Gift Guide

Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Meeting [NOOK Book]


From the bestselling author of Tulipomania comes Batavia’s Graveyard, the spellbinding true story of mutiny, shipwreck, murder, and survival.

It was the autumn of 1628, and the Batavia, the Dutch East India Company’s flagship, was loaded with a king’s ransom in gold, silver, and gems for her maiden voyage to Java. The Batavia was the pride of the Company’s fleet, a tangible symbol of the world’s richest and most powerful commercial monopoly. ...
See more details below
Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Meeting

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.99 price


From the bestselling author of Tulipomania comes Batavia’s Graveyard, the spellbinding true story of mutiny, shipwreck, murder, and survival.

It was the autumn of 1628, and the Batavia, the Dutch East India Company’s flagship, was loaded with a king’s ransom in gold, silver, and gems for her maiden voyage to Java. The Batavia was the pride of the Company’s fleet, a tangible symbol of the world’s richest and most powerful commercial monopoly. She set sail with great fanfare, but the Batavia and her gold would never reach Java, for the Company had also sent along a new employee, Jeronimus Corneliszoon, a bankrupt and disgraced man who possessed disarming charisma and dangerously heretical ideas.

With the help of a few disgruntled sailors, Jeronimus soon sparked a mutiny that seemed certain to succeed—but for one unplanned event: In the dark morning hours of June 3, the Batavia smashed through a coral reef and ran aground on a small chain of islands near Australia. The commander of the ship and the skipper evaded the mutineers by escaping in a tiny lifeboat and setting a course for Java—some 1,800 miles north—to summon help. Nearly all of the passengers survived the wreck and found themselves trapped on a bleak coral island without water, food, or shelter. Leaderless, unarmed, and unaware of Jeronimus’s treachery, they were at the mercy of the mutineers.

Jeronimus took control almost immediately, preaching his own twisted version of heresy he’d learned in Holland’s secret Anabaptist societies. More than 100 people died at his command in the months that followed. Before long, an all-out war erupted between the mutineers and a small group of soldiers led by Wiebbe Hayes, the one man brave enough to challenge Jeronimus’s band of butchers.

Unluckily for the mutineers, the Batavia’s commander had raised the alarm in Java, and at the height of the violence the Company’s gunboats sailed over the horizon. Jeronimus and his mutineers would meet an end almost as gruesome as that of the innocents whose blood had run on the small island they called Batavia’s Graveyard.

Impeccably researched and beautifully written, Batavia’s Graveyard is the next classic of narrative nonfiction, the book that secures Mike Dash’s place as one of the finest writers of the genre.

From the Hardcover edition.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400045105
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/5/2002
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 608,462
  • File size: 872 KB

Meet the Author

Mike Dash is the author of the national bestseller Tulipomania. A journalist and Cambridge-educated historian, he lives in London.

From the Hardcover edition.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

From The Prologue: Morning Reef

“The pack of all disasters has moulded together and fallen on my neck.” Francisco Pelsaert

The moon rose at dusk on the evening of 3 June 1629, sending soft grey shafts of light skittering across the giant swells of the eastern Indian Ocean. The beams darted their way from crest to crest, racing each other for mile after mile across the empty vastness of sea, until at last they caught and silhouetted something for an instant, a great black mass that wallowed in a trough between the waves.

In another second, the shape surged onward, rushing up the shifting wall of water in its path until it breasted the next swell. As it did so, it reared up momentarily and the moon fixed it as it slapped back into the water and sent plumes of fine white spray into the air on either side.

In the half-light of the southern winter, the black mass stood revealed as a substantial ship, steering north with the sting of a sharp wind at her back. She was built in the European style, squat and square-sailed, and she looked unbalanced, being considerably lower forward than she was aft. Her curved beak of a prow hung so close to the sea that it was frequently awash with a foam of dark water, but from there her decks curved sharply up like some massive wooden scimitar, rising so steeply that she towered almost 40 feet out of the water at the stern. As the ship came on, the moon was bright enough to pick out some of the larger details along the hull: her figurehead (a wooden lion springing upward), a tangled mass of rigging, the giant iron anchors lashed upside down along her sides. Her bows were blunt, and both the broadness of her beam and the fullness of her draught marked her as a merchant vessel.

Although the moon was bright that evening, there was too little light for the ship to be identified by the flags that writhed and snapped from all three of her masts, and there was little sign of activity on deck. The gunports had all been closed, and not even the quick glint of a lamp or two, shining through chinks in the hatches, hinted at life within. But an enormous lantern, five feet tall, hung over the stern, and its yellow glow illuminated the richly decorated woodwork beneath just well enough for a keen eye to pick out painted details that revealed the great ship’s name and her home port.

She was the East Indiaman Batavia, seven months out of Amsterdam on her maiden voyage and still some 30 days’ sailing from her destination, the Dutch trading settlements on the island of Java. Behind her, trailing in the phosphorescence of her wake, lay 13,000 miles of sea. Ahead were another 1,800 miles of uncharted ocean that had, by the end of the third decade of the seventeenth century, been crossed by only a handful of European vessels. There was rumor and speculation aplenty, among the geographers of England, the Netherlands, and Spain, about what might lie over the horizon in the immense blank that stretched south on their globes from the known waters of the Indies, but little information and no certain knowledge. The few charts of this unknown region that the Batavia carried were fragmentary in the extreme, and all but useless as navigational aids. So she sailed on blind into the gathering night, trusting to God and the skipper as the hourglass trickled away the minutes to midnight and the change of watch.

The ship had been brand-new when she left the Netherlands, but she was weathered now. Her upperworks, which had been painted pale green with embel-lishments in red and gold, were chipped and worn and scoured by sea salt. Her bottom, which had once been smooth and clean, was now festooned with so many barnacles and weeds that their drag slowed her progress north. And her hull, built though it was from oak, had been subjected to every conceivable extreme of temperature, so that it now shuddered as the ship rolled in the swell. First the Batavia’s timbers had swollen in the northern winter, for she had left Amsterdam late the previous October when the northern seas were already cold and stormy. Then they had been shriveled by the sun as the ship sailed along the fever coasts of Africa, swung west on passing Sierra Leone, and crossed the equator headed for Brazil. Off the coast of South America she had at last turned east, picking up a current that carried her to the Cape of Good Hope and then fierce easterlies that took her through the Roaring Forties and the Southern Ocean, where it was winter once again and perpetual gales hurried her onward, between the barren little islets of St. Paul and Amsterdam and into the unknown waters to the east.

At least it was warmer now, and the storms had abated as the Batavia headed north after more than seven long months at sea. But the endless discomforts of the voyage had if anything grown worse, and outweighed the slow improvement in the weather. The fresh food was long gone, the water was alive with worms, and below deck the ship herself stank of urine, unwashed bodies, and stale breath. Worst of all, in its own way, was the plodding monotony of the endless days at sea, which ate away the spirit of the passengers and undermined the efficiency of the crew.

At 12 the watch changed. The new watch, the midnight watch, was always acknowledged to be the most difficult and dangerous of all. Working conditions were at their worst, and the alertness of the men could not always be taken for granted. For these reasons it was customary for the skipper himself to be on deck by night, and as the last grains of sand slid through the glass, a small doorway opened on one of the upper decks and he came up.

The master of a Dutch East Indiaman was a man who enjoyed almost unlimited power in his small kingdom. He commanded a ship that had cost 100,000 guilders to build and contained a cargo that, in the Indies trade, was worth many times more. He was charged with the safe navigation of his vessel and responsible for the lives of all the hundreds of souls under his command. But, on the Batavia as on every other Dutch East Indiamen, the skipper was also the subordinate of an officer who typically had no experience of the sea and little understanding of how to manage a ship.

This man was the upper-merchant, or supercargo. He was, as his title implied, a commercial agent who bore the responsibility of ensuring that the voyage was a profitable one for his own masters, the directors of the Verenigde Oost-indische Compagnie–the United East India Company–which owned the ship. In the first half of the seventeenth century, the VOC was not only the most important organization, and one of the largest employers, in the United Provinces of the Netherlands; it was also the wealthiest and most powerful company on Earth. It had become wealthy and powerful by putting trade and profit ahead of every other consideration. Thus the supercargo and his deputy, the under-merchant, had the authority to order the skipper to make sail, or stay at anchor in some flyblown port until the holds were full, even if death and disease were striking down the crew.

The master of a Dutch East Indiaman was therefore in rather an unusual position. He was expected to combine the powers of seamanship and leadership that have always been demanded of any skipper with a degree of tact and even submissiveness that did not often come easily to men hardened by many years at sea. He had command of his ship from day to day, it is true, but he might at any moment be given an order he would be expected to obey. He could set a course but did not decide where his ship was heading. In port, he had very little power at all.

The skipper of the Batavia was a tough old seaman with considerable experience of the Indies trade, a man named Ariaen Jacobsz. He came from Durgerdam, a fishing village just a mile or two northeast of Amsterdam, and he had been a servant of the VOC for two decades or more. The upper-merchant, who was called Francisco Pelsaert, was in many respects Jacobsz’s opposite–not only in wealth and education, which was to be expected in this period, but in origin as well. For one thing, Pelsaert was no Dutchman; he came from Antwerp in the Southern Netherlands, the great rival of Amsterdam. Moreover, he had been born into a Catholic family at a time when the VOC required its officers to be Protestant; he lacked Jacobsz’s powers of leadership; and despite long service in the Indies, he was as indecisive as the skipper was self-confident. The two men were not friends.

As for Ariaen Jacobsz, he was a veteran of several voyages to the East and probably in his middle forties, which would have made him one of the oldest men on board. That he was a superb sailor is beyond doubt; he had already skippered another large VOC merchantman with some success, and the East India Company was not in the habit of trusting its newest ships to indifferent officers. But the records of his service show that Jacobsz was also choleric, quick-tempered, and sensitive to any slight; that he sometimes drank to excess; and that he was a lecher who was not above imposing his attentions on the female passengers whom he carried in his ships.

These, then, were the men charged with safeguarding the Batavia in the early hours of 4 June 1629. It was not a responsibility that weighed heavily on the skipper. For 211 days at sea, watch had followed watch with scarcely a noteworthy incident. The conditions on this night were good; the wind was blowing in gusts from the southwest, and with no sign of any storm or squall the weather was almost perfect for sailing. The ship was sound, and the noon position that Jacobsz had computed the previous day put the Batavia 600 miles distant from any known land. There seemed no need for particular vigilance from the men on watch, and since there was little or no real work to be done, some at least were able to talk and rest. Jacobsz himself stood gazing out to sea from a vantage point on the upper deck. A lookout watched beside him, and the steersman was stationed just below the skipper’s post.

It was at some time after 3 a.m., when the alertness of the crew was at its lowest ebb, that the lookout, Hans Bosschieter, first suspected that all was not well. From his position high in the stern, the sailor noticed what appeared to be white water dead ahead. Peering into the night, Bosschieter thought he could make out a mass of spray, as though surf was breaking on an unseen reef. He turned to the skipper for confirmation, but Jacobsz disagreed. He insisted that the thin white line on the horizon was nothing more than moonbeams dancing on the waves. The skipper trusted to his own judgment, and he held the Batavia’s course, sailing on with all her canvas set.

When the ship struck, she therefore did so at full speed.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2002

    An Engrossing Account Of a Tragic Story

    'Batavia's Graveyard' is a remarkable book about one of the most extraordinary and tragic mutinies in history. What makes this particular story so tragic is that the mutineers are men of particular savagery- they not only kill potential threats, they also kill for pleasure, for revenge, and out of boredom. After Jeronimus's men secure their island, they next plot to kill the settlers on the other islands, turning what was originally a cruel mutiny into a sad and obscene civil war. The book reaches its climax during the battle between the mutineers and the inhabitants of the last island of settlers to be attacked. Competently led by Wiebbe Hayes, a soldier aboard the Batavia, this last group has to fight with makeshift weapons against a group of well-armed mutineers intent on killing them to the last man. The author of 'Batavia's Graveyard', Mike Dash, not only gives a readable and engrossing account of the survivors' ordeal, but he does an excellent job of placing the events within its historical context. I was fascinated by the description of life in the Dutch Republic of the early 1600's, sobered by the risks and difficulties that sea voyages of the time entailed, and absorbed by the history of the V.O.C. (Dutch East India Company). Finally, I was horrified and saddened by the events that took place on the islets once the mutiny was in full swing. The ordeal of Wiebbe Hayes's troops in attempting to repulse Jeronimus's attacks added to the complexity of the story and gave me some hope for some of the survivors. The style of writing was such that I felt like a participant to the action, and Mr. Dash did this without sacrificing historical accuracy. 'Batavia's Graveyard' is one of the best history books I've read in quite a while, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes history, or just a good dramatic tale.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)