VOC 902, p. 1062 (16–9-1678).

34 During the conques t of Malabar in 1662 Huijsman had acted as his secretary; later o n he served at Ceylon. When Van Goens Jr. inspected Malabar in 1675, Huijsman was with him (s'Jacob, , Nederlanders in Kerala, LXXII–LXXIII).

35 VOC 1349, ff. 1526v-1527r (15–3-1697), 1587v-1588r (31–12-1678); VOC 1352, ff. 287v 294r (11–3-1680);Heeres, , Corpus Diplomaticum III, 263266, 273–275.

36 VOC 1370, f. 2102r (8–3-1681); VOC 1364, ff.281v-282r (27–11-1681); VOC 1373, ff. 345r-346r; VOC 1388, ff. 1984r-1986r (134–1683); Heeres, , Corjms Diplomaticum 111, 366367; VOC 1370, f. 2122; VOC 1379, ff. 2435r-2436r; VOC 1406, f. 933; s'Jacob, , NederUmders in Kerala, 204206.

37 VOC 1388, ff. 1984r-1986r (134–1683), 1986v (15–7-1683); VOC 1396, ff. 700, 707v-708r (18–11-1684), 775r-778v (4–9-1684), 779v-781r (9–9-1684); VOC 1410, ff. 623r-626r (29–5-1685); VOC 1416, ff. 1423v-1425r (13–10-1684).

38 VOC 1474, ff. 32r, 69v (10–1-1690); VOC 1464, ff. 329v-330r, 332r-333r (29–12-1688); VOC 1457, ff. 59v-60r (17–1-1689). The unit of coconut on which the toll was levied is not clear; it might be pe r nut. In 1689 for trade the fanam was valued on 32 fanams per rijksdaalder ( s'Jacob, , Nederlanders in Kerala, LXXXIX).

39 VOC 1474, ff. 398 (6–10-1689), 23r-24v, 31v47r (10–1-1690), 748v (19–1-1690).

40 VOC 1474, ff. 598v-600v (20–3-1690), 610v-612v (94–1690), 650r-656r (9–8-1690), 530r-538v (31–1-1691).

41 VOC 1449, ff. 600 (17–1-1688), 627 (1–6-1688); VOC 1474, f. 750v (19–1-1690); s'Jacob, Hugo K., ‘Babba Prabhu: The Dutch and a konkani merchant in Kerala’ in: All of One Company. The VOC in Biographical Perspective (Utrecht 1986) 143144; VOC 1474, ff. 538v-540v, 562v-563v (31–1-1691), 739r-742r (21–1-1691); VOC 1527, f. 197v-198r (22–7-1691).

42 VOC 1527, f. 210r (22–7-1691); KA 1368, p. 1121 (19–3-1691); VOC 1527, f. 224v (22–7-1691); s'Jacob, , Neder landers in Kerala, 258259; VOC 1527, ff. 389r (10–10-1692), 640r-643r, 662 (Extract ‘Cochins Dagregister’).

* I prepared this article as a 1992–1993 fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS/Wassenaar). It was read as a paper at the conference ‘The Eighteenth Century as a Category in Asian History’ held on 2-5 June 1993 at this institute.

State Formation and the Role of Portfolio Investors in Cochin, 1663–1700

  • Hugo K. S'Jacob (a1)

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