Thursday, December 23, 2010

Koxinga's sister (Part 2): Cheng Wan鄭婉

[Above: an old house in Tainan 姑爺庄 where 鄭婉 and her husband 楊瑞璉 supposedly settled; they lived in the No 33 house]

Except for a prominent few, ladies were rarely mentioned in Taiwan history . It is unknown how many Koxinga sisters were there. In Taiwan, local lore of them, both named and unnamed, abounded. The most popular ones are those on 鄭婉Cheng Wan. While Ursola de Bargas can be found in the Franciscan documents, 鄭婉 never appeared in any official or family records. Different versions of her stories, however, have been re-told in southern Taiwan for the past 340 years. For example,

(1) that she had married 楊瑞璉 and the couple followed Koxinga to Taiwan. Koxinga rewarded them by asking Yang to ride a fast horse for 3 days and 3 nights, and the lands along the way that he had traveled were all his to own. [There is, however, no record of Yang in Ming-Cheng history.]

(2) that 鄭婉 traveled by a sedan-chair from 姑爺庄 to Tainan. In the evening when in 麻豆, she was ambushed by bandits. She scolded them vowing retaliation. The bandits, upon learning her identity, murdered her and dumped her body in a creek. Overnight, a grave appeared in the middle of the creek. Even flooding could not destroy it.

姑爺庄 [literally the "village of Koxinga's brother-in-law"] is located in 新營, Tainan County. It made news in recent years:

1. 新營楊姑爺 古墓藏傳奇( 8/14/2005 8:29:10 AM

This piece of news reiterated variations of the old stories except that investigation by the Township office revealed that 鄭婉 might have been married to 黃, not Yang. Also, her grave site was still present in 1951; although it has since disappeared.



新營市姑爺里的開基祖楊瑞璉,相傳是鄭成功的妹婿,鄭成功的妹妹鄭婉下嫁楊瑞璉,人稱「楊姑爺」,姑爺里(俗稱姑爺庄 )即因他而得名。










2. In a China Times report on May 19, 2007, the tomb of the husband of Koxinga's sister is slated for excavation in June:

中國時報 2007.05.19 
三百年物換星移 傳說中 鄭成功妹婿古墓 6月開挖










We are not aware of any follow-ups regarding the excavation of Yang's tomb since this news report.

Then there are stories on Koxinga's other unnamed sisters. One was executed for bringing too many valuables while evacuating to Taiwan from Amoy. Another traveled to Taiwan to visit Koxinga, and on her way back through Peng-hu, her ship was blocked by two battling beings, one a serpent and the other a turtle. Both were slain by Koxinga leaving a streak of blood on the bottom of the sea that can still be seen today.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Koxinga's sister (Part 1): Ursola de Bargas

[Koxinga's birthplace in 平戶Hirado in Nagasaki - known as 兒誕石]

According to the writing of Franciscan missionary to China, Fr Antonio de Santa Maria Caballelo (1602-1669), 鄭芝龍Cheng Zhi-lung's daughter married one of the sons of Mr Manuel Bello, a Portuguese resident of Macau. Another Franciscan, Fr Bonaventura Ibanez (1610-1691) also reported that Bello and his son Antonio Rodrigues, both of whom Macau-born Portuguese came to call on him in 安海An-Hai. And during the visit, Rodrigues had described his wedding to Lord Cheng's daughter, Ursola de Bargas, in Macau.

This is the little known chapter of the Cheng family history. Indeed, Ursola was Koxinga's sister from the same Japanese mother, Lady Weng [翁夫人 - 田川松Takawa Matsu]. Her Chinese/Japanese name remains unknown.

鄭芝龍 had never forgotten this branch of his family. In May, 1630, after several unsuccessful attempts through emissaries, 鄭芝龍 finally sent 鄭芝燕 his own brother to hand-carry a letter to the Daimyo of Nakasaki asking that his family members be released. In the Tokukawa Period, however, no Japanese citizens were allowed to emigrate. Outraged, Lord Cheng dispatched a fleet of 10 warships to Japan threatening retaliation. After some negotiation, only the then 7-year-old Koxinga was let go. Lady Weng stayed behind to take care of her second son 田川七左衛門, then barely one year old. Apparently, a daughter was also left behind with the mother.

Perhaps to honor 鄭芝龍, his daughter was brought up a devout Christian [even though Lady Weng was not in this faith]. She arrived in Macau with other Christians in 1636 to escape the religious persecution then the rage in Japan. She was evidently quite well cared for by the Portuguese.

[The St Paul Cathedral in Macau built in 1582-1602, destroyed in 1835 by typhoon and fire]

Upon learning the arrival of his daughter in Macau, Lord Cheng demanded the custody which the citizens of Macau refused citing that Cheng (known in Macau as Nicholas Iquan) was no longer a practicing Christian and that his daughter, if returned to China, would be residing in a land with no churches. Lord Cheng initially threatened to bring 500-1,000 warships to attack Macau but relented later.

[Macau, ca 1640]

The father and daughter were finally united in 1646. This was because Lord Cheng, instead of taking hostages, had taken very good care the crew of a Portuguese ship that had sunk in his territory. In gratitude, the Portuguese in Macau decided not to block the re-union any longer. At the same time, Lord Cheng made a promise to his daughter that he'd build a church to accommodate her and other Christians. It was indeed built inside his 138-acre seaside compound in An-Hai in 晉江. This cathedral was decorated with icons and portraits of Jesus, Virgin Mary, and Christian saints complete with preaching and regular services. This was also where the two aforementioned Franciscans met up with Ursola and her husband Antonio Rodrigues.

After 鄭芝龍's surrender, the couple returned to Macau in 1655 when Koxinga decided to fight against the Qing and restore the Ming. He burned down the compound with everything in it to re-group in Amoy. It is known that Rodrigues became a sea captain at least until 1678.

For two long years, Mr Manuel Bello stayed with his in-law Lord Cheng when the latter was imprisoned by the Qing. For unknown reasons, Bello was spared the death sentence when Lord Cheng together with 10 immediate family members were executed in 1661.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Terms of the Dutch surrender 1662

[De Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie - VOC]

So how favorable were the terms Frederick Coyett was able to wrangle from Koxinga, after 9 months of the siege of Zeelandia? Let's re-examine Coyett's proposals:
  1. 雙方都要把所造成的一切仇恨遺忘。[Both sides agree to forgive and forget.]
  2. 熱蘭遮城及其城外的工事、大砲及其他武器, 糧食、商品、貨幣及所有其他物品,凡屬於公司的都要交給國姓爺。[Fort Zeelandia and its fortification, guns and other weapons, food, merchandises, monies, and all other items that are properties of the VOC will all be handed over to Koxinga.]
  3. 米、麵包、葡萄酒、燒酒、肉、鹹肉、油、醋、繩子、帆布、瀝青、柏油、錨、火藥、子彈、火繩及其他物品,凡所有被包圍者從此地到巴達維亞的航程中所必需者,上述長官及議員們得以自上述公司的物品中,毫 無阻礙地裝進在泊船處及海邊的荷商聯合東印度公司的船。[Onto ships docked at and anchored along the seashores, VOC officials and senators are allowed to unrestrictedly load up supplies needed for all who will sail to Batavia that include rice, bread, grape wine, rice wine, meats, preserved meats, oil, vinegar, ropes, sail cloths, bitumen, tars, anchors, gun powder, bullets, flint fuses, and other items.]
  4. 屬於在福爾摩沙這城堡裡的,以及在這戰爭中被帶去其他地方的荷蘭政府特殊人物的所有動產,經國姓爺的授權者檢驗之後,得以毫無短缺地裝進上述的船。[The properties of Dutch Gov't officials who have stationed in the Formosan fort or in other places as a result of the war are allowed in their entirety, upon inspection by Koxinga's representatives, to transport onto the above-mentioned ships.]
  5. 除了上述物品之外,二十八位眾議會的議員們,每位得以帶走二百個兩盾半銀幣。此外有二十個人,即已婚的、單位主管及比較重要的人,合計帶走一千個 兩盾半銀幣。[Other than the above-mentioned materials, 28 senators are each permitted to carry 200 2.5-Gulden silver coins. In addition, more than 20 including married managers and more important persons are allowed a total of 1,000 2.5-Gulden silver coins.]
  6. 軍人經過檢查之後,可以帶走他們的全部物品及貨幣,並依我們的習俗,全副武裝,舉著打開的旗子、燃著火繩、子彈上膛,打著鼓出去上船。[All soldiers, after inspection, are allowed to take all their belongings and monies with them, and to follow the Dutch custom, to dress in full uniform, display the banners with the fuses lit and bullets loaded, and march at drum beats onto the ships.]
  7. 福爾摩沙的漢人之中,還有人向公司負債的,他們負債的金額和原因,或因租賃或因其他緣故,都將從公司的簿記中抄錄出來,交給國姓爺。[For those Han-people who owe debts to the VOC, the amount and the incurring reason, as loans or otherwise, will be copied from the company books and submitted to Koxinga.]
  8. 這政府全部文件簿記,現在都得以帶往巴達維亞。[All gov't documents and ledgers are allowed to be shipped to Batavia.]
  9. 所有的公司職員、自由民、婦女、兒童、男奴、女奴,在這戰爭中落在國姓爺領域裡且尚在福爾摩沙的,國姓爺將從今日起八至十日內交給上述的船,那些 在中國的,也要儘快送來交給上述的船。對於那些不在國姓爺的領域裡而仍在福爾摩沙的公司其他人員,也要立刻給予通行證,以便去搭乘公司的船。[All company workers, freemen, women, children, male and female slaves, and those trapped in Formosa within Koxinga's domain, Koxinga will deliver them to the above-mentioned ships in the next 8-10 days. Those in China will be sent to the ships as soon as possible. And those staying in Formosa but outside Koxinga's domain will be given safe passage to VOC ships.]
  10. 國姓爺要把他所奪去的船上的四隻小艇及其附屬設備立刻還給公司。[Koxinga agrees to return 4 small boats with the accessories which have previously been forcibly taken from VOC ships.]
  11. 國姓爺也要安排足夠的船給公司,以便運送人員和物品到巴達維亞。[Koxinga agrees to provide a sufficient number of ships to the Company to facilitate the transport of personnel and cargo to Batavia.]
  12. 農產品、牛和其他家畜以及其他為公司人員停留期間所需要的各類食物,要由國姓爺的部下以合理的價格,從今日起每天充足地供應給公司的上述人員。[Foodstuff needed for VOC workers such as agricultural produce, cattles and other farm animals will be supplied by Koxinga's subordinates at a reasonable price in sufficient quantities starting today.]
  13. 在公司人員遺留在此地或未上船以前,國姓爺的兵士或其他部下,如果不是為公司工作而來,誰也不得越過目前用籃堡或該殿下的陣地所形成的界線,來接近這城堡或其城外工事。[As long as the company workers are still in place and before they boarded the ships, Koxinga's soldiers and military personnel are forbidden to cross the present boundaries unless they are on company businesses.]
  14. 在荷蘭東印度公司人員撤離以前,城堡將只掛一面白旗。[A white flag is to be flown above the fort before the retreat of the VOC personnel.]
  15. 倉庫監督官在其他人員和物品都上船之後,將留在城堡裡二至三天,然後才和人質一起上船。[Overseer of the Warehouses will stay behind in the fort for 2-3 more days after all items and personnel have been loaded onto the ships; he will then leave together with all designated hostages.]
  16. 國姓爺將派官員或將官Ongkim及其幕僚Punpauw Jamosie為人質,於本條約經雙方各按本國的方式簽字、蓋章和宣誓之後,立刻送去停在泊船處的一艘公司的船。相對的,公司將派這政府的副首長Joan Oetgens van Waveren及眾議會議員David Harthouwer為人質,到大員市鎮國姓爺那裡,他們將各留在上述二個地方,直到一切按照條約內容確實履行完畢。[The designated hostages from both sides will remain in each other's camps until the complete ratification of the treaty.]
  17. 國姓爺被囚在這城堡裡的人,或被囚在此地泊船處公司船裡的俘虜,將和我們被囚在國姓爺的領域裡的俘虜交換。[Prisoners of war are to be exchanged.]
  18. 本條約如有誤會或確有需要而在此被遺漏之重要事項,將由雙方基於能為對方接受的共識,可立刻修正之。[Revision and addition of the above shall be agreed upon by both sides.]

一六六二年二月一日在大員的熱蘭遮城裡 [Feb 1, 1662, Zeelandia in Tayouan]

簽名者:Frederick Coijett 等二十八人 [Signed by Coyett et al, a group of 28 signatories]

Koxinga had agreed to all points except 8 and 12. His replies corresponded with 1-7, 9-11 [now 8-10], and 13-18 [now 11-16] of Coyett's proposals:

  1. 我同意雙方發生過的所有問題都已經過去,不再存在,而且不再去想那些問題。[I agree: let bygones be bygones.]
  2. 按照所說的,該城堡所有的大砲、小砲、彈藥、現款以及全部商品,都要毫無例外的交給我。[...guns etc... to be transferred to me]
  3. 米、燒酒、醋、油、肉、鹹肉、麵包、繩子、帆布、瀝青、柏油、火藥、子彈、火繩等物品,各船得攜帶航行途中所需要的數量。[supplies for the voyage to Batavia are approved]
  4. 所有的平民其財物家私,經檢驗後都得以裝上船。[private properties to be allowed]
  5. 對那二十八個人,每人准予攜帶二百個兩盾半銀幣;對其他那二十個較高階的人,准予合計攜帶一千個兩盾半銀幣。[silver dollars are also allowed]
  6. 兵士准予攜帶他們的行李不受騷擾地上船;並得以全副武裝,點燃火繩、子彈上膛、旗子打開並打鼓等。[soldiers' parade permitted]
  7. 你們得以將公司簿記文件中有關債務的資料,或租賃的或商品的,要抄錄交出來。[record of debts to be copied and delivered]
  8. 所有的荷蘭人,男的、女的、孩童、黑人,都將於八至十日內送到船裡,還在我方的地方官及其他人,也將不例外地都交還你們;而且,那些可能在此地或其他地方 躲藏尚未露面的人,也將同樣平安地交還給你們。[safe passage for all residents]
  9. 那五隻被我們取得的小艇,將歸還你們。[the five small boats are to be returned]
  10. 各種船都將准予用來運送荷蘭人上船。[transport ships will be provided]
  11. 將命令兵士不得前往城堡附近,也不得有騷擾或暴力行為。[no hostile presence and actions]
  12. 在和約簽訂以前,該城堡得以掛一面白旗。[a white flag is to be flown]
  13. 該城堡裡的要員們須於三日內將他們的事務處理完畢、並進入船裡。[the 3-day limit to finish conducting all affairs]
  14. 雙方為此必須互換書面的條約,該書面的條約須經宣誓,並由重要人物簽名;為達此目的,雙方須互換人質。[treaty ratification and hostage exchange]
  15. 所有還在該城堡裡的漢人須全部釋放,同樣,在我們這邊還活著的荷蘭人也將予以釋放。[POWs will be exchanged]
  16. 如果還有任何細節在此被遺忘的,將予另行商討。[revisions and additions are to be further discussed]

This document was dated: 大明永曆十五年十二月十三日[The 13th Day of the 12th Month in the 15th Year under Ming emperor Yong-li's rule]

It would appear that Coyette got what he had asked for, except more food for his charge. Food was probably in short supply on Koxinga's side as well and re-supplying the enemy combatants was most definitely not a smart move in any case. Coyett had also asked for the return of 4 but had received 5 small boats instead, possibly a gesture of sincerity from Koxinga. It was unclear why the Dutch colonial gov't document issue was not further addressed; although most important documents seemed to have survived and were part of the VOC Archives housed in the Netherlands Nationaal Archief.

For Koxinga, it was a very small price to pay to be rid of the Dutch. From that point on, he was able to start building Taiwan into a new home base for re-taking China from the barbarian Qing. For Coyett, it was a defeat with honor. However, the treaty was no saving grace. He was tried in Batavia by the Dutch for losing Formosa, and banished to
Banda Islands until 1674 when he was pardoned by King William III - after Coyett's family paid a ransom of 25,000 Gulden.

Coyett's "forgive and forget" was not an option for the VOC. The Dutch never really accepted the loss of Formosa and continued to try to re-gain a foothold in China; they even consorted with the Qing and helped the latter in tenuous attempts of conquering the Ming-Cheng Kingdom.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Special Forces Part 3 - The Black Battalion of Cheng Zhi-long

[JUAN DE PALAFOX Y MENDOZA - Nació en Fitero, Navarra, España, en 1600. Virrey de la Nueva España del 10 de junio de 1642 al 23 de noviembre de 1642. Murió en Burgo de Osma, Soria, España, en 1659.]

A family member Fung-yin has found an interesting reference citing an account on the fate of 鄭芝龍Cheng Zhi-long's personal guards, his own Black Battalion. [Readers of this blog must now already know that Cheng Zhi-long was Koxinga's father.] This story was recorded in a book by Don Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, entitled "History of the Conquest of China by the Tartars", translated into French and published posthumously in Paris in 1670 [see insert - title page in Spanish]. The English version appeared one year later. The Tartars of course referred to the Qing.

Palafox was born on June 26, 1600 in Fitero, Navarra, in Spain and later graduated from University of Alcalá and University of Salamanca in 1620. In 1629, he became a Catholic priest. He was consecrated the Bishop of Puebla in 1639 and arrived in June, 1640, in Mexico to assume the post. From June to Nov, 1642, he was the interim Viceroy of New Spain. He returned to Spain in 1649 and died Bishop of the Osma District in Soria in Oct, 1659.

So how was he able to compose this 32-chapter historical tome without having set foot in China at all?

Well, in the 17th Century, the China -> the Philippines -> Mexico -> Spain was arguably the most traveled East <-> West trade route. Every summer, merchant ships sailing from Manila, loaded with goods produced in China, arrived in Port Acapulco. As one in charge of the Philippine vessels and at the same time holding a high position in the Catholic Church, Palafox was regularly briefed on Chinese contemporary affairs. The information was crucial for preparing the Spanish priests leaving from Mexico on preaching missions to China. His book was based almost entirely on intelligence from Manila; it was therefore not a first-hand account. What's unique, however, is that it has details of battles between Cheng Zhi-long and the Dutch and that between the Qing armies and the remnants of the Ming forces. In fact, a whole 3 chapters (more than 70 pages) were devoted to the legendary life and adventures of Lord Cheng. And among them, a rare and precious mention of the Black soldiers.

In 1646, despite Koxiga's impassioned pleas against the move, Cheng nevertheless unwisely yielded to the Qing. Some of his men went over with him that included 200 of his most loyal guards of the Black battalion - whom he had previously recruited from Macao.

They, however, did not, or were not allowed to accompany Lord Cheng to Beijing. Instead, they were re-assigned to serve in the garrison army of the City of Canton (Guang-zhou). In 1647, in a pitched battle, they helped the Qing and repelled the attack by a Ming militia force. Their fearless fighting had earned the respect of the awe-struck Qing soldiers. And after the battle, the Black soldiers dropped their weapons and worshiped in a church run by the Jesuits [note: conceivably, the padres there might have been the source of Palafox's report].

While the Black guardsmen had earlier fought for their beloved Lord Cheng including battles against the Qing, Palafox, however, had incorrectly stated that these brave men survived the last battle and surrendered with Cheng. There was no such last stand, Lord Cheng had lamentably fallen victim to an elaborate Qing pacification scam. It is often said that the Qing had "set a trap to catch sparrows and caught an eagle instead".

Again, no further records of their whereabouts subsequent to the skirmish in Canton. Some of their brethren had already chosen to go with Koxinga to fight the Qing and ultimately ended up in Taiwan.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Special Forces Part 2 - The Black Rifle Battalion

Even though 鄭成功Cheng Chen-Gong [國姓爺Koxinga] (1624-1662) is a household name in both Taiwan and China yet his life remains relatively unknown in the West. A few words here maybe appropriate:

Koxinga was a King who commanded a very well-structured military of some 100,000 men. He was 延平王 (King of Yan-ping) and whose war-machine was respected and feared at once by all who had crossed his path, unwittingly or otherwise. This path was actually a very narrow one: 反清復明[Rebel against Qing and restore Ming]. Period.

Koxinga was educated a Confucian scholar who later, at age 23, became a military leader under very trying circumstances: First his father 鄭芝龍Cheng Zhi-long surrendered to the Qing violating a cardinal Confucian rule of honoring thy emperor at all costs, then his Japanese mother 翁夫人Lady Wuon (aka Mrs 田川松Takawa Matsu氏, 翁 was her adoptive parent's name) committed suicide when the Qing invaded Koxinga's hometown. He burned his scholar's robes at the Confucius's Temple bidding farewell to a university student's life forever, and answered the personal call from the Ming emperor to rescue the latter's failing dynasty. The emperor-in-exile 隆武Long-wu rewarded him by conferring the honor to use the royal family name "朱" [hence 國姓爺 as he was respectfully referred to by the common people] - the emperor did not have any daughters to marry Koxinga into the royal family. And the last emperor-in-exile 永曆Yon-li promoted him to a second-tier kingship 延平王. The title 延平郡王 was a posthumous honor from the Qing emperor 光緒 in 1875 - by then all were forgiven and Koxinga was regarded a Chinese hero for driving away the Dutch from Taiwan. It was a politically expedient way of rallying the Taiwanese during the Sino-French war era that is to continue to this day. And whatever had happened to the Ming-Cheng soldiers in the penal colonies in mainland China has remained totally ignored, also to this day.

There were two main branches in Koxinga's military, the Navy and the Army. The Navy had 9 fleets reportedly with "hundreds" of vessels. One fleet, the 內司鎮 was directly under the flag of Koxinga. Larger warships in the 樓船鎮fleet were triple-deckers with fire power that could easily overwhelm the best of Dutch galeons and indeed had done so in the battle for the recovery of Taiwan. [Insert: a model of one of Koxinga's ships, on display at 石井鄭成功記念館 in 南安Nan-An, Hokkien.]

And the Army was organized thus: (1) Guardsmen of several special forces directed by Koxinga himself and (2) General Troops under various commands. The latter consisted of 9 different infantry groups ranging from 5 specialty companies to 28 squadrons in each group. One of them, the 後勁營 (the Rear-Guard Battalion) was built with Northerner Chinese. The special forces included (1) the Left and Right Martial Guards (or the Golden-armored battalions - infantry with traditional Ming armor); (2) the Left and Right Tiger guards (i.e., the Iron-man Corps); (3) the cavalry battalion; (4) the artillery battalion; and (5) the palace guards - including a Black matchlock rifle battalion.

A battalion of Black soldiers? Yes. And they were specialists in the use and maintenance of the 種子島[銃]Tanega-shima matchlocks purchased from Japan. They were also able to produce these rifles, known as 倭銃, later on.

(Above: A Japanese matchlock rifle in action. In 1543, the Portuguese had either landed on Tanegashima [the Seeds Island], off the southern shore of Kyushu, or on-board of a ship by this name [?] and visited Japan. The Portuguese had brought with them the matchlock rifle. Enterprising citizens of the island quickly began manufacturing the rifle [see below] which Koxinga's army was equipped with.)

So who were these Blacks? Here we'll provide a short summary:

Blacks from South Africa (the Cafres) (and later also from South Pacific and East Asia) began to arrive in China at the end of the Ming Dynasty. Some were brought in by European traders as slaves/servants. Others had enlisted to serve in the military of the Portuguese and the Dutch for religious reasons, i.e., to spread Christianity in the East. And their bravery and fighting capabilities were quickly noticed by the Ming-Chinese.

In the early 1600s, most of the Blacks resided in Macau. They in fact were the main component of the Portuguese contingent who had fought off the Dutch in 1622. There was a report noting a female Black warrior, in man's garb, who had single-handedly killed 2 Dutchmen in this battle.

In 1647, about 200 of the Macau Blacks sought freedom as well as a better life. They left Macau and went over to Cheng Zhi-long in Hokkien who eventually employed 300 as his personal guards. Cheng had consistently honored their Christian belief possibly because he himself was once a Christian.

According to 何大化[Ho Da-hua], "…唐王[隆武帝]依靠一個福建人[指鄭芝龍]的勇敢與忠實在該省會[福州]設朝。他[鄭]年輕時曾在亞馬港成為基督徒,後從事海盜生涯,現在榮華富貴,將其義務忘得一乾二淨;但他手下有300個各種民族的黑人。他們都是基督徒,是他十分信任的衛兵。" [The Ming Emperor in exile, Long-Wu, had relied on a courageous and loyal Hokkienese (i.e., Cheng Zhi-long) to establish his royal court in Foochow... In Cheng's younger days in Macau, he had converted to Christianity but later became a pirate. Now that he was rich and famous, he had totally forgotten his duties (to the Ming). Under his command, there were 300 Blacks of all races. They were all Christians and were Cheng's most trusted guardsmen.]

A side issue here: Labeling Cheng Zhi-long a "pirate - one who engaged in robbery at sea" was incorrect. To the Chinese merchant ships, his privateering navy provided much needed protection in the trade routes between China and SE Asia from harassment by ships of dubious origins. His operation became legit later when he joined the Ming (1628). Then he unwisely defected to Qing (1646) and tried to convince Koxinga to do the same, in vain. He was eventually executed by the Qing on the 3rd day of the 10th month in 1661, together with 11 family members, including his 3rd son 世忠(世渡), 4th son 世恩, 5th son 世蔭, and the youngest 7th son 世默. This news hit Koxinga hard, who went into deep depression and passed away soon after at age 39.

Koxinga inherited these palace-guards and had also welcome them with open arms - even into his own household. In return, these Black warriors were fiercely loyal to the Chengs.

In battle, a banner with the image of Virgin Mary on it was proudly and prominently displayed. This Black Battalion was headed by a very talented Luis de Matos. They were usually deployed on the second line in support of the first-line offense. In the siege of Nanjing, they were seen fighting at the foot of the city walls near Yangtze River. And in the siege of Zeelandia, Koxinga's Black soldiers were able to communicate with the Blacks enslaved by the Dutch inside the fort, many escaped from it to join the Cheng army.

No one knows what had happened to the Black Battalion and their families [some had married Han wives] after the demise of the Ming-Cheng Kingdom. It was unlikely that they were sent to Mainland China or repatriated to Macau or even less likely, back to their homelands in Africa/Asia. There were no such records in any case. Most probably the 300 or so of them were simply disarmed and allowed to stay and die forever Taiwanese.

[Note: Black mercenaries were also involved in the 太平天國 revolt (1851-1864) and fought on both sides, but that is another story.]

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Special Forces Part 1 - The Iron-man Corps 鐵人部隊

Presumably a contemporary German made the above sketch of Koxinga's Iron-man Corps, one of the many special forces of Koxinga's army. It shows infantrymen who donned a helmet, face mask, heavy chest and arm fish-scale armors, and a long heavily-armored skirt. They each carried a long spear or a broad-blade at the end of a stick - weapons for cutting down enemy cavalries. They were also accompanied by the rattan-shield infantry who erected inch-thick curtains to catch arrows and bullets. According to Chinese accounts, however, both arms and legs of these iron-men were exposed - for easier movement. And they went bare-footed for more steady footing. The Qing strategy of targeting their feet with arrows failed because the Iron-men would simply pluck out the arrows when shot and fight on oblivious to the flesh wounds.

The source of these armors was unclear; although it was most likely Japan: (1) there had been active trading between the Cheng Clan and Japan since the days of Koxinga's father, 鄭芝龍Cheng Zhi-long (1604-1661), who controlled the eastern seas of China; (2) Koxinga himself had grown up in Nakasaki, Japan, who might have seen the armored samurai in action; and (3) the face masks were known to be worn only by the Japanese (not Chinese) warriors. The picture on the above left, i.e., a 16th Century armor-suit worn by a high-ranking samurai, might have been just that used to outfit the Iron-man soldiers [without the arm and leg guards].

The selection of these men was quite rigorous. Each recruit must be able to carry a certain weight and with it ran a certain distance to qualify. Power and endurance were both prerequisites for wearing the heavy armors (weighing about 33 lbs) and fighting at the same time. About 5,000 were chosen during the first screening. Some reports mentioned Japanese and Caucasian participants. That would not be so surprising as the Cheng army did invite other people than the Hokkienese to join up.

This special force, numbering about 3,000 (up to 10,000), was part of the 左 and 右虎衛營 [Left and Right Tiger Guard Battalions] under the direct command of Koxinga. Its basic unit was a 6-man squad equipped with the heavy sword 雲南斬馬刀 (2), shields (2), bow and arrow sets (6). Also, for each 10 squads, 4 specialized in attacking with bow and arrow and the other 6, sword and shield. They were trained to fight as one, any disruption to the formation, by either advancing or retreating, especially the latter, was severely punished. On the other hand, they were handsomely rewarded after each victory and were paid 3 silver taels each month [double the regular army pay].

The unique weapon here was the razor-sharp 雲南斬馬刀 or Yun-nan horse-slaying saber-sword. Yun-nan was just its name, had nothing to do with the Yun-nan province. Legend has it that each blade was made by passing serially through 100 iron-smiths who hammered it into shape. This may have been a process similar to the samurai-sword-making in Japan, a long piece of soft iron core folded onto itself thousands of times (to give it flexibility) which was then encased in a hard steel shell (for sharpness and strength). And this is done by only one master plus 1-2 assistants. With 100 masters working at the same time, mass-production of the horse-sabers was therefore possible.

The Dutch defenders of Zeelandia had calculated that one Dutch soldier could fend off 25 of Koxinga's iron-men. They were fatally mistaken.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Legends from overseas海外異傳

[A Dutch Batavia/Jakarta/Europa(?) warship]

Here is a brief description of how Koxinga recovered Taiwan in an 1849 article " 海外異傳" written by 齋藤正謙 (1797-1865), a Japanese sinologist (漢學家):

"寬文元年(明永曆十五年、清順治十八年)[i.e., 1661],成功自金陵喪敗,地蹙軍孤;永曆蒙塵南裔,聲問不通、存亡難詳,然猶奉正朔,將遷地謀恢復。適有紅毛通事 [Note: 何斌] [Note: 通事 was an official Dutch position responsible for communicating with and taxation of the Aborigines],南安人也,與臺灣甲必丹歸一 [Note: Taiwan Captain = Coyett] 有隙,走廈門謂成功曰:『公何不取臺灣?公家之故土也。臺地沃野千里,為四省要害,橫絕大海,實霸王之區。紅毛蠢爾醜虜,因中國騷劇,竊占據之;破而取之易易耳』。成功大喜。
In 1661, Koxinga, having just been defeated in Nanjing, was in a precarious position. He had lost much territory and manpower and also lost contact with Emperor Yong-Li. The latter had escaped to Burma but it was unknown whether he was alive or dead. It was most urgent for Koxinga to re-group to continue his mission of restoring the Ming Court. Coincidentally at that time, a interpreter-representative working for the Dutch [by the name of He Bing who happened to be from Nan-An, Koxinga's hometown, and also held a grievous grudge against Governor General Coyett], advised Koxinga then in Amoy that "Why not take Taiwan, a land of your father's? Taiwan has thousands of acres of fertile fields. It is strategically located in an area of the sea that controls the access to the four provinces. It is certainly a land to re-build your power. The red-haired [i.e., the Dutch] are ugly and stupid. They were able to stealthily occupy Taiwan only because of the turmoils in China. They are in fact quite easy to defeat." Koxinga was very pleased with the advice.

"三月,親率兵三千二百人,揚帆至鹿耳門。門水淺沙膠,海舶至此,必易舟而入,故險易守。此時水適漲丈餘,成功得便戰艦銜尾而進。紅夷大驚,以為自天而下。成功引兵登陸,攻赤嵌城。城亂石疊,高數丈、厚丈餘,用土煆之,化為石灰。以砲擊城,城堅不受砲。城中紅夷千餘人,驅臺民數千,入而同守,且徵援兵於咬琉吧 [note: Batavia]。咬琉吧將領謀謂:『擣廈門之虛,則臺灣之圍自解矣』;乃率兵攻廈門。廈門留守洪旭迎擊走之。城久之不拔,臺民或告成功曰:『城外高山有水流于城濠,貫城而過。城中無井泉,所飲唯此一水;若塞其水源,三日而告變矣』。從之。紅毛勢窮,以巨艦十餘只決戰。
In the third month, Koxinga personally led 3,200 men and sailed to 鹿耳門, gateway to Zeelandia, where the water was shallow. Normally, all ships must cast anchors here and the transportation shifted to smaller boats. This of course favored the defenders. Koxinga's fleet, however, surprised the Dutch by riding the high tide with the ships in single file in queue to enter the bay and started a ground assault on Zeelandia. The fort was built of stones standing several meters tall with meter-thick walls. The walls were also reinforced with cement and were quite resistant to canon bombardment. Inside the fort, there were 1,000+ Dutch defenders who forced several thousand locals into the fort to help defend it. Coyett asked for help from Batavia. The generals there strategized that since the main Koxinga force had left Amoy which should be an easy target. And once Amoy was sacked, the siege of Zeelandia would automatically end. A fleet was quickly dispatched to attack Amoy. They were, however, beaten back by Amoy's defending army commanded by General Hong Xu. And at the same time, Koxinga heeded the counsel of the locals to cut off the sole water supply, a river that flowed through the fort. Coyett decided to counter-attack with 10+ huge warships.

Koxinga's soldiers entered the Dutch warships through the gun ports and took over five ships. The rest were all burned and destroyed and 600 Dutchmen were killed. With the redoubt of Zeelandia sacked, Coyett capitulated after Koxinga sent a messenger to tell him that "Taiwan was developed by my father. I am content to recover the land. You may take whatever your treasured items with you. I do not need them at all." The Dutch surrendered and were sent home:
From the Dutch side, a far more detailed account as part of a thesis on Dutch VOC, "The Shameful Fall of Fort Zeelandia" by Tristan Mostert (2009), can be found here. For example, an eyewitness looking out from Fort Zeelandia reported the following:

“In the morning of the 30th of April, as in the entire preceding night, there was a very thick mist, due to which one could not see into the distance. As soon as the mist had cleared, however, we saw such a fleet of ships, to wit Chinese junks, lie before the harbour in front of Baxemboy, that we could not oversee them, let alone count them. There were so many masts, that it looked like an arid forest. We looked at this, all of us equally awestruck and puzzled, as no-one, not even our Lord Governor, had expected anything like this, and we did not know, whether they were friend or foe.”

This was the arrival of 25,000 soldiers led by Koxinga on hundreds of war junks. And Lord Governor Coyett would soon find out what Koxinga's intention was.

The map below shows where Zeelandia and Provintia were located. Other landmarks are: Lakjemuyse Channel = 鹿耳門 [where Koxinga's fleet entered the bay]; Baxemboy = 北線尾 [where half of 240 musketeers including Captain Pedel were slain by Koxinga's Iron-man corps]; Tayouan = 大員 [or 台灣]; Tai Bay = 台灣; and Sakam = 赤崁社 [a Siraya Aboriginal 西拉雅原住民 Settlement].
[below: Fort Provintia, looking from the west]
[Fort Zeelandia with Dutch City to the left - looking from the north]

[Note: this is re-posted from]

Monday, September 6, 2010

The missing 500 - Part 4

[Koxinga's tomb in his hometown 南安Nan-an, Hokkien, relocated in 1699 from Tainan Ju-a-vei台南洲仔尾 after a petition to the Qing Court by Koxinga's grandson 鄭克塽Cheng Ke-shuang]

We will never know exactly what had happened to the rattan-shield soldiers藤牌兵 from Taiwan. Official records did not provide any clue. In fact, Chinese historians who tow the official lines often hide/alter the facts in order to glorify the victors. In the present case, the victorious were 施琅Shi-lang [the 明鄭Ming-Cheng turncoat] and the Qing Emperors [Kang-xi康熙 in particular]. However, given the episodic reports of the fighting 藤牌兵 in mainland China and reading between the lines of available historical documents, it is clear that a sizable number of Ming-Cheng soldiers were indeed forced to leave Taiwan.

In statements attributed to 施琅, there apparently had been some discussion over how to handle the defeated Ming-Cheng soldiers, i.e, the POWs. :

First the problems of relocating the soldiers were raised:
"if we were to relocate them, a large number of them have families and also a significant number without. To travel long distances, it'll be not only too difficult for them but they will also hide and escape. Wherever they traveled through, the locals must provide manpower support and they will need to be fed by local officials. They will also require lodging along the way. And eventually, they will also need farming cattle and equipment - another source of a big problem..."

It would seem that all POWs would be allowed to stay in Taiwan for logistical reasons. However, that apparently did not happen. The main concern remained the threat of armed uprising. It was finally decided as a general principle that
"The non-Hokkienese are to be sent back to the province/county/city where they came from and the Hokkienese are to be returned to their hometowns - to be further assigned"; "those who are willing to become farmers, let them be farmers; and those who wish to stay in the military, they will tend to farmlands temporarily wherever they are stationed."

Very generous terms, indeed. The reality, however, is quite different:

In Vol 8 of Tung-hua-lu by Chiang Liang-chi, it stated that in Kang-xi Year 22 (1683):
On the 29th Day of the 8th Month:
Hokkien Admiral Shi-lang reported to the Qing Court:

'On the 11th Day of the 8th Month, I led the troops and departed from Peng-hu. On the 13th Day, we entered Lu-er-men and arrived in Taiwan. On the 18th, Cheng Ke-shuang and his underlings, all have their heads shaven, received the royal edict, cheered enthusiastically, and expressed their gratitude by kowtowing in submission in the direction of the royal court. '

All 6 (5?) sons of Koxinga, the 9 sons of Cheng Jing, and their subordinates plus the Ming heir totaling 17 are escorted to the ships which sailed to the mainland under the charge of local officials Su Bai et al.

The rest of the civil and military officials and their families are ordered to mobilize; soldiers who want to become farmers or continue to serve in the military are allowed to do so. As to the capture men and women from Jiang-su, Ze-jiang, Fokkien, and Canton, I have already extended Your Majesty's kindness and ordered them all to go back to where they came from.

How many men and women? 200,000 is a good estimate, i.e., the whole population of the 明鄭 Kingdom minus those who went into hiding. And how were the orders carried out? It now appears that 施琅's statement above regarding the difficulties of relocating the POWs was actually a description of what had already happened, not an idle speculation at all. And the freedom of choice, to be a farmer or remain as a soldier? Would the Qing allow the tens of thousands of Ming-Cheng soldiers to roam free in Taiwan??

In the same Vol 8 of Chiang's book, it was recorded:
On the 13th Day of the 12th Month:

'Su-bai et al had first requested that Cheng Ke-shuang and his associated be ordered to Beijing. The 1,600 military officers and 400 civil officials be reviewed on their intention to go home or to accept a new appointment. and the 40,000+ soldiers be allowed to choose to be farmers or to re-enlist.

The royal order was for Cheng Ke-shuang and family and his close subordinates and their families be summoned to Beijing. The rest of the Ming-Cheng officials and the Ming heir be banished to several nearby provinces [Shantung, Shan-xi, and He-nan] to perform pioneering farming. And the rest as requested.

And Cheng and his two closest advisers were held hostage in Beijing, and as a reward for their "sincere" capitulation, were given [empty] military titles and allotted some houses and lands.'

For the fiercely loyal Ming-Cheng soldiers, most would have chosen to follow their leaders into farming. In a way, this was the most unkind punishment: for sea-faring men to till the land. Some had joined the Manchurian army, often to die in the first line of offense.

In 1685-6, 黃元驥, a Shantung local mandarin originally from Hokkien, could not bear to see the suffering of these transplanted "farmers", had built some accommodations for them and lost his job as a result. 黃 did not realize the Qing's hidden agenda - for the Ming-Cheng soldiers to helplessly die off.

In Kang-xi Year 46 (1707), on the 27th Day of the 8th Month, Cheng Ke-shuang died at age 37. His surviving family was deprived of most of the means of support and eventually faded away from the pages of history.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The missing 500 - Part 3

[The famed rattan shields]

In 1628, the Russians first invaded the homeland of the Buryats, west of Lake Baikal, and the settlers then moved steadily eastward to the great alarm of the Chinese governments. There have been many conflicts between Russia and China over the possession of the northern territories including Siberia ever since.

It was in one of these armed conflicts, 500 藤牌兵 from Taiwan were recalled and sent to northern China to join in the fight. The order came directly from Emperor 康熙Kang-xi himself; although the suggestion most likely was put forth by a Han Chinese [Shi Lang?] The intrigued Emperor summoned an aging 林興珠Lin Hsing-Ju for a demonstration of the fighting strategy and skills of the 藤牌兵. Lin had served in Koxiga's military and twice surrendered to Qing as a faithful follower of his two previous commanders. 康熙 was suitably impressed by Lin's performance and an order to activate the infantrymen from Taiwan was issued.

On June 23, 1685, 彭春Pengcum led 3,000 Qing soldiers in an attack on 雅克薩Albazin. First Peng read to the Russian defenders Emperor 康熙's edict demanding their surrender. Then the Qing army laid siege to Albazin and blocked the access of the Russian artillerymen to their guns inside the fort. Two days later, a Russian reinforcement unit sailed east on the Amur黑龍江 on board of wooden rafts to reach Albazin. They were intercepted by the 藤牌兵 submerged in the river covered under their round rattan shields. The Russians panicked at the sight of soldiers with "huge hats" who came out of water to chop off their feet. Half of the Russian men were killed. The siege ended very quickly when the Qing soldiers set fire to the walls of Albazin. During the negotiations for surrender, >600 (almost all) of the Russians requested permission to go back to Nerchinsk. 康熙 received the news of the victory on July 5, 1685, while visiting his ancestral land in Manchuria. The Qing army and the Taiwanese soldiers then returned triumphantly to 璦琿. However, shortly after, on Aug 27, the Russians came back to harvest the crops and to brazenly re-build Albazin. In 1686, 2,000 Qing soldiers and 100 藤牌兵 were again dispatched to re-take the fort. In both campaigns, the 藤牌兵 suffered no casualties which was probably not what the scheming Han Chinese had anticipated.

What followed was a mystery. There was no mention in any official history of the 藤牌兵's safe return to their farming settlements. Some suggested that they were simply murdered by the Qing to totally wipe out the last remnants of the Ming-Cheng military. This does not seem likely because in 1696, 林興珠 and his men went on another campaign to fight against Mongolian rebels. He was well-rewarded and putatively died of old age in Beijing. In fact, a secret directive from 康熙 was to treat these infantrymen from Taiwan nicely.

There are other unofficial versions as far as the fate of the 500:

Version one: They settled in 齊齊哈爾Qiqihar in 黑龍江 Province.

According to 魏毓蘭's 《龍城舊聞》:“水師營兵,皆調自福建。今道署附近之土著,其先世皆福建人。若莆田林姓、同安陳姓,在福建本巨族,徙塞上仍大姓也。雅克薩之役,建義侯林興珠平羅剎,為閩人立功塞外之祖。故當日水師之權勢,雖不得比於滿洲,以視屯、站漢人,殊為優越。” This "Old Tales of the Dragon City" states that the soldiers of the Naval Camp in the city of Qiqihar all came from Hokkien. They were led by 林興珠 and had won the battle against the Russians at Abazin and were the ancestors of the natives now living near the Camp. They came with prominent Hokkien family names such as Lin of Pu-tien and Chen of Tung-An - now common local last names...

[Note: The info above was provided by a friend nicked-named Fishdoc.]

And Version two: They migrated to Cambodia.

According to 劉文海(?)'s 《西行奇見聞》:"曾聞安南西屬[即柬埔寨]有異人自海上入,劃地為界,乃不能制,[求]援於安南,[安南]王怪其無禮,遣軍擊之,異人手持墨棉 [即藤牌],兵刃不能損,以火觸之即燃。曾擒之,與其談,語不能通也,鏖戰經月,不可復制,安南國王遣使與談,約以[互]不[相]擾。因其為首者名「拎主[林興珠?]」故當地稱兩地之界為【拎邊】。" [Source: here] In other words, 林興珠 [拎主 appears a compressed 林興珠 when pronounced in Hokkien] and the 500 men [together with their families possibly totaling about 1,000] seemed to have escaped from China and ended up in the now Cambodia, then a client state of Viet Nam. According to this book, "Odd stories on the journey west", the King of Viet Nam came to the aid of Cambodia but was unable to defeat these "strangers" from overseas who were armed with sword-proof but inflammable rattan shields. It was also impossible to communicate with a captive/them who spoke a different language. The King, through an emissary, reached an agreement for both sides not to disturb each other and to keep within their own borders...

[Note: The author of Version two did admit that he had concocted the story.]

Often the unofficial stories contain grains of truth. It probably does not matter which version is more credible. Most important is that these 500 men seemed to have survived and had carried on unhindered as all Taiwanese would do in the face of great adversity.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The missing 500 - Part 2

(In this 1710 map published in Japan, Taiwan is still identified as 東寧, possibly in remembrance of Koxinga whose mother was Japanese.)

The classic Chinese historical novel 三國演義 (published in the 14th century covering the tumultuous late Han period of 169-280AD) has a haunting episode. In which 諸葛亮Tsu-ge Liang (also known as 孔明Kung Ming, 181-234AD) captured and then purposely released the trouble-making Southern Savage leader 孟獲Meng-Huo. Who finally gave up after the 7th capture and became a most faithful ally. Meng's friend, a chieftain named 兀突骨WuTuGu had led an army of 藤牌兵 in support of Meng that had caused much damage to Tsu-ge's Sze-chuan army. These infantrymen were equipped with round shields and body armors all as strong as iron made from rattan cured in (probably Tong) oil. They were trapped in a dead-end valley and set on fire by Tsu-ge's army and every single one died. For this, Tsu-ge knew he had gone too far in taking lives in this manner and would not be permitted by Heaven to live to a ripe old age. He was right.

Because of the tactical effectiveness in battle against the cavalries, 藤牌兵 has become a special force throughout the ages, especially in Southern China where rattan plants were abundant. Often, however, they were deployed on suicide missions - to perform the first frontal assault of each battle at great losses. The British 18th Infantry Regiment had run into such a fearless group when they attacked Xiamen on Aug 26, 1841. By then, unfortunately, the rattan shields were no longer effective against the gun fire.

Koxinga's military was quite formidable both at sea and on land. His infantry to a man was trained in the use of the sword and rattan shield, a martial art still in practice in Taiwan (and Southern Hokkien) today. And in addition, he had organized a very special force, the elite 鐵人部隊Iron-men corps (or heavily-armored 藤牌兵) as the main attacking force. At the first encounter in 1661 with the Dutch then based in Zeelandia (Tainan), the Iron-men troop defeated the Dutch musketeers led by Thomas Pedel; half of the 240 men including Pedel himself were slaughtered. This began the siege of Zeelandia and the last governor of the Dutch colony in Taiwan Frederick Coyette finally called it quits on Feb 10, 1662. He retreated to Batavia and was promptly tried and imprisoned for losing the colony.

In trying to recover Ming territories, Koxinga's 藤牌兵 first demonstrated their prowess in 1651 in the battle of 海澄 and went on to defeat the Qing army in another major battle in 漳州 in 1652. And in 1659, they were deployed in the battle of 銀山 against the Qing cavalry. History recorded that these infantrymen were organized in 3-man teams. One held the shield to protect the other two, the second man was responsible for chopping down the horseman and the third, slicing the war horse in two - both with a heavy sword, known as the 雲南馬刀 (see below). The Qing could not come up with a defense strategy and again suffered heavy losses.
With the surrender of the Ming-Cheng dynasty, these 藤牌兵were not allowed to stay in Taiwan. In fact, all Cheng officials and soldiers were banished to mainland China to become farmers in desolate areas in HeNan, Shantung, and Shanxi provinces. The strong ones were drafted to serve in the Qing flag-armies and the old and the feeble were purposely left behind to quietly die. The ones exiled to Beijing were the six (probably 5, see below) sons of Koxinga, the nine sons of 鄭經Cheng Jing (Koxinga's first son) including 鄭克塽, plus the families of 鄭克塽's advisers, 劉國軒 and 馮錫範, as well as that of the Ming heir 朱桓. The sixth son of Koxinga had escaped and gone into hiding. Shi-lang had spent years tracking him down to no avail. This sole surviving branch is now into the 13th generation. The tombs of Koxinga and 鄭經 were relocated to Nan-An in Hokkien; those of the other high officials were secretly razed to the ground and the remains destroyed. And any memorials to the Ming-Cheng were either erased or converted into temples. This was the Qing Court's 以漢制漢 (Han controlling Han) policy in action - the Manchu people apparently knew that the Han Chinese were very good at exacting revenges from the Han Taiwanese.

In a strange twist of fate, 500 Hokkien/Taiwanese 藤牌兵 were recalled from the settlements to fight in 1685 in the Sino-Russian border wars. They were naturally victorious. Then the 500 mysteriously disappeared. Did they really? Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The missing 500 - Part 1

(A statue of 鄭成功Cheng Chen-Gong - known to the West as Koxinga國姓爺, in 皓月園, 鼓浪嶼Gulangyu, Xiamen City)

On the 18th day of the 8th month (lunar calendar) in 1683, the Ming-Cheng Dynasty ceased to exist. This was the statement from the 14-year-old ruler of Taiwan, Koxinga's 2nd grandson 鄭克塽Cheng Ke-shuang, to turncoat 施琅Shi-lang who had just defeated Cheng's Navy in Peng-hu and was ready to attack Taiwan proper. It was authored by 鄭德瀟Cheng De-Shiaw on behalf of the boy-king:



然思皇靈之赫濯,信知天命有攸歸。逆者亡、順者昌,迺覆載待物之廣大;貳而討、服而舍,諒聖王與人之甚寬。用遵往時之成命,爰 邀此日之殊恩。冀守宗祧以勿失,永作屏翰於東方。業有修表具奏外,及接提督臣施琅來書,以復居故土,不敢主張。臣 思既傾心而向化,何難納土以輸誠。茲特繕具本章,并延平王印一顆、冊一副及武平侯臣劉國軒印一顆、忠誠伯臣馮錫范印一顆,敬遣副使劉國昌、馮錫韓齎赴軍前繳奏;謹籍土地人民,待命境上。數千里之封疆悉歸王宇,百餘萬之戶口並屬版圖。遵海而南,永息波濤之警;普天之 下,均沾雨露之濡。實聖德之漸被無方,斯遐區之襁負恐後。  


至於明室宗親,格外優待;通邦士庶,軫念綏柔;文武諸官,加恩遷擢;前附將領,一體垂仁;夙昔仇怨,盡與蠲除;籍沒產業,俱行賜復。尤期廣推寬大之仁,明布維新之令。使夫群情允愜,共鼓舞於春風;萬彙熙恬,同泳游於化日。斯又微臣 無厭之請,徼望朝廷不次之恩者也。為此,激切具本奏聞,伏候勑旨。

Essentially, it states: "... I am young and ignorant and should have capitulated sooner in the presence of the immense power of Your Majesty [the Qing emperor]... I hereby renounce my titles and rights and together with my subordinates surrender to you. Attached please find the seals of mine and those of my trusted advisers. Have mercy on us and the household of the Royal Ming Court ..."

In it, Cheng requested that he and his family be sent back to Hokkien [instead of Beijing] because a southerner could not adapt to life in northern China and that he be granted residences and lands and a stipend to live on in reasonable comfort.

The Qing Court naturally would not have any of these. Instead, Cheng was held hostage in Beijing, given an empty title of 漢軍公(the Duke of Han Army - sarcastically of course) as part of the 正黃旗Formal Yellow-flag Army [one of the eight flag-armies of Qing]. And his army disbanded totally.

It has been only 327 years since the surrender; the aftermath while little known was actually very well-recorded. The systematic destruction of anything Cheng by the Qing Court was nothing short of spectacular. We will now look at what had happened to the 東寧王朝Tung-Ning Dynasty survivors. One of the examples is the 藤牌兵 or the Rattan-shield Infantrymen who were recruited from 龍溪縣Long-shi Prefecture of 漳州府ChangChowFu in Hokkien - the same birthplace of the ancestors of many Danshui-ren.

[Note: the above is re-posted from]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

翁夫人Lady Weng - Koxinga's mother

[Artist's rendition of a young Koxinga and his Mom]

It is well-known that Koxinga's mother Lady Weng (翁夫人) or Mrs Takawa (田川氏)[1601-1646] was from Hirado (平戶), Nakasaki, Japan.

Weng was the name of her stepfather 翁翊皇 [1582-1645], a blacksmith specializing in sword-making who emigrated from Hokkien and settled in Nakasaki. There is another version, that 翁翊皇 a naturalized Japanese citizen had assumed the family name of his Japanese wife, 田川, and became a low-level retainer of the Lord of Hirado 松浦隆信. His name was therefore changed to 田川翊皇. In Japan, Koxinga's mother is known as Takawa Matsu 田川松 when in fact, there was no historical record of the given name 松; it becomes so because the recent Hirado City Education Committee has determined that it was マツ [matsu], i.e., 松 [pine]. In the Cheng family history record books, she is always respectfully referred to as Lady 翁Weng. [Note: some literature even now indicate that the name 田川七左衛門 denoted Lady Weng's birth father when in fact this was her second son's name, see below.]

In 1623, Lady Weng married Koxinga's father 鄭芝龍Cheng Zhi-long who frequented Nakasaki and was becoming a successful businessman at that time. In 1624, she gave birth to Koxinga. Their second son 田川七左衛門 [or 田川次郎左衛門; 1626-1696] was adopted by Lady Weng's family and stayed in Japan. Koxinga, on the other hand, returned to China when he was 6 years old and was promptly raised in the Hokkien tradition. And because of Japan's closed-door policy, Koxinga did not see his mother again until 1645, 15 years later, when Lady Weng re-joined the family in 安平.

Lady Weng was to die in the following year when the Qing army invaded 安平.

On the 30th Day of the 11th Month in 順治三年 (1646), Qing army led by 固山韓岱 sacked 安平. This was in violation of an agreement with 鄭芝龍 who had already surrendered to the Qing on the 15th Day of the previous Month. And because of the surrender, the Cheng family was lulled into a false sense of security, so that no defenses were prepared. Koxinga, disagreeing with his father on the matter of surrender, had left 安平 and gone to Kimoy Island. The Qing army, consisting of both Manchurian and Han soldiers, came in and killed almost all residents in this small town.

There were two versions on how Lady Weng died. In one, she was raped and hanged herself; in the other, she was holding a sword and scolded 固山 before committing suicide. 江日昇's《台灣外紀·卷3》recorded that "翁氏毅然拔劍,割肚而死", i.e., she had opened her own belly with the sword [literally seppuku or harakiri]. The rape version was not credible as it is the Chinese way of insulting the deceased and her family. Lady Weng, being the daughter of a retainer of the Lord of Hirado, would have been given as a wedding gift, a 懐剣 [a short sword or dagger - now replaced with a symbolic folded fan]. Which was intended for a samurai's daughter to defend her honor, especially to avoid rape, in times of military defeat. And she knew how to use it well.

[A Japanese short sword/dagger 懐剣, given to a samurai's own daughter on her wedding day]

《靖海志·卷1》reported that Koxinga "剖其母腹,出腸滌穢,重納之以斂,發喪後遂起兵", i.e., following the Japanese way for an honorable death, Lady Weng's innards were cleansed and restored. Koxinga then mobilized his military after the funeral. His intense hatred of the Qing was not without a good reason.

Koxinga's grandson 鄭克塽 in his《鄭氏附葬祖父墓誌》stated: “翁曾祖母生於壬寅年八月十八日未時,卒於丙戌年十一月三十日巳時,享年四十有五", in short: Great Grandmother Lady Weng passed away at age forty five.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

前言 Welcome

This blog is created for those interested in the history of one of the most illustrious families in Taiwan and China, the Cheng family, or 鄭氏家族. Among the most famous is 鄭成功, known in the West as Koxinga. We will write about him and his family, and by extension, the Cheng Clan. All comments are of course welcome.