2010年2月14日星期日

Danshui 1627-1637 - Part 2

[A 1654 map of Keelung and Danshui - looking from north. Danshui River is on the right and Keelung Island on the left.]

It is a story known to all Taiwanese: the very first time Portuguese sailors set their eyes on this beautiful island, they exclaimed excitedly, "Ilha Formosa!" Actually, the Portuguese were probably very easily impressed as they had called many other places Formosa. The one for Taiwan, however, stuck and became the best-known in the World. Those Portuguese were most likely among the first to sail north to Japan. The many maritime routes along the east coast of China to Japan all went closely by Taiwan making the latter an ideal re-supply station [see map below].
[South East Asia European routes in the 1630s by José E. Borao]

Those involved in the Far East trade had long understood the geopolitical importance of this island. This was also the reason why Taiwan or parts of it had changed hands so many times throughout history. The 徳川家康Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogunate of Japan (1543-1616) at one point had also contemplated subjugating Taiwan, disregarded only after Tokugawa's death. [Note: They eventually succeeded in 1895.] On the other hand, even though the Ming Court (1368-1644) claimed sovereignty over it, Taiwan was never in the firm grip of China, often because of turmoils within China itself leaving little for the proper governance of Taiwan. It was more a hot [sweet] potato, to be handled gingerly or tossed entirely, than a prized possession.

"Parts of Taiwan" naturally included Danshui.

After the murder of Antonio de Vera et al in Danshui, the remaining Spanish soldiers hastily retreated to Keelung. By that time, Rosario, the re-supply ship, had arrived from Manila. The occupation force joined in by sailors from the Rosario totaling 100 men boarded 4 Chinese junks and sailed into Danshui River to avenge the deaths of Antonio de Vera and his men. After a lopsided battle, the 圭柔社Senar people gave up their tribal leaders and entered a peace agreement with the Spaniards that included an apology for the misdeed and a promise to deliver rice. Danshui thus became the second Spanish territory in Taiwan in early 1628.

The Spaniards then built Fort Santo Domigo with large driftwood recovered from Danshui River. They drove wooden poles into the ground and paved the floors with stones. In the 1635 report of Spanish Colonial Gov of Taiwan, Alonso Garcia Romero, this fortress was described as to consist of a watch tower and three straw-roofed wooden buildings - all surrounded by a wooden stockade fence. These structures were actually fire hazards, only to be rebuilt with stones in 1636 when the fort was torched by the Aborigines revolting against excessive taxation. This new fortress was reluctantly dismantled two years later when the Spanish occupation force was ordered by Governor General of the Philippines, Don Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera, to prepare to abandon territories in Taiwan and return to Manila. [Note: The same site, now a tourist's attraction, was occupied by the Dutch, Koxinga's army, and then the British until 1980.]

Throughout the 16th and the 17th centuries, besides plundering and pillaging, one of the principal missions of Spanish expeditions was to spread Catholicism. The military was always accompanied by priests who, once a land was conquered, commenced to convert the natives. The same was done in Danshui, quite successfully, too.

According to the Dominican priests, there were 8-9 small Senar farming villages near Fort Santo Domingo. There was also the 八里坌社Pantao people living in Bali, the traditional enemy of the Senar. The Pantao claimed to be the descendants of ship-wrecked Spaniards and had therefore quickly established a cordial relation with the priests. The Senar tribesmen were willing converts as well. A church, the Nuestra Señora del Rosario was built in the Santo Domingo area to accommodate the Senar people. However, the Senar were also suspicious of the intimate relation between the Pantao and the Spaniards. In March, 1636, in an unfortunate incident, Fr Francisco Vaez was killed by the Senar with a spear, his right hand cut off, and his head cut through the jaws - on the day he was to meet up with the Pantao to build another church. These Senar people were led by Pila who had just been freed from prison through the intervention of Fr Vaez (Pila was arrested and imprisoned for his role in the earlier uprising). And 3 years later, Fr Luis Muro and 25 others were murdered in Paktau (now 北投) by Fr Vaez's assassins. Fr Muro was accompanying the soldiers on a mission to buy rice and ironically to also inform the assassins that they were pardoned by the colonial gov't. He was shot dead with more than 500 arrows. Such were the perils of preaching in a foreign land.

The priests were often the only contacts between the natives and the Spaniards. They had left behind invaluable records of the lives and the customs of the Aborigines. One of them, Fr Jacinto Esquivel even compiled a dictionary of the native languages.

Apparently there were also Spanish-local inter-marriages complete with dowries, in Spanish silver dollars, for the Aboriginal brides. And a rudimentary legal system was in place to mediate local disputes and handle complaints against the Spanish soldiers.

Besides the Aboriginal residents, there were also Han settlers in Danshui who raised sugarcane and rice crops. Record showed that they had openly welcomed the immigration of Japanese farmers when asked by the Spaniards; although it is unclear if any Japanese ever did settle in Danshui. [Note: Some, supposedly pirates, did settle in Keelung area.]

By 1638-41, with the hostile head-hunting Aborigines lurking nearby, skirmishes with the Dutch, and a large Dutch contingent approaching from the south, the Spanish occupation was no longer sustainable, not without the continuing long-distance reinforcement and logistical support from the Philippines. The Spanish colonization of Taiwan finally came to an end in 1642 when the last garrison in Keelung surrendered to the Dutch. The priests and the POWs were all sent to Batavia.

In a short span of 10 years (1627-37), Danshui, through the efforts of the dedicated Spanish priests, entered the realm of recorded history which is to continue uninterrupted to this day.

6 則留言:

  1. "Actually, the Portuguese were probably very easily impressed as they had called many other places Formosa." It must've been a common refrain; Taiwan is lush and beautiful. It takes many the visitor and local's breath away to this day.

    "The 徳川家康Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogunate of Japan (1543-1616) at one point had also contemplated subjugating Taiwan, disregarded only after Tokugawa's death." Why didn't they? Was this because it was a time when Japanese wanted to retreat from the world? In my opinion, the Japanese were kind of bullied out of Taiwan by the Dutch (though they returned with a vengeance, in a manner of speaking, in 1895) .

    W.M. Campbell in "Formosa, Under the Dutch" has a brilliant anecdote of the moments immediately leading up to their departure, when the Japanese agents kidnapped the Dutch Governor Pieter Nuyts and his young son in 1628 over a supposed taxation issue. Methinks it went more deeply than a few tax dollars nonetheless....

    The story goes the Japanese came to excuse themselves, as they found the taxes more than they were willing to bear: "On 29 June an exceptionally daring deed was committed here [in modern day Tainan]. The Japanese came - as they said - to ask permission to depart and say farewell; but permission was in a kindly way refused by the Governor. As they were by no means satisfied with this kind of refusal, they boldly insisted on departing, to which the Governor replied by saying that according to the decision of the Council they should not go; whereupon they flew upon him like roaring lions, took him by the head, bound his hands, feet, and waist with a long cloth band, and threatened to cut off his head if he called out" (Campbell, 42).

    Pieter Nuyts survived, and went on to map portions of the Australian coastline. Places are named after him and we know them to this day. He was also, prior to his findings, extradited to Japan for a spell, to solve the above-mentioned situation. Wikipedia has a good post on him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pieter_Nuyts

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  2. My last name is Formosa though my ancestors are neither from Potugue nor from Taiwan.

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  3. Hi Mr/Ms Formosa,

    Welcome to the blog. A patient of mine also has Formosa as his last name. He was very warmly received by the Taiwanese when he traveled there. You may want to do the same.

    Patrick,

    The Japanese never stopped coming to Taiwan. The 牡丹社 incident occurred in 1874, for example. "Pirates" from Japan had always had a foothold in Taiwan since the 1500s, if not earlier. The Dutch occupation of Tainan lasted only 38 years.

    I'll post something about the Dutch soon.

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  4. "The Japanese never stopped coming to Taiwan. The 牡丹社 incident occurred in 1874...." They used as it as an excuse to come back in. Didn't they do on English steamers." Great post, as usual.

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  5. BTW, there is a city in Japan called Obama. Needless to say, they celebrated Obama's presidential victory with a parade: http://www.andreaharner.com/archives/2008/11/obama_japan_cel.html

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  6. You should pick up on the Dutch. They ran things in Danshui from 1641 to 1662. I've posted on this: http://patrick-cowsill.blogspot.com/2007/12/fort-santiago-in-not-tamsui.html

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