Early-modern naval mercenaries in Southeast Asia?

Apr 2017
482
the coast
So I know there were plenty of land-based foreign mercenaries serving the different Southeast Asian states between the 16th-19th centuries, but I just came across an interesting claim on a Wikipedia article about the history of the Thai armed forces before 1852, under the 'Navy' heading:

"By the mid-18th century, the navy had acquired a few seafaring ships, manned by European and foreign sailors."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Thai_armed_forces_before_1852#Navy

Does anyone know anything about this? I'd be real curious to learn more about those foreign naval mercenaries in Thai service. I'd also love to learn if any other nations in early-modern Southeast Asia employed foreigners in their navies, and what sort of ships they used (foreign or locally built)?
 
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Oct 2016
1,157
Merryland
I've heard anecdotal accounts of minor countries' navies manned (partly) by deserters from English and other navies. one of the Aubrey series mentions.

I wonder if they purchased (old) warships from bigger countries, or modified merchant ships.

interesting topic
 
Nov 2016
49
Cyberspace Dystopia
Of course technology would circulate coasts around the Malacca straits. The area would be dominated by Western tech rather than Chinese or Eastern by this time, now that the Imperial Chinese bureaucracy neglected the area, though settlement of SEA from China would continue throughout this time. Many of the Chinese of SEA were already traders living with the trappings of western civilization and worked and intermarried with Dutch, Portuguese and English, so it wouldn't be of no surprise these navies were manned by some of these Chinese emigres
 
Apr 2017
482
the coast
I've heard anecdotal accounts of minor countries' navies manned (partly) by deserters from English and other navies. one of the Aubrey series mentions.
If you remember which one could you post? I love those books. :)

I wonder if they purchased (old) warships from bigger countries, or modified merchant ships.
That's what I wondered to. Either way if it was their first time using European-style ships then I can see them wanting some western sailors (or at least advisors) to help give their own swabbies some basic training on how everything was run.

Many of the Chinese of SEA were already traders living with the trappings of western civilization and worked and intermarried with Dutch, Portuguese and English, so it wouldn't be of no surprise these navies were manned by some of these Chinese emigres
That's a good point. If you ever come across any historical accounts of Chinese sailors in local Southeast Asian navies during the period I'd be interested to hear them.

By the way I'm also now wondering whether there were any Japanese sailors or ex-pirates serving in local navies? I've heard that the Wakō guys sometimes ranged as far south as Malaysia and Thailand, and I know there were some land-based Japanese adventurers and mercenaries serving in local armies. Would be interesting to know if any Wakō pirates contracted themselves out to local rulers when they needed some extra sea-power.
 
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Jan 2015
1,309
meo
Remember the female pirate lord who had the largest pirate navy in the world back then? Her husband was employed as mercenary for Nguyen Hue. After Nguyen Hue death, he reversed back to be pirate before being chased out of Vietnam by Gia Long.
 
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Apr 2017
482
the coast
Remember the female pirate lord who had the largest pirate navy in the world back then? Her husband was employed as mercenary for Nguyen Hue. After Nguyen Hue death, he reversed back to be pirate before being chased out of Vietnam by Gia Long.
Ching Shih? I didn't know that about her husband. Thanks for telling me.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,877
Portugal
I recall that there were two Milanese artisans in Calicut, in the beginning of the XVI century, that made cannon (and if I recall operate them) for the Zamorin.

In a quick search I saw this:

https://books.google.pt/books?id=AIKfBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=calicute+milaneses+1505&source=bl&ots=KFU4Ah8M4G&sig=tnUwapLInDaXipN08jn2ZQH2-ys&hl=pt-PT&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihrp614ejTAhUCQBoKHVdbChoQ6AEIJDAA#v=onepage&q=calicute milaneses 1505&f=false

(Naval Resistance to Britain's Growing Power in India, 1660-1800: The Saffron ..., by Philip MacDougall, Page 17)

And

https://books.google.pt/books?id=epaMx7jSZjIC&pg=PA132&lpg=PA132&dq=two+milanese+cannon+india+portuguese+arrived&source=bl&ots=DEv3LN8khp&sig=CFilhuojEAf-vxv40N8XQ0oDWYc&hl=pt-PT&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiWnfSG4ejTAhUG1hoKHZjLABcQ6AEIKDAB#v=onepage&q=two milanese cannon india portuguese arrived&f=false

(Firearms of the Islamic World: In the Tared Rajab Museum, Kuwait…, by Robert Elgood, page 132)
 
Apr 2017
482
the coast
I recall that there were two Milanese artisans in Calicut, in the beginning of the XVI century, that made cannon (and if I recall operate them) for the Zamorin.
Thanks for sharing that, interesting to see that even as early as 1505 there were already guys from as far away as Milan looking to make some bucks as "soldiers of fortune" in that part of the world.