2011年7月31日 星期日

The taking of Ft Zeelandia

[Above: a VOC canon]

Readers of "Formosa under the Dutch (1903)" by Rev William Campbell甘為霖 (1841-1921) will know from the preface that this book consists of three parts, the first was based on the work of François Valentyn; the second, a collection of contemporary letters and church documents; and the third and last part, "Neglected Formosa ('t Verwaerloosde Formosa, 1675)" by Frederick Coyett 揆一.

For years, this has pretty much been the only source, presented in the English language, on the history of Koxinga's conquest of Taiwan. In fact, many authors have "borrowed" liberally from Campbell's book including, e.g., Davidson (1903), Rutter (1923), and Lach and Van Kley (1998). And since the contemporary Chinese records have not been systematically translated into English, the understanding of this part of the history is necessarily limited to Coyett's own account .

On the Chinese language side, not only Campbell's book has been translated, materials based on the VOC archives have also appeared in recent years. For example, "Degh-Register gehounden int Costeel Batavia [巴達維亞城日記The Batavia Diaries]" has been translated first into Japanese in 1970 by 村上真次郎 and then into Chinese and published in 1991. In 1999, Prof 江樹生 started publishing "De Dagregisters van het Kasteel Zeelandia [熱蘭遮城日誌The Zeelandia Diaries]", also in Chinese, that covers the period of 1629-1662. These Zeelandia Diaries recorded the reports of the Dutch Governor Generals of Formosa, the meeting minutes of the Senate, and the official letters/documents, all in unprecedented detail. For example, in May, 1661 alone, there had been 8 communications between Koxinga and Coyett with most already lost from Chinese records:

1. voc 1235, f.520-521 Translaet missive door den groot mandorijn Cocxinja geschrijven aen den heere gouverneur Frederick, geschrijven in 't 15 jaer der regeringe van Indick de 3en mane den 29 dach。
2. voc 1235, f.520-521 Translaet van zekere placcaet van den Cocxinja vn den 27en 28 dach der 3en mane in 't 15 jaer der regeringe van coninick Indick
3. voc 1235, f.536-537 Translaet missive van Cocxinja naer casteeel Zeelandia aen den gouverneur Frederick, Saccam, 3 meij 1661 in 't 15 jaer der regeringe van Indick de 4en mane den 5 dach
4. voc 1235, f.542 Translaet missive van Cocxinja naer casteeel Zeelandia aen Frederick Coyett. Saccam, 4 meij 1661, in 't 15 jaer der regeringe van Indick de 4en mane den 6 dach
5. voc 1235, f.563 Translaet missive van Koksinja (Cocxinja) naer casteeel Zeelandia aen den gouverneur Frederick. Uijt het leger in de Pijnappels, 10 meij 1661 in 't 15 jaer der regeringe van Indick de 4en mane den 12 dach
6. voc 1235, f.565 Missive van Frederick Coyett naer Bokkenburgh aen Cocxinja . Casteeel Zeelandia,10 meij 1661.
7. voc f.595-597 Translaet missive van Cocxinja naer casteeel Zeelandia aen Frederick Coyett. Uijt het leger in Bokkenburg, 24 meij 1661, in 't 15 jaer der regeringe van Indick de 4en mane den 26 dach
8. voc 1235, f.597-598 Missive van Frederick Coyett naer Bokkenburgh aen Cocxinja . Casteeel Zeelandia,25 Meij 1661.

Presumably, only No 7 (dated May 24) appeared in Campbell's book. The famed Taiwanese historian Lien-Heng連橫 did include in his 台湾通史Comprehensive History of Taiwan Vol 1 (1920) such a letter, dated 永曆十五年 [the 15th year of Yong-li], the 4th Month, 26th Day (i.e., May 24, 1661), in which Koxinga explained to Coyett why the Dutch must surrender [with only a few hundred men hopelessly surrounded, a shame to lose more lives] and if they did, they could leave peacefully; and those who decided to stay would be well-treated; however, if the Dutch refused to comply, a red flag was to be hoisted as a sign of declaration of war [which the Dutch did]; and Koxinga would be personally watching for the sign on the horseback; the final advice was for the Dutch not to hesitate in choosing life over death:


It was apparently a very long and protracted process of negotiation, diplomacy in action in fact, during the siege of Ft Zeelandia.

Interestingly, Lien-Heng also stated "鄭師捕其商人羅谷具,令入城勸降。荷人不從。" [The Cheng army captured a Dutch merchant named Luo-go-ju (original name in Dutch unknown) and ordered him to enter the fort to advise surrender, which was rejected by the Dutch.] There was no mention of Rev Anthonius Hambroek at all.

From Lien-Heng's work, it is clear that sources other than the Campbell tome were available, most likely in the Chinese language. In fact, two of them have been widely cited by other Chinese historians: (1) Jiang Ri-shen江日昇's《台灣外記A Supplemental History of Taiwan》and (2) Yang Ying楊英's《從征實錄Actual Records of the Military Campaigns》:

(1) Jiang江日昇's 台灣外紀Taiwan History was published in 1704. Jiang was from Hokkien. His father 江美鰲 served as a ranking officer in Koxinga'a army until 1677 when he joined the Qing. Jiang's book was based on his father's recall and memoirs of many other actual participants. It described the events from 1621 until 1683, i.e., from the rise of Cheng Zhi-Lung to the end of the Tung-Ning Kingdom. It was written in the style of a traditional Chinese novel albeit with factual contents. Chapter 11, for example, detailed Koxinga's strategy for striking back at an attack mounted by Capt Thomas Pedel's company - this would not have been known to Coyett naturally:

"Early in the morning, Koxinga heard the fife and drum playing inside Ft Zeelandia. Knowing the Dutch were preparing for an attack, he announced to his generals that, "The Dutch have no other skills than using their firearms, Huang-Zhao: you will lead 500 musketeers [note: these would have been the Black Battalion] together with 200 field canons and split them into three teams to face the advancing Dutch. Yang-Shiang: you will take 500 rattan-shield soldiers and get ready to attack from the left flank. And Hsiao Gung-chen: you will prepare 20 ships with the men on board making movements and noises pretending to attack Zeelandia from Ft Provintia. When the Dutch see this, they will start to panic, too worried about the security of Zeelandia to fight. Then they will be easy to defeat."

After the strategy was set, Koxinga ordered all to stay put. What followed was indeed as predicted, the Dutch infantry could not hold the line as soon as they sensed the imminent attack on Ft Zeelandia. And half of the men were killed before the rest fled back into the Fort.

Coyett's version, however, had 200 of the Dutch musketeers battle against 4,000 Koxinga's elite iron-man corps and the "mad-dog" rattan-shield soldiers, amidst a shower of arrows.

(2) Yang Ying楊英's《從征實錄》was in effect a daily log of Koxinga's military activities from 1649-1662 (note: □ = lost or archaic characters). Yang was a non-combatant officer in the Household Dept whose duty was to faithfully record all the important events:

四月初一日黎明,藩坐駕船即至臺灣外沙線,各船魚貫絡繹亦至。辰時天亮,即到鹿耳門線外。本藩隨下小哨,繇(由)鹿耳門先登岸,踏勘營地。午後,大船齊進鹿耳門。先時此港頗淺,大船俱無出入,是日水漲數尺,我舟極大者亦無□□,□天意默助也。是晚,我舟齊到,泊禾寮港,登岸,札營近街坊梨 □□□□□□□鎮督虎衛將坐銃船札鹿耳門,□□水師甲板,並防北線尾。
In the early dawn hours on the first day of the 4th month, Koxinga arrived at the sandy line of Tayouan Bay with all the other ships following in a single file. By dawn, all had reached the outside of the Lakjemuyse Channel. Koxinga disembarked to examine the camp sites. In the afternoon, all the ships even the large ones entered the Channel unhindered riding the higher than usual high tides. This was a silent help from Heaven. By nightfall, all ships were docked in He-Liao Port and the soldiers encamped on shore. A gunboat was dispatched to guard the Channel and Baxemboy.

In the same night, Ft Provintia on order of its Commander fired at our camp site causing some damage to the staple and food storage. Since Sakam District was a residential area with houses built with straws, in order to avoid a firestorm and destruction of food supplies, Koxinga ordered the soldiers to be on guard and to wait until the next morning to distribute the rations. The supplies were in fact secured and the rice and grains, enough to last for half a month on the average, was distributed to the soldiers.

On the 3rd Day, Forward Guards were sent to set up camps at Baxemboy. Coyett, noticing our soldiers were in transit, sent Capt Pedel and a few hundred of his musketeers to ambush us. This was quickly beaten back by the Guards. The Captain was killed together with the rest of the Dutchmen.

On the 4th Day, the commander of Ft Provintia Valentyn was ready to capitulate after the water supply ran out. One day before, his younger brother together with the brother's wife were detained outside the Fort and sent to Koxinga. Koxinga treated them kindly and returned them to the Fort unharmed. In gratitude, Valentyn decided to give up the Fort. An agreement was reached in which Koxinga vowed not to kill anyone. He then sent three officials, bearing gifts from China, to receive the surrender and allowed Valentyn to stay in the Fort. The commander was later invited to go to Zeelandia to ask for Coyett's white flag, so that all citizens could return home and move on with their lives.

On the 5th Day, Coyett's envoy, a Chinese employed as a Dutch consul, came to visit to sue for peace. Koxinga demanded a high ranking representative instead.

On the 6th Day, Coyett did send a high-level Dutch representative together with Valentyn, both of whom Koxinga had received courteously. At the banquet, Koxinga instructed He Ting-bing to inquire when Coyett would yield, to which the reply was that Coyett would not surrender and that if Koxinga would to withdraw, the Dutch were willing to pay annual taxes and tributes in amounts to be decided, plus an immediate compensation of 100,000 taels of silver and delivery of ships. Koxinga promptly declined the offer and ordered the envoys to leave.

Also, on the account of the sea battle on May 1st, Coyett reported the loss of one large ship [the Hector] with the other three escaping destruction; whereas Yang recorded the capture of two Dutch galleons and three smaller ships.

It is inevitable that historical accounts from the opposing sides differ. This maybe acceptable if the general storylines more or less agree; however, the Koxinga-Coyett conflict based solely on Coyett's narrative is simply too one-sided. The devil is therefore in the details. A far more balanced view of Koxinga's operation obviously is still needed; already a picture of Koxinga's seeking a peaceful resolution begins to emerge.

14 則留言:

  1. I admire your scholarly research and writings on the history of Taiwan. Reading your posts has been a highly rewarding experience.

    For some times I was wondering why 鄭成功 was spelled Koxinga in English. I thought maybe he was a Chinese with some foreign blood, and that name came from the foreign branch of his family tree.

    Then I realized that Koxinga was 國姓爺. It's a title rather than a name. It's like calling him Imperial Lordship rather than his real name. Somehow it gives the impression that he was not Chinese because Koxinga is so un-Chinese-like. Now I see my misunderstanding came from the evolution and translation of languages.

    If you are so inclined, I'd like to read some history of Taiwan of more recent years by you. Specifically the history from 1895 onward, preferably post-1945.

    The history of Taiwan has been hotly contested in many expats' blogs and comments. I hope that you may shed some light on this subject. I'm a 外省人 grew up in Taiwan but had lived in the U.S. longer than in Taiwan. I don't mean to stir up controversy. I just like to read some even-handed facts and a enlightened perspective such as yours.


  2. Dear Herman,

    Thank you very much for the kind words. Very nice of you.

    The Chinese are taught, as a matter of respect, not to address their elders by name but by their title. It is the same principle as far as Koxinga. This English name was derived from Cocxinja (Dutch), the Taiwanese pronunciation of 國姓爺. And in Chinese history, there has been only one 國姓爺, so no confusion here.

    You mention the history of Taiwan is "hotly contested in many expats' blogs and comments". If post-1945, then it is usually the 228 Incident. And indeed, George Kerr's "Formosa Betrayed" is often cited by most as the only credible source. Unfortunately, research on this subject has been suppressed until more recently, so there is still a knowledge gap.

    Actually, many older 外省人 still regard this part of the history as none of their business since most of them arrived in Taiwan around 1949. The generation that grew up in Taiwan, as you did, are all Taiwanese as far as I am concerned. 既是台灣人應知台灣史. I'll try to post more, then.

  3. Nice work EyeDoc, I always appreciate everything you post!


  4. Hi EyeDoc,


    Indeed, I'm shamefully ignorant in much of this history. It's as if there were a dark cloud hanging over the past that I couldn't find much sensibility in the Chinese books or from people's talk. Most of what I read and believe actually come from books written in English.

    Yes the 228 is of high interest to me. But come to think of it. Any time period in the past 100 years that you wish to address is quite fine for me. I'm sure each and every time period and event all play an interesting and integral part of what's happening here and now. So even if you want to talk about the history of night markets or betel nuts, that too will be relished by me and your other readers. But of course political incidents are always good topics.

    So, till you feel like it, I look forward to your posts.

  5. Hi Herman,

    The "history of night markets or betel nuts"? Hmm... So you have spent some time in southern Taiwan even though you write like an NTU graduate. Just kidding.

    I'd disagree with your "shamefully ignorant" assertion. It was the 愚民政策 - still more or less in place now, for political exploitations, I might add.

    If you wish, I can send you a "Tamsui Peace Park - the Historical Background" which is based on materials from this blog and other subjects that you have expressed interest in. It is a small window to the past of Taiwan. Please contact me at hmcheng542@msn.com

    And Marc,

    Good to hear from you. We must meet up again. Thanks for the beer last time.

  6. "In fact, many authors have "borrowed" liberally from Campbell's book including, e.g., Davidson (1903), Rutter (1923),..."

    I've read these books; but they don't even scratch the surface. They're just what are commonly available in Taiwan. Formosa is probably mentioned thousands of times, in pretty much all the European languages, in many places, going right back to 1544. It's just that nobody has made an effort to compile these mentions somewhere.

    I like Rutter not because of how he rehashes Campbell. I already know this account well. What intrigues me about Rutter is his read on Campbell, being an ex-officer and someone with a deep understanding of military tactics.

  7. That is very true. A systematic cataloging is sorely needed.

    And if you google "Koxinga", 317K entries show up. Google "鄭成功" = 5.43 million entries. Of course, only a handful are primary historical sources that are truly useful. Still, the gulf between east and west understanding is an immense one.

    Your point on Rutter's background has not escaped my attention. He was a British Naval attaché, so I am not sure how good his training in land warfare was. Certainly he would be far more knowledgeable than Rev Campbell in military tactics.

  8. "He was a British Naval attaché, so I am not sure how good his training in land warfare was."

    Point taken. Rutter does, however, on watching Japanese soldiers going through their routines mention how much he misses viewing good soldiering.

    Like I said, I think there has got to be a lot out there on Taiwan, sitting in the books written in various European languages, just waiting to be collected. Michael Turton has been throwing up the odd journalistic account of Taiwan (19th century) on his blog.

  9. "The history of Taiwan has been hotly contested in many expats' blogs and comments."

    Does this really give you pause, Herman? What I draw from your point, and find quite the riddle, is that "expats" are regularly at the forefront of digging out Taiwan's history. In my experience, "expats" are amongst some of the most knowledgeable voices on what went down in Taiwan 200, 300 and 400 years ago. Why do you think that it is that a lot of people in the know about Taiwan's history don't even come from Taiwan originally? Eyedoc and Chosan on this blog do, of course, provide a bit of a counter....

  10. Hi Patrick,

    There must be "a lot of books written in various European languages..." Perhaps, but the ones that pontificate or editorialize from a safe distance we don't need. Fundamentally, history is a collective experience of the common people, native-born and immigrants included. And the reason why the expats are at the forefront digging? Very simple: a sense of urgency in practicing 既是台灣人應知台灣史. Beyond this, some who set down roots in Taiwan are actually more Taiwanese than the average Taiwanese in trying to make Taiwan better. This I appreciate very much and, I am sure, Chosan as well.

  11. EyeDoc,

    It was the 愚民政策...

    Hey I like that. Makes me feel like holding my head a bit higher. Yes, I will try to look at it that way from now on. I was a Northerner. I grew up in Keelung and saw betel-nut chewers there too. And we've got one night market called 基隆廟口.

    Patrick -

    Westerners generally write about Taiwanese history more openly than Chinese authors. I know the old KMT did an awfully effective job covering up parts of Taiwanese history. As a matter of fact, the first time I read about 228 was from a travel guide book: Lonely Planet - Taiwan.

    But even the historical accounts made by expats, there's always the question of authenticity and interpretation. Are we looking at first-hand accounts, or second-hand editorials and commentaries? Are the dots connected the right way? You know how when there's a family feud, the two sides always give radically different accounts, like the movie Rashomen 羅生門? I don't mean that nobody knows what happened. I meant to say that there seems to be very few scholarly maps showing where the dots were when it comes to Taiwan history, and even less agreement on the ways to connect the dots.

    Drew Kerslake of Taiwan in Cycles had written a timeline of events of Taiwan history.
    That's very good writing in presenting the dots.

    There are other bloggers who just use partial facts indiscriminately to fit their thesis. Let me give you an example. Michael T. wrote a post about how awful the English versions of Campaign slogans were: "Taiwan Next", "Taiwan Cheers, Great". After a lot of expats pitched in to say how awful they were, somebody bothered to look in on the original Chinese version, and then Michael concluded that the English version was mis-translated, and it "contains a play in words that can't be translated".

    That's an example of poorly presenting the dots and drew a picture from them. I don't mean they shouldn't do it. They can certainly do it for fun and no problems. It's just that when they do it so seriously and then got it wrong, maybe they should let the dots speak for themselves more when tackling the business of sketching/analyzing history.

  12. "And the reason why the expats are at the forefront digging? Very simple: a sense of urgency in practicing 既是台灣人應知台灣史. Beyond this, some who set down roots in Taiwan are actually more Taiwanese than the average Taiwanese in trying to make Taiwan better. This I appreciate very much and, I am sure, Chosan as well."

    Me too. This is pretty much how I feel. I also think first hand accounts are vital, as they throw aside the regurgitating of texts from Campbell, Rutter, Shepherd and what have you. This has actually been my approach.

    But to play the devil's advocate once again, I like how some individuals have tried to touch upon these writers (Campbell, Rutter, Shepherd, etc.), especially when they want to souse out certain points and make them relevant.

    Herman, OK. I just think we should draw more brains into the discussion. It doesn't matter if they are expats or locals. And we should be careful here. I think you are making too much of how "Westerners" are drawing up Taiwan's history. The simple fact that you have chosen to make a distinction smacks a bit of "us versus them-ism." There is a lot that needs to be contributed to the conversation, regardless of where it comes from or in what language it is expressed in. Enjoy the point of view for what it is, regardless of the racial or ethnic composition of point-of-view maker. Welcome to the conversation. Seems like you have an original way of coming at it. We'll probably talk again.

  13. Patrick,

    I haven't lived in Taiwan for a long time. I think that other than physical appearance, you are probably much more Taiwanese than I am. And know things Taiwanese much more than I do.

    The "us versus them" is a way of my discrimination. And I think discrimination is a trained faculty of the mind. Of course it can be bad if discriminating wrongly, like I pre-judged that Taiwanese ancestors did something bad to the aborigines without really knowing anything about it. But discrimination can also be good in separating the wheat from the chaff. Without discrimination, how do you separate facts from fancies then?

    But I do go overboard sometimes. And calling out names like Westerners and expats are not helping. I shall try to do better. Thanks for reminding me.

  14. "But I do go overboard sometimes. And calling out names like Westerners and expats are not helping. I shall try to do better. Thanks for reminding me."

    I am a little sensitive sometimes, and I suppose nobody will argue with me when I say that I also go overboard. Cheers. The Internet is pretty cool because it draws people like you and me together, or eyedoc and me together for that matter (we've been out several times for dinner and he helped me a lot on my MA).

    I have definitely enjoyed reading your feedback here for various reasons. I guess I just appreciate seeing more individuals engaged on the subject of Taiwan, etc. The Internet and engaging blogs bring this about. I look forward to much more (but will have to, sorry, call you on what I don't agree with.) Good luck in your quest.