General Resolutions of Batavia Castle 1613-1810

The Supreme Government of the VOC in Asia was established in 1609. It was composed of a Governor-General and a Council of the Indies (Asia) of which there were (from 1617 onward) nine ordinary members. The task of these nine members was ‘to assist [the Governor-General] in all such matters as the general management of trade, war, government, and in the administration of justice in all civil and criminal matters’. The Supreme Government usually held two or three meetings per week in Batavia Castle. All 211.000 pages of the original minutes of these meetings (1613-1810), with the original signatures of the Governors-General and the Council of Asia, will be published on this website in 2014-2015.

The General Resolutions of Batavia Castle are the authorized final decisions of the Supreme Government of the VOC in Asia bearing the original holograph signatures of the serving Gouvernor-General and Council. Before the resolutions were formally approved and signed by the members of the Supreme Governement, a time consuming process took place. This involved three seperate stages. First, the secretary’s draft minutes, which had been taken during the meetings, had to be redrafted. The draft minutes included a registration of all the discussions or proceedings that were held during the meetings. The draft minutes were redrafted into a final version which constituted the corrected final minutes. These final minutes still included all ‘acts’ or considerations of the meetings. The second step was to formulate the drafts of the meeting’s decisions (resolutions) on the basis of the final minutes. After a revision of the drafts of the resolutions, the final general resolutions were checked and signed.

The name ‘general’ resolutions refers to the ‘general’ government, not because the information in the resolutions is general. In fact, much information is quite specific. The ‘resolutions’ not only contain formulated ‘decisions’, but also many deliberations, motivations, introductory texts and insertions of complete letters and documents on which the final decisions were based. Owing to the many lengthy deliberations and the insertion of many documents into the resolution books, the General Resolutions continued to expand in the 18th century. Whereas the Daily Journals of Batavia Castle decreased in size, the General Resolutions increased and there may be a direct relation between this steady increase and the significant decrease in the daily journals. In 1743, following Governor General W. van Imhoff’s administrative reforms (1743-1750), all resolutions concerning the outer governments and offices were archived in a seperate series known as the Besognes (French: la Besogne; Dutch: de verhandeling; English: the treatise).

The General Resolutions form one of the most important frames or bodies of the archive of the Supreme Government. Thousands of incoming letters, reports and requests were chronologically archived as appendices. A total of 742 volumes of such appendices (1686-1811) have been preserved and are directly related to the General Resolutions. These volumes will be digitalized in 2015-2016. The General Resolutions are only indirectly related to the Daily Journals of Batavia Castle. Other series of chronologically archived documents like the Incoming and Outgoing letter books to Europe and Asia, are directly connected to the Daily Journals of Batavia Castle, but only indirectly related to the General Resolutions.
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