home > the history of bali > european era > early contact >


  Early Contact

The English buccaneer Sir Francis Drake paid a call in 1580. In 1585 the Portuguese attempted to establish a trading station in south Bali, but their ship was wrecked off Bukit. Finally, in 1597, a small fleet of Dutch war yachts, headed by Cornelius de Houtman, landed on Bali. He and his crew of 89 men were all that were left after a 14-month trading journey that began in Holland with 249 men.

Bali was the high point of de Houtman's journey, an island attractive and hospitable. The Dutchmen made great friends with the king, who, according to written accounts of the time, was "a good-natured fat man who had 200 wives, drove a chariot drawn by two white buffaloes, and owned 50 dwarves whose bodies had been distorted to resemble 'kris' handles".

After a lengthy stay and many postponements, de Houtman announced a sailing date. Reluctant crew members disappeared up to the moment of departure. Upon their return to Holland the Dutchmen's reports of the new "paradise" created such a sensation that in 1601 the trader Heemskerk was sent to Bali weighted down with gifts for the king.

Copyright © 2002, Bali-Island.com Indonesia