Letter from the Phrakhlang on behalf of King Phetracha of Siam (r. 1688-1703) to the Supreme Government, 12 February 1689 and the answer from Batavia, 4 Mei 1689




To commence with the translation of the Malay letter written by Oya Bercqulangh at the command of the Siamese King to the Most Excellent Supreme Government in Batavia.

The opening sentence says this is a token of friendship.

This letter is from Tsjau Pija Sirderma Ratditsjah Tsjadiamata Taya Noetsjit Pipid Zadua Koesa Tiboedi Oepi Piri Iber Akramma Pahokh Tsjau Kija Pakelangh [1] to the Lord Governor-General [2] who governs and rules all the affairs of the Company and of all the Hollanders in the city of Batavia.

Furthermore, the letter which was written by the Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia and the accompanying gifts were indeed conveyed to us by the Skipper Windjen and the Chief Merchant Pieter van den Hoorn, [these] we have received with all due custom, and when we read it, its contents were completely comprehended.

From it I learned with great joy that the Governor-General still rules and governs the country of Jaccatra in full vigour and power, and I wish (His Excellency) that the same may long continue and that all further prosperity and everything desired may flourish.

Furthermore, His Most Illustrious Majesty who governed the Kingdom of Siam was in this time assailed by a grievous [fol. 128] illness and a little while later he also passed away, so that the present Most Illustrious Majesty in the Kingdom of Siam has succeeded [him] to the throne, assuming the place of his Most Illustrious Majesty and add that this order from His Most Illustrious Majesty is nothing more than his reflection cast upon me and on my position.

What has to do with the attitude of Constant[ine Phaulkon] in relation to all the traders who came to the country of Siam to trade or were [already] here, he caused them the greatest trouble and unreasonableness, as well as so oppressed, intimidated and cowed them that not one ever dared say anything and open his mouth [to complain]. This Constant also laid personal claim to all the goods in the Treasury and in the store houses of His Majesty and embezzled a large quantity of them and [hence] they have been lost. Besides this [felony] yet many more other offences and crimes have been committed against the ancient custom and usage which will not be specified in this letter, because the Lowang Feiwari is now on the point of departing himself. [3] He has a very sound knowledge of all the events and matters to do with that person at the time of the demise of His Most Illustrious Majesty. He will humbly inform His Excellency of all the same, about all the opportunities the Constant has had to perpetrate all his felonies, on account of His Most Illustrious Majesty being extremely besotted with him and uncommonly favouring him.

Furthermore, it happened at the time, Captain Enogh Poolvoet, when he was Lowang Feiwari and placed in charge of the affairs of the Honourable Company in its factory in Siam, that a certain Abdul Vrerzaaken, [4] a son of a Moghul or himself a Moghul, was appointed Feja Felatis. [5] And in this function he was given supervision over a part of the city of Siam [fol. 129] and subjected the Captain of the Hollanders to a host of absurd procedures and vexations, not permitting that buying and selling could proceed in the manner that might have been expected. Now, at this time, the present Most Illustrious Majesty resolved these matters, and as a consequence the Feja Felatib was dismissed by His Late Majesty, since which time all the foreign merchants and the Hollanders have been able to pursue their commerce in Siam undisturbed and in peace (for a very long time). However, after this Constant became Feja Witsieym [6] and royal councillor, then did this man again inflict a great many harassments and injustices on all the foreign traders and the Hollanders, being inclined to represent that he did that same as if in all respect they had been issued by His Late Majesty, but as he was so deeply in the favour and grace of His Late Majesty far more so than any Feja Felatib ever was for this time, no one took it into their head to appear before His Majesty in all humility, but all just waited until an appropriate path and opportunity should present itself, so that therefore he would receive his just deserts. And just now, when His Most Illustrious Majesty lay grievously ill, this Constant consorted together with the French, English, Chinese and with a few high military men in Siam whom he had lured to his side, the which came to the ears of His Present Royal Majesty, so he had this Constant arrested and ordered that he be executed, and this is now what has happened to this person.

Furthermore, it is so ordered by the Present His Most Illustrious Majesty to declare here that in all the time they have resided in Siam the Hollanders have never plotted any evil deeds or machinations against the kingdom or tried to perpetrate the same, but have always behaved with concord, sense and agreement. Hence, it is now appropriate to recompense the amicability and good will of the Hollanders [and] we consider that now is the appropriate time [fol. 130] to accomplish this intention since there is no longer anyone nor any obstacle which might stand in the way of this. And now all the affairs which were stipulated and contracted have been dealt and complied with in such a manner as was decided and agreed upon, without deviating in the slightest from this [intention]. And should there yet be something not stipulated in the contract and of which the Hollanders might be desirous, so shall we accommodate and be of assistance to them in this in all which is fair and reasonable. This is my intention and resolve. Should the Hollanders demonstrate towards me an attitude of sincere and true friendship and amity, then I shall favour and benefit their affairs even more. I do not by any means foster either the thought or the intention of allowing any harm to befall the Hollanders. And should they happen to suffer damage anywhere, they only have to make this known and I shall not allow the same to happen, but shall prevent it.

Furthermore, should anywhere within the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Siam a ship of the Honourable Company happen to founder, we shall in do everything in reason to help the Company with this and do everything which is fit and proper, yea even offer this assistance to all foreign traders who come to do business in the Kingdom of Siam. However, all these [people] are as yet ignorant of the boundless grace and beneficence of His Most Illustrious Majesty will show all these foreigners. And should there be anybody who does not think or is aware of such amicability, so will these people be disinclined to display courtesy or to do anything about it. But should to the contrary any person make a true and sincere effort and bear this [fol. 131] in mind, one will be prompt and ready to oblige these by showing courtesy, however, should his manner of doing things be devious and tarnished then one would have no inclination to maintain a friendship with the same.

Now, as far as the present time is concerned, His Most Illustrious Majesty does not yet foresee any trade, but requests all the following cloths only to celebrate the funeral pomp and circumstance of His Late Most Illustrious Majesty. There are twenty sorts of cloths which will serve this purpose and which are appropriate, amounting to the quantity of 1,032 corgies (a bundle of twenty textiles) plus ten pieces more. Should the Governor-General look upon me with any favour and amity, please have these same made for the funeral ceremonies.

Furthermore, yet other textiles, as the samples indicate, and as are specified in the list below, are requested, in order that cloths may be distributed to those who have behaved with due respect and [serve] His Most Illustrious Majesty with an unblemished and sincere heart, consisting of fifty-three [7] different sort amounting to a quantity of 1,616 corgies. Should the Governor-General wish to please me now, then all the textiles will be dispatched hither immediately so that they can be used the earlier the better during the funeral ceremonies.

Furthermore, would the Honourable Company send a ship or ships to Siam, bringing with them the cloths with the borders and painted in conformity with the samples [8] which have been added hereunder. And should the Honourable Company happen to desire wares which are produced in the country of Siam, then it must order those who reside in its service [fol. 132] on the Coast of Coromandel to order such textiles and cloths, both with and without borders and to bring these same to Siam for the purpose of always finding a market for them there. And should any of these cloths come into our hands, then shall we order the official of the Treasury to accept these same and exchange them against other such commercial wares which might happen to be please the Hollanders.

Should something be desired by His Most Illustrious Majesty, and that same is made in Jaccatra or in any country in which the Hollanders reside, or indeed originate elsewhere beyond these same whither the Company voyages to trade, that will satisfy the demand of His Most Illustrious Majesty. Exactly the same as anything the Hollanders want and this should grow or be available within the jurisdiction of Siam, this will certainly be delivered without the Hollanders incurring the slightest loss to do with it, but indeed will instead make a profit.

Furthermore, if the Honourable Company now sends a ship to obtain wares by purchasing them, and the ship can only take some of these purchases with her, the rest remaining behind. And for this reason then sends (instead of that one) two to three ships to be able to load up the remainder of the wares, filling the rest with other wares. This is also my intention and I would also like to do the same. And therefore the head of the Treasury is now dispatching 200 pikuls of sappan wood, 200 pots of oil and 100 bahar (roughly 500 Amsterdam pounds) of tin, plus 20 full, great koyan[g] (roughly 23 pikuls) of rice from which the husks or outer shells have been stamped off, in other words white polished rice, and yet another 40 koyangs of unhusked rice, as well as 100 pikuls of red copper with the Company vessel, with the request that the Hollanders will lend a helping hand with this by buying such cloths as are set out in the list of the Malay interpreter. [fol. 133] And should the Company wish to show itself willing to prepare the same together with the other cloths which are part and parcel of the funeral ceremony, and if the cloths which are mentioned there cannot be procured in Jaccatra, will it do its utmost to procure these same in other places.

Should these wares which have been sent to Batavia not fetch their price, then [you] should store these in places in which the Company maintains residences, or there whither you just sail to trade, so that they can be sold for a reasonable price. In this matter will the Hollanders be so helpful to sell these wares for the best price, and when these have been sold for a good price, will it then once more show willing by buying up the cloths which have been specified in the Malay list.

Furthermore, it is said in the letter of the Governor-General that the Lowang Feiwari has been relieved of his duties and in the place of the same one Pieter van den Hoorn has been sent to replace him. Now as far as the Lowang Feiwari is concerned, the same is knowledgeable about the government and customs of the Kingdom of Siam, since he has lived here a goodly while and taken care of the business and affairs of the Honourable Company, and besides this is also aware of how people should conduct matters between the two countries (Siam and Batavia), as he has behaved himself in an exemplary fashion in everything and for this reason His Most Illustrious Majesty has honoured him this time with an honorific title and a golden box. And since this Pieter van den Hoorn has arrived here as the successor to the other, the Lowang Feiwari has instructed him in all matters which should be observed to do with this realm, and also taught him about the sorts of wares which should be brought to Siam to be traded, as well as anything else which it was necessary he should know. And should this Pieter van den Hoorn [fol. 134] now ever find himself in heavy weather and difficulties, I shall not leave him [floundering] there and let matters run their course. The Lowang Feiwari is sufficiently well aware of my help and accommodation in the affairs of the Honourable Company, and he will make the same quite clear to the Governor-General.

Furthermore, it was said in the letter of the Governor-General that at the time at which Lowang Tsjoela [9] had departed thither, both what he had to say and his behavior remained somewhat of a mystery, and as a consequence were not properly understood. But that now from the letter of the Lowang Feiware this is understood this has become clear, to which should be answered that the grace and favour His Most Illustrious Majesty displays towards the Company are extremely great [10] and most abundant.

Even so, it was still mentioned in the letter to the Company that should anybody stir up disturbances and misunderstanding, His Most Illustrious Majesty would investigate this matter first and say that he would not take what was said lightly but would listen to it [properly].

So was it also said that, from the beginning and up to this very day, the King of Johor and the Governor of Malacca have always cultivated a good friendship with the others. Furthermore, that a certain Chinese having passed through Malacca and arriving in Batavia had reported that there forty-seven vessels of the people of the Paduka Raja had been concentrated around Pulau Pandzjang and he had been informed that the Paduka Raja wished to declare war on the king. It is the rule in the Kingdom of Siam that whenever anybody gossips about something or spreads false tidings this [offence] counts as rumour-mongering, and that [we] do not immediately take steps to do something about it, but will first look into the matter to discover whether it be the truth or a falsehood, and only thereafter pass judgement and then administer the punishment in the manner and custom demanded. And this thus is the practice in the [fol. 135] country of Siam and therefore falls under what the Governor-General] should report to Siam, especially if it should prove to be true, correct and certain truth is appropriate to [our] mutual good friendship. And therefore indeed, should someone inform the Governor-General of something that might lead to the outbreak of disturbances and misunderstandings, do not take such matters too lightly but first institute a proper enquiry and [carry out] a complete investigation, so that the friendship between us both can endure and be abiding, and this is what has happened.

Furthermore, on their return to Siam, which occurred in the ninth month, Kon Sorserit and Monrat Pitsji who had journeyed to the negeri of Riau reported that Paduka Raja and his sons the Temanggung and Sri Bidziji di Rajahad spread the rumour that the Hollanders in Malacca were planning to attack the people of Johor and do them harm. Thereupon Paduka Raja, the Temanggung and Sri Bidiji di Raja had assembled the Sakis (the Sea Gypsies) amounting to some 400 men and twenty-nine vessels both great and small completely fitted out and armed, intending to move against the King of Johor and accomplish that [he was kidnapped] and transported to Trengganu. And when [they] sailed out upon the high seas, [they] intended to massacre the Bendahara and the other ministers of state of Johor. And when they had accomplished this, then [they] wanted to abduct the King of Johor to the country of Champa but the Sakis no longer agreed with this decision and plan of the Paduka Raja, and [they] opposed it. When this matter came to the ears of the Bendahara, and the Paduka Raja [also] heard of it, so did he put them to flight, and the Bendahara had five [war] vessels sent in pursuit of them [fol. 136], and then the Paduka Raja flew into a rage with him, quarrelling with the same, but the men sent [after him] by the Bendahara captured him and arrested him with his son Sri Bidiji di Raja, but yet another four sons of this Paduka Raja escaped, namely: first the Laksmana, second the Temanggung, third Sri Nara di Raja and fourth the Paradara Menteri, all of whom fled to Patani.

Hereupon the King of Johor with the Bendahara and the other great men of the realm returned again to Johor and took up his residence there. And that, as has been the situation since days of old, the state and country of Johor has been a tributary of the Kingdom of Siam, as was unequivocally demonstrated to the Governor-General by Lewang Tsoela during the time he spent in Batavia. As a consequence, the King of Johor has also written to Siam to His Most Illustrious Majesty with all due respect that the Hollanders in Malacca were plotting to attack the country of Johor, but nevertheless the Governor-General had ordered the government in Malacca to do Johor no harm, neither to treat it as a subject nor to attack it. Likewise, in a letter to [the King of] Johor I have commanded that no hostilities or offensives be launched against Malacca. Therefore, while those who are in Johor now restrain themselves from inimical acts against Malacca, so for its part Malacca will not cause Johor any insult or injury. Should those in Johor by any chance commit some offence against those in Malacca, would the Hollanders please send a letter about this to Siam to the captain there, so that [the King of] Johor might be commanded to appear in Siam so that proper information about what is going on between both parties can be obtained.

Furthermore [fol. 137], [in its letter] the Company announces that the eleven [Siamese] people who were sent thither [to Batavia] to learn some sorts of crafts have been behaving pretty badly and have become fairly addicted to arrack and gambling, but that the Honourable Company had not taken steps to deal with this, treating them as it would its own Company servants, and therefore has ordered that each should complete the training in his craft, the which is yet another unequivocal sign of the sincere mutual friendship between us both. Furthermore, when these boys have completed their study and each has a proper understanding of his craft, so might they be sent hither as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, (the Honourable Company reported) about the servant of the King who was sent to Portugal, the ship on which he was sailing foundered in the vicinity of the Cape [of Good Hope] but that he had arrived back in Jaccatra and had been sent to Siam by the Honourable Company. Moreover, that of the royal servants who were sent to France, two persons had died and the other had also arrived in Batavia, and was also being transported back to Siam, all this being a matter of good sense leading to an outcome of a completely mature understanding.

Furthermore, concerning the vessels laden with rice, which were to sell their cargo to buy horses in Jaccatra, that the Governor-General had provided them with as many tokens as they needed, the same considered a sign that [he wants] to ensure the friendship between us grows even closer.

Furthermore, the royal servants who had departed for the east coast of Java to buy horses had not yet returned, and if they were to return to Jaccatra before the [end of the] monsoon that these [servants] would have to wait here [in Batavia] until the [right] monsoon began to blow, and then they would sail to Siam on a Company ship. And about the [money] extended to these royal servants with which to buy horses, an official of the Treasury has been ordered to repay that same to [fol. 138] the Lowang Feiwari and Pieter van den Hoorn in conformity with the account of the Governor-General which was in the hands of the Lowang Feiwari.

Furthermore, in the letter of the Governor-General it is said that that people did not have a great understanding of the sixty-four sort of medicinal herbs, because these same are expressed in the Brahman language [11], about which [we] have now had the Brahmans asked about them, who said that all the medicines mentioned on the list could be procured in Bengal and also in Surat, having all the same put on a list once again composed in the Brahman language. Would the Company please be so kind as, to order those who live in Surat and Bengal in its service, to hand this list in to the apothecaries there with the request to read the names of all the medicines and if they can be bought there to procure the same and send them hither to Siam.

Item that of the royal ship which had remained in Surat and had foundered there, thirty pieces of cannon, fifty muskets and 806 cannon balls, 5,000 musket balls, thirty-nine bows, 364 arrows, 2 pikuls and three catties of spoiled gunpowder, as well as some ship’s tackle and rigging were recovered and that the same was sent to Siam. The Governor-General also wrote that [he] was intending to question the master Ali who had stayed on the ship which was left behind about what happened and the quantity, but the said man was still ailing and hence this investigation had yet taken place and therefore what could be ascertained about this could [not yet] be passed on to Siam. If he is still ill, the good decision of the Governor-General is a very good one. Furthermore, whenever the master Ali should be convalescent, [we] would like the interrogation to be carried out with him and also ask for advice about the opportunity and the possibility for the vessel [fol. 139] [to sail] to Siam, and also that to send him so that he can say in person all which is to be said about this hither to Siam.

Furthermore, the Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia have with all due respect presented a carriage and six horses as well as various other goods as gifts, which have all been sent to me at this time by the Governor-General. However, this was ordered through the machinations of Constant, the same he had ordered for his own purposes and commanded for himself, whereupon the Governor-General was given to understand that the carriage would give very great delight to His Most Illustrious Majesty and would please him, therefore giving orders that the same should be offered to His Majesty as a gift. When all the presents were now brought to me with all due respect, so were they accepted by His Most Illustrious Majesty, who thereupon commanded the highest official in the Treasury to reciprocate the same with 1,650 pikuls of sappan wood. However, here in Siam the carriage is useless and unserviceable, and therefore I have given orders that the same should be given back to the Governor-General as a gift. All the other gifts, with the exception of the carriage, I have ordered to be recompensed with tin in the negeri of Ligor to the amount of 57 bahar, and I am personally sending another 15 bahar of that mineral. It is my intention and purpose in the future to maintain the good friendship with each other until the end of time, as long as the sun and moon continue [to run ]in their courses, the same for all days and nights and that these will remain unbroken and unending, hoping that the Governor-General (for his part) will also endeavour to do the same.

Written on a Tuesday in the month of Safar in the year 2232 [12] in the reckoning of Siam. Finis.



[fol. 291]

Reply from the Supreme Government in Batavia to King Phetracha (r. 1688-1703), 4 May 1689.

The Governor-General, Joannes Camphuys, and the members of the Council of the Indies who reside in the Castle of Batavia are sending this letter to His High and Distinguished Majesty the King of Siam, who rules his subjects with wisdom and prudence, maintains a sincere peace and friendship with all kings and princes, and thereby makes himself famed everywhere. May our Lord God give His Majesty a long life and a prosperous reign, and let him be victorious over all his enemies.

From the letter that His High and Distinguished Majesty has given to the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies with the ship Hendrik Maurits by the hand of the departing senior head Joannes Keyts, and which has been received in state and accepted here [in Batavia] with the required tokens of respect together with the attached gifts, the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies have read with great joy how it has pleased God to take the former king from this world, and that the crown of that kingdom has passed to the head of the present King, and that by means of a similar dispensation of the Almighty the realm of Siam and the Noble King (who had long been dealing in that realm, but had suffered many disasters through Phaulkon and his followers), now consider themselves exceedingly fortunate in all matters.

(The Supreme Government expresses its happiness regarding the good intentions of King Phetracha, and hopes that His Majesty will uphold the renewed contracts with the Company.)

The Governor-General and the members of the Council of the Indies regret that at present it is not possible to fill the orders for cloths. The reason for this is the bad conditions on the Coromandel Coast, where the Company’s trade has for almost three to four years stood still because of war, famine and death, as a result of which we have received almost no cloths from there. Our storehouses are almost completely empty. We have been stripped of the required commodities which were there formerly, so that we are sending only a little of Your Majesty’s order. However, we shall attempt [to send] what is still lacking as soon as possible in order to please His Majesty, and [have] sent out the required orders to our outer trading posts for them. Similarly with regard to the 64 medicines ordered. The goods sent over by His Majesty have already been cashed here. Our head, the senior merchant Pieter van der Hoorn, will provide the treasurer with a more specific list.

His Majesty’s horse-traders are sailing on the ship Princeland. We have provided them with the required accommodation and the necessary supply of money. They are taking 23 horses with them. In the meantime we shall see to it that the Siamese apprentices learn their trades.

The Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies confirm that they have received all the gifts that His Majesty has sent and are grateful for them. They are considered as tokens of His Majesty’s excellent, honest and sincere favour and kindness, with the request that it may also be His Majesty’s pleasure to accept in like fashion those things that the Governor-General and members of the Council of the Indies are sending him hereby, as a sign of their sincere regard and desire to help, namely:

  • 1,040 pieces of common bleached selampuri [13]
  • 2,080 pieces of ‘pulong gabar’
  • 600 pieces of Malay serasah [14]
  • 100 pieces of hamman
  • 140 pieces of chintz [15]
  • 40 pieces of gold and silver allegia [16]
  • 11,325 pounds of sandalwood
  • 732 pounds of cloves
  • 600 pounds of nutmegs
  • 308 pounds of mace
  • 640 sticks of cinnamon
  • 6 marble statues.

Written in the great Castle of Batavia on the island of Great Java in the kingdom of Jaccatra, 4 May 1689. Signed: Joannes Camphuys.


[1] This should read: Chao Phya Si Thammaracha Thirat Amatya Nuchit Phiphit Ratanarat Kosa Thibodi Aphai

Phiriya Bara Kromma Phahu Chao Phya Phrakhlang.

[2] GG Joannes Camphuys (in office 1684-1691).

[3] In the margin: This is the title which is given to the chief merchant of the Honourable Company when His Majesty has been seen [that is, has been granted an audience] and enjoys his approval. Luang Aphai Wari, rank and title royally conferred on the Dutch opperhoofd in Ayutthaya, in this case Joannes Keyts.

[4] Reading uncertain.

[5] In the margin: This is an honorific title given to a certain man-in-charge; a reference to Abdur Razzaq

Mazandarani, a Persian raised to the position of Okya Phichit.

[6] I.e. Phya Wichayen.

[7] In the margin: The samples of these 53 sorts are missing. Mr Keyts says that these same were not handed over to His Excellency.

[8] In the margin: The samples are missing as are the Malay list which is mentioned hereafter and the same is referred to was also not brought with him by Mr Keyts, but in the place of these lists a [fol. 132] Persian roll containing the complete list of textiles for the king and three distinct notes extracted from the general [list] with notes on which cloths on it can be found or procured in the quarters of Bengal, the Coromandel Coast and Surat respectively.

[9] In the margin: This is the name of the Siamese ambassador who earlier visited Batavia with Mr Keyts.

[10] In the margin: It seems that by this His Majesty is probably trying to tell him that such uncommon favours on the part of His Majesty that the accommodation sought from His Excellency about permission for the Thai to sail on Java should not have been ranked as a subject for this point.

[11] Sinskrit?

[12] The Buddhist era year 2232 is equivalent to around 1689, so the date given by the Daghregister here is probably correct.

[13] Selampuri or “salampores”, medium quality cotton cloth from South India and Coromandel Coast.

[14] Serasah or “sarassa”, Coromandel chintz.

[15] Chintz, printed or painted calico (cotton) produced in India.

[16] Allegia or “allejas”, medium quality striped or checked South Indian or Coromandel cotton textile.