|CHAPTER 16 -- Route from
Goa to Masulipatam by Cochin, described in the history of the capture of
that town by the Dutch.
[] After the Dutch Company had deprived the Portuguese of all they possessed in the island of Ceylon, they cast their eyes on the town of *Cochin*, in the territory of which the variety of *cinnamon* called "bastard" [=wild cinnamon] grows, as it had injured the sale of that of Ceylon. The merchants, finding that the *Dutch* valued their cinnamon at so high a price, began to buy that of Cochin instead, which they obtained very cheaply; and this cinnamon, as it gained a reputation, was carried to Gombroon [=Bandar Abbas], where it was distributed among the merchants who came from Persia, Great Tartary, Muscovy, Georgia, Mingrelia, and all the neighbourhood of the Black Sea. A large quantity of it was also taken by the merchants of Bassora [Basra] and Baghdad, which supplied Arabia, and by those of Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Constantinople, Roumania, Hungary, and Poland.
In all the countries just named much cinnamon is consumed, for either in pieces or in powder it is put into the majority of dishes to improve the flavour. When a dish of rice is served, especially in Lent among the Christians, it is so covered with powdered cinnamon that one cannot recognize what it is, and the Hungarians exceed all other nations in this respect. As for the Turks and other Asiatics, they put the cinnamon in small pieces in their pulaos.
The army sent from Batavia to the siege of Cochin disembarked at a place called Belli-porto [=probably *Beypore*], where there was a fort which the Dutch had built with palm trunks. It is close to *Cranganore*, a small town which the Dutch had taken during the preceding year, without having conquered Cochin, upon [] which they had made some attempt. When the army landed it advanced within range of the guns of Cochin, and a river lay between it and the town. The place where the Dutch encamped was called Belle Épine [=Vaipin, an island near Cochin], and having entrenched themselves as far as the nature of the place permitted, they placed some batteries in position, which, however, could not injure the town, because they were too far from it. They remained in this position until reinforcements arrived, for only three ships had come, and the commander of these first troops was one of the bravest captains of his time. A few days after the Governor of *Amboyna* arrived with two ships, and afterwards a Dutch captain brought a number of Chinglas [=*Sinhalese*], i.e., the people of the island of *Ceylon*. For the forces of the Dutch in India would not be so considerable as they are if they did not employ the natives of the country, with whom they augment the troops from Europe. Those of the island of Ceylon are good for the trenches, but for an attack they are useless. Those of Amboyna are good soldiers, and 400 of those who arrived were left at Belle Épine.
The bulk of the army re-embarked, and landed near Cochin in the vicinity of a church dedicated to St. André, where the Portuguese with some Malabaris awaited the Dutch with resolution. When they saw that the enemy landed without manifesting any fear they fired a discharge and then fled, but as they only aimed at the boats the Dutch did not lose many men. The Dutch seeing some companies of Portuguese marching on the sea-coast, and others further inland in the direction of a church called St. Jean, ordered some horsemen to reconnoiter them, but the Portuguese had fled and had set fire to the church, abandoning all to the Dutch. The latter then approached the town, and a French soldier named [] Christofle, who was in their pay, seeing a basket attached to a rope which was hung from a bastion, went boldly to see what it had inside, without fearing musket shots. But he was much surprised when he found that it was a poor fanished infant which the mother had placed there in order to escape the sorrow of seeing it die of hunger, --for already some time had elapsed since the Dutch had begun the siege of Cochin, and since any food had entered the town. The soldier, smitten with compassion, took the infant and shared with it whatever food he had, at which the General of the army was so indignant, saying that the soldier should have left the infant to die, that he assembled the council of war, and proposed that he should be shot. This was very cruel, but the Council moderated the sentence, only condemning him to the lash.
The same day ten men of each company were ordered to go to one of the houses of the King of Cochin, but they found no one there, and the previous year it had been pillaged. The Dutch then slew four kings of the country and 1,600 blacks, and only an old Queen escaped, who was taken alive by a common soldier named Van Rez, whom the General of the army promoted as a reward to be a captain at once. A company was left in this house, but the Queen remained there only six days, as she was given into the custody of the *Zamorin*, who is the most powerful of the petty Kings of this coast, to whom the Dutch had promised that if they took the town of Cochin they would give him that of Cranganore, provided he was faithful to them.
The Dutch then began to entrench themselves and erect [] batteries, taking shelter under small forts made of palms, one laid upon another with clay. They erected one near the Church of St. Jean, which is close to the sea, and furnished it with four pieces of cannon; and another in the neighbourhood of St. Thomas, where was the hospital for the wounded, and close by that for the sick. They also made a battery of seven pieces of cannon and two mortars in a quarter called Calvetti [="execution ground," from a word for *impalement*]. Sometimes they threw bombs, sometimes stones, but the stones did by far the most injury to the besieged. This was the spot where the Dutch lost most men, especially at a small river where they tried to make a bridge with sacks full of clay, in order to be able to cross under cover, on account of a point of the bastion which impinged directly upon the river. The *Pepper* House is a large store surrounded by the sea, and there was then no one inside it. But when the Portuguese perceived that the enemy entertained the design of assaulting it they placed some men there with two guns; this resulted in the bridge scheme being given up and in other measures being adopted. Five weeks elapsed without anything important being accomplished, and when the Dutch delivered an assault at night they were vigorously repelled, and lost many soldiers through the fault of the Governor of Kranganur, who commanded them, and who was drunk when the attack was made.
He was also among the prisoners taken by the Portuguese, and the Dutch General promptly caused those soldiers who had survived the assault to withdraw in a boat. Two months later he resolved to make another assault on the place where the last attack had been made; and he sent a large frigate [] to fetch reinforcements who were encamped in the direction of Belle Épine. But by accident the frigate struck on a bank of sand and foundered, by which many men were lost. Those who could swim landed near Cochin, not being able to land elsewhere; they were in all about ten men, including soldiers and sailors, and the Portuguese made prisoners of them. The General did not on this account relinquish his intention to deliver an assault, and having disembarked all the sailors, he gave to some short pikes, to others hand grenades, and to some swords, with the intention of making an attack on the following night. But a French lieutenant, named St. Martin, representing that if they made a night assault they would in the darkness fall into the holes which the besieged might have made in the ramparts, and that by day they would run much less risk, his advice was followed and the General postponed the affair till the following day.
As soon as the sun had risen he ranged his troops in battle order, and at about ten o'clock began the assault with four companies, each consisting of about 150 men. The Dutch lost many men in this last attack, and the Portuguese still more, for they defended themselves bravely, being aided by 200 soldiers of the Dutch Army who had deserted to them in revenge for having been kept out [=deprived] of six and a half months' pay, in consequence of the loss of Touan [a town in North Java]; this made them unwilling to serve the Dutch Army any longer. Without these soldiers, who constituted an important aid to the enemy, the town could not have held out for two months; and the ablest of the defenders was a Dutch engineer, who, on account of the bad treatment he had received on his own side, was constrained to pass over to that of the enemy.
The Dutch, who had entered Cochin on the Calvetti side, and were already masters of a rampart, remained all night under arms; and on the following day the town capitulated. The Portuguese came to carry off the bodies of some clerics who had been killed; but as for the others, the Dutch had [] them all dragged to the river by the Chinese in their service-- the bodies of the Dutch as well as those of the Portuguese. The wounded were taken to the hospital, and those who had yielded embarked during the night with the engineer, passing without much noise between the Dutch ships, replying to those who asked them whence they came that they were commanded by the Dutch, and had orders for the ships to maintain a good look-out. This ruse served them well, and though the ships fired some cannon shots after them, that did not prevent them from making their escape.
The Portuguese, according to the terms of the capitulation, left Cochin with arms and baggage, but as soon as they were outside the gate of the town, where the Dutch troops were in order of battle, they were obliged to give up their arms and to lay them at the feet of the General, exception being made in the case of the officers, who retained their swords. The General had promised the soldiers the loot of the town, but being unable to keep his promise for reasons which he explained to them, he led them to hope he would pay them six months' wages; this a few days afterwards was reduced to eight rupees each. The Zamorin then asked for the town of *Cranganore*, in accordance with the promise made to him, and it was indeed given to him; but first the General demolished all the fortifications and left him only the walls, at which the Zamorin was much displeased. The majority of those who were well were then commanded to march to one of the petty Kings of this coast known as the King of *Porakad* to treat with him, and it was on this occasion that the Dutch General, who had formerly [] been, as I have said, a menial servant, showed himself to be of a cruel and barbarous nature. Four days had elapsed, during which the soldiers had been unable to buy any food, and two of them having stolen a cow and slaughtered it, the General, as soon as he knew of it, hanged one of them forthwith, and intended to shoot the other, but the King of Porakad saved his life.
The treaty having been concluded with the King of Porakad, the Dutch General held a review of all the survivors, both sailors and soldiers, and the number amounted to about 6,000 persons, all the rest having died of disease or been slain. A few days afterwards he commanded some companies to lay siege to the town of Cannanore, which yielded at once without any resistance. When they returned the General had a crown made to place on the head of a new King of Cochin, the former King having been driven away, and on the day selected for this grand performance he seated himself on a kind of throne, at the feet of which a *Malabari* called Montani, conducted by two or three captains, placed himself on his knees to receive the crown from his hand and to take possession of a kingdom of very limited extent-- that is to say, some small territories in the neighbourhood of Cochin. The General when coming from Holland had been ship's cook, and this crowning of a miserable Malabari by the hands of a man who had more frequently brandished a pot-ladle than a sword was without doubt a brilliant spectacle.
In the meantime the ships which had conveyed to Goa the Portuguese who had surrendered Cochin, returned laden with spoil. This was contrary to the terms of the capitulation, which provided that they should leave the place with arms and baggage, and be conducted to Goa without anything being taken from them. But as soon as they were at sea the Dutch took all that these poor people had, and having strictly searched both men and women, without the least respect for sex, returned laden with booty.
The General of the
Dutch troops which came to the seige [] of Cochin having returned
to Batavia, every one left, only a sufficient number of men remaining for
the protection of the town. A Governor was sent from Batavia who overworked
the soldiers in order to fortify the place, and he cut off the town from
the gate of St. John to the Church of St. Paul, as also the whole quarter
named Calvetti, because it was too extensive to be guarded. A short time
after the siege, food became very cheap in Cochin, but that did not last
long, for the Governor at once placed a duty on tobacco and various comestibles
[=edible things], so that there was only one dealer in them, and he fixed
the price as he pleased. This Governor showed extreme severity towards
the soldiers; he kept them shut up in the town, where they were, so to
speak, in a prison; and they could drink neither wine nor *suri*
nor brandy, because the duties were excessive. This suri is a drink obtained
from palms. While the Portuguese held Cochin one could live better on 5
sols than under the Dutch with 10 sols, because the Portuguese did not
burden the town with taxes. This Governor, I say, was so severe that for
the least fault he banished a man to the island of *Ceylon*,
to the brickworks, sometimes for five or six years, and sometimes for life.
But generally, however, when a man is sent there, although the committal
is only for a few years, he never leaves it again....
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