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INDONESIA – THE JAVA WAR: Ile de Java. Carte de la partie principale du Théâtre de la Guerre de 1825 à 1830, indiquant les positions successives de nos Colonnes Mobiles, et les Redoutes (Bentings) élévées à mesure de nos progrès. Dressée au Quartier Génér Zoom

INDONESIA – THE JAVA WAR: Ile de Java. Carte de la partie principale du Théâtre de la Guerre de 1825 à 1830, indiquant les positions successives de nos Colonnes Mobiles, et les Redoutes (Bentings) élévées à mesure de nos progrès. Dressée au Quartier Génér


The rare separately-issued edition of the ultimate map depicting the theatre of the Java War (1825-30), the epic showdown between the Dutch colonial regime and Prince Diponegoro’s guerrilla uprising, after a grand manuscript made in the field by Major François Vincent Henri Antoine de Stuers, published in Leiden shortly after the conflict.

Author: François Vincent Henri Antoine de STUERS (1792 - 1881).
Place and Year: Leiden: Bayly et Huart, 1830.
Code: 67356

Lithograph with original outline hand colour, on two joined sheets mounted upon contemporary linen, with green cloth edging professionally renewed to style (Very Good, strong printing impression, some discolouration to far-right side of map), 62 x 128 cm (24.5 x 50.5 inches).


This is the rare, separately issued edition of what is by far and away the most impressive and important printed map of the theatre of the Java War (1825-30), an epic conflict that altered the course of Indonesian history.  The war came about when Prince Diponegoro of the powerful autonomous Sultanate of Yogyakarta, and his regional allies, rebelled against Dutch rule over Java.  The rebels were motivated by a series of long-simmering grievances against their colonial overlords, to which was added Diponogoro’s personal issues with respect to his claim to the disputed throne of his sultanate.  The war was a complex affair, as not only was it an anticolonial uprising, but a civil war between Diponegoro and other factions (allied to the Dutch) within Yogyakarta and throughout neighbouring jurisdictions of South-Central Java. 

Diponegoro’s forces initially possessed the upper hand, as the Dutch and their regional allies were caught flat-footed.  However, their failure to capture Yogyakarta deprived the rebels of their chance to quickly knock the Dutch out of the war.  Diponegoro’s forces then retreated to the countryside to wage a brutal guerrilla war.  While this was a difficult and costly turn for the Dutch, they eventually developed strategies to effectively counter the rebels’ stealth tactics, finally crushing the rebellion in 1830. 

The Java War chastened the Dutch regime, leading it to enact sweeping administrative reforms that dramatically improved Dutch-Javanese relations and the long-term economic health of the island.  It is no exaggeration to say that the legacy of the conflict influenced every aspect of Javanese (and Indonesian) life for well over a century thereafter.

The present map is predicated upon a great manuscript drafted at the Dutch Army Quarter Master’s Headquarters in Magelang at the end of January 1830, by Major François Vincent Henri Antoine de Stuers, a consequential figure in the war.  The manuscript was published in Leiden not long after the end of the conflict.  De Stuers intended for the map to act as the authoritative graphic record of the war from its height in May 1827, until its twilight in 1830.  Critically, the map carefully labels the locations of the numerous Dutch fortified outposts throughout the region, as well as the movements of both the Dutch regular and auxiliary forces, including where they met battle with the enemy.  No other map features anywhere near as detailed and accurate information on the progress of the war as does De Stuers’ work, making it one of the seminal documents of this critical episode in Indonesian history.  Moreover, while not the intended purpose of the map, it is also valuable towards the study of archelogy in one of Asia’s greatest concentrations of antiquities, as it marks and names the locations of dozens of ancient complexes and ruins.

The map focuses upon the historically important section of South-Central Java, centred on Yogyakarta (here ‘Djokjokarta’), the great city, and surrounding sultanate, that has long been home to the apex of Javanese culture, including the island’s finest visual art, textiles, architecture, food, as well as the performance awe-inspiring dance routines.  The scope embraces the larger region extending from the ‘Koboemen’ (Kebumen) area, in the west; all the way over to the bay of ‘Patjietan’ (Pacitan), in the east; and from the shores of the Indian Ocean, in the south; up to ‘Salatiega’ (Salatiga), in the north.  In between are major centres and sites, such as ‘Soerakarta’ (Sutarakarta); Magalang; ‘Borro-boedo’ (Borobadur), an ancient Buddhist city that remains Java’s greatest archaeological treasure; as well as ‘Mt. Merapie’ (Mount Merapi), the ‘Mountain of Fire’, the fearsome 2,930-metre-tall stratovolcano, the frequent eruptions of which have caused massive destruction up to the present day.

The map provides an extremely impressive rendering of the region’s diverse topography that far exceeds that of any other map issued to the time.  As De Steurs notes in the ‘Observations’ (lower centre), the map is built upon a general framework of Stamford Raffles’ ground-breaking A Map of Java Chiefly from Surveys made during the British Administration , which was contained within his famous History of Java (1817); however, the present map’s much larger scale adds a greater richness of detail, the result of information garnered from Javanese guides, as well as from ‘Croquis’ (sketch maps) made by Dutch officers on campaign.  This intelligence was obtained with tremendous difficulty amidst heated guerrilla combat, which makes the high quality of the mapping all that more impressive.

The mountain ranges and volcanoes are expressed through careful series of hachures, while the region’s innumerable rivers and streams are carefully delineated.  The ‘Explication des Signes’ (lower centre) details the symbols used to express the human geography, especially those that are critical to political considerations and the cartography of military movement, including: jurisdictions governed directly by the Dutch, outlined in pink; lands governed directly by the Emperor of Surakarta, outlined in orange; the territories of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, outlined in green; the domains of other Javanese princes, outlined in yellow; the Great Roads (akin to post roads in Europe); other major roads; secondary roads; paths; the locations of ‘Bentings’ (redoubts / fortifications); blockhouses; as well as the locations of Dutch military detachments; sites of battles; and of ancient cities and ruins.

The chart of ‘Positions’ (lower left) employs symbols detailing the positions of both the mobile detachments of Dutch Army regulars (‘Colonnes Mobiles’) and the corps of Dutch-Allied Indonesian irregular troops, as they were variously positioned on May 1, 1827; May 1, 1828; April 1, 1829; and January 1, 1830.  Under each heading for each date, the participating corps are listed; one can see how the size and intensity of the Dutch-Allied forces grew as the conflict progressed from 1827 to 1830.

While the exact publication history of the present map does not seem to be recorded, it is apparent that it was first issued separately, having been printed by the firm of Bayly & Huart, in Leiden.  The present example was contemporality mounted upon linen and rolled; we can trace only a handful of separately-issued examples of the map.

Examples of the map were also folded for inclusion in De Steurs’ excellent and autorotative account of the Java War, published by a different house than the map, Mémoires sur la guerre de l'île de Java de 1825 à 1830 (Leiden: S. & J. Luchtmans), which is today very rare.  

The Java War: A Turing Point in Indonesian History

The Java War (1825-30) was the greatest uprising against Dutch rule in the Indonesian Archipelago to occur prior to the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-9).  While the Netherlands forces eventually prevailed, the conflict was so costly in blood and treasure that it chastened the colonial regime, leading to major reforms.

Until 1799, the Dutch presence in what is today Indonesia was represented by the Dutch East India Company (the VOC), a commercial entity that had little interest in public administration, and as such limited its role to operating maritime bases and factories.  In Java, the VOC’s direct rule was confined to the colonial capital of Batavia (Jakarta) and select parts of the north coast of the island.  The rest of the island was left in the hands of local rulers, whose sovereignty over their territories seldom met with significant VOC interference.

From 1811 to 1816, Britain occupied Java, having displaced the Dutch, who were allies of Napoleon.  Upon the island’s return to the Netherlands, the new royal regime embarked upon a far more ambitious colonial policy that sought to make all of Java, and much of the of the rest of the Indonesian Archipelago, directly ruled possessions of the crown.  While cooperative local rulers would retain nominal sovereignty over their lands, in reality, the Dutch sought to instil a regime that would extensively interfere with legal, economic and social life throughout Java.  Specifically, the Dutch demanded that local rulers annually provide large quantities of cash crops to the colonial regime that could be exported to its own benefit.  The Dutch also interfered in local real estate transactions, dynastic disputes, as well as seeking to build roads across Java without seeking the permission of regional rulers.  While some local grandees befitted from this system, accepting Dutch largesse for their loyalty, others bitterly resented the new regime.

Even as Dutch bureaucrats and soldiers fanned out across Java to impose the Netherlands’ authority, they proved remarkably flat-footed when it came to both anticipating and reacting to events.  They were slow to counteract a famine which affected parts of the island in 1821 and seemed amazingly ignorant of the rising discontent that their new interventionist policies had stoked amongst Java’s leading clans.  Moreover, the Dutch leadership in Batavia was distracted by their successful quest to take over the Sultanate of Palembang. on Sumatra, which lasted from 1816 to 1825.  Also, the Netherlands’ rivalry with Britain, which was settled by the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, had been a major distraction. 

Enter Prince Diponegoro (1785 - 1855) of the wealthy and cultured autonomous Sultanate of Yogyakarta.  He long had an exe to grind, for he had been passed over for the throne upon the death of his father, Sutlan Hamengkubuwono III, in 1814.  His subsequent attempts to become sultan were thwarted by the Dutch authorities, who preferred puppet rulers over the headstrong Diponegororo.  Beyond that, Diponegoro’s dislike of the colonial regime also had an ideological element; as a devout Muslim, he resented that many of Java’s rulers collaborated with ‘infidels’. 

Diponegoro was a charismatic and inspiring leader, and in the early months of 1825, he channelled the resentment of the colonial regime that was widely held across south-central Java.  He managed to raise and equip and large army, and proceeded to besiege his own capital, Yogyakarta, which was defended by troops loyal to his half-brother and rival, Sultan Hamengkubuwono IV, supported by a modest Dutch garrison.  While Diponegoro is regarded by historians to have been as a clever military tactician, he failed to press the siege hard enough.  Perhaps he did not appreciate that if he succeeded in taking Yogyakarta, he would likely have knocked the Dutch out of the conflict, forcing them to treat with him on hugely favourable terms.  As it happened, on September 25, 1825, Lieutenant General Hendrik Merkus de Kock, the Dutch Army’s Commander-in-Chief (and Major de Stuers’ future father-in-law), managed to lift the siege, providing both a major practical victory and morale boost to the Dutch-Allied side.

Diponegoro’s forces than scattered into the mountainous countryside to launch a guerrilla war against the Dutch and their local allies - with devastating effect.  The classically trained Dutch regulars were totally unprepared for the stealth attacks of asymmetrical warfare, while Diponegoro’s men were far better fighters than their brethren who remained allied to the colonial regime.  The Dutch soon lost control of the situation and suffered an unsustainably high casualty rate.  They kept ceding territory, until it seemed that it would only be matter of time before they were, once again, besieged in Yogyakarta city.  Moreover, the war was bleeding an astounding amount of resources from the Dutch regime, impairing its ability to maintain the rest of its Indonesian empire.

However, in 1827, about when the action depicted upon on the present map commences, the Dutch started to turn things around.  Instead of being holed up in one or two being centres, the Dutch created an archipelago of small forts and blockhouses across the region, to act as forward bases for operations.  From there they deployed small, highly mobile detachments, the (‘Colonnes Mobiles’ on the map) to quickly strike bands of rebel forces.  Added to this, the Dutch wisely brought in auxiliary troops from other parts of Indonesia, such as Sulawesi, who were adept at irregular warfare in jungle environments and who had no cultural affinity for the Javanese rebels.  The newly reenergized Dutch forces were given carte blanche to launch a scorched earth policy that proved brutally effective.  No quarter was given to rebel fighters and villages that backed the uprising were raised to the ground.  Over the next three years or so, Diponegoro’s position eroded, as his forces were depleted, and resources became scarce.  Many of the villagers that were once sympathetic to his cause were now too afraid of Dutch reprisals to continue the fight.

In the early months of 1830, the Dutch forces had Diponegoro on the backfoot, yet, they were deeply frustrated that the prince himself had proven impossible to apprehend and the core of his army always seemed to escape even the best-laid traps.  While Dutch rule over the region was no longer under threat, it seemed likely that the guerrilla war could continue indefinitely.  The conflict had exacted an enormous price: 200,000 Javanese died, and as many as 15,000 Dutch troops had fallen.  The war had ruined south-central Java’ once thriving economy and had not only practically bankrupted the Dutch East Indies government but had put an enormous strain upon the general finances of the Netherlands.

At the same time, Diponegoro was feeling tired, and seeing no hope of victory, was open to a negotiated settlement.

In late March 1830, General de Kock invited Diponegoro to his headquarters in Magelang to parley under a formal flag of truce.  Pursuant to both Dutch and local custom, Diponegoro and his entourage were guaranteed safe passage to and from the meeting, regardless of the outcome of the deliberations.

However, in a now infamous act of treachery, on March 28, 1830, De Kock had Diponegoro and his entourage arrested, a scene since immortalized by Nicolaas Pieneman's painting, The Submission of Prince Dipo Negoro to General De Kock (circa 1835), today in the Rijksmuseum.  The prince was promptly deported to Sulawesi, never to see Java again.  Diponegoro’s capture utterly demoralized his followers, causing the uprising to immediately collapse.  The Dutch regime was, once again, firmly in control of Java.

The scare and cost of the war convinced the Dutch to implement radical reforms to their regime in what is today Indonesia.  Shortly after the war, Johannes van den Bosch, the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, implemented the Cultuurstelsel (The Culture System) by which 20% of every villages’ land across Java was to be devoted to the production of cash crops for the colonial government to export.  In lieu of that, the village could offer its manpower to the regime for corvée labour for 6 days of the year.  Local leaders received sizable cash bonuses from the colonial regime if their lands yielded surpluses.  The vast bounty of indigo, sugar and coffee was sold in Europe by the Netherlands Trading Company (Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij, or NHM).  While this all still amounted to heavy burden upon Javanese communities, it was usually bearable and unlike the capricious former system, predictable.  While still resented by the Javanese working classes, most if the island’s nobles came to accept and profit from the Cultuurstelsel.  The system remained in place until 1870, whereupon it was relaxed somewhat.  However, it is widely credited for cementing Dutch political power over the island.  Importantly, the new design also made Java highly profitable, strengthening the economy of the Netherlands for over a century.


De Stuers: One of the Great Figures of Dutch Colonial Military History

François Vincent Henri Antoine de Stuers was a major figure in the military history of Indonesia.  He was born in 1792, in Roermond (Limburg), to an ennobled family of Huguenot heritage.  In 1815, in the dying days of the Napoleonic Wars, he enrolled in the newly reconstituted Dutch Army, winning distinction while fighting with the dragoons in Brabant and France.  In 1816, he was appointed as a 2nd lieutenant of infantry.  It seems that it was during this period that De Stuers was educated in surveying and cartography, skills that would soon come in handy thousands of miles away.

De Stuers soon grew bored with peacetime garrison duty in the Netherlands, and at his request he was transferred to the East Indies.  Glowing recommendations from his commanding officers ensured that he received a position on the General Staff of General de Kock, the Commander-In-Chief of the Dutch Army in the East Indies.   He fought with great valour in the campaigns against the Sultanate of Palembang, exploits for which he was knighted by King Willem I.  In 1824, he became the Private Secretary to De Kock.  He was evidently held in high regard by his commander, for in 1828 De Stuers wed the general’s daughter - not a bad career move!

Throughout the Java War, De Stuers was De Kock’s ‘righthand man’, travelling with the commander-in-chief everywhere and consulted on all command decisions.  He carefully recorded his observations, ensuring that his present map and Mémoires are today regarded as seminal sources on this dramatic period in Indonesian history.

Physically drained by a decade of service in the East Indies, in 1830, then Major de Steurs was transferred back home to become the chief of staff of the Dutch Army in Zeeland.  While that post was usually considered quite uneventful, De Stuers unexpectedly found himself on the front lines of the Belgian Revolution (1830-1), which resulted in Belgium’s independence from the Netherlands.  While the Dutch lost the conflict, De Steurs was commended for his admirable performance in an otherwise unfortunate affair.

In 1837, de Steurs was assigned to return to the East Indies.  En route, his vessel was shipwrecked; his heroism in saving his fellow passengers made him a legendary figure in the Dutch press.  He served as the commander of the army in the Moluccas.  He subsequently returned the Netherlands where he became a senior office in the Ministry of the Colonies, with the rank of Major General.  He befriended King Willem II, who entrusted him to be his representative at high-level diplomatic conferences across Europe.

In 1854, De Stuers was appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of the Dutch Army in the East Indies, serving until 1859.  His tenure was highly successful in that he won a number of regional conflicts in Timor, Borneo and Sumatra, resulting in significant territorial gains for the Netherlands.  He also did much to modernize the army, introducing new technology and training regimes.  He deserves his enduring reputation as one of the greatest Dutch military and colonial figures of the 19th Century.

References: OCLC: 980374118; Universiteitsbibliotheek Utrecht: KAART: Ackersdijck 179-1 (Dk26-12).

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