Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge

Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge was appointed supreme commander (admiral) of a Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie; VOC) fleet of 11 ships that set sail from Europe to the East Indies in 1605. The voyage brought Matelieff’s ships around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and across the Indian Ocean to Johor, Malacca, Banten, the Moluccas, Mindanao, the Fujian Coast, the kingdom of Champa on the coast of present-day Vietnam and back to Java. Matelieff’s voyage to Asia is best remembered for the maritime siege he laid on Malacca between May and August 1606; his engagement at sea with the armada of the Portuguese viceroy; his destruction of half of the Portuguese fleet in the port of Malacca; and the founding of a Dutch fort at the town of Malayur on the northern coast of the Moluccan island of Ternate.

Matelieff’s recommendations were intended to be read by senior members of the Dutch government as well as by the directors of the VOC. Most of the manuscript copies of his works that survive today are found among the working papers of the Dutch lawyer and humanist Hugo Grotius as well as the personal papers of the senior statesman and Land’s Advocate Johan van Oldenbarnevelt in the Dutch National Archives. Although Matelieff maintained a close working relationship with these two men, he did not appear to have been politically marginalised following a coup d’état in 1618 that removed the two men from office. Matelieff made an impressive political career as an alderman, a member of the Rotterdam Policy Advisory Council as well as in his capacity as burgomaster of Rotterdam. Matelieff died in 1632 and was interred in the church of St Laurentius in Rotterdam.