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BATAVIA
A Dutch East Indiaman ship model

Batavia was the flagship of a fleet of seven vessels of the Dutch East India Company.  Since Batavia was specially built for the transport a great quantity of cargo of goods and passengers between the Netherlands and Asia, she was very large.   She was also sturdy enough to be able to make long voyages of over a year.   With a length of 160 feet (45.28 m), the Batavia was an enormous ship of her time.

Although being a trade vessel, Batavia had to be able to defend itself and therefore was heavily armed.   A large crew up to 300 was required to man the ship. 

Batavia's construction was completed in 1628 in Amsterdam.   Commanded by Pelsaert (one of the VOC's most experienced merchants), Batavia led six other ships on her maiden voyage to Java. 

Their cargo consisted mainly of silver coins and two antiquities belonging to the artist Rubens for sale to an Indian Mogul ruler.  They also carried sandstone blocks to be erected as gatehouse in the city of Batavia--the new headquarters of the VOC in the East Indies situated in the north-western tip of Java.

The journey had an inauspicious start with a violent storm on the North Sea.  When calmer weather returned only two ships remained with Batavia.  The ship reached the Cape of Good Hope a month ahead of schedule.  While there, the Batavia's captain Adrian Jacobsz was publicly scolded by Pelsaert because of his drunken behavior.  This event sowed seeds for a mutiny later.

Shortly after leaving Cape Town, the three ships lost sight of one another and the Batavia was alone.  During the Indian Ocean crossing Pelsaert fell seriously ill and remained mostly in his cabin. This had a detrimental effect on the ship’s discipline. Merchant Jeronimus Cornelisz, the third most important person on board, was on much better terms with captain Jacobsz.

On the morning of the fourth of June 1629, the Batavia was wrecked on Morning Reef, on the Houtman Abrolhos, off the coast of Western Australia.

Of the 341 persons on board forty were drowned immediately.  The others were able to get to the nearby islands. Commander Pelsaert, all the senior officers (except Jeronimus Cornelisz, who was still on the wreck), some crew and passengers, 48 in all, left the 268 on two waterless islands and went in search of water.  Quickly abandoning this fruitless search on the mainland coast, they then decided to go for the city of Batavia. It took them 33 days to get there!

Governor General Coen dispatched Pelsaert seven days later in the yacht Sardam to rescue the survivors.  With very bad luck, it took Pelsaert 63 days to find the wreck site, almost double the time it took him to Batavia.

During Pelsaert's absence, a mutiny broke out.  Leader of the mutiny was under merchant Jeronimus Corneliszoon who considered himself the founder of a new kingdom.  He killed over a hundred of the shipwreck survivors.  A small band of soldiers led by Wiebe Hayes opposed the killing and escaped to a neighboring island. 

On his return Pelsaert succeeded in crushing the mutiny with the support of Hayes group.  Jeronimus was tried on the islands, found guilty of mutiny, and hanged along with half a dozen of his men. Both of his hands were amputated prior to the hanging.  The remaining mutineers were taken back to Java and tried; many were subsequently executed.  The shipwreck and the massacres have become known as 'The Ill-fated Voyage of the Batavia'.  The story was put in writing, which is why the memory of the ship was kept alive. 

Batavia's carvings were mostly on the transom.  The carving theme was about the Batavia's myth that was about the revolt of the Batavians against the Romans in the year 69 and the revolt of the Dutch against the Spanish during the Eighty year War.   In front, at the tip of the beakhead, a Dutch lion looked out towards the horizon.
 

 
 
 


 

This Batavia model ship features:

  • Scratch-built

  • Plank-on-frame (very important)

  • 95% wooden and metal

36" long x 34" tall x 13" wide    $1900    S & H is $150

 

For display case, please click here: Model Ship Display Case