|THE DUTCH IN AYUTTHAYA
|In 1601, Jacob Corneliszoon van Neck arrived with the ships "Amsterdam" and "Gouda" as first Dutchman in Patani in order to buy pepper and other
merchandise. In December 1602 another two ships of the Old East-India Company came. In the same year two "comptoirs" were set up, an Amsterdam
and a Zeeland. In Songkhla (called Sangora at that time) a "comptoir" was set up in 1607 . The important trading posts of Patani and Songkhla, in the
south of Siam at the east coast, were left around 1623, when Governor-General Jan Pieterszoon Coen tried to concentrate all trade at Batavia.
goods such as porcelain and silk were ready available . In 1608 King Ekathotsarot allowed the company to establish their first trading post in his capital
and Siamese ambassadors were sent to Holland and were received in audience by Prince Maurice of the Netherlands . Lambert Jacosz Heijn set up a
VOC (Verenigde Oost-indische Compagnie) settlement in Ayutthaya the same year.
Following the Siamese embassy of 1608, a treaty was concluded between Holland and Siam in 1617. The trade post was temporarily closed in 1622
because trade was not profitable. In 1624 the trading post was set up again because Batavia was fearful that the Dutch position in Siam would be lost. It
closed again in 1629 .
Several Dutch vessels were dispatched to Siam in 1630 and 1632 to assist King Prasat Thong against the Portuguese and Cambodians . Batavia decided
in 1633 to make a greater trade investment in Siam as Japan lifted the ban on foreign trade. Siam exports such as deer hides, ray skins and sappanwood,
could improve largely the trade with Japan in return for silver and copper.
In April 1633 the Chief-of-Mission Joost Schouten was instructed to build a permanent trading post at Ayutthaya. The Dutch received land and a permission
to construct. One year later in 1634, a two-storey brick building enclosed by a stockade, in total costing over 10,000 guilders, was ready. The building was
called "de logie" or in English "the lodge" (locally called Tuek Daeng, the red building ). The lodge was a kind of special because it was a stone construction,
which gave it a "high-status" as in Ayutthaya only the monasteries and palaces were made of stone. The expenses to build the lodge were very high for that
period, estimated at a value of approximately US$ 750,000 in present times. The company's operations were moved from the temporary site in Ayutthaya to
the new compound south of the city .
|King Prasat Thong sends a force of more than 50.000 men to the south in order to subdue the rebellious Sultanate of Patani in 1634 . The Dutch
promised to assist with six large vessels, in return for an exclusive right to export animal skins from Siam. Instead of waiting for the Dutch fleet, the Siamese
army attacked Patani, and was repulsed with severe losses. The provisions ran short and the army returned to present Songkhla (called Singora at that time).
The Dutch fleet, on reaching Patani, found the Siamese departed. The king although appeared to have been satisfied with the action of the Dutch, and
returned to them five thousand florins, being half of the duty paid by them that year for the right to trade with Siam.
The VOC-factory was located north of the trading post of the English (est.1612 - 1622) and the Japanese and opposite the Portuguese settlement, outside
the city walls of Ayutthaya on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River. The Chao Phraya River could be navigated by ships of 300 to 400 gross register ton,
with a depth of approx. 2 fathoms. One mile outside the city was a Siamese customs house located. Until there the ships could come. When leaving
Ayutthaya, ship captains needed to report which merchandise, how many guns and the number of crew he had on board. All data was recorded in a months
to arrive with ships at the city. During the rainy season, in August and September, the river current became too strong to sail it up easily. 
|Opposite the Siamese Custom house at Samut Prakan (also called Pak Nam), a warehouse called “Amsterdam” was built in 1636 on the west bank of the
Chao Phraya, where it meets the Bang Pla Kot Canal (west bank). Because large ships were not able to sail the almost 80 Km long distance over the river
to Ayutthaya, it was necessary to build this warehouse on stilts, located about 2 miles from the mouth of the river. The mutual relationship began to
deteriorate in the end of the Ayutthaya Period and so did the significance of “Amsterdam”.
The VOC-chief Jeremias van Vliet had a rough time when on 10 December 1636, two VOC Dutchmen got an altercation with some priests and palace
guards on return of a picnic on the west side of Ayutthaya. They and their friends were attacked and roughly handled by the Siamese. The next day they
were charged with attacking the palace of the King's brother, and two of their numbers were sentenced to be trampled to death by elephants. Van Vliet, by
distributing presents to King Prasat Thong and principal officials, managed to obtain their release. The VOC-chief was forced to sign an undertaking in
which he agreed to be held responsible for the behaviour of the Dutchmen in the country 
In 1649 Siamese troops were called out, cannon pointed at the Dutch factory, and all the Dutchmen were arrested and kept in confinement for some time.
The Dutch Company had put forward a certain claim against the Siamese Government, which King Prasat Thong, after first promising to meet, later
repudiated. Annoyed Van Vliet used much stronger language than was wise and the King at first ordered the immediate execution of every Dutchman in
Siam. The king was induced to grant them one day's grace in which to leave the country, failing which they were to be trampled to death by elephants, and
the factory given up to plunder. The King, however, changed his mind and in the end released them .
In 1662 King Narai imposed a royal monopoly on all trade, promoted foreign trade and started to send his own trading ships to Japan. Goods destined for
export had first to be sold to the crown . In se the Dutch lost their monopoly on trading hides. The relationship between the Dutch Company and the
king of Siam deteriorated early in 1663 . One day, the Dutch discovered, when checking the contents of a Portuguese ship, a royal shipment aboard,
this in breach of the treaty with Siam. The king's anger was aroused and he ordered Ayutthaya closed . The VOC in Batavia decided to leave its trading
post in Ayutthaya, but at first take action. By September 1663 three VOC ships blocked the Chao Phraya River and tried to secure the release of company
men and merchandise. 
King Narai realized he had gone too far in alienating the Dutch and sent an envoy to Batavia in order to regularize relations . On 21 June 1664 Captain
Pieter De Bitter was sent as an envoy to the court of Siam and managed to secure a renewal of the Dutch - Siamese treaty on 22 August, returning on 30
November to Batavia . The Dutch obtained the sole monopoly of the trade in hides, and Siam undertook not to employ any Chinese on her ships,
rendering it impossible for Siam to compete with Holland in the China trade. There was also an extra-territorial jurisdiction clause in which Dutchmen
committing a crime in Siam will be punished according to the Netherlands laws. The Dutch action led to a drastic change in Siam's trade policy. King Narai,
hoping to curb the arrogance of the Dutch, began cultivating the friendship of other European Powers, especially the French . In 1665 the trading post
was restored again.
|Since approximately 1640 the VOC had a small trading post in Nakhon Sri Thammarat (Ligor). From 1664 onwards the lodge in Ligor belonged under the
amounted to 10 percent and furthermore the king could claim a quantity of tin "for own use". In practice not much remained from its monopoly, as the king's
claim was used rather often. The post was closed in 1663, but reopened in 1707. In 1756, the settlement was definitively left .
In 1688 the French troops departed from Siam after altercations with King Phetraja and the Dutch, being the only Europeans, could conclude a new and
very favourable Treaty, confirming the monopoly of the trade in hides, granted by King Narai, and conceding, in addition, a monopoly of the trade in tin .
In 1705, the trade post was closed again in protest. The VOC was pressed upon to buy sappanwood from the king, while better quality against a lower
price was offered by other merchants. The king although was not impressed, did not change its policy and the Dutchmen finally reopened the factory again in
When in 1715 Japan decided that only two ships per year could come to Decima, the very important trade in deer skin for Ayutthaya was suspended
because it no longer rewarded. Due to the increasing importance of the tin trade the settlement did not need to close. Tin however could be obtained
cheaper and in larger quantities in Palembang. For this reason, the lodge was broken up in 1740, although ships were send annual to Siam. The trade in Siam
recovered around 1750 for a while, but after that lapsed .
In 1732, the territory of the company accommodated 240 families, in total 1,443 men, women and children. 
Especially during king Borommakot's rule, VOC's problems in Siam were approaching the moment of truth: the new king refused to pay his bills or ratify the
old treaties. Even an ultimatum by the VOC's Governor-General was ignored. That led to the company's decision to again temporarily close the posts in
In 1747 VOC's "Opperhoofd" Nicolaas Bang, who had stayed behind in Ayutthaya, received orders to again purchase Siamese merchandise for the market
in Japan. The post in Ligor functioned again from 1752 to 1756 but was closed when the trade in tin collapsed and the VOC decided to focus on the East
Indies where they had conquered more territory and where the spice trade flourished .
In 1760, the Burmese attacked Siam's capital but failed to take it. The VOC's trading post was plundered and Bang drowned trying to escape the invaders.
Bang's son Michel paid a ransom to regain his freedom from the Burmese .
|The post continued to serve its purpose until the end of the company's presence in Ayutthaya in 1765. The last VOC ships left Ayutthaya in November
1765, and the company never returned. By August 1766, Bangkok fell to the Burmese which prompted VOC's new director Werndlij to leave a Siamese
assistant in charge of the Ayutthaya post and evacuate the company's personnel. In September 1766 the Burmese seized a strong position only about half a
mile from the city, menacing the Christian quarter and the compound of the Dutch East India Company. A desperate attempt was made by the Christians
and some Chinese troops to defend their quarter, but by December both the Christian quarter and the Dutch compound were in the hands of the Burmese
The area of the Dutch lodge was scene to heavy fighting against the Burmese. In a French missionary's document, a military camp, which is assumed to be
342). In February, the Burmese attacked Suan Phlu, the large camp, for seven days and nights. Around three thousand Burmese soldiers were killed by the
Chinese. However, since provisions had given out, it was impossible to keep fighting. On 26 March 1767 the camp was routed.  The VOC's trading
post was plundered and destroyed. The company cut its losses by capturing a Siam-bound ship, laden with merchandise. This was definitely the end of the
era of the VOC in Ayutthaya.
In Ayutthaya, a memorial still reminds the old VOC settlement. Some of the foundations of the destroyed factory are excavated, but most of the remnants
still remain buried as unexplored witnesses of a Dutch adventurous past. The factory archives were never recovered. As part of the celebrations marking
400 years of Dutch-Thai relations (1604 to 2004), the Fine Arts Department began an archaeological excavation in the area in October 2003, and found
traces of the main building, ceramic shards (Chinese, Vietnamese, Siamese), glassware, Dutch pipes, Chinese coins, cowrie shells and many other items.
Excavation work was ongoing in December 2008 as part of a project to construct an information center at the site, in which Dr. Dhiravat na Pombejra is the
adviser for the Thai Fine Arts Department. The site is located just behind Wat Phanan Choeng along the road to Bang Pa-In, on a private-owned dockyard
in Khlong Suan Phlu sub-district.
1. http://www.vocsite.nl - data retrieved 1 December 2008.
2. Van Vliet's Siam - Chris Baker, Dhiravat Na Pombejra, Alfons Van Der Kraan & David K. Wyatt (2005) - Silkworm Books - page 20.
3. A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood (1924) - Chalermnit Press - page 159.
4. A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood (1924) - Chalermnit Press - page 178.
5. The Dutch in Siam: Jeremias van Vliet and the 1636 Incident at Ayutthaya - Alfons van der Kraan.
6. A Traveler in Siam in the Year 1655: Extracts from the Journal of Gijsbert Heeck - Barend Jan Terwiel (2008) - Silkworm Books.
7. A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood. (1924) - Chalermnit Press - page 179.
8. A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood. (1924) - Chalermnit Press - page 180, 181.
9. A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood. (1924) - Chalermnit Press - page 183, 184
10. Thailand, A short history - David K. Wyatt - 2nd Ed. (2003) - Silkworm Books - page 98.
11. Siamese King sent diplomats to 'King' Maurits at The Hague - John R. Brozius.
12. Wikipedia - Pieter De Bitter.
13. A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood. (1924) - Chalermnit Press - page 217, 218.
14. A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood. (1924) - Chalermnit Press - page 247.
15. VOC 2239, Siam 3rd part, Daily register Ayutthaya 1731-1732, page 39 (1732 May 5).
16. The Fall of Ayutthaya and Siam's Disrupted Order of Tribute to China (1767-1782) - Masuda Erika - Taiwan Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 4
|Ayutthaya struck by thunderstorm, 1707,
- Engraving - Collection Henk Zoomers
Representation of the Dutch lodge in left corner.
|Location of the Dutch Lodge South of
Ayutthaya on a map of La Loubere (1688)
|Excavations of the Dutch Lodge
Ayutthaya - December 2008
|VOC Memorial plate on site
Ayutthaya, December 2008
|Dr Gybert Heecq described in 1655 the lodge as:
Concerning this local office, or, as it is often written, the Netherlands’ comptoir Ayutthaya in the kingdom of Siam, it is located about twenty-
eight leagues upriver and not more than a musket shot below the above-mentioned city of Ayutthaya. It sits on the river bank directly opposite the
Portuguese and Japanese quarters, [where the river] is wide and flows fast. [The office] was founded in the year 1634 by Joost Schouten… In the
front is a sturdy and excellent building, rather large and high, with airy lofts and spacious, proper warehouse space below [the dining hall and
offices]. Two of its sides are of white brick, with many door frames and window casings, most of them trellised and barred. The walls are built
entirely of brick and plastered with good lime. The woodwork - all teak - is smooth and very durable, not much different from oak. On the front
side [there is] a double stairway of almost twenty steps leading to the dining hall ([rising] over a corridor that runs through the middle of the
building); at the back [of the dining hall] there is a single stairway. There are several rooms on each side of this spacious [dining] hall. The
director resides on the right side [of the hall], and the deputy-director on the left. There are also rooms for the junior merchants and principal
assistants, each fumished according to their rank and position. There were several other brick rooms at ground level, along the moat (behind the
main building) where lived some more assistants as well as the surgeon, the steward, the cook, trumpeter, sculptor, carpenters, two blacksmiths,
and some ship’s personnel, including the bookbinder, baker, groom, and the like, each room furnished according to the person’s position. The
personnel of the barges, seven in number, all have to live on their boats (in order to guard them).
The lodge is surrounded by a (sufficiently spacious) rectangle of bamboo fencing. Along this fence, in addition to the above-mentioned rooms, are
the brick-built buttery kitchen, and prison, as well as a stable for about eight horses (though this is built of bamboo), and on the other side one or
two smaller stables, a sheep fold (some sheep are being raised here), pens for he- and she-goats, and coops for chickens, geese, ducks, pigeons,
and cranes. Some five or six of the latter were walking about, and we took two of them with us to breed in Batavia. Stabled here were some ten to
twelve horses of various colors, on which the gentlemen often go out riding during the dry season; they were of reasonable quality though
somewhat small. There was also a smithy made of bamboo.
For greater security, a deep moat had been dug around the fence, with a broad exit and a proper gate. Beyond that, all the way to the river was a
strong, wide pier with railings and benches on both sides, which was very useful for barges and other vessels to moor alongside to load and
unload. From this pier one goes straight through (the above-mentioned corridor) under the main office and then one descends, via a brick gate
and wooden bridge, to another wooden warehouse (of the same size as the Amsterdam warehouse), on the far side of the moat on a green field. In
this warehouse is usually stored the purchased rice and dried planking. The two gates ([of the corridor] under the lodge) fit very neatly The whole
main office and the brick buildings are all covered with Siamese tiles, but the stables and other bamboo houses only with atap.
When you enter from the river side, you see on the lower right hand side of the square a nice brick room, airy because of the many windows that
can be opened on all sides. In it stands a “troktafel” for the recreation and pleasure of the young cadets. Next to this room there is a bamboo
door in the fence, with a plank over the moat by means of which one comes to the Company garden, a small one with some pomegranate, orange,
and lime trees. At the time it looked very unkempt and wild. It contained two pyramids. Under one of these lay buried the director preceding Mr.
Westerwoldt, a Mr. Craijers, whose name, dates, and coat of arms could be seen and read on top. Under the other lay some children of Mr. Van
Rijck that he had had here with his wife (the sister of Mr. Trompert, secretary of the orphans court in Batavia). Next to this garden was the Dutch
cemetery where high and low have been buried together for many years. Here there was another high pyramid, under which [lay] Mr. Moerdijck
(a former director). This was the current burial place for persons of lesser status. At one of the left-side comers of the office [square], next to the
horse stable, there is another door with a wide bridge [over the moat] leading to the house or living quarters of Chao Sut ... 
|Excavations of the Dutch Lodge
Ayutthaya - December 2008
|Traces of a water draining system at the Dutch
|VOC Memorial plate on site
Ayutthaya, December 2008
|Text by Tricky Vandenberg - March 2009
Next to Gysbert Heeck's description of the Dutch lodge there are two more limited descriptions by Joost Schouten and Christopher Fryke.
Joost Schouten was the chief factor of the Dutch VOC (1) settlement in Ayutthaya from 1633 until 1638. It was during his tour of duty that the Dutch
Settlement was re-opened after a 4-year closure and that the stone lodge was built below Wat Phanan Choeng in 1634.
"...finally our factory established there in the year 1633 and trading during my four years direction, are so much corrected and increased, that the
Company hath remarkably gained by them, with probability, with good management of more signal advantages: To which end the General and
Councel of India caused in Anno 1634 a stone lodge, with fit pack-houses, pleasant apartements, and a commodious landing place, to be builded
on the borders of the River Menam, being one of the conveniencest and best situated of any that is unfortified in all the Indiaes." 
Fryke came from a medical family in Ulm and joined the Dutch VOC. He acted as surgeon on various VOC vessels sailing to and in the East Indies between
1680 and 1685. Fryke made a short visit to Ayutthaya in this period, but the exact date of his stay in the city could not be determined.
The extract here under was published in the Journal of the Siam Society  and based on the 1929 publication by Casell (London).  The original text
was published in 1692 in Ulm (Germany) as "Christoff Frikens Ost-Indianische Räysen und Krieges-Dienste". 
"Our Master and the Factor Went straightway in the Long-Boat to the Chief City Odia; which is 30 Leagues up the River; as soon as they were
come back they went to Unlading. I then went on Shore too, and visited the Dutch Factory there. The House which the Dutch Factors have there,
is amazing both for its Largeness, Beauty, and Strength. Above are all the Lodgings, which are wonderful Stately both without and within: Under
are the Warehouses, which are of a vast bigness; and richly stored with all manner of commodities."
(1) VOC - Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or United East Indian Company.
 Francis Caron and Joost Schouten - A True Description of the Mighty Kingdoms of Japan and Siam - English translation, London 1791 - page 152.
 Journal of the Siam Society [JSS] 2008 - Vol. 96 - Page 241-2 - Fryke on Siam in the 1680s.
 Chapter XII - page 138-9 in the 1929 edition.
 Christoff Frikens Ost-Indianische Räysen und Krieges Dienste/ Oder eine Außführliche Beschreibung/ was sich Zeit solcher/ nemlich von A. 1680. biß
A. 1685. so zur See/ als zu Land/ in offentlichen Treffen und Scharmützeln/ in Belagerungen/ Stürmen und Eroberungen der Heydnischen Plätze und Städte/
in Marchiren und Quartieren/ mit ihme und seinen beygefügten Cameraden hin und wieder begeben. Da dann insonderheit der Bantamische Krieg auf
Gross-Java [...] vorgestellet und entworffen, etc. Ulm, gedruckt bey Matthæo Wagnern, 1692.
|Addendum by Tricky Vandenberg - October 2013