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Nathnls-Nutmeg-rev - 11/1/09


"A Review of 'Nathaniel's Nutmeg'" by Johnnae llyn Lewis, CE.


NOTE: See also the files: fruits-msg, nuts-msg, nutmeg-mace-msg, spices-msg, p-herbals-msg, p-spice-trade-msg, silk-road-msg, gums-resins-msg, F-It-spce-mixs-art.





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Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



A Review of 'Nathaniel's Nutmeg'

by Johnnae llyn Lewis, CE


Milton, Giles.  Nathaniel's Nutmeg or, The True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History. New York:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999. 388 pp. 33 illus. 5 maps. Bibliography:  pp.375-378. $24. Hardcover.


               A much more rousing tale of the spice trade, especially the pursuit of nutmeg, in the Spice Islands of what is now Indonesia and Malaysia can be found in Giles Milton's Nathaniel's Nutmeg. While the book does relate the escapades of such Elizabethan era adventurers as Richard Chancellor (who in 1553 set out for the Spice Islands of the East by sailing into Arctic waters and ending up in Moscow), Sir Hugh Willoughby, Sir Francis Drake, and others, it primarily documents the attempts of the East India Company of England to gain a foothold in the Spice Islands that were under the control of the vastly more powerful and well organized Dutch East India Company.  It fell to an Englishman of unknown background named Nathaniel Courthope who in 1616 led the attempt to establish an English outpost on the Island of Run, a small atoll in the Banda Islands. Ringed by a sunken reef and surrounded by dangerous waters, Run produced upwards of one-third of a million pounds of nutmeg annually. Nutmeg was highly sought after because it was believed to be the "only certain cure for plague." In 1616 the Dutch controlled a monopoly on nutmeg; only Run remained outside their grasp. Courthope's mission was to keep Run out of Dutch hands. As one might suspect, it's a tale that does not end well at allÉfull of sickness, famine, battle, bloodshed, enslavement, betrayal, murder, torture, and lastly execution.


               The eventual English loss to the Dutch in the Spice Islands of far off Asia was hard felt and long remembered, and helped set the stage for the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the mid-seventeenth century. After decades of continued negotiations and periods of open conflict, the Dutch finally agreed to keep Run and compensate England by ceding another territory to her. In 1667, the English took possession of the whole of the New Netherlands. This new colony, shortly to be renamed New York, went on, of course, to flourish, while Run and its story slid into the backwaters of history. Nathaniel's Nutmeg is an entertaining and highly readable work of popular history. The Penguin paperback was released in 2000 for $13.95.


Review by Johnna Holloway

6 August 2001


Copyright 2001 by Johnna H. Holloway. <Johnna at mac.com>. Please don't reprint without permission from the author.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org