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Libertines, Lotharios or Bastards?

“Trust me….I’m a Mutineer”

“Trust me….I’m a Mutineer”
Jeronimus Cornelisz 1598 – 1629

"This is the worst cruise ever!!"

1629

I really thought I was one of the lucky ones. I survive a mutiny, a shipwreck and months stranded on a fly beaten lump of rock in the middle of the ocean…..I could have been rich too.

I really thought I was one of the lucky ones. I survive a mutiny, a shipwreck and months stranded on a fly beaten lump of rock in the middle of the ocean…..I could have been rich too.

I really thought I was one of the lucky ones. I survive a mutiny, a shipwreck and months stranded on a fly beaten lump of rock in the middle of the ocean…..I could have been rich too. Now I’m in chains and waiting to be strung up like turkey and it’s all thanks to that madman Cornelisz. I’d punch him in the face…if they hadn’t just cut my hands off.

I’ll say this for him….he certainly livened up a long voyage.

We were colonists sailing to the Spice Islands out of Amsterdam on the Dutch East India Company ship Batavia.Cornilez was one of the passengers, a failed apocathory running away from shame and debts.

When he found out the Batavia was also carrying tons of company silver he decided that the Indies could wait. He would start a mutiny, take the ship, spend the silver and turn pirate.

Trouble was, despite his whisperings about poor wages and rich pickings there weren’t enough people disgruntled enough to follow him.

I thought it was a great idea.

The man in charge, company representative Francisco Pelsaert was careful and fair minded so we were a happy ship with no talk of mutiny. What was needed was an act so outrageous, Pelsaert would have no choice but to react with such brutal severity the crew would be ripe for turning.

A gang of us ambushed the prettiest girl on the ship. Stripped her naked and covered her quim with a mixture of tar and shit.

Just for a laugh, you know.

It was dark and she could only identify one of us so Pelsaert should have had no choice but to impose harsh mutiny-causing discipline on the whole ship. Only he didn’t – the soft fucker said the matter could wait till we reached port.

So that was us stuffed, no mutiny, no chance of getting the silver.

So I couldn’t believe our luck when a few days later, off the western coast of Terra Australis Incognita we ran aground on a reef and started to sink.The Batavia broke up slowly so we had plenty of time to evacuate people and supplies to a series of small barren islands just beyond the coral.

They were just lumps of rock really covered in scrub but they were peppered with deep puddles of rainwater so there was a fighting chance of survival – for some of us.

" What a stroke of luck we're saved!" ” What a stroke of luck we’re saved!”

So while the 200 or so passengers were busy weeping and wailing on land me and the other 70 sailors left on board ship got pissed and started fighting amongst ourselves… as you do.

We carried on drinking and fighting for about nine days until the Batavia suddenly went under. Anyone below decks was drowned and many of those who washed into the sea were cut to ribbons on the coral.

Corneliz fell into the sea, which should have been the end of him because he couldn’t swim. But The devil favours his own they say and the lucky bastard grabbed hold of a piece of floating timber and was dragged half alive out of the surf.

So there we were 200 people on a small strip of rock in the middle of the ocean with precious little food and water. Being a heroic type, bloody Pelsaert announced that he was going to “take the longboat and 50 men” and try to sail 2000 miles to Java to fetch help.

Not realising that Cornilez had spent half the voyage trying to start a mutiny the survivors made the pill seller part of the ruling council – charged with overseeing the group until help arrived.

"Don't worry, we'll be back by xmas" “Don’t worry, we’ll be back by xmas”

As we waved the longboat off I could almost hear his sly little brain working ….“kill enough people to make sure me and my mates have plenty of  food and water then capture the rescue ship, kill the crew, steal the silver and become jolly pirates.”

Which was fine by us.

First, he got rid of anyone strong, clever or brave enough to stop him – all the while pretending to be on the side of the stranded community. Me and some of the lads had secretly taken a quick look at one of the other islands about six miles away and decided it had no water or food on it so would be a death trap for anyone stuck there.

Cornilez ordered 15 of the sailors who weren’t part of his mutiny to explore it. We rowed the fools over there and when they’d walked up the beach we fucked off and left them, saying we’d be back – No Chance!

He’d also suggested another 30, including mostly families with children, sailed to another barren rock two miles distant – “to maximize our chances of survival”. We told them they would be able to support themselves on it and that we’d send extra supplies over- but that was rubbish too.

Then Cornilez set about establishing control and killing anyone he didn’t need.

"I rule all of this and you know what they say about men with big islands" “I rule all of this and you know what they say about men with big islands”

“You stole a piece of cheese” “You took an extra gourd of water” …If he didn’t like you, you were accused of some petty crime and executed – no one seemed to mind.We also secretly suffocated anyone who was sick – “Oh no,. ah well, .he’s with God Now”

And occasionally we took people out on makeshift rafts to forage for food and made sure they never came back… “Merciful Jesu What a tragic accident.” All went well, we were whittling over 150 souls down to 45 and the poor fools never even realised. Then the bastards we’d marooned on the far island discovered water – lots of it and lit signal fires, which we ignored

But the settlers on the nearer island made rafts and started to sail over there- well we couldn’t have that, so we got on our own rafts, met them half way and butchered the lot.

The nearer islanders saw what we did and realised they’d been tricked but six miles away the other lot were still ignorant. Cornilez told the people on our island “Your either with us or against us” Anyone who chose to join us had to prove it by killing someone who wouldn’t.

We gave them weapons and told them to sneak into their tents and stab them in their sleep – it’s easy after the first one. Then we made raids on the nearer island and massacred everyone we could find-men women and children. Some of the lads were a bit squeamish about the killing, but I loved it.

"He's got a cold, you're dong him a favour" “He’s got a cold, you’re doing him a favour”

Cornelisz never actually raised his hand to anyone although he did try poisoning one of the children because its crying was keeping him awake. He couldn’t even do that right. We had to finish it off ourselves before taking our blades to the mother – well, she wouldn’t stop screaming.

Of course, it wasn’t all murder and butchery.

We spared some of the women for sex. Cornelisz had two “Wives” one of them the pretty girl we’d had some fun with on the ship. I should have known he’d gone Insane when he started raving about how this was “All ordained by God” and “There is no such thing as sin” He’d made a ridiculous uniform for himself which he covered in looted jewellery – “Look at me I’m the king of the world”

I was having too much fun raping and killing to notice – well you only live once. But suddenly having permission to behave like an animal is a bit like drinking too much wine -after a while, you start making mistakes.

When we’d massacred the nearer islanders we forgot to count the corpses afterwards and a few managed to get away and sail to the farther one. At first, our distant neighbours couldn’t believe ordinary people could fall so low. The gaping knife wounds of the survivors convinced them soon enough.

We were sick, thirsty and starting to fight amongst ourselves. They had water and food and knew what we were about. We had no choice but to get on our rafts and storm their beach, like a tiny invading army. We did this twice and they fought us off both times, using catapults filled with sharp coral and driftwood pikes studded with nails – one nearly took my eye out.

"Who's up for a quick massacre?" “Who’s up for a quick massacre?”

Then Cornilez – like a madman- rowed over with four of his lieutenants and tried to parlay. He stood in the surf and said he could be trusted, offering silver and women to anyone who joined him. Not surprisingly no one believed a word of it. His lieutenants were killed and he was thrown into a pit.

They used him to pluck dead seagulls for cooking – apparently every ninth one he could eat raw.

Not so royal then were you?  you mad fucker.

We tried using salvaged muskets to snipe from a distance but before we could do too much damage we saw a sail on the horizon. Bloody Pelsaert had reached Java and was returning with a rescue ship. Unlike the other lot we had no signal fires so they went straight to the further island and when they discovered what we’d done we were rounded up and put on trial.

Under Dutch law you can be tortured to reveal the truth behind a crime so the whole story came out pretty quickly – Good job I won’t need my fingernails anymore. Charged with causing the death of at least 110 people, Cornilez blames everyone but himself “Who wouldn’t resort to greed, rape and murder under these circumstances?” He was doing what any normal God appointed maniac would do.

"I suppose a stern telling off is out of the question?" “I suppose a stern telling off is out of the question?”

His insane pleas have fallen on deaf ears and like 15 of us mutineers, he’s going to be strung up by the neck with his hands chopped off. I hear they are going to maroon another two on the coast of Terra Australis – I wonder what’s there, nothing good I expect.

You ask me if it was worth it – well no obviously. I let a conniving charlatan appeal to my stupidity and cruelty to further his own ends.

Maybe my fate will be a lesson to other simple folk not to be taken in by smooth talkers promising them the earth.

I’d shake your hand but, well, you know.

"I feel pretty stupid now" “I feel pretty stupid now”

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