Photographs from the 15 October 2015 Seminar

Members of the Japanese studies community were treated to a historical adventure when Dr. Adam Clulow of the School of Philosophical and Historical Studies presented his research on A Conspiracy Discovered: Japanese Mercenaries and the Amboyna incident of 1623. Adam told the story of how, in 1623, a group of Japanese mercenaries and English merchants were accused of plotting to seize control of a Dutch East India Company fort on the tiny island of Ambon or Amboyna in modern-day Indonesia. They were arrested, tortured and after a short trial subsequently executed. Although the incident involved a small number of participants in a remote part of Southeast Asia, it quickly escalated into an international crisis that generated thousands of pages of legal materials as the Dutch and English governments clashed fiercely over the events on Amboyna.  Adam suggested that scholars should move beyond the question of the conspirators’ innocence or guilt, which has preoccupied scholars for centuries now, to consider the role of Japanese mercenaries in the early history of the Dutch East India Company in Asia.

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Dr. Adam Clulow at the Japanese Studies Centre