Moluccas (məlŭk´əz, mō–) or Spice Islands, Bahasa Indonesia Maluku, Du. Molukken, island group and prov. (1990 pop. 1,856,075), c.32,300 sq mi (83,660 sq km), E Indonesia, between Sulawesi and New Guinea. The capital of the province is Ambon, on Ambon island. The group's many islands include Halmahera (the largest), Seram, Buru, Ambon, Ternate, and Tidore and the Aru and Kai island groups. Of volcanic origin, the Moluccas are mountainous, fertile, and humid. They are the original home of nutmeg and cloves. Other spices, copra, and forest products are also produced. Sago is the staple food.
The islands were visited by the Portuguese in c.1512 and thereafter colonized by them; they established a trading center at Ternate. In the 17th cent. they were taken by the Dutch, who secured a monopoly in the clove trade. Twice the British gained a foothold in the islands, which passed definitively to the Dutch in the first quarter of the 19th cent. Local separatists declared a Southern Moluccas republic following Indonesia's independence, but they were crushed. The separatist movement experienced a resurgence following President Suharto's fall from power (1998). The islands have been the scene of Muslim-Christian violence in recent years.
See I. Burnet, Spice Islands (2011).
"Moluccas." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/moluccas
"Moluccas." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/moluccas
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"Moluccas." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/moluccas
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In the history of the Moluccas (a group of islands in present-day Indonesia), three regions are to be distinguished: the North Moluccas, with its sociopolitical center in the small islands of Ternate and Tidore off the west coast of Halmahera; the South Moluccas, with its center in the Banda Islands; and the Central Moluccas, with its center in the island of Ambon and three adjacent small islands off the southwest coast of Seram.
Ternate and the adjoining islands were the natural habitat of the clove tree, while the Banda Islands were the natural habitat of the nutmeg tree, producing nutmeg and mace. Until the sixteenth century the production of cloves, nutmeg, and mace remained restricted to these islands. From ancient times, cloves, nutmeg, and mace had been much sought-after spices for which extremely high prices were paid in the markets of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. In the course of time, foreign traders found their way to the Moluccas, also called the Spice Islands. Javanese merchants were almost certainly the first to do so, followed by traders from South Asia and the Middle East and, finally, in 1512, by the Portuguese.
By the end of the fifteenth and into the early part of the sixteenth century in Ternate-Tidore and in the Banda Islands, trade contacts with the distant outside world went hand in hand with the introduction of Islam. Furthermore, state formation occurred in the North Moluccas, resulting in the beginning of the sixteenth century in four principalities: Ternate, Tidore, Jailolo, and Bacan. Of these, Ternate and Tidore were the most important. Ternate and Tidore were well-matched rivals, and continuously opposed each other; Ternate usually had the backing of Bacan, whereas Jailolo sided with Tidore.
No state formation occurred in Banda. In the sixteenth century, Bandanese society comprised more than twenty villages without a central authority. Bandanese village chiefs, usually known as orang kaya (literally, "rich men"), every now and then waged war on one another, but conferred with each other when common interests vis-à-vis foreigners came into play. Banda did exhibit a kind of supravillage order. The villages were organized into two mutually opposed groupings: the Uli Lima, or League of Five, and the Uli Siwa, or League of Nine. Each village belonged to either the League of Five or the League of Nine, and the villages were distributed in such a way as to make for a dual territorial division. The two leagues regarded each other as opponents.
The same clear-cut order of villages existed in the Central Moluccas. Before the sixteenth century, the Central Moluccan islands, with a relatively uncivilized population, were unimportant. However, because Ambon was an intermediate station in the sailing route between Banda and Ternate-Tidore, the Ambonese came in contact with foreigners. As a result, early in the sixteenth century the villages of Hitu, the northern peninsula of the island of Ambon, began to cultivate cloves. At about the same time, Islam found acceptance in Hitu.
Such was the situation in the Moluccas when the Portuguese arrived in the early 1500s, the first Europeans to reach the region.
After Afonso de Albuquerque (ca. 1460–1515), the governor of Portuguese India, conquered Malacca (Melaka) in 1511, he immediately sent three ships to the Moluccas. Consequently, the inhabitants of Banda, Ambon, and Ternate had become acquainted with the Portuguese by 1512. The crew of one of the Portuguese ships did not return to Malacca, but at the invitation of the ruler of Ternate settled on that island. The Ternatans were impressed by the knowledge, skills, and arms of the Portuguese and invited them to establish a permanent trading station in Ternate.
Meanwhile, the Spaniards also showed interest in the Moluccas. In 1521 two Spanish ships managed to reach Tidore via the Pacific. The Tidorese, being afraid that the Ternatans in cooperation with the Portuguese would dominate the clove trade, welcomed the Spaniards. Although the Spanish ships stayed in Tidore only for a short time, the Ternatans and Portuguese felt threatened by a potential alliance between the Tidorese and the Spaniards.
Amongst other concerns, the possibility of Spanish-Tidorese cooperation induced the Portuguese in 1522 to construct a fortress in Ternate. Eventually the Portuguese also established trading stations and forts elsewhere in the Moluccas, but until 1575 these were subordinate to the fortress in Ternate.
Portuguese authorities pursued a dual purpose in the Moluccas: (1) purchasing large quantities of cloves, nutmeg, and mace for the benefit of the Portuguese Crown, while pushing as many competitors as possible out of the market; and (2) aiding the Catholic Church in its missionary activities, in particular in areas where the progress of Islam could be checked. The building of forts served this dual purpose. Trade was conducted from the forts, which at the same time served as military bases that could provide protection to those amongst the native population who had chosen to embrace Christianity.
The policies pursued by Lisbon in the Moluccas were hampered by deficient political, administrative, and military organization, by lack of dedicated servants of the crown, by lack of manpower and other resources, and by long lines of communication. Portuguese authorities in Goa (on the west coast of India), the Portuguese headquarters in Asia, sent a series of commanders to the Moluccas for terms of three years. The commander had to recruit his own subordinates to sail with him to Ternate. A large number of those who enlisted for service in the faraway Moluccas were regarded as the dregs of Portuguese society in Asia. Once in the Moluccas, most of the Portuguese tried to become as rich as possible by private trade, to the detriment of the crown that they were supposed to serve. Control from distant Goa was highly ineffective.
Some of the Portuguese serving in the Moluccas never returned to Goa. Instead, they started families in the Moluccas with local Moluccan women or with imported slave women. They supported themselves, in part, through private trade, buying spices from the local population and selling them to the agents of the Portuguese Crown or to Asian traders if they offered to pay more. Slaves belonging to these Portuguese households tended gardens and did some fishing, thus supplying the day-to-day livelihood of the household. Slaves also grew spices for their masters. The resident married men, called casados, became the backbone of the Portuguese presence in the Moluccas. Some casados also became advisors to Moluccan rulers.
The Portuguese were unable to realize their agenda in the Moluccas by exercise of power alone, but they could take advantage of rivalries and chasms in Moluccan society. Thus, in Ternate, when Ternatan and Portuguese interests conflicted, there were always ambitious Ternatans who were willing to enhance their position in Ternatan society by means of Portuguese assistance. Moreover, the alliance with the Portuguese provided the principality as a whole with opportunities for political and military ascendancy within Moluccan society.
Tidore and Jailolo tried to counter the effects of the Portuguese presence in the area by entering into an alliance with the Spanish, who, from 1527 to 1534 and 1544 to 1545 were once again upon the Moluccan stage. This tactic had little effect, however, because the Spanish at that time were unable to maintain their position in the region. The Ternatan-Portuguese ascendancy was used to bring the kingdom of Jailolo to its knees, and in 1551 Jailolo was finally overwhelmed by combined Ternatan and Portuguese forces.
In Ambon, the Portuguese capitalized on the tension between the League of Five and League of Nine. Initially, the Portuguese were on friendly terms with the Muslim villages of the League of Five in Hitu. But in the 1530s the Portuguese angered the Hituese, who sought support from Muslims in Java and Ternate. The Portuguese in their turn made allies of the pagan villages of the League of Nine, which due to the efforts of Jesuit missionaries had gradually converted to Christianity. Thus, the longstanding antagonism between the League of Five and the League of Nine turned into a conflict of Muslims versus Christians. Facing a surging tide of Muslim Hituese, in 1575 the Portuguese started construction on a fort in Leitimor, the southern peninsula of the island of Ambon. This fort eventually became the nucleus of the city of Ambon, the present capital of the Moluccas.
The Portuguese never built a trading station or fort in Banda. But regularly, usually once a year, a Portuguese ship would visit Banda to purchase nutmeg and mace in competition with other traders.
Conflicting interests and Portuguese contempt for Islam prevented the formation of long-lasting and close cooperation between the Portuguese and their most valuable ally, Hairun, the sultan of Ternate (1535–1570). In 1570 Hairun was stabbed to death by order of the Portuguese commander Diogo Lopes de Mesquita, who considered Hairun an obstacle to the Portuguese expansion in the Moluccas. The murder of Hairun by the Portuguese led to a permanent rupture. The Ternatans thereafter seized every opportunity to attack the Portuguese, who were finally forced to surrender their fortress in Ternate in December 1575. They withdrew to Ambon, where they had shortly before begun construction on the fort in Leitimor. After 1575 the fort in Ambon served as the European base of power in the Moluccas.
After the Portuguese had been chased off Ternate, the sultan of Tidore, Gapi Baguna (at least 1571–1599), fearful of political and military domination by the Ternatans, invited the Portuguese to establish a military post in Tidore. This way he hoped to divert the clove trade from Ternate to his own island. In 1578 the Portuguese built a fort in Tidore, thereby reestablishing themselves in the North Moluccas. But they were never to regain their former position of power there.
THE DUTCH UNITED EAST INDIA COMPANY (VOC)
In 1599 Dutch ships appeared in the Moluccas. The Dutch presented themselves as opponents of the Portuguese, and Portugal's Moluccan enemies, all Muslims, gave the Dutch a warm welcome. The Bandanese, Hituese, and Ternatans signed contracts agreeing to supply their spices at good prices to the Dutch, while the Dutch promised to support the Moluccans against their Portuguese enemies. But only after the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC, or United East India Company) was founded in 1602 in the Netherlands did the Dutch obtain a firm footing in the Moluccas. In 1605 they succeeded in capturing the Portuguese forts in Ambon and Tidore, thereby bringing the role of the Portuguese in the Moluccas to an end.
The VOC was both a commercial company and a military power. In Asia, the company could enter into contracts, erect fortifications, and administer subject territories on behalf of the Dutch Republic.
Soon the VOC recognized the unparalleled opportunities the Moluccas offered: the Moluccan Islands were the sole producers of precious cloves, nutmeg, and mace; and they comprised a limited territory with a small population (in the relevant spice-producing regions no more than about 100,000 people in total), making the Moluccas easy to control. Here was a chance to force the population to produce spices in a limited territory exclusively for the VOC. The VOC would thus have a monopoly of the sale of these spices in the Asian and European markets.
With such a monopoly the profits would be driven up because the VOC as the sole buyer of the spices could maintain low costs, while as the sole supplier the VOC could enforce high prices in the world market. However, the prevention of smuggling was crucial for the maintenance of this monopoly. The monopoly required that the Moluccas be closed to all free trade, and the VOC took care that its employees did not engage in spice trading. Within fifty years this program was realized.
At first, the Spaniards tried to thwart the Dutch by conquering from Manila in 1605, with the help of Tidore, the former Portuguese fortress on the west coast of Ternate and by erecting a garrison in a fort in Tidore. To protect themselves and their Ternatan allies, the Dutch constructed a fortress in 1607 on the east coast of Ternate. The Dutch and the Ternatans were unable to drive the Spaniards from Tidore or from the western and southern half of Ternate, but they succeeded in bringing about conditions under which the costs of the Spanish strongholds in the Moluccas exceeded the benefits, with the result that Spain voluntarily withdrew from the Moluccas in 1663.
The English also caused problems for the Dutch. English ships began appearing in the Moluccas in 1604, but in 1623 the VOC, using all the forces at its disposal, pushed the English altogether out of the region.
The greatest resistance that the VOC encountered in enforcing its monopoly came from the Moluccans themselves. To achieve its goals the VOC behaved unscrupulously in the Banda Islands. Because the Bandanese continued to sell their nutmeg and mace to anyone who offered higher prices, the VOC conducted a military campaign against the Bandanese in 1621 and broke all resistance. Survivors were shipped into slavery to Batavia, and only a small number of Bandanese escaped the Dutch by taking refuge on faraway islands. The VOC divided the conquered land into parcels that were given in hereditary tenure to Dutchmen, who exploited the land with slave labor. Until the nineteenth century the tenants were obliged to deliver their nutmeg and mace at prices fixed by the VOC.
The Dutch action in the Banda Islands caused shockwaves elsewhere in the Moluccas. In Banda, the VOC had shown that it was capable of doing anything to safeguard its interests.
Subsequently, the Dutch, not without difficulty, had everything their own way in Ternate and Ambon. Having broken all overt and covert resistance, and having managed to keep away all Asian traders from the Moluccas, the Dutch signed contracts from 1652 to 1657 with the rulers of the North Moluccas in which the Moluccans conceded that they were subordinate to the VOC. The North Moluccan rulers also promised to entertain no relations with other nations or rulers; to keep out all foreigners; to offer no asylum to enemies of the VOC; to neither carry on trade in or cultivate spices; to assist with the tracking down of spice trees; to supply goods and render services to the VOC as its subjects; and to recognize the VOC's right to construct fortifications where it deemed necessary.
At the same time, the population of Ambon and three adjacent small islands was obliged to grow a quantity of cloves as stipulated by the VOC and to supply this to the company at a fixed price. Hence, on these four islands a cultivation system was introduced under the strict supervision of the VOC, which was to supply the entire world market with cloves. The village chiefs were instrumental in the implementation of this system. The company assured itself of their cooperation by paying them 10 percent of the price paid to the producers coming under their authority. The village chiefs were also expected to ensure that villagers rendered services due to the VOC. These services imposed a heavy burden on the villagers.
In taking over the Portuguese authority in Ambon in 1605 the VOC inherited a number of native Christians. They had been allies of the Portuguese, but for the Dutch they were subordinates who were obliged to grow cloves and perform corvée services just like Muslims. The Christian villagers were granted minimal education and pastoral care.
In the North Moluccas, the main objective of the VOC after 1657 was to isolate the principalities of Ternate, Tidore, and Bacan as much as possible from the outside world. The character of the European settlements in the area developed from that of trading posts to that of guard posts for the prevention of the growing and smuggling of cloves. Within this system of indirect rule, however, the Dutch failed to exercise effective control over Tidore because they neglected to establish a garrison there. Tidore and its dependencies were nominally under Dutch authority, but in reality this principality mostly managed to escape Dutch oversight.
Toward the end of the eighteenth century, the VOC's power was definitely waning, and the company was increasingly confronted with such problems as piracy and the rise to power of Nuku, a prince of Tidore who in 1779 had been passed over for succession. Prince Nuku subsequently decamped to the areas east of Halmahera, where he rallied many supporters to his cause. Together with British private traders operating from India, he became involved in spice smuggling. Eventually, in 1797, he succeeded in conquering Tidore with his fleet and with the assistance of two English ships.
Soon after the French Revolution broke out in 1789, Britain and France went to war with each other (the Napoleonic Wars, 1793–1802, 1803–1814). The Netherlands became a satellite state of France and had to pay a price in Asia. In 1796 Ambon and Banda passed into British hands, and in 1801, with the support of Nuku of Tidore, the British took control of Ternate.
The British maintained a system of compulsory cultivation and delivery of spices, but at the same time young clove and nutmeg trees were transplanted to other British colonies. In the long run, therefore, the Moluccas would no longer be the sole producer of cloves, nutmeg, and mace.
In 1803 the Moluccas again fell into Dutch hands. Extremely bad times followed for the Moluccas as the islands were put in a state of defense against the British. In various ways, the population was more heavily burdened than ever before.
In 1810 Ambon, Banda, and Ternate fell again in British hands. After the hardships of the foregoing years, the second British interregnum (1810–1817) was a relief for the Moluccans. The British resident, William Byam Martin (1811–1817), demonstrated a sincere interest in the well-being of the population and displayed an aversion to the use of force. The spice monopoly was maintained, but without its excrescences. For the Moluccans, the British administration in every respect compared favorably with the Dutch administration.
After the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, the Moluccas were handed over once again to the Dutch in 1817. Disappointed with the return of the Dutch, rebellion broke out in the Ambon Islands, and it took the Dutch six months to quell the uprising.
DUTCH COLONIAL GOVERNMENT
The return of Dutch rule did not imply a simple reversion to the former situation of the VOC period. The Dutch monopoly on the world supply of cloves, nutmeg, and mace had completely broken down. This development had important consequences for the Moluccas. Although the system of compulsory cultivation of spices continued for the time being, there was in effect no longer any policing of the prohibition on the cultivation of cloves beyond Ambon. As the production of cloves, nutmeg, and mace beyond the Moluccas rose, the prices for these products on the world market fell, with the result that the Dutch government began to take losses on the spices it was obliged to purchase in Ambon and in Banda, and the monopoly on clove and nutmeg production was officially lifted on January 1, 1864. In the nineteenth century, after the Moluccan spices lost their former high value on the world market, the Moluccas became an economically undesirable area.
With the new colonial government, direct involvement in production and trade was no longer the first matter of importance. As the nineteenth century progressed, the emphasis became more on good government in support of the advancement of private trade and commerce. With the expansion of the colonial state, administration became more and more an end in itself. The result for the Moluccas was that an interest was now also taken in parts of the larger islands of Halmahera, Seram, and Buru and in the southern islands, which had never had any economic value to the Dutch. Efforts were made to place those islands wholly under Dutch authority and under regular colonial rule. This aim was realized in the twentieth century.
Early in the nineteenth century, there was also a clear break with the previous VOC period in the areas of church, mission, and education. The VOC had never shown any interest in missionary activities, but from 1814 onward, missionaries, first under the protection of the British and then under the protection of the Dutch, made their appearance again in the Moluccas, for the first time since the Portuguese left in 1605.
Another important development was that in the second half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries the educational system was gradually extended in the Central Moluccas. Although the separation between schools and churches made it possible for Muslims to take advantage of the educational facilities, it was almost exclusively the Ambonese Christians who benefited from them. Thus the extension of education increased the social distance between Christian and Muslim Ambonese.
As the colonial state's need for Indonesian officials increased and the educational system in Ambon came to offer more and more training facilities, the number of Ambonese taking up positions as officials in the colonial government grew. Other Ambonese found employment with the church, with the missions, in the educational system, in health care, and with private companies. Men with only an elementary-school education could enlist in the colonial army, which especially after 1875 made systematic attempts to recruit Ambonese soldiers. This eagerness of Christian Ambonese to serve in the colonial apparatus or in the Dutch private sector, within and outside the Moluccas, remained strong until the end of the colonial period. The Moluccas, and in particular Ambon, was transformed from a supplier of spices to a supplier of personnel for the Dutch.
The prewar nationalist movement advocating Indonesian independence did not pass by Ambonese society. From the early 1920s onward this movement drew supporters from among better-educated Ambonese emigrants. The majority of them, however, still expected a perpetuation of the colonial system and desired little more than an improvement in social opportunities for Ambonese within this system. On the Ambonese islands themselves, the chiefs of both Christian and Muslim villages were conservative and on their guard against anything likely to undermine their authority. Hence, they tried as much as possible to counter all forms of political activity in their villages in cooperation with the Dutch administrative apparatus.
At the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, missionaries operating in Halmahera were assiduous in pointing out the detrimental effects of Ternatan and Tidorese rule on the local population in the North Moluccas. They became advocates for the suppression of the influence of autonomous principalities and for improvement in the administrative control of the colonial government. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there was an acceleration in the dismantling of authority exercised by the autonomous governments. From 1907 to 1910 the principalities of Ternate, Tidore, and Bacan were forced to sign away their formal independence, and the self-governing territories were thereby incorporated more closely into the colonial state. This was a formal ratification of a process that had begun earlier and paved the way for the subsequent remodeling of the formal autonomy of Ternate, Tidore, and Bacan according to the norms of the colonial state.
Although part of the pagan population of Halmahera embraced Christianity, in the North Moluccas the level of education did not surpass elementary school. Thus the development of the North Moluccas lagged far behind that of the Central Moluccas, and the nationalist movement gained no foothold there.
The South Moluccas, with the exception of the Banda Islands, had always been of marginal significance, and remained so in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
WORLD WAR II AND DECOLONIZATION
The defeat of the Dutch by Japan in 1942 dealt Dutch prestige a serious blow. When the Dutch returned to the region in 1945, it looked as though the old regime would be reestablished. Large numbers of Christian Ambonese again entered the service of the Dutch colonial apparatus as officials and soldiers.
The end of colonial rule in 1949 caused few problems in the North and South Moluccas. The Central Moluccans reacted differently. In Ambon, the transfer of power led to the proclamation of an independent Moluccan Republic in April 1950. But the uprising got no support outside the Central Moluccas, and the Moluccan Republic, dominated by Ambonese Christians, was short-lived. From 1950 to 1951 the Indonesian army crushed the rebellion, although hard-core rebels continued fighting a guerilla war in Seram until 1965.
Andaya, Leonard Y. The World of Maluku: Eastern Indonesia in the Early Modern Period. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.
Chauvel, Richard. Nationalists, Soldiers, and Separatists: The Ambonese Islands from Colonialism to Revolt, 1880–1950. Leiden, Netherlands: KITLV Press, 1990.
Cribb, Robert B. Historical Atlas of Indonesia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000.
Ellen, Roy. On the Edge of the Banda Zone: Past and Present in the Social Organization of a Moluccan Trading Network. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003.
Meilink-Roelofsz, M. A. P. Asian Trade and European Influence in the Indonesian Archipelago Between 1500 and about 1630. The Hague, Netherlands: Nijhoff, 1962.
Wright, H. R. C. "The Moluccan Spice Monopoly, 1770–1824." Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 31 (4) (1958): 1-127.
"Moluccas." Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/moluccas
"Moluccas." Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450. . Retrieved September 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/moluccas