François Valentijn (17 April 1666 – 1727) was a Dutch minister, naturalist and author whose Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën ("Old and New East-India") describes the history of the Dutch East India Company and the countries of the Far East.
François Valentijn was born in 1666 in Dordrecht, as the eldest of seven children of Abraham Valentijn and Maria Rijsbergen. He lived most of his life in Dordrecht; however, he is known for his activities in the tropics, notably in Ambon, in the Maluku Archipelago. Valentijn read theology and philosophy at the University of Leiden and the University of Utrecht before leaving for a career as a preacher in the Indies.
In total, Valentijn lived in the East Indies for 16 years. Valentijn was first employed by the V.O.C. (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) at the age of 19 as minister to the East Indies, where he became a friend of the German naturalist Georg Eberhard Rumpf (Rumphius). He returned and lived in the Netherlands for about ten years before returning to the Indies in 1705 where he was to serve as army chaplain on an expedition in eastern Java.
He finally returned to Dordrecht where he found time to write his Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (1724–26) a massive work of five parts published in eight volumes and containing over one thousand engraved illustrations and some of the most accurate maps of the Indies of the time.
He died in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1727.
Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën
Valentijn probably had access to the V.O.C.'s archive of maps and geographic trade secrets, which they had always guarded with great care. Valentijn's "Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën" was published at a moment that many of the VOC charts were first published, one signal of the decline of Dutch dominance in the spice trade.
In 1724, the first two volumes were published in the cities of Dordrecht and Amsterdam, followed by the following three volumes in 1726. This work comprises geographical and ethnological descriptions of the Moluccas and the trading contacts of the Dutch V.O.C. throughout Asia.
With 650 subscribers it was "the first book to give a comprehensive account, in text and illustration, of the peoples, places and natural history of Indonesia' (Bastin & Brommer). Valentijn’s work is still a major source for historical studies on the Dutch East Indies and especially for the natural history of the Moluccas.
Valentijn included in "Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën" descriptions by Rumphius on, for example, Ambonese animals, while Rumphius’s original unpublished manuscript was later lost.
In 1754 Valentijn’s part on sea flora and fauna was separately published in Amsterdam, and some twenty years later translated into German.
Oud en nieuw Oost-Indiën : vervattende een naaukeurige en uitvoerige verhandelinge van Nederlands mogentheyd in die gewesten, benevens eene wydluftige beschryvinge der Moluccos, Amboina, Banda, Timor, en Solor, Java, en alle de eylanden onder dezelve landbestieringen behoorende : het Nederlands comptoir op Suratte, en de levens der Groote Mogols . . .
Published by Joannes van Braam; G. onder de Linden, Dordrecht and Amsterdam 1724. Vol. 3-5 published 1726.
-- Volume 1, part 1. Nederlands mogentheid -- stuk 2. Moluccos. Molukse zaaken
-- Volume 2. Amboina. Ambonsche zaaken
-- Volume 3, part 1. Amboina (cont.). Boomen, planten, dieren, etc. van Amboina -- part 2. Banda. Bandasche zaaken. Solor en Timor. Cassar. Macassaarsche zaaken. Borneo. Bali. Tonkin. Cambodia. Siam.
-- Volume 4, part 1. Java. Bantam. Batavia. Levens der opper-landvoogden -- part 2. Javaansche zaaken. Suratte. Levens der Groote Mogols. Tsjina. Tayouan of Formosa.
-- Volume 5, part 1. Pegu, Arrakan, Bengale, Mocha ... Malakka , Sumatra, Ceylon -- part 2. Malabar en van onzen Handel in Japan mitsgaders een beschryving van Kaap der goede Hoope en't Eiland Mauritius.