Friday, December 25, 2015

Cheng Zhi-Long honored in Tainan

Source: here
Koxinga's father, Cheng Zhi-long 鄭芝龍 (1604-1661), finally is honored in 鎮門宮. This temple overlooks 鹿耳門 (Lakjemuyse), where Koxinga's fleet sailed through at high tide into Taibay and quickly surrounded Ft Provincia (1661). This tiny temple has two bare-footed Dutchmen as its gate keepers, or door-gods (see a previous post, here).

For almost four hundred years, 鄭芝龍 has been portrayed by historians as a pirate and a traitor, a one-sided erroneous description that has persisted to this day. Within the Cheng Clan, Koxinga's falling out with his father over the loyalty to Ming Emperor was also a factor. In fact, in Tainan, the seat of power of the Ming Cheng Kingdom, memorial to 鄭芝龍 is nowhere to be found.

We now know that 鄭芝龍 was forced to yield, not by the military might of the Qing, but by a great famine at that time when it was no longer possible to maintain a sizable force without confiscating foodstuff from the general public. Not wishing to do that and after a life-time of fighting enemies from within and without China, he was truly tired looking forward to a peaceful resolution. Only he himself was detained at a meeting with Qing officials. And three of his sons and daughter-in-laws were later ordered to Beijing. All were put to death in 1661. After learning the demise of his father and brothers, a crestfallen Koxinga passed away soon after.

In this temple in Tainan, the father finally took his rightful place with his son Konxiga and his wife Lady Weng.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The surrender of Ming-Cheng Kingdom

The surrender of the Tung-Ning Kingdom was not as straightforward as commonly known, i.e., a simple capitulation announcement from Koxinga's grandson and heir 鄭克塽Cheng Ke-Shuang. As in Koxinga's negotiation with Coyett, Cheng Ke-Shuang must also deal with 施琅Shi Lang, the Ming-Cheng turncoat.

In Shi's report to the Qing Court, he stated,

"…查鄭克塽年尚幼樨,未諳大體,操縱指揮,權皆出于劉國軒、馮錫範二人。茲特令朱紹熙回台灣傳諭,果真心投誠,必須劉國軒、馮錫範來臣軍前面降,將人民土地悉入版圖。其偽官兵遵制削髮,移入內地,聽遵朝廷安輯。…(dated Aug 3, 1683, or 康熙Kang-xi 22nd year, double 6th month, 11th day)

In other words, Shi blamed everything on Liu Guo-shian and Feng Shi-feng, the true power behind Cheng. Both of them must therefore openly surrender. The Ming-Cheng people and land would be ruled under Qing. All officers and soldiers would shave their head in the Qing style and moved inland.

On Sept 17, 1683, Cheng issued the first report/announcement, namely,



He professed young and ignorant having been raised by his grandfather and father, and conceded the heaven-mandated benevolent rule of the Qing emperor. And that he was really just a minion who would now pledged his most sincere loyalty to Qing.

Shi, however, was a practical man, on Sept 19, 1683, he again reported to the Qing Court, that


The seals (chops) of the Ming-Cheng officials including the Yan-Ping kingship had been received.

After this, on Oct 5, 1683, Cheng Ke-Shuang surrendered a second time:



His request of relocating back home to Hokkien was denied and together with his family, were held hostage in Beijing. His loyal followers, most were seamen, were banished to various penal colonies in mainland China to die.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tamsui Cheng

This is a map of 10 of the 11 Li's (里) of TongAn Prefecture (同安縣), namely, 長興, 同禾, 民安, 從順, 翔鳳, 感化, 歸德, 仁德, 安仁, and 積善. Missing from it is the 11th, 嘉禾里, i.e. Xiamen Island (廈門島).

Throughout Chinese history, names of places are often changed to conform to new civil administrative systems imposed by new rulers/conquerors. This is a geographical identity cleansing on an unimaginable scale.

Xiamen Island was known as 嘉禾嶼 during the Song Dynasty and 中左所 during the Ming Dynasty. It had long been part of the TongAn Prefecture. The 11 Li's of the Song Dynasty became 44 Du's (都) in Yuan Dynasty, and in Ming, further consolidated to 37 Du's.

The ancestors of the Tamsui-Cheng (淡水鄭)came from 嘉禾里.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Diary of Philip Meij

Koxinga (in white) as recalled by Philip Meij
Philip Meij was a land surveyor employed by the VOC, trapped inside Ft Provincia when Koxinga's fleet entered Tai Bay on April 30, 1661 (for more, see here). He was released and left for Batavia with Coyett and remnants of the VOC on Feb 9, 1662. During this 9-month period, he worked for Koxinga not only in land surveys but also in translating letters from Koxinga to Coyett. Most importantly, Meij had written a company report based on his daily recalls after his safe return to Batavia. This diary complements, although is far more informative than Coyett's memoir of the siege of Ft Zeelandia, as it recorded activities unknown to Coyett. In addition, major events described in the diary also in most part agree with those archived by the Cheng court scribe 楊英Yang Ying, and the account of a near-contemporary historian 江日昇Jiang Ri Sheng. Meij's Dairy was translated from archaic Dutch into Chinese by 江樹聲Jiang Su-Sheng and published as 梅氏日記 in Taipei in 2003.

The diary told of the many unsuccessful attempts by Meij to reach Ft Zeelandia, the fate of the surrendered Dutch men, women, and children, the iron-fist rule of Koxinga, and the Ming-Cheng interaction with the Aborigines.

On May 5, 1661, while negotiating the surrender of Ft Provincia, Meij noticed 16 Aboriginal VIPs waiting outside of Koxinga's tent. They were the chiefs from 5 clans of previous Dutch colonial subjects, now all dressed in blue mandarin robes embroidered with gold and silk threads. Clearly, Koxinga was on good terms with Aborigines in the greater Sakam area. Not all Aboriginal tribes were friendly, though.

Some activists in Taiwan now decry the genocidal atrocity perpetrated on the Aborigines by Koxinga (and later his son Cheng Jing). This was not without provocation, however.

The major problem for Koxinga in the battle against the Dutch was the lack of enough food for his soldiers. He might have underestimated Coyett's resolve in defending Ft Zeelandia to wait it out for rescues from Batavia. A long siege must base on sufficient provisional reserve and Koxinga had great difficulties in getting re-supplied from his home base in Hokkien. The strategy was then changed to assigning his soldiers farming duties. Each military unit of 1,000-1,200 men was given a territory to build a town in the center and garrison forts in the periphery. There were also strict orders to leave current land ownership of both Han and Aboriginal undisturbed. And the land to be developed must meet certain farming standards complete with irrigation canals. Meji's surveyor skills were put in good use to erect the boundary markers of each territory. Along the way, for about 180 km north of Ft Provincia, Meji reported seeing men in groups of 100 busy planting sweet potatoes for immediate needs while getting the fields prepared for rice growing for the next season.

Of Koxinga's force, 11,000 to 12,000 men were sent to the north and 6,000 to the south leaving only 300 guarding Ft Provincia, now Koxinga's command center, and 5,000 to enforce the siege of Ft Zeelandia.

Both the north and south-bound forces quickly ran into Aboriginal hostilities. To the north, the Prince of Middagh (大度王) lured the Cheng frontier army into a false sense of security and murdered 1,400 to 1,500 of them in their sleep, the rest escaped into sugarcane fields and were smoked out and killed as well. Also lost was 陳澤Chen Ze who defeated Capt Thomas Pedel and his 120 musketeers on the beach of 北線尾Baxemboy. To the south, according to Albrecht Herport (an artist-soldier, either a German or a Swiss, working for the VOC), 700 to 800 soldiers were killed by the Aborigines after being surrounded; of the 5,000 Han and some straggler Dutch civilians in this area, most would also die of starvation and disease.

Meij recalled the Cheng soldiers "using their heavy weaponry and shamelessly asked for hospitality from the Aborigines". Some modern-day historians would point to this passage as evidence of maltreatment of the Aborigines while it might simply be a hunger-driven behavior. Regardless, the Ming-Cheng Kingdom would later mount punitive actions against these murderous Aborigines.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Cafres

Above: Details of a map published in 1679 in Nuremberg showing Cafreria, the homeland of the Cafres. The geographic location matches the southern portion of present-day South Africa plus part of southern Namibia. To its north was Monomotapa where, in 1420, 鄭和Cheng He and his fleet paid a visit and were well received by the royal court. Among the gifts from Cheng to the kingdom were horses and gunpowder. Some folks there later became experts of gunpowder-powered firearms.

It remains a great mystery as to what happened to the Cafres, the Black Rifle battalion, after the fall of Ming-Cheng Tung-Ning Kingdom in 1683. They had previously served both Koxinga's father 鄭芝龍 and Koxinga himself well in combats and as personal/palace guards.

The last known action of the Cafres was to follow Lady Tung's order and execute Cheng Jing's illegitimate son Cheng Ke-Chang to make way for the younger, lineage-based heir-apparent Cheng Ke-Shuang. This would have occurred near the end of the Tung-Ning era (ca 1682-3).

Lady Tung's residence (now 開元寺) where Cheng Ke-Chang was summoned to
and assassinated en route
It is highly doubtful that the Cafres were allowed to stay in Taiwan since all Ming-Cheng soldiers were forced to penal colonies in China. It is also equally doubtful that they were repatriated back to Cafreria as freemen. Assimilation into the general population remains a possibility since some had married Han women; although this is yet to be verified.

Possibly a Cafre in a temple in Tainan