Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lost Colony - a new book by Tonio Andrade

Tonio Andrade is associate professor of history at Emory University. He is the author of How Taiwan Became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century.

Easily the best biography of Koxinga in the English language

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Koxinga's landing site

Sometimes the Chinese and the Dutch versions can be reconciled. A good example is the landing site of Koxinga's troops.

The route (source: here), shown in green, was the one traveled by Koxinga's army in 1661. The red-blue pair on the left indicates Ft Zeelandia (red) and Taiyoun City (blue) and the pair on the right, Ft Provintia (red) and Sakam District (blue). Baxemboy, where Capt Thomas Pedel and 118 of his men died after a battle with Koxinga's men, was the sandbank across the channel from Ft Zeelandia.

江日昇's 《台灣外記》 and 楊英's 《從征實錄》 both recorded the battles fought by Koxinga's army from 1647 (永曆三年) to 1662 (永曆十六年). Both tomes reported the landing site as being 禾寮港 (He-Liao Kang [Port] or Eo-liao Kang in Hokkien pronunciation), i.e., the Port of Grain-storage. 禾寮, however, was not known in the Hokkien language. Most likely it was a transcriptional error and the real deal was either 下寮港 (E-Liao Kang) or 蚵寮港 (O-liao Kang) [seen in other contemporary historical documents]. The names seem to agree with the Dutch version(s): within the Smeerdorp [Shi-bi Village士美村], there was a Olikan (or Olijlankaan, Oylankan, Orakan). This appears to be the original landing and camp site - now 臺南縣永康市洲仔尾 (Jiu-a-bei, upper right red dot on the map above). This was also where Koxinga received the delegates sent by Coyett. On the same site, the Chen Garden was later built. Chen was 陳永華, the Prime Minister of Ming-Cheng Kingdom.

This site also makes sense: the Dutch records mentioned the delegates left Zeelandia at 10AM to travel to the Koxinga headquarters. They did not return until the late evening. The round trip to/from 洲仔尾 on foot indeed would have taken such a long time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

You are marrying whom !?

On May 2, 2010, news in Taiwan reported the resolution of 鄭施不通婚 [prohibition of marriages between the Chengs and the Shi's]. It was declared by the heads of two clan associations from Taichung (Cheng) and Hokkien (Shi), respectively. This proclamation is, however, both non-binding and without authority, so the 300-year tradition will continue.

The origin of this custom is the long-standing feud between Koxinga and Ming-Cheng turncoat 施琅Shi-Lang. Koxinga killed Shi-Lang's father and brother (1650) as a punishment for Shi's disobeying an order not to execute 曾德Tseng-Der. And years later (1683), Shi ended the Tung-Ning Dynasty on Qing's behalf. The restriction of marriages between the two families was originally limited to 泉州Chuan-chou area but later extended to all of Taiwan.

There is another marriage ban known only to the Koxinga-Cheng clan, i.e., never marry any 黄Huangs. It is not entirely clear why this practice; although it appears to be related to the conniving acts of another Ming-Cheng turncoat, 黄梧Huang-Wu.

[Above: The family temple of 黄梧Huang-Wu in 平和Pin-Ho County, 漳州Chang-chou]

A young 黄梧, after assassinating the corrupt head of his home county, joined Koxinga's forces in Amoy in the 2nd month of 1644 and received a mid-level appointment with 200 taels of silver as bonus. He distinguished himself in many battles against the Qing and rise through the ranks until 1650 when he found himself in a delicate situation.

When Koxinga ordered the arrest of Shi-Lang, Huang's superior 蘇茂Su-Mao actually allowed Shi to escape. Su-Mao was later killed and by implication, Huang was also found guilty and fined heavily (in the form of a contribution of 500 sets of armors). Huang subsequently became quite concerned of his own safety. In a transfer of duty to 海澄Hai-chen, the main logistic center of Ming-Cheng and the gateway to Amoy and Kinmoy, Huang decided to defect to the Qing and turned over the fort. For this act, he was awarded the title of Duke of 海澄. In the 3rd month of 1657, the Qing Court further honored his ancestors and provided funds to build his family temple (see above). His loyalty to the Qing became unyielding and he plotted enthusiastically for the downfall of Koxinga. He trained a naval force (1658) and defeated 周端, Koxinga's commander in Hokkien (1660), recommended Shi-lang for the eventual invasion of Taiwan. And among his many proposals submitted to Qing Court was the 《平海五策》[The Five Strategies for Conquering the Sea] with one of them purely for personal vendetta:

四. 成功之祖先墳墓在各處,叛臣賊子罪誅及九族,何況其祖乎?應加以遷毀,慕露殄滅,使其命脈斷,則種類不待誅而自滅。[No 4: The nine relations of rebels/traitors are all punished by death, how can their ancestors be exempted. Koxinga's ancestral graves everywhere must be removed and destroyed and the remains exposed. This way, the whole lineage will be interrupted and the clan self-destructed without the need of exterminating them at all.]

In the 10th Month of 1662, 黄梧 submitted a confidential proposal to have Koxinga's father Cheng Zi-Long [and family members] executed.

Both proposals were accepted and carried out. Koxinga could not believe the news when he first learned of it in Taiwan. Soon after, he passed away, in apparent anguish.

This was not the end of the story, however.

In 1674, 耿精忠Geng Jing-Chung revolted against the Qing and 黃梧 seemed to have joined 耿 in this revolt (still being debated if this ever happened); although Huang soon died of a painful illness. In any case, his son 黃芳度Huang Fang-Du took over the defense of 漳州, then disputed and fought against 耿, followed by surrendering to Koxinga's son Cheng Jing [who was then on a mission to recover the mainland]. 黃芳度, however, double-crossed Cheng Jing by secretly allying with the Qing and refused to host Cheng Jing in 漳州. Cheng Jing, sensing Huang's betrayal, then attacked the city and entered it when Huang's second-in-command 吳淑We-su opened the gate. Huang killed himself by jumping into a well at Kai-yuan Temple 開元寺. Cheng Jing ordered 黃梧's coffin opened and 黃芳度's body recovered, and both of them beheaded. Thirty some members of the Huang family were also executed.

One branch of the descendants of the surviving Huangs migrated to Taichung in 1878, and another to Ilan.

This specific admonition for the Koxinga-Chengs not to marry any Huangs is still in full effect today.

Monday, August 1, 2011

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 the firearms, Huang-Zhao: you will lead 500 musketeers [note: these would have been the Black Battalion] together with 200 guns 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 escaped 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.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Hambroek affair

Anthonius Hambroek (1607-1661) (in Taiwanese pronunciation, his last name = 范無如區) who arrived in Taiwan in 1648 and started his missionary work under the auspices of the VOC. He was posted to the aboriginal 麻豆社(Mattau) together with his wife, Anna Vincentamoy, and children.

A drama composed by Joannes Nomsz (1738-1803), "Anthonius Hanbroak, of de belegering van Formosa, treurspel [English translation = Anthonius Hambroek, or the Siege of Formosa, tragedy]" published in 1775 had secured for Hambroek his place in history [source:]. The question is if the events depicted in the drama were true to the history.

The story started by setting the background: Koxinga landed so unexpectedly that he, Hambroek the minister, his wife, son and daughter, and many other prominent Christians, unable to escape to the safety of Zeelandia, fell into his hands. [Note: This probably refers to the fall of Ft Provintia, 270 Dutch including 140 soldiers were captured and later relocated to Sakam.]

In the drama, the scenes took place inside Ft Zeelandia where Hambroeck was sent by Koxinga to deliver the message for Coyett to surrender. There were 7 characters/players in all:

Anthonius Hambroek, Formosa preacher.
FREDRIK CAJÉT [i.e., Coyett], commander in Ft Zeelandia.
CORNELIA Hambroek, daughter of the pastor, wife of Fredrik [more to follow]
XAMTI, envoy of the Chinese general Coxinga.
Van den Broek, a captain, friend of Fredrik.
ELIZABETH, vrindin [girl friend] of Cornelia.

In this scene, a grief-stricken Cornelia is being consoled by Elizabeth while Hambroek is making his exit to return to a certain death (with the Coyetts looking on and a map of Ft Zeelandia on the wall):
Since Coyett married his second wife Helena de Sterke in 1658 after his first wife, Susanna Boudaens, passed in 1656, Cornelia might have been married not to Frederic Coyett but to his son, Balthasar. Other sources claimed that two Hambroke's adult daughters were inside Ft Zeelandia when he visited and two younger daughters were held hostages by Koxinga. And of the latter, one later became Koxinga's concubine and the other a subordinate's wife. In contrast, this drama mentioned only one adult daughter [Cornelia] and two other children, a boy and a girl.

Indeed, on May 24, 1661, Rev Hambroek was sent by Koxinga to Zeelandia. At the Senate meeting, the surrender issue was hotly debated. The initial consensus to give in was, however, reversed after a stirring speech by Rev Hambroek. A loose translation below:

"I am perfectly aware that my speech is my own death sentence. However, I will not disregard my duties to God and the Company because of fear. I'd rather risk a thousand times my own and my wife's lives than being exploited by our enemy. Because the cruel Koxinga will make up any excuse to kill all the captured Dutchmen. And since they are already doomed, if we negotiate for their lives out of sympathy, we will have fallen into the enemy's trap and be slaughtered at random. These savage enemy are calculating and sneaky at the same time with no mercy in their hearts. They only want to cheat, rob and massacre the Dutch in their worship of Satan."

Soldiers and civilians alike then vowed to take up arms and defend Zeelandia with all their might [and did]. Having delivered his own instead of Koxinga's message, Hambroek, despite the plea of his daughter (daughters?) and Coyett's advice to do otherwise, decided to return to Koxinga's camp to join his wife and children and face the music, he declared thus:

"Comrades, I will surely die; although, for the sake of you all and those captured by the enemy, I cannot allow myself to be blamed for hiding in the fort to see others sacrificed. May God save our people, He will deliver you from danger. You all must persevere and do not lose your faith."

Our friend Patrick Cowsill has provided this list regarding the aftermath, that

1. He [Koxinga] had all male POWs put to death - true
2. Hambroek was beheaded - true
3. Some women and children were beheaded - true
4. One of Hambroek's daughters was put in Koxinga's harem - doubtful, Hambroek's wife and children appeared to have all been killed (i.e., point 3 above)
plus no Cheng household record of such a union could be found
5. The remainder of the women were divided amongst his officers - unconfirmed, maybe true

There were also other loose ends:

(1) Hambroek et al were not executed immediately upon his return from Zeelandia. Rather it was after the Dutch, in captivity, had conspired with the Aborigines to revolt again Koxinga; this was when they were put to death; and

(2) Besides Hambroek, also killed were 牟士Petrus Mus of 諸羅山 and 溫世繆Aronldus Winsmius of 新港/赤崁. And possibly 安信紐Jacobus Ampzingius and 甘比宇Joannes Campius as well [church records indicate that both had died from other causes, however]. All preachers.

This was the unfortunate yet avoidable conclusion of the Hambroek affair as Koxinga's primary objective was the recovery of Taiwan, not one of taking Dutch lives. Hambroek had not only sealed his own fate but also that of his family and others.

In the end, Koxinga entered a peace treaty with Coyett and the Dutch were allowed to depart Zeelandia peacefully. This was not what Rev Hambroek had envisioned. He had predicted, incorrectly, a wholesale massacre if Zeelandia surrendered. Koxinga might have worshiped MaZu but she was hardly Satan incarnate. Without knowing Koxinga's pragmatism, in demonizing Koxinga, Hambroek's speech at the Senate might have been both dramatic and fear-inspiring, but it was quite misguided. And 1,600 Dutch had died by the end of the siege (Feb 9, 1662).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lady Tung - Koxinga's wife - Part 2

[A 1676 canon recovered in Kinmoy, was possibly in the arsenal of the army of Koxinga's eldest son, 鄭經Cheng Jing]

According to 明史 the History of Ming [Dynasty], Koxinga had ruled despotically, citing as the evidence was that 75 of his generals and commanders were executed with no mercy, without any regards to their previous merits. This "history" was of course written by Qing historians who must tow the official lines. Indeed, these military men were put to death between the 9th Month of 1649 and the 1st Month of 1661. However, they were justifiably dispatched for cowardice, defeat, retreating before or surrendering to the enemy, or desertion. In addition, there were also 9 who were demoted for lesser offenses and 6 killed for corruption. Often ignored was the fact that, at the same time, more than 300 rewards and promotions, far out-numbering the punishment, had also been distributed. The Qing and the Dutch literature had also attempted to smear Koxinga's name by baselessly accusing him of slaughtering defenseless civilians in fallen cities/towns, exacting excessive taxes from the common people, and committing atrocities against the Aborigines in Taiwan.

Koxinga's close subordinate General 馬信 once counseled that "立國之初, 宜用寬典"[in the beginning of nation-building, it is better not to enforce the law too harshly]. Koxinga had retorted that "立國之初,法貴於嚴,庶不至流弊。俾後之守者自易治耳" [on the contrary, during nation-building, strict laws are needed, to avoid problems for those later to follow and govern]. Some of these killings had fostered resentment that led to defection. The most well-known turncoat was Shi-Lang whose father and brother were both killed by Koxinga, in reprisal for Shi-lang's executing a trusted lieutenant of Koxinga's. Shi-lang later went over to the Qing. He eventually defeated Koxinga's grandson and in essence handed Taiwan over to the Manchurian.

Koxinga's just rule was also aided by his most faithful wife, Lady Tung. She had advised, or more likely, requested that Koxinga order his men not to molest, rob, or rape civilians. This was complied and all violations were again punishable by death. His army was known not to disturb the populace, even known to politely yield the right of way to women and children. Fundamentally, Koxinga's righteousness was shaped in his younger days by the teachings of Confucianism; although, at times, he would go overboard and became overly self-righteous. For example, even adultery carried a death sentence. This intense dislike of mildly aberrant human behavior was to cause severe consequences.

In fact, an incident that was to change the course of the history eventually occurred in Koxinga's household. His eldest son 鄭經Cheng Jing had a secret affair with his own wet nurse and together they had produced a son. The birth of the next heir-apparent was initially greeted with joy by the brand new grandfather, Koxinga. Unfortunately, the wet nurse, regrading herself as the mother of the eventual heir, was quite disrespectful to Cheng Jing's principal wife Lady Tang. Tang's father would not tolerate such insolence and reported the affair to Koxinga stating that, under the Confucian moral codes, the affair was considered a grave violation of the family order, in effect, a form of mother-son incest. Koxinga flew into a rage and ordered death penalty for the wet nurse and the now illegitimate child. 鄭經, however, disobeyed the order. Koxinga then decreed that all three, the parents and the baby, must die. Plus, of all people, that the most revered Lady Tung must pay with her life for not bringing up Cheng Jing properly. Luckily, both time and distance came to the rescue. At that time, Koxinga was finishing up his operation against the Dutch in Taiwan, while the family members were back home in Amoy. Koxinga's lieutenants also refused to carry out what appeared to be an unreasonable command from him. And before any further action could be taken, Koxinga passed away (on the 8th Day of the 5th Month, 1662), thus sparing the lives of all involved.

After a further dispute with Koxinga's brother 鄭世襲 over the inheritance of the Ming-Cheng Kingdom, Cheng Jing eventually assumed the title and with it the rights of 延平王 the Yan-Pin Kingship and became the King of Tung-Ning [Taiwan] for the next 20 years until his death in 1681.

Koxinga, in his short life, never really ruled Taiwan which was in fact re-built by Cheng Jing's administration. With a strong mother, Lady Tung, by his side counseling on most if not all issues, Cheng Jing tried hard to govern and to continue Koxinga's mission of recovering Mainland China. Regrettably, for having accomplished very little of either, he retreated into womanizing, indulging in the pursuits of worldly pleasure that eventually led to his early demise.

Lady Tung was apparently a very demanding mother. After the failed campaign of attacking China in 1676, Cheng Jing was scolded publicly by her: "七府速敗,兩島亦喪,該你無權略果斷,不能任人,致左右各樹其黨耳!" [Losing the battle and the territories was all because of your ineptitude and indecision, you cannot use the right persons for the right tasks only to see them gang up fighting each other!] History recorded that Cheng Jing had remained silent, unable to reply.

In a bloody court drama, after Cheng Jing's death, Lady Tung instructed that his then 17-year-old first-born (the one by the wet nurse) 鄭克臧 be killed and the 12-year-old second son 鄭克塽 installed as the King - so as not to taint the blood line.

This was the beginning of the end of the Ming-Cheng Dynasty.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lady Tung - Koxinga's wife - Part 1

[Lady Tung's childhood home in 永寧Yong-Nin Township, near 泉州市Chuan-chou City, Hokkien]

Lady Tung, 董夫人 (1628-1687, maiden name 董友), known to her hometown folks as 董酉姑, was born in 永寧 Township of 石獅Stone Lion City, to 董颺先 Chief of 泰州 Prefecture. She married Koxinga in the spring of 1641 and a mere 5 years later Koxinga started his life-long military campaign on behalf of the Ming Court, against the Qing. Lady Tung was to play a central role not only in Koxinga's life but also in the Ming-Cheng Dynasty established in Taiwan by their eldest son 鄭經 (1642-1681).

By all accounts, Lady Tung was a most capable principal wife of Koxinga. In 1646, she accompanied Koxinga to an outpost and in a demonstration of support, she led the whole household in preparing the uniforms, helmets and armors for the troops and donated her personal jewelries and gems towards the soldiers' pay and rewards.

In the 10th Month of 1650, Koxinga was fighting in the south leaving Lady Tung and family behind in Amoy. Koxinga had entrusted the managment of civil affairs to one of his uncles 鄭芝莞. In early 1651, Amoy was attacked by the Qing army, commanded by 馬得功 General Ma. Koxinga's commanders 阮引 and 何德 unfortunately lost the battle and retreated in defeat. In the ensuing chaos, 鄭芝莞 loaded up a battleship with valuables preparing to flee. Lady Tung took with her only the memorial plaque honoring Lady Weng, Koxinga's mother, and went to the beach where she encountered helmsman 林禮Lin Li. Lady Tung identified herself and asked Lin which was Uncle 鄭芝莞's ship. Mr Lin pointed to the heaviest-laden one in reply, then carried Lady Tung on his back to a small boat and rowed to the warship. Uncle 鄭芝莞 was surprised to see her getting on board and advised that it was a warship unfit for ladies and that Lady Tung would be far more comfortable on another ship complete with servants. Lady Tung, knowing that 鄭芝莞 was attempting to escape with the fortune collected in Amoy, refused to budge. 鄭芝莞 was later tried and executed for gross dereliction of duty.

In the First Month of 1657, Lady Tung hosted a gathering of military families and distributed monetary gifts and clothes as well as generous compensations to the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In 1658, in the First Northern War, Lady Tung and non-combatant family members as usual followed Koxinga into battle when disaster struck. In a huge storm, more than 100 ships sank together with 8,000 men. Koxinga had also lost 3 of his sons and 6 personal lady attendants. Lady Tung again took care of the aftermath thereby restoring the troops' fighting spirits. In 1660, Amoy was attacked by Qing again, this time by 達素Da-Su's army with the participation of turncoats Shi-Lang and Huang-Wu. Lady Tung, the quintessential first lady, calmly gathered and led all the officials and their families to the nearby Kinmoy. With this major worry removed, Koxinga was able to commit his full naval force and beat back the Qing invasion. Having lost 1,000 men in this battle, 達素 committed suicide after returning to his headquarters in Foochow.

On the 23rd Day of the Third Month in 1661, Koxinga departed Kinmoy with an armada of 350 ships and 25,000 men. On the 1st Day of the 4th Month they arrived outside of Ft Zeelandia to begin the war for recovering Taiwan.

[Below: The Tung family history recording the marriage of Lady Tung to Koxinga]

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dutchmen in Tainan

In Koxinga's time, Baxemboy北汕尾(or 北線尾) was a sandbar directly across a narrow channel from Ft Zeelandia. It was where the Dutch infantrymen were annihilated by Koxinga's Iron Man Corps (see previous post: here).

Through the years, the geological changes have greatly altered this area. Initially, the Tai Bay, later the 四草湖, was deep enough for large ships to enter and anchor off Anping. In 1906, the sandy deposits from a huge flood cut off the lake from the sea rendering it nautically useless.

In the Baxemboy area, now known as 四草Shi-chau, a 大眾廟 [Temple of the Public] was built. In 1971, when the temple was being re-constructed, more than 100 sets of skeletal remains with 30+ intact skulls were uncovered. Local legends had long held that this area was an ancient battlefield and a burial ground. And that some of the remains were those of the Dutch soldiers. Indeed, some of the recovered leg bones appeared to be longer than that of the average Han man, suggesting a Caucasian origin.

[Above: the 四草大眾廟]

These bones were carefully cleaned, collected, and stored in large pottery jars in a concrete vault:

[The sign indicates the "Tomb of the Dutch"; these and the picture of the monument below are all from]

And in 2001, a stone monument "海靈佳城" (below) was erected to mark the discovery of the remains. The inscription explains that the skeletons were probably of mixed ancestries. The designation of the Tomb of the Dutch was actually tentative.

On Jan 23, 2003, former PM of the Netherlands, Dr Andreas van Agt visited the tomb following up on a formal invitation. He was very proud that his fore-bearers were brave enough to venture this far from home; although he was also saddened at the same time that these brave souls had lost their lives. He also proposed further study for a historically accurate manner of honoring and interring the skulls and bones. Dr van Agt in fact has paid a second visit on May 31, 2006.

Between Nov 18-29, 2002, an extensive anthropological/biometric examination of the skulls (33 males and 2 females - see one of them above) was performed. It was concluded, and reported in April, 2006, that they were of Southern Island (21) and East Asian (14) origin with none European. The researchers, however, also pointed out that the sample size was small, that DNA analysis would be a better approach, and more important, that the results still could not rule in or out the presence of Dutch bones in the collection.

No additional studies were carried out since.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Cheng Family Temple

The 延平郡王祠 Koxinga Shrine in Tainan is very well-known. Little realized is that nearby, there is the 鄭氏家廟Cheng Family temple which is located on Chung-yi Road Sec 2 No 36. The stone marker below is, however, a modern addition:

The original name of this temple is 鄭成功祖廟Koxinga's Ancestral Shrine (see the plaque under the eaves in the structure below). It was built by Koxinga's son 鄭經Cheng Jing in 1663. In other words, it only accommodates the Koxinga branch of the Cheng Family. There are no other temples honoring Koxinga's brothers.

At the altar, a wooden statue of Koxinga can be seen:
In the front garden area, a statue of Koxinga and his mother Lady Weng was recently erected. It is a copy of the original located in Koxinga's birthplace in Hirado, Nagasaki. In the inner courtyard, a bamboo tree planted by Koxinga's principal wife Lady Tung has survived to this day:

his temple is now extended to include all Cheng's regardless of their ancestral link - whether it was with Koxinga or his father Cheng Zhi-lung or even no links at all, hence the 鄭氏家廟 designation. A world congress will be held on Nov 6, 2011. All Cheng's are welcome!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Koxinga and Manila

[Above: The vision of Blessed Guala, by Cosimo Gamberucci, from the Great Cloister of Santa Maria Novella, the principal Dominican church of Florence, ca. 1580]

History is replete with what-if's. For example, what if Koxinga had lived long enough and conquered Manila? What would the history of SE Asia be?

According to 臺灣通史[The Comprehensive History of Taiwan] by the great historian Lien-Heng [連橫 (1878-1936)]:

"At first, Roman Catholic priest 李科羅 (Victorio Rici, or in Spanish: Victorio Riccio, 1621-1685) was preaching in Amoy. Koxinga treated him with respect and invited him to be a consul. At that time, there were several hundred thousand Chinese residing in Luzon who had long been mis-treated by the Spaniards [Note: especially under the ruthless administration of Governor General Diego Fajardo Chacón, from 1644 to 1653)]. Koxinga's generals proposed that Luzon be annexed. Koxinga therefore sent Rici to Manila to demand the Spanish Governor General to pay tributes but also secretly to plot a revolt by the Chinese - to be supported by warships and soldiers from Taiwan. The plan was exposed, however, and the Spaniards heightened their defense and dispatched soldiers [Note: from Mindanao Island] to destroy Manila to avoid capture/occupation. By then, the Chinese were in uprising who fought in pitched battles for several days but failed in the end. Tens of thousands were killed. Some escaped on little boats and sailed to Taiwan with many drowned on the way. Koxinga seized the opportunity to pacify the Spaniards when Luzon was still in turmoil. The Spaniards were also worried that Koxinga might attack, so an emissary traveled with Rici to Taiwan to sue for peace. Koxinga's general staff preferred punitive actions; however, before the invasion could be carried out, Koxinga passed away [Note: on July 23, 1662]."

The key player in this drama, 李科羅 Victorio Rici was a member of 利瑪竇's extended family [Note: 利瑪竇 (Italian name: Matteo Ricci, 1552-1610), a Jesuit from Italy who travel to China to preach in 1583 and stayed for life)]. Fr Rici was born in S. Maria a Cintoia of Florence and had studied in Fiesole and Rome. In 1654, he went from Manila to Amoy to build a Dominican Church and administer to Koxinga's soldiers.

In 1662, Fr Victorio Riccio was appointed the ambassador to Manila and on May 5th, he practically handed an invitation to surrender from Koxinga to the Spanish Governor General demanding for the submission of the Spanish Colony. The document reads as follows: 

A directive from Koxinga of the Great Ming to Governor General Manrique de Lara of Manila:

...I (Koxinga) have now driven the Dutch out of Taiwan. Numerous Dutchmen were killed for unwise resistance. If they had capitulated sooner, they would not have suffered such a disastrous fate...,

...You (the Spaniards) are no different from the Dutch, from another tiny state. In Taiwan, I have in my command several hundred thousand soldiers and one thousand warships. I was about to invade Manila; however, in view of your emissary arriving to beg for trade treaties, a behavior different from the Dutch, I am therefore empowering Father Rici to ask that you submit to my rule and pay yearly tributes. If there is any trickery on your part, my ships will quickly arrive and destroy you totally, just like what I have done to the Dutch. By then it'll be too late. The choice is yours...

永曆十六年三月七日  (Dated and signed by) 國姓爺[Koxinga]

The Spanish Governor General of the Philippines Islands was Sabiniano Manrique de Lara who succeeded the despotic Diego Fajardo Chacón and ruled between July 25, 1653 and Sept 8, 1663.

This was a story with no ending. Fr Victorio Rici spent the rest of his natural days in the Chinese District in Manila and died there peacefully.