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redevanternateFull title: The Theatrical Peace: Honour, Protocol and Diplomacy in the Balance of Power between the United East India Company and Ternate c. 1750

By Dr. Hendrik E. Niemeijer

(© H.E. Niemeijer, May 2012)


This paper deals with the relationship between the VOC government of Ternate (the northern Moluccan spice island) and the Sultan of Ternate in the 18th century. Formally this relationship was that between an overlord (the VOC) and his vassal, the Moluccan ruler. Although this problematic relationship was full of political manipulations and military threat of the local Fort Orange, there was also a political-cultural dimension in the reciprocal relations. In a specific local politico-cultural climate there was space for marks of honour, protocol, ritual exchange of gifts and ceremonial that contributed greatly to conflict prevention. The author argues that the local diplomatic ‘system of contact’, imbued with a feudal relationship, formed the foundation of eighteenth-century Dutch colonialism. The bulk of the gunpowder which John Company ever ignited in Fort Orange in the eighteenth century served no inimical purpose but was in the form of salutes for rulers who happened to sail by. Tea visits, appointment ceremonies, birthday parties in the Company garden all left room for cultural exchanges that promoted a ‘theatrical peace’.

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The Corts Foundation

is a Dutch non profit organization that uses the legacy of Kees Corts to perform history and archive projects concerning the former Dutch Indies, especially the period of the Dutch East India company, and end of the colonial period during World War II.





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