Plate IV, Furbildung einer Morderische that in der Statt Goa darzu des ermordten Ghetrauw
From Part III of Johann Theodor de Bry (1561-1623) and Johann Isreal de Bry's (1565-1609) Orientalische Indien (“Little Voyages”), Dritter Theil indiae orientalis...Frankfurt: 1599 (first edition)
Engraving with original, early 17th century hand color heightened with gold on laid paper; paper dimensions: approximately: 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
Printed by Matthias Becker
van Groesen 52
A FABLED MURDER OF A DIAMOND CUTTER IN GOA
François de Coninck was an Antwerp diamond cutter who had settled in Goa. He was a close acquaintance of the Dutchman Jan Huygen van Linschoten. De Coninck strongly suspected his sixteen-year-old wife had been unfaithful and dis- cussed this with his best friend, a Portuguese man. He said he wanted to kill his wife's lover. What De Coninck did not know was that this Portuguese man was in fact his wife's lover. His wife soon heard about the plan therefore and her lover decided that offence was the best defense: the Antwerp diamond cutter was murdered in 1588, on his wife's instructions. The murder took place on the first floor. We see how De Coninck's wife helps the murderer flee through the window.
This illustration comes from a French edition of Jan Huygen van Linschoten's Itinerario.*
Translation of text:
Title: Execution of an act of murder in the city Goa with the help and assistance of the victim's wife herself.
Text: This is a tragedy of the ages well known in history concerning a diamond cutter from Antwerp. He had a cousin who loaned him money so that he could trade in foreign countries and make a profit. But after the diamond cutter squandered the money his cousin denied him entry into his house ever again he moved to India/ settled down in Goa married a Frenchman's daughter born from an Indian mother.
Now the diamond cutter's wife was making advances toward a Portuguese and allowed him entry in her husband's absence. At one point the wife and her husband and other good friends gathered in a yard to entertain themselves the wife left which was told to the Portuguese.
Thus he approached and when he saw that his paramour was dishonorable leaving the company of the other men which her husband had invited and instead went to the front of the yard by herself just with the servants and maids he rushed over directly with an unsheathed dagger and pulled her with his arms in the presence of her servants and maids into an old rotten house that was part of the garden and when they arrived she took off her apron and threw it on the ground and she did as he pleased and let him disappear afterward without resistance.
When the diamond cutter found out from others how his wife appeared he didn't know who she was seeing he thought he should take action asked the certain Portuguese for advice who committed this act despite not being the diamond cutter's best and most trusted friend said he wanted to take revenge on the adulterer.
When the Portuguese who was the perpetrator himself heard that he promised to the diamond cutter all his help and assistance. Immediately this false and faithless friend told the diamond cutter's wife and his lover they both agreed to prevent their misery and to kill the diamond cutter but gently and they acted on their words.
Because when this diamond cutter invited several good friends back to his house his wife prepared a drink with an herb called dutroa which grows in India and which put him into a deep sleep but since he always keeps the key to his bedroom himself the adulterer had to come through the window with assistance from his paramour killed him took everything there was in his house and fled with the whore. When the slaves servants and maids saw the crime scene they ran screaming into the street but it was too late and the adulterers were nowhere to be found.**
ENGRAVED PLATES FROM VOLUME III OF DE BRY’S ‘LITTLE VOYAGES’ OF THE EAST INDIES
Featuring Depictions of: The Azores, India, Sumatra, Madagascar, Pugnatan Island, Bantam Island, Sri Lanka, Bali, Nova Zembla and Kola
Documenting Linschoten’s Voyages (Contined from Vol. II), Cornelis de Houtman's Voyage to the East Indies (1595-1597), and Gerrit de Veer's Journal of Three Dutch voyages to reach the East Indies by the North (1594- 1597).
For years, the Dutch had watched Portuguese trade vessels sail to the Far East and return to the ports of Portugal loaded with valuable spices. Now, at the end of the 16th century, sweeping changes were about to happen. The nation was at war with Spain since 1568. It was made difficult for merchants to put in at the ports of Portugal, Spain's neighboring country with which the Dutch Republic had also been drawn into war. All this led a small group of Dutch entrepreneurs to decide to establish a trade company enabling them to undertake voyages to the East by themselves. This would become the Compagnie van Verre (long-distance company). But how to go about it, without encountering enemy ship of the Portuguese?
On April 2, 1595, Cornelis de Houtman and his brother Frederik de Houtman set sail from Texel to the East with the Amsterdam, the Hollandia, the Mauritius and the pinnace Duyfken. The first voyage ("De eerste schipvaert") was actually not much of a success. On board, the crew was suffering from hunger and diseases like scurvy. The commander had to deal with exhaustion and mutiny among the crew. Only halfway through the journey, near Madagascar, a part of the crew had to be buried. Before long, flaming row developed between the skippers and the merchants, especially since no admiral of the fleet had been appointed.
The ships arrived at the Javanese city of Bantam on June 27, 1596. Here they assumed to be safe from the Portuguese. When a Portuguese ship did arrive, De Houtman let his men attack it. Bantam, too, got involved in the battle, for which the Dutchmen were not appreciated. They hurried out of the place. At a certain point, there were not enough men left to crew all four of the ships. Thus, they decided to set fire to the Amsterdam.
The ships sailed east past Java and arrived at Madura island, where they were received peacefully. Fearing betrayal, De Houtman ordered to attack the locals, which was executed with great cruelty, upon which they fled. Also on the adjacent island of Bali, the Dutch received a warm welcome. Some of the crew even decided to stay there. Since the crew did not want to sail any longer, De Houtman decided not to set course any further to the East, the Moluccas. Instead, he returned home.
The voyage hardly yielded any profit and the company could barely cover its cost with the revenues. Only 89 of a crew of 249 survived. The goal of the voyage however, proving the possibility of reaching Asia past Cape of Good Hope, without being troubled by the Portuguese, was achieved. This expedition was one of the contributing factors to give rise to the establishment of the East India Company (VOC) in 1602.
The journal of this first voyage ("De Eerste Schipvaert") is an outstanding source that still allows us to undergo the very adventures of De Houtman and his men. The story, together with its numerous illustrations, shows the tribes they encountered along the way and how these strangers lived, ate, sang and danced. The Dutchmen wondered about all the new things they encountered, sometimes in fear, sometimes in astonishment.*
*Research provided by Martine Gosselink, head of the History department at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Netherlands.
**Translated from original German by Karl Nesseler.
Description compiled by Erik Brockett who is pleased to provide additional information relating to this or other examples of the work of Johann Theodor de Bry available at Arader Galleries. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org