1627. Banished from Holland, Jeronimus signs on as Senior Merchant for the outward voyage of the ship Batavia. Once on board, Jeronimus sets out to undermine the fleet Commander, Pelseart. Tensions develop between Jeronimus, Pelseart and the ageing ship’s Captain Jacobsz, partly over the passenger Lucretia and her maid Zwaantie. There is trouble also between the two women. The other cause of tension is their cargo, the trading capital for the Dutch East India Company’s operations. Jeronimus tries to get the captain to mutiny, Lucretia is attacked, triggering a dangerous response from Pelseart, and Jeronimus is nearly hanged by the commander. But nearing the coast of Western Australia, they are shipwrecked.
The second half opens with the survivors on an island, where Jeronimus moves quickly to exert control and sideline the ruling council. Gradually Lucretia becomes Jeronimus’ woman and by becoming complicit, she ensures her eventual survival (Lucretia is the survivor of the play). While Jeronimus is busy eliminating unnecessary survivors, he draws anyone who hopes to live to his side. Meantime, Commander Pelseart, Captain Jacobsz and Zwaantie are making their way north in a rowboat, hoping to find the port of Batavia. They eventually make it, where Pelseart is promptly stripped of his position and wealth for losing The Company’s ship. And the Captain is tortured to death for considering mutiny. To assuage his loss, Pelseart offers to take a boat back to the islands to recover what he can. By the time he arrives back, the survivors are few, and, against instructions, he decides to immediately hang those he considers responsible. He settles his personal battle with Jeronimus (by hanging him) and ensures his own record of events is the only one that remains.
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