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stepping stones of maritime history


Setting sail

The yacht the Vrede set sail from Texel on the 1st of October 1622 and sailed via Cape Hope to Pulicat (South India), where it arrived on the 26th of May 1622. She then stayed in Asia until its final day in 1631 when it shipwrecked in Kawachi bay, 5 km south of the VOC trading post at Hirado.

Nuyts Incident

When the Vrede sailed to Japan in 1628, the Dutch-Japanese relations had just about cooled down to a point well below zero. This crisis was caused by an accumulation of incidents starting in 1627, mainly revolving around cases of ill-treatment of overseas Japanese merchants by Dutch parties on Formosa (Taiwan).

The main character involved was Pieter Nuyts (1598-1655). These incidents escalated to a point where several hostages were taken on both Dutch and Japanese side. and all further trade between Japan and the VOC trading post in Hirado was put on hold between 1627-1633.


The bay of Hirado. Above right is the VOC tradingpost. The bay was not suitable for VOC ships. Coechi (Kawachi) 5 miles south of Hirado was the anchorsite.

Nuyts was held hostage in Japan between 1632 and 1636. End 1636 he was transfered tot VOC headquarter in Asia Batavia. Where he had to stand trial, much to the desire of the Japanese. The charges against him were not based on illtreatment of Japanese but of financial malversation against the Company.

Despite the inconvenient circumstances in between 1627 and 1633, Dutch ships ever so often were sent to the trading post at Hirado. Upon arrival, these ships were at once arrested by the local Japanese authorities. Thus when on the 8th of September of the year 1628 the Vrede arrived in Kawachi, 5 kms south of the Dutch trading post at Hirado, the Vrede together with two others vessels were kept at bay by the local authorities.

Ships in arrest were not only stripped of their cargo but also of their sails, rudders, armament and standing-rigging, while the ship itself was fastened with ropes and kept riding at four anchors. The Vrede would remain in Kawachi-bay until the year 1631, when a typhoon caused the ship to break in two. The Vrede was afterwards condemned and scrapped (Mulder 1985, pp.167-179).

Relations between the VOC and Japan slowly normalized. Shipping and trade were resumed in 1633.


Hirado is a small fishing village situated in the south west of Japan, in the north western part of Kyushu. In the year 1609 the Dutch had established a trading post in Hirado. The port of Hirado was the centre for foreign trade in Japan until Japan closed most of its borders for the outside world in 1641. All Portuguese merchants, Jesuits and their Japanese following were banned from the country, while only the Dutch and Chinese merchants were allowed to continue their trade with Japan through the port of Nagasaki, until Japan reopened its doors to the outside world in 1853.


Built: VOC shipyard in Amsterdam

People on board150
Tonnage340 ton (170 last)


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