His arrival with nearly 3,000 men inspired the worn soldiers of Holland with new confidence. Ceará was captured, and São Jorge da Mina was attacked and taken as well. In his few moments of leisure Count Mauritz gave his attention to the improvement of the town of Recife, Olinda being now utterly destroyed, as a result of the numerous battles of which it had stood as the unhappy centre.
Mauritz of Nassau went the length of suggesting that the territory of Angola should become an appendage of that of Dutch Brazil, as the two were bound so closely by this traffic! The Dutch had also captured the Island of St. Thomas. In that place, however, the climate avenged the Portuguese to the full, and the mortality among the Dutch from fever in this island was appalling.
The Dutchmen were willing enough to enter into friendly relations with the Portuguese, but not at the cost of the Brazilian possessions of the Dutch West Indian Company, which had been especially formed for the purpose of acquiring these. Count Mauritz of Nassau had proved himself an able administrator, and it was now the turn of the Dutch to intrigue where before they had fought openly.
Instructions were sent to Count Mauritz of Nassau ordering him to continue in the command, to extend the sphere of the Dutch dominion, and, if possible, to capture Bahia. These instructions were largely due to the belief held in Holland that Portugal would be unable to maintain her independence for any length of time.
The new authorities had not the influence over the soldiery that Prince Mauritz had enjoyed, and lacked not only experience but judgment. Shortly after this Dirk van Hoogstraten, a Dutch officer, offered his services to the Portuguese, and various other symptoms portended a break up of the organization of the Dutch West India Company.
The same morning our captain read vnto vs those very articles which before had bin read vnto vs in the prince Mauritz his Court, and afterwards we altogether, and with one accord were sworne to the keeping of them: At noone we were neere vnto Beuersier hauing a fine gale out of the East Northeast, the euening was calme, the foremost shippes slacked their sailes, attending the comming in of the hindermost.
Prince Mauritz of Nassau now sent in his resignation, and, after leaving everything in a state of complete preparedness, set out for Europe, accompanied by no fewer than 1,400 persons all told, a force which could ill be spared from Brazil at that period.
When the news of the truce was first brought to Count Mauritz at Recife, all the outward marks of festivity and great rejoicings were exhibited. A general fraternization ensued, and the late enemies and temporary friends regaled each other at various banquets. Very shortly, however, the Brazilians found reason to suspect the sincerity of the Dutch professions of friendship.
At the same time the counter attacks of the Portuguese were ceaseless, and the leaders of the Dutch garrisons in South America made representations to the Netherlands in favour of reinforcements and a commander of real note. In response, Prince Mauritz, Count of Nassau, was sent out to take supreme control of the Dutch ventures on Brazilian soil.
A personality more fitted for this particular purpose could scarcely have been lighted upon. For Prince Mauritz was not only a brave soldier, but a tactful and chivalrous enemy; indeed, his figure stands out in glowing colours in this campaign among the woods of the far southern coast, and the continuance of the Dutch dominion was no doubt largely due to his individuality.