The Netherlands, around 1600, was about the same size as Massachusetts today, its population was about 1 million. Struggling for its independence with mighty Spain, the country was boiling with economic activities.Ship after ship left the Netherlands in search of spices, most went via the Cape of Good Hope. The first who tried the other way, via the Strait of Magellan, was Jacques Mahu and his fleet of five ships. From the start things went wrong. Lack of water, food, scurvy and a dramatic overwintering in the Strait of Magellan decimated the fleet. Once in the Pacific Ocean endless storms disperse the ships.Only one ship, the De Liefde, reaches Japan, of its crew only 24 are left. It is the British pilot William Adams who manages to befriend the Japanese shogun. Gradually the Portuguese and Spanish are being pushed into a corner. In the end only the Dutch are allowed to trade with Japan for almost the next 250 years. A disaster ends in one of the biggest commercial successes in world history: the longest trade monopoly between two sovereign nations ever.William Adams is John Blackthorne in James Clavell's unforgettable novel SHOGUN. This book of maritime history ends where SHOGUN starts.
About Dirk J. Barreveld
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Published July 10, 2001
History, Travel, Business & Economics, Professional & Technical.