For those interested in spices, this book tells of their many uses and the history of their trade over a period of more than 2000 years. It follows the Silk Road across Central Asia and the
Spice Route over the Indian Ocean and describes how the spice trade into
Europe came to be dominated by Middle Eastern and Venetian merchants.
Clove and nutmeg trees are indigenous to a few tiny islands located in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago, known as the
Spice Islands. From the beginnings of recorded history these exotic spices were traded halfway around the world, which meant that when these simple buds and seeds reached
Europe they were said to be worth their weight in gold.
Backed by the Crowns of Portugal and
Spain, it was the dream of explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan to capture the spice trade by sailing directly to the Indies and the
Spice Islands, driving the maritime exploration of the world known as ‘The Age of Discovery’. The story also revolves around the intense rivalry between the Sultans of Ternate and Tidore, and their relationship with the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and English, who at different times occupied the
The book follows the growth of the Dutch and English East India Companies which were founded to profit from the spice trade. Eventually the Dutch East Indies Company came to completely monopolize the spice trade from the
Spice Islands, until their monopoly was broken by the determined efforts of just one man. It finishes as the Dutch East India Company goes into bankruptcy and the once splendid Sultanates to sink into obscurity.