The Castle of Batavia, Andries Beeckman, c. 1662
Both free and unfree people populate this market in Batavia, with the fortress of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in the background. At the end of the 17th century, more than half of the city’s inhabitants lived in slavery. Slavery was a centuries-old custom in the Indonesian archipelago, which was taken over, adapted and intensified by the Dutch. Batavia became the central slave market for the region, where both Europeans and Asians traded in human beings.