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First Dutch-Persian Commercial Conflict

The Attack on Qeshm Island, 1645

Availability: Out of stock
Published: 2004
Page #: ix + 281
Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 1-56859-118-7
appendix, bibliography, index

Quick Overview

Despite the fact that the Netherlands had a long relationship with Safavid, Afsharid and Zand Persia, few original Persian documents have remained from that period. Thousands of documents must have been exchanged between the Persian government and the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) or the [Dutch] United East Indies Company. This is clear from the many Dutch translations of such documents. However, of these thousands of Persian documents only some 35 have survived, of which only five are originals. Of these five, two are letters by Shah ‘Abbas I to the States-General, two are documents which are related to the bizarre events which led to the third commercial conflict between Persia and the Netherlands in 1712, and one is an authenticated contemporary copy of a letter by ‘Abbas II to governor-general van Diemen. The remaining 30 documents have come to us through a fluke. These either were used in the Dutch East Indies during the Napoleonic wars as writing paper due to the scarcity of this medium, or they were destroyed with that part of the VOC archives, which was gotten rid of during the early 19th century. The fluke of the survival of the 30 documents, which are published in this book, is the fact that the Dutch merchant Wollebrand Geleijnssen de Jongh had the good habit of keeping a copy of important documents. This is of great historical importance, because in contemporary Persian chronicles and other documents, mention of Europeans is rare; and there is none on this particular conflict. Because of the one-sidedness of the available information, the telling of history also tends to be one-sided. For most Persian documents relating to the Safavid period were destroyed during the Afghan invasion of Persia. Given the importance of this collection, which has never been published before, the authors have considered it useful to put the contents of these documents in their historical context.
The documents, like the translation of a 1647 petition by VOC commissioners of which only the Dutch text exists, have been reproduced here for other reasons. These documents inform us, for example, about Safavid bureaucratic practice such as that the text was written under oral instruction (b’il moshafaheh). The text of the above-mentioned petition is not only important because of its political and commercial content, but also because the marginal comments on the document unequivocally show that the Safavid administration kept records and was able to access them to verify facts in case of a dispute. Another important item is the language used in the various documents, in particular the terminology applied to foreign institutions and functions. For example, the Dutch Company is referred to as jama‘at, the Dutch second-in-command as vazir, and the director as kapitan. Because the Persian documents are difficult to read the original texts are also reproduced here so that scholars may read them at their leisure and compare them with our rendering thereof.

author

Willem Floor

Willem Floor studied development economics, non-western sociology as well as Persian, Arabic and Islamology from 1963-67 at the University of Utrecht. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Leyden in 1971. From 1983-2001 he worked for World Bank as an energy specialist. Currently, he works, writes, conducts research and gives lectures as an independent scholar. His most recent books include: “Agriculture in Qajar Iran,” (Washington DC: Mage, 2003), “Traditional Crafts in Qajar Iran,” (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, Inc., 2003); “Public Health in Qajar Iran,” (Washington DC: Mage, 2004), “The History of Theater in Iran,” (Washington DC: Mage, 2005); “Wall Paintings and other Figurative Mural Art in Qajar Iran,” (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, Inc., 2005); “The Persian Gulf 1500-1730,” (Washington DC: Mage, 2006), “The Dastur al-Moluk: Translation and Commentary,” (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, Inc., 2007); “The Import of Textiles in Qajar Iran, (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, Inc., 2007—forthcoming) and “The Travels of Gmelin in Northern Persian 1770-1774,” [translation] (Washington, DC: Mage—forthcoming, 2007).

The Beginning of Trade Relations Between the Netherlands and Safavid Persia 8
Ch. 2 The Reign of 'Abbas I 13
Ch. 3 The Reign of Shah Safi I 48
Ch. 4 The Reign of Shah 'Abbas II 113
App. 1 Summary of a Report on Private Trading by VOC Staff by Wouter ten Haeff (December 1630) 205
App. 2 Extract from the Diary Concerning the attack on the Fortress of Kismis 210
App. 3 The Beginning of Dutch Trade in Basra 214
App. 4 Petition or Request Made at the Orders of the Honorable Directors and Councillors of the United Netherlands State in the Orient 221
App. 5 The Company's Directors View with Regard to the use of Force 232
App. 6 Transfer and Inventory of all Merchandise and Outstanding Debts 234
Addendum : Persian Documents, Framin 243
Bibliography
Index

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