Napoleon Bonaparte, Dutch East Indies, 1 Duit

Date: 1806 - 1810 CE
Java, Indonesia

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Item Description:

These coins were minted by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Java, part of modern day Indonesia, when it was part of Napoleonic France. The obverse shows the VOC monogram, while the reverse reads "JAVA" and the date.

On June 5, 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte transformed the Batavian Republic into the Kingdom of Holland, appointing his brother Louis Bonaparte as King. Although Napoleon's intention was for Louis to serve primarily as a figurehead, Louis endeavored to assimilate into his new nation. He even adopted the Dutch rendition of his name, becoming known as Lodewijk I. There's a humorous anecdote that Louis' initial grasp of the Dutch language was so poor that he mistakenly referred to himself as the "Rabbit of Holland" rather than the "King of Holland."

Despite Louis' efforts to integrate, Napoleon disapproved of his brother's rule, accusing him of prioritizing the Dutch people over his own interests. This disagreement escalated when Louis defied Napoleon's request for troops during his planned invasion of Russia. In 1809, a British invasion was successfully thwarted by French forces, which Napoleon used as a pretext to pressure Louis into abdication, arguing that he had failed to adequately protect Holland. On July 1, 1810, Louis abdicated in favor of Napoleon's five year old son, Napoleon Louis Bonaparte.

Napoleon then introduced a nationwide civil registration system for births, marriages, and deaths in order to monitor taxable individuals and conscription eligibility. In 1811, he mandated that all individuals without a surname must select one. This directive led to an unexpected form of protest, with some Dutch citizens choosing deliberately absurd or offensive names, knowing that French bureaucrats would not understand their meanings. While much of the crude language has since been moderated, some of these unusual surnames, such as "De Hond" (The Dog), "Aardappel" (Potato), and "Naaktgeboren" (born naked), persist to this day.

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