This chapter has tried to give insight into various aspects of the connection between patria and the Asian side of the Company for the period 1654-1663. I hope this ‘case study’ has given more substance to some of the statements made in chapter II. What I hope to have shown is that the connection between Europe and the overseas possessions was complicated, and that the Asian ‘empires’ of the various European powers, although tied to Europe, can certainly not be interpreted as extensions of these powers overseas.
This complicated nature, firstly, finds expression in the ‘material’ aspect of this connection. On the one hand, the possessions in the East were dependent on a steady stream of reinforcements, in the form of weapons, ammunition, ships and soldiers, from Europe. On the other hand, the numbers we find in the resolutions and the Generale Eis are ridiculously small when looked upon in a European light. Van Goens observed at the first siege of Cochin how incredible it was that he was now laying siege to a city the size of Leiden with 1700 soldiers. He would have been aware that Leiden, almost a century earlier, had withstood a siege laid by 10.000 soldiers, more than the entire Company had, spread out across half the globe, at the time involved in various large campaigns and garrisoning a few dozen strongholds. The VOC’s warfare was, in that respect, of an entirely different nature. Coming back to the statements made in chapter II, I hope this chapter has illustrated in what ways the Military Revolution worked differently outside Europe.
A similar ‘complication’ of the European situation beyond the line can be distinguished in the political interaction. Although not as clear an example as 1641-1644, the period here treated does show that the policy of the VOC cannot be interpreted as a simple continuation of what the Republic was doing in Europe. I hope also to have made clear that saying ‘the Republic was at war with Portugal’ is very different from saying ‘the VOC was fighting the Portuguese in Asia.’ Although many of the conflicts between the two countries had had their origin in the developments overseas, it remains clear that the VOC’s motivation for war was not one and the same with the Republic’s. The VOC was not concerned with the European balance of power, but with profit and monopoly. The various developments in Europe, such as an enforced peace or the looming threat of Portuguese colonies being transferred to the English, were mostly considered a nuisance, and were in a way incompatible with the matters that drove the Company.
Furthermore, I hope this chapter has succeeded in showing the VOC’s information network and command structure in action. In this case-study, we have seen detailed information on local Asian politics travel all the way from the outposts to Batavia and on to patria, and decisions as well as material and soldiers travelling all the way from patria back to these outposts. This has hopefully also made clear the ‘fault-lines’ in this system, in the form of the huge time-lapses and distances, the different perspectives of VOC officials in different places, misunderstandings, circumstances that could not be planned for such as storms, and the personalities of the different people involved in the decision-making process. In spite of all these things, the system seems to have worked very well: the centralized command structure that had come into being in the first decades of the VOC’s existence gave it a serious edge in the wars it had to wage.