Survivors Of The Infamous Batavia Shipwreck Formed A Brutal Colony On A Desert Island

On a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, a team of archaeologists is excavating the site of a long-forgotten colony. But the relics they dig up from the earth tell a terrible story. Four hundred years ago, the survivors from the shipwrecked Batavia hoped for salvation on these shores, but they were left wanting.

The wreck of Batavia

Laden with treasure and settlers bound for a new life in the Dutch East Indies, the Batavia left the Netherlands in the autumn of 1628. Sadly, though, it would never reach its destination. Along the way, the ship was wrecked on a reef, breaking apart in perilous waters. And that was only the beginning of one of the worst tragedies to ever take place at sea.

Terrible murders

Although the vast majority of passengers made it to shore alive, far worse than the shipwreck was to come. As the weeks ticked by with no sign of rescue in sight, a brutal dictator seized control of the survivors. And by the time that the search party arrived, a series of terrible murders had decimated the island community.

A long and arduous journey

When the Batavia first set sail, the journey to the Dutch East Indies — and the colony after which the ship had been named — was expected to be a long and arduous one. At the time, it was almost impossible for navigators to calculate longitude accurately; many vessels came to harm amid the fierce winds blowing off the Cape of Good Hope.

Departing Europe

Despite these challenges, though, the Batavia left Texel in the Netherlands on October 27, 1628, as part of a fleet with seven other ships. At the helm was Commander Francisco Pelsaert, with Jeronimus Cornelisz acting as his deputy and Ariaen Jacobsz filling the role of skipper. Unfortunately, though, there was some bad blood between the men.