Olivier van Noort
|Died||22 February 1627|
|Known for||First Dutchman to circumnavigate the world.|
Olivier van Noort was born in 1558 in Utrecht. He left Rotterdam on 2 July 1598 with four ships and a plan to attack Spanish possessions in the Pacific and to trade with China and the Spice Islands during the Eighty Years' War between the Netherlands and Spain. His ships were poorly equipped, especially in the way of armament and the crews were unruly.
Nonetheless, Van Noort sailed through the Magellan Strait, and captured a number of ships (Spanish and otherwise) along the Pacific coast of South America. He lost two ships on the way due to a storm, including his largest ship, the Hendrick Frederick, which was wrecked on Ternate in the Maluku Islands. In November and December 1600, he established a berth for his two remaining sailboats, Mauritius and Eendracht, in the surroundings of Corregidor Island at Manila Bay in the Philippines. From there he engaged in what were perceived by the Spanish as pirate activities, targeting the sailing route to and from Manila. This situation was ended after the naval combat of Fortune Island on December 14, 1600. The Spanish lost their flagship, the galleon San Antonio (its wreck would be found in 1992 and yield a treasure in porcelain and gold pieces) but the Spanish captured the Dutch Eendracht, making van Noort's position untenable and forcing him to retire from the Philippines.
Van Noort returned to Rotterdam via what would become the Dutch East Indies and the Cape of Good Hope on 26 August 1601 with his last ship, the Mauritius, and 45 of originally 248 men. The venture barely broke even, but was the inspiration for more such expeditions. The united Dutch East India Company was formed a few months later.
Van Noort's voyage is also told in the book, The Golden Keys (Doubleday 1956, 1970) by Hans Koning, a fictionalized retelling of the voyage of van Noort, and a previous well known voyage of Gerrit de Veer.
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