TREATY OF MUNSTER
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The independence of the Netherlands was finally recognised by the Treaty of Munster which was signed on the 30 January 1648. The terms of the Treaty stated that the navigation and trade to the East and West Indies should be maintained as indicated by the charters which were granted. All "potentates, nations and peoples" with whom the States-General and the East and West India Companies, within the limits of their charters, were in friendship and alliance, were to be included in the Treaty. The King of Spain and the States-General were respectively to remain "in possession and enjoyment of such lordships, towns, castles, fortresses, commerce and country" in the East and West Indies and Brazil and on the coasts of Africa, Asia and America as they then respectively held and possessed. In this description were specifically included the places which the Portuguese had taken from the States-General since the year 1641, as well as all places which the States-General should subsequently come to conquer and possess, without violating the Treaty.
With reference to the mention of places taken by the Portuguese from the Dutch since 1641, it should be remembered that in that year the Portuguese had severed themselves from the Crown of Spain, and were, at the date of the Treaty of Munster, regarded by the King of Spain as rebels. The object of this provision was that the Dutch should be at liberty to recapture from the Portuguese all places which the latter had acquired at their expense during the Portuguese rebellion.
DUTCH TRADING REGULATIONS
On the 10 August 1648, the States-General again issued trading regulations more specific than any which had been previously published. By these regulations, uncharted vessels were forbidden to trade on the Wild Coast. The mouth of the Orinoco was again made the starting point at which ships not belonging to the Dutch West India Company had the liberty to sail and trade. This clearly indicated that the whole of the coast between the Orinoco and the Amazon was treated as belonging to the West India Company.
In 1656, the Dutch were driven from Brazil by the Portuguese. The effect of this was that they concentrated their efforts upon Guyana. On the 24 December 1657, a contract was entered into between the Zeeland Chamber and the West India Company and the three Dutch towns of Middelburg, Flushing and Vere, by which the towns agreed to establish colonies on the Wild Coast under the supervision of the States-General and the Company. A Commissary was appointed to act under Aert Adriaensen, the Governor already in Essequibo, and in February 1658 colonists sailed for Guyana.
According to the agreement of the terms of the partnership of the three cities, provision was made for a slave ship to be sent to bring slaves from Africa, as the supply of slave labour was found to be essential for the working of the colony.
In August 1658 news was received in the Netherlands of the safe arrival of the colonists. A new settlement was at once made on the Pomeroon River upon which the town of New Middelburg was founded. A fort built a few miles higher up was named Nova Zeelandia. The earliest mention of New Middelburg was made in a report of the proceedings of the Committee of the three cities on the 2 January 1659. At that meeting a letter from the Commandeur, dated at New Middelburg, the 15 September 1658, was read.
In the same year, 1658, the city of Amsterdam proposed to colonise a part of the Wild Coast. The Zeeland Chamber protested, claiming the exclusive right to the entire Wild Coast.
The settlement of New Middelburg on the Pomeroon soon became very prosperous. Byam, the Governor of the then English colony in Surinam, writing in 1669, stated that "Bowroom and Maraco, alias New Zeeland", was "a most flourishing colony..., the greatest of all they (the Dutch) ever had in America".
He added that the English, after having temporarily made themselves masters in 1665 of "all the great Province of New Zeeland and Desseceub", were in turn obliged to surrender to a Dutch relieving force from Berbice and were forced to give back 1,200 slaves they had taken.
In 1665, the English had captured the colony, storming the Dutch fort of Moruka. The extent and importance of the settlement was such that possessions of it was regarded as winning with it the country right up to the Orinoco. Major Scott, the Commander of the English forces reported in his Description of Guayana: "This year the English could boast of the possession of all that part of Guiana abutting on the Atlantik Ocean from Cayan on the south-east to Oronoque on the north-west (except a small colony on the River Berbishees) which is no less than 600 English miles."
In 1666, the colony was recaptured by the Dutch; but the settlement on the Pomeroon remained neglected for some time. Essequibo, however, continued to be prosperous. On the 26 August 1669, it was reported to the Zeeland Chamber that a ship had arrived "with 50,000 or 60,000 pounds of sugar, and 20,000 pounds of letter-wood which had been made and cut in Essequibo by the Company's Negroes".
In 1674, a new chartered Company was formed with the same rights and limits of those possessed by the former Dutch Company. Pomeroon and Essequibo were specifically mentioned in the grant.