Jan Pieterszoon Coen ([ˈjɑn ˈpitərzoːn ˈkun], 8 January 1587 – 21 September 1629) was an officer of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in the early 17th century, holding two terms as Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. He was the founder of Batavia, capital of the Dutch East Indies. Renowned for providing the impulse that set the VOC on the path to dominance in the Dutch East Indies, he was long considered a national hero in the Netherlands. Since the 19th century, his legacy has become controversial due to the violence he employed, especially during the last stage of the Dutch conquest of the Banda Islands, in order to secure a trade monopoly on nutmeg, mace and clove.
A famed quote of his from 1618, Despair not, spare your enemies not, for God is with us, illustrates his single-minded ruthlessness, and his unstinting belief in the divinely-sanctioned nature of his project. Using such self-professed divine sanction to violently pursue his ultimate goal of trade monopoly in the East Indies, Dutch soldiers acting on Coen's orders perpetrated numerous wanton acts of destruction in the spice islands of (now) eastern Indonesia, including the infamous Banda Massacre of 1621. The purpose of this was to gain a monopoly upon the supply of nutmeg and mace in order to sustain artificially high prices and profits for the Dutch investors of the VOC. This was deemed by many to be excessive, even for such a relatively violent age. Consequently, since the independence of Indonesia he has been looked at in a more critical light, and historians view his often violent methods to have been excessive.