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Ref ID: 22229
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: Feldberg, Wouter
Title: A civilized nation with smart traders: seventeenth century notes from a Dutch merchant in the kingdom of Lan Xang
Date: 2010
Source: Van Wuysthoff and the Lan Xang Kingdom: a Dutch Merchant's Visit to Laos in 1641
Place of Publication: Leiden, Netherlands
Publisher: Gingko Publishers
Notes: Introduction In June 1636 the VOC established a relatively small trading station in Lovek, then the capital of Cambodia. Five years later a Lao delegation returned to this trading station en route to Vientiane from its visit to VOC Governor-General Antonio van Diemen (in office from 1636 to 1645) in Batavia. By that time the post was run by Pieter van Regemortes and the merchant Gerrit van Wuysthoff was stationed here. Unfortunately we do not know much about this visit except that it was under the leadership of the boatman Quan Montip. At the delegation’s request for a Dutch emissary to join them to Vientiane, to meet the Lao King and to discuss trading opportunities, Van Diemen ordered the staff of the Lovek trading station to select a candidate. Gerrit van Wuysthoff was sent on this mission to expand the VOC trading network in Mainland Southeast Asia. A group of more than 30 men departed for Vientiane in twelve boats on July 20, 1641. Van Wuysthoff joined the Lao delegation, himself being accompanied by his two assistants, Willem de Goyer and Huybert Boudewijnsz, the barber and surgeon Pieter Smits, the Malay interpreter Intsie Lannangh and two (unnamed) boys. De Goyer and Boudewijnsz also contributed to the travel journal after Van Wuysthoff headed back to Cambodia in December 1641 as they remained in Vientiane for another six months. Van Wuysthoff and the Italian missionary Giovanni-Maria Leria authored the only extensive European accounts of Laos until the French appeared in the region two centuries later. Due to the limited number of sources on the Lao Kingdom in the seventeenth century, Van Wuysthoff’s journal provides unique information on Laos in this period. In addition, the account gives an insight into Lao and Dutch attitudes towards each other and enables us to distil reasons for this approach. In this contribution I will discuss the experiences and findings of Van Wuysthoff and will focus on the following five aspects: regional politics, trade, religion, customs and the Lao monarchy. In addition to describing seventeenth century Laos from Van Wuysthoff’s journal, I will address two key questions: What did Laos or its King expect and want from the VOC? And vice versa, what did the VOC or Van Wuysthoff expect or want for Laos? For this article I made extensive use of Dr. Hendrik P. N. Muller’s transcription of Van Wuysthoff’s journal in 1917 and the original Van Wuysthoff text which is kept in the Dutch National Archives (<i>Nationaal Archief</i>) in The Hague. Most valuable to my research was also the unpublished English work on Van Wuysthoff by historian Jean-Claude Lejosne that he generously presented to me.
Identifier: 978-90-71256-15-8
Date Created: 1/30/2019
Editors: van Krieken-Pieters, Juliette
Page Start: 41
Page End: 68