JAN PIETERSZOON COEN was the founder of the Dutch empire of the East Indies; but its development after his death, was hardly along the lines he had striven, to lay down. According to his plans, Batavia was to be the centre of a great commercial empire based upon complete control of the sea. He did not envisage any wide extension of territorial power and was not interested in the political affairs of the interior of Java. The territories which, in his view, the V.O.C. should have in actual possession were small islands such as Amboina and the Bandas. The remainder of the empire should consist of strongly fortified trading settlements closely linked and protected by invincible sea-power.
Nor would it be confined to Indonesia: its forts and trading stations should be far=flung over the whole of the East. He was especially anxious to conquer Manila and Macao so as to drive the Spaniards and Portuguese from the Philippines and the China coast. And he wanted plenty of Dutch colonists; they were to direct slave labour in cultivating estates in the Spice Islands and elsewhere, to assist in defending the newly accquired possessions and to engage in the inter- Asiatic trade. This trade he believed to be capable of yielding far greater profits than, the traffic between Europe and Asia, each of which had very limited requirements of the other's goods. His ideas were vague and imaginative rather than practical, and utterly ruthless. In the days when he was Director-General of Commerce at Batavia his plans for the Spice Islands shocked his predecessor as governor- general, Laurens Read, who thought that their execution would involve such cruelty to the native people as would involve the ruin of the V.O.C.
His warlike measures vastly increased the Company's expenses; and although its methods of accountancy and the loss of some of its account-books made the presentation of an accurate statement of profit and loss for the early period impossible, his own estimate for the years 1613-20 showed a deficit of 8,000 guilders, and on occasion the directors had to borrow money in order to maintain an average dividend