Dutch Malabar

Dutch Malabar
Dutch colony

Flag Coat of arms
Capital Quilon (1661-1663)
Cochin (1663-1795)
Language(s) Dutch, Malayalam
Political structure Colony
 - 1663-1665 Ludolph van Coulster
 - 1669-1676 Hendrik van Rheede
 - 1793-1795 Jan Lambertus van Spall
Historical era Imperialism
 - Dutch capture of Quilon December 1661
 - British annexation of Malabar 1795

Malabar, also known by the name of its main settlement Cochin, was a commandment of the Dutch East India Company on the Malabar Coast between 1661 and 1795, and is part of what is today collectively referred to as Dutch India. Dutch presence in the region started by the capture of Quilon from the Portuguese, and ended by the occupation of Malabar by the British in 1795.[1]



Although also motivated by the lucrative pepper trade on Malabar, the primary aim for the Dutch in capturing the coast from the Portuguese was to secure Dutch Ceylon from Portuguese invasions. After failed attempts to capture the main Portuguese fort Goa in 1604 and 1639, the Dutch decided to aim for the secondary Portuguese trading posts on the Malabar Coast. This was first successful in December 1661, when Quilon was captured. A little more than a year later, in January 1663, Cochin was captured as well, which now became the primary trading post of the colony. In 1669, Dutch Malabar became a separate commandment of the Dutch West India Company; before this year it had been governed from Batavia.[1]

The Dutch never succeeded in establishing a pepper trade monopoly in Malabar, and were all the more frustrated in their attempts when the raj of Travancore started to expand his kingdom. The Travancore–Dutch War that followed culminated into the Battle of Colachel, which was disastrous for the Dutch.

As a result of the Kew Letters, the Dutch settlements on the Malabar Coast were surrendered to the British in 1795, in order to prevent being overrun by the French. Dutch Malabar remained British after the conclusion of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, which traded the colony with Bangka Island.

Forts and trading posts

Map of the main forts of Malabar Coast of India
Map of the main forts on the Malabar Coast of India (Vengurla and Barselor not shown)
Settlement Type Established Disestablished Comments
Fort Cochin Fort and factory 1663 1795 Established by the Portuguese as their first settlement in India. Captured by the Dutch in 1663, who made it the capital of Dutch Malabar.
Fort Cranganore Fort 1662 1770 Fell under the command of Fort Cochin and meant to protect the latter. In 1662, the formerly Portuguese fort was first given back to the Zamorin of Calicut as a reward for his alliance with the Dutch, but in 1666 the Dutch started to renovate the dilapidated fort for their own purposes.
Fort Pallipuram Fort 1661 1789 Fell under the command of Fort Cochin and meant to protect the latter. Sold to the Kingdom of Travancore in 1789.
Purakkad Factory 1662  ? Fell under the command of Fort Cochin.
Fort Quilon Fort and factory 1661 1795 The first Portuguese fort to be captured by the Dutch in December 1661. Capital of Dutch Malabar until the capture of Cochin in 1663.
Kayamkulam Factory 1661  ? Fell under the command of Fort Quilon.
Fort Cannanore Fort and factory 1663 1790 Captured on 15 February 1663 from the Portuguese.
Vengurla Factory 1637 1693 Established before the establishment of the Malabar commandment to spy on the nearby Portuguese settlement of Goa. Fell directly under the command of Batavia until 1673, and then under command of Suratte. From 1676 onwards, the command was with Dutch Malabar.
Barselor Factory 1667 1682 Established by treaty with the local ruler. The unreinforced factory traded in rice and pepper, and was closed in 1682 after problems with local merchants.


See also


  1. ^ a b De VOC site - Malabar

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