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The Dutch former Colonies

Ghana

 Fort Elmina

The first European built fort in Ghana was Fort São Jorge da Mina (Elmina), which was built by the Portuguese in 1482 near an African village, with which they were in trade, called by them Aldeia das Duas Partes. The first stone of this Castle was laid on 21 January 1482 under the supervision of the Portuguese Captain Diogo de Azambuja that was at the head of an expedition of 600 Portuguese. This fort was the Headquarters of the Portuguese in the Gold Coast from its foundations to the Dutch conquest in 1637. The government of this castle was esteemed to be, at the beginning of XVI century, one of the most important positions in the Portuguese empire. During the Portuguese time the garrison of the fortress consisted of a Governor with his staff of ten peoples, a factor or feitor with a staff of four men, two clerks, an apothecary, a surgeon, a smith, a cooper, an overseer of provisions, some stonemasons, some carpenters, two or four priests and about 20-60 soldiers. In 1486 to Sao Jorge was granted the status of city, and a wall was built around the African town. From the first trading contacts the villagers of Aldeia das Duas Partes, developed a kind of Portuguese Creole which made easier the relationship between the Africans and the Portuguese, this language continued to be used till XVIII century. In the first years of 1500 also the conversions of Black peoples began.
In 1503 on the slopes of an hill near the castle was built a small chapel dedicated to Santiago, this chapel was used till 1596 when the building was dismantled. Elmina Castle, was very important for trade purpose, the trade goods of Mina trade were gold, ivory, sugar, wax, pepper, hides, slaves. Since the beginning of the Portuguese installation at Sao Jorge, they established business relations with the adjoining Africans states (Akan, Wassaw, Commany, Efutu) to increase the trade. The Portuguese power in the Gold Coast, never went beyond the coast line, they built in 1503 the fort of Santo Antonio de Axim, intermittently maintained a trading post at Shama and in 1576 a short lived fortress at Accra. In 1596, during the govern of the captain Cristóvão de Melo (1596-1607) a Dutch expedition, equipped by the Dutch commercial trading house of Moucheron, attacked for the first time the castle, the attempt ended in a failure. On 7 September 1606 the Dutch made a second attempt to capture Sao Jorge; about 600 Dutch soldiers disembarked at Moure and later they marched against Sao Jorge, the Portuguese Governor Dom Cristovão de Melo with his troops made a successful ambush and after two hours of fight the Dutch were in retreat; in the meanwhile a small Dutch detachment had been sent towards Axim, here also, after a fight the Dutch beat a retreat. The Dutch in December 1606 and January 1607 made repeated assault on São Jorge, but finally in January 1607 they gave up. In 1615 a violent earthquake damaged the fortress walls and a bastion collapsed. The Dutch after got knowledge of this, made three unsuccessful attacks against Elmina. In 1625 under the command of the Dutch Admiral Jan Dirickszon Lam a big Dutch squadron of 15 ships, 1.200 Dutch soldiers and 150 African allies, anchored near Elmina with the aim to subdue the Portuguese fort; the fort was garrisoned by only 56 men under the Portuguese Governor Dom Francisco Sotomaior, they were assisted by a number of African allies.
On 25 October 1625 the Dutch opened the battle bombarding the castle, later the Dutch began to march to Sao Jorge, the African warriors, allies of the Portuguese ambushed the Dutch, they were took by surprise, confused by the unexpected assault they beat a retreat leaving on the battle-field about 500 men. Thank to his African allies this was a great victory for Portugal. In August 1637 a new Dutch squadron, of 9 ships and 800 men, anchored near Cabo Corço (Cape Coast), where they were joined by 1.000-1.400 African allies, on 26 August 1637 the Dutch landed and, divided in three columns marched toward the fortress. The first Dutch move in the attack of 1637 was the seizure of the unfortified hill of Santiago, from there they shelled Sao Jorge castle. By this strategic move the Portuguese after a few days, were forced to surrendered, the Dutch conquered Elmina on 29 August 1637, a Dutch garrison of 175 men was left in the castle. After more than 150 years a new European power, the Netherlands, ruled on the Gold Coast. The Dutch after the conquest, fortified the hill of Santiago with an earth-work, later the fort on the hill, called Fort Conradsburg, was improved and enlarged, it was completed by 1666. In 1645 the Dutch personal at Elmina and Conradsburg was of 83 men, there were also 184 slaves working in the castle. The fort was in Dutch hands till 1872 when it was sold to the British. Very little of the early Portuguese castle is now visible, the only portion which has remained intact is the cistern that dated from 1482. The lay out of the today’s Castle is the same, more or less, of the Dutch conquest in 1637. Outside the fort is still well preserved the Dutch Reformed church built at the end of the Dutch rule.
 
 

 Fort Elmina, ghana

 

 Fort Elmina, ghana

 
 

 Fort Elmina, ghana

 

 Fort Elmina, ghana

 
 

 Fort Elmina, ghana

 

 Fort Elmina, ghana

 

Port of no return

 Fort Elmina, ghana

 

 Fort Elmina, ghana

 
 

 Fort Elmina, ghana

 

 Fort Elmina, ghana

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