Hans Putmans

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Hans Putmans
4th Governor of Formosa
In office
Preceded byPieter Nuyts
Succeeded byJohan van der Burg
Personal details
Map of the island of Formosa, Johannes Vingboons, c. 1665

Hans Putmans (? in Middelburg – 1654 in Delft) was the Dutch governor of Formosa from 1629 to 1636.

Career in Asia[edit]

Born in Middelburg, Putmans came to Asia in 1621 in the service of the Dutch East India Company. Over the first three years of his career, he was stationed in Siam, Cambodia, Patani, Sumatra's west coast and Java's north east coast. In 1624, he came to Batavia; four years later he became the president of the college of Aldermen and the overseer of the Chinese citizens.[1]

Governor of Formosa[edit]

Fort Zeelandia, the seat of the governor of Formosa and his Council, as it would have appeared around 1635. Drawing by Johannes Vingboons, in all likelihood based on an earlier drawing by David de Solemne.

In 1629, he became the fourth governor of Formosa, present-day Taiwan. In 1633, he led a military campaign on the Chinese coast against the Chinese admiral Zheng Zhilong. In addition to Dutch vessels, Putmans commanded a great number of Chinese pirate vessels which he hired for the campaign. In July of that year, in a surprise attack near the island of Gulangyu, near Xiamen, he managed to destroy the fleet that Zheng Zhilong was building there. On 22 October, however, Putmans' fleet was defeated at the Battle of Liaoluo Bay, where Zheng Zhilong destroyed three Dutch East Indiamen with fireships and captured another, putting the remainder of the Dutch fleet to flight.[2]

Defeated in the battle, Putmans turned his attention to agriculture, establishing a policy of attracting settlers from the Chinese mainland to Formosa, in order to cultivate rice and sugar on the fertile plains on the west side of the island. In time, this policy would become very successful.[3]

Return to the Netherlands[edit]

In December 1636, Putmans returned to the Dutch Republic and, after an apparent spell in Amsterdam, settled in Delft in 1638,[4] where he would live until his death in 1654.[5]


  1. ^ Blussé, van Opstal and Ts'ao Yung-Ho, De Dagregisters van het Kasteel Zeelandia, Taiwan, I, 1629-1641 (The Hague 1986), 2n6
  2. ^ Tonio Andrade, Lost Colony: the untold story of China’s first great victory over the West (Princeton 2011), ch. 3 and 4.
  3. ^ Tonio Andrade, How Taiwan became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century, ch. 6.
  4. ^ His marriage with Elizabeth van Zanten on 9 October 1638, as recorded in the Delft municipal archive, describes him as 'coming from Amsterdam'. Collection Delft, archive 14, inv. nr. 125.
  5. ^ Death certificate in Collection Delft, archive 14, inv. nr. 39.
Political offices
Preceded by
Pieter Nuyts
Governor of Formosa
Succeeded by
Johan van der Burg