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]