Law, Torture and the Rights of our Subjects: Japanese Mercenaries and the Amboyna Incident of 1623 (Adam Clulow)


Date: Oct 03, 2013

A talk by Adam Clulow, Senior Lecturer at Monash University and 2013-2014 Fung Global Fellow at Princeton University

In 1623, a group of Japanese mercenaries and English merchants were accused of plotting to seize control of a Dutch East India Company fort on the tiny island of Amboyna in modern-day Indonesia. They were arrested, tortured and after a short trial subsequently executed. Although the incident involved a comparatively small number of participants in a remote part of Southeast Asia, it quickly escalated into an international crisis that generated thousands of pages of legal materials as lawyers and government officials clashed over the events on Amboyna. This paper aims to move beyond the most basic issue of the conspirators’ innocence or guilt, which has preoccupied scholars for centuries now, and to use the incident to ask questions about the nature of European expansion into Asia in the early modern period.

Co-sponsored with the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture

Date: Oct 03, 2013

A talk by Adam Clulow, Senior Lecturer at Monash University and 2013-2014 Fung Global Fellow at Princeton University

In 1623, a group of Japanese mercenaries and English merchants were accused of plotting to seize control of a Dutch East India Company fort on the tiny island of Amboyna in modern-day Indonesia. They were arrested, tortured and after a short trial subsequently executed. Although the incident involved a comparatively small number of participants in a remote part of Southeast Asia, it quickly escalated into an international crisis that generated thousands of pages of legal materials as lawyers and government officials clashed over the events on Amboyna. This paper aims to move beyond the most basic issue of the conspirators’ innocence or guilt, which has preoccupied scholars for centuries now, and to use the incident to ask questions about the nature of European expansion into Asia in the early modern period.

Co-sponsored with the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture

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