Siege of Fort Zeelandia

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Siege of Fort Zeelandia
(1661–1662)
Part of Sino–Dutch conflicts
Fort Zealandia Taiwan.jpg
Fort Zealandia in Taiwan pictured during the 17th century.
Date March 30, 1661 – February 1, 1662
Location modern-day Tainan, Formosa
Result Decisive Ming Loyalist victory
Establishment of Kingdom of Tungning
Belligerents
Koxinga's Ming Loyalists
Taiwanese aborigine defectors
VOC-Amsterdam.svg Dutch East India Company
Commanders and leaders
Koxinga VOC-Amsterdam.svg Frederick Coyett
Strength
25,000 soldiers and sailors
Hundreds of warships.
Garrison: 1,200[1]
unknown number of native allies and civilians
Reinforcement: 10 ships, 700 sailors
Casualties and losses
unknown
(about 1,000 killed or wounded in a failed frontal assault in September 1660 according to Dutch records)
1,600 killed or diseased
2 ships sunk
3 vessels captured

The Siege of Fort Zeelandia (Chinese: 鄭成功攻臺之役; pinyin: Zhèng Chénggōng gōng tái zhī yì; literally: "Koxinga's Invasion of Taiwan"), which took place in 1661 and 1662, ended the Dutch East India Company's rule over Taiwan and began the Kingdom of Tungning's rule over the island. Taiwanese scholar Lu Chien-jung described this event as "a war that determined the fate of Taiwan in the four hundred years that follow".[2]

Prelude[edit]

The Dutch had been defeated in a war over the Pescadores from 1623–1624, and again at the Battle of Liaoluo Bay where the Chinese were led by Zheng Zhilong, the father of Koxinga.

In the year of 1659, after an unsuccessful attempt to capture Nanjing, Koxinga, leader of the Ming loyalist remnants, felt that the Qing Empire had already consolidated their position in China, and that his troops needed more supplies and manpower. He began actively searching for a suitable location as his base of operation, and soon a Chinese man named Ho-Bin (Chinese: 何斌), who was working for the Dutch East India Company in Formosa (Taiwan), fled to Koxinga's base in Xiamen and provided him with a map of Taiwan.[3]

By 1632, the Dutch had established a post on a peninsula named Tayoan (now Anping District of Tainan), which was separated from the main part of Formosa by a shallow lagoon historically referred to as the Taikang inland sea (zh). The Dutch fortification consisted of two forts around the bay. The first was the multiple-walled Fort Zeelandia situated at the entrance to the bay; this was the main fortification of the Dutch. The second was Fort Provintia, a walled administrative office located at the bay, which was smaller in size. Frederick Coyett, the governor of Taiwan for the company, was stationed in Fort Zeelandia with 1,800 men; his subordinate, Valentyn, was in charge of Fort Provintia and its garrison of 500 men.

The Siege[edit]

The surrender of Fort Zeelandia
Peace Treaty of 1662, between Dutch Governor and Koxinga.[4][5]

Koxinga and his fleet set sail from Kinmen on March 23, 1661. His fleet consisted of hundreds of junks and ships of various sizes, with roughly 25,000 soldiers and sailors aboard. They arrived in the Pescadores the next day, left a garrison there, and set sail again on March 30. The fleet arrived at Tayoan on April 2, and, after passing through a shallow waterway unknown to the Dutch, landed at Lakjemuyse (zh)[6] in the bay.

Koxinga was abundantly provided with cannons and ammunition in addition to two companies of former Dutch slaves of African descent who had learned to use small arms. They caused much harm to the Dutch during the war.[7] His troops wore iron scale armor and either used two handed swords, swords and shields, or bows and arrows. Swordsmen were intended to cause "fearful massacre amongst the fugitives" after enemy lines were smashed through by shield bearers, since Koxinga had no cavalry to break through the enemy forces.[8]

The assault force immediately laid siege to Fort Provintia, catching Valentyn unprepared since the fort was supposedly protected by Fort Zeelandia; facing overwhelming enemy forces, Valentyn surrendered the fort on April 4. Three days after the capture of Fort Provintia, Koxinga's troop surrounded Fort Zeelandia and demanded the garrison's surrender by sending Dutch priest Antonius Hambroek, who had been captured by Koxinga's forces, as emissary to persuade the garrison to surrender. Hambroek, however, urged the garrison to resist instead of surrender, and was executed after returning to Koxinga's camp. Koxinga ordered his artillery to advance and used 28 cannon to bombard the fort.[9]

Koxinga's fleet then began massive bombardment, and troops on the ground attempted to storm the fort, but were repulsed with considerable losses. Koxinga then changed his tactics and laid siege to the fort. On May 28, news of the siege reached Jakarta, and the company decided to send a fleet of 10 ships and 700 sailors to relieve the fort. The fleet arrived on July 5 and had some small scale confrontations with Koxinga's fleet upon its arrival.

On July 23, the two sides gave battle as the Dutch fleet attempted to break the blockade while Koxinga's fleet tried to hold off the Dutch. After a brief engagement, the Dutch fleet was forced to retreat with two ships sunk, three smaller vessels captured, and 130 casualties. The Dutch attempted to break the siege again in October, but were beaten back by the besieging army. This victory, coupled with news of low morale among the garrison from deserted German mercenaries, convinced Koxinga to launch a final unsuccessful assault in December.[10]

According to Frederick Coyett's account written after the siege to absolve himself of the Dutch defeat, in January 1662, a Swiss defector named Hans Jurgen Radis gave Koxinga critical advice on how to capture the fortress from a redoubt whose strategic importance had gone hitherto unnoticed by the Chinese forces. Koxinga followed his advice and the Dutch redoubt fell a day later.[10][11] This claim of a Swiss defector only appears in Coyett's account and Chinese records make no such mention of any defector.

On January 12, 1662, Koxinga's fleet began another bombardment, while the ground force prepare to assault the fort. With supplies dwindling and no sign of reinforcement, Coyett finally ordered the hoisting of the white flag and negotiated the surrender terms. The surrender was made complete on February 1, and the remaining Dutch East India Company personnel left Taiwan on February 17. All personnel were allowed to take with them their personal belongings, as well as provisions sufficient for them to reach the nearest Dutch settlement.

Taiwanese aborigines[edit]

The Taiwanese Aboriginal tribes who were previously allied with the Dutch against the Chinese during the Guo Huaiyi Rebellion in 1652 turned against the Dutch during the Siege of Fort Zeelandia and defected to Koxinga's Chinese forces.[12] The Aboriginals (Formosans) of Sincan defected to Koxinga after he offered them amnesty, the Sincan Aboriginals then proceeded to work for the Chinese and behead Dutch people in executions, the frontier aboriginals in the mountains and plains also surrendered and defected to the Chinese on May 17, 1661, celebrating their freedom from compulsory education under the Dutch rule by hunting down Dutch people and beheading them and trashing their Christian school textbooks.[13]

Aftermath[edit]

Statues of Koxinga and Dutch emissary at Chihkan Tower, the site where Fort Provintia once stood.

After arriving in Jakarta, Coyett was imprisoned for three years and tried for high treason, surrendering the post and the loss of valuable goods. He was pardoned and exiled to the most eastern of the Banda Islands. He was eventually released in 1674 after strong lobbying by his friends and relatives. He published a book named Neglected Formosa (Dutch: 't Verwaerloosde Formosa) in 1675. In the book he defended his actions in Taiwan and criticized the company for neglecting his pleas for reinforcement.

After the loss of the post at Tayoan, the Dutch East India Company made several attempts to recapture it, and even formed an alliance with the Qing Empire to battle Koxinga's fleet. They captured Keelung in northern Taiwan, but were forced to abandon it due to logistical difficulties and because the Qing fleet suffered numerous crushing defeats at the hands of Koxinga's veteran sailors.

Dutch prisoners[edit]

Painting of Fort Zeelandia in 1635, from The National Archives, The Hague, Netherlands

During the Siege of Fort Zeelandia the Chinese took Dutch women and children prisoner. The Dutch missionary Antonius Hambroek, two of his daughters, and his wife were among the Dutch prisoners of war with Koxinga. Koxinga sent Hambroek to Fort Zeelandia demanding he persuade them to surrender or else Hambroek would be killed when he returned. Hambroek returned to the Fort, where two of his other daughters were. He urged the Fort not to surrender, and returned to Koxinga's camp. He was then executed by decapitation, and in addition to this, a rumor was spreading among the Chinese that the Dutch were encouraging the native Taiwan aboriginals to kill Chinese, so Koxinga ordered the mass execution Dutch male prisoners in retaliation, in addition to a few women and children also being killed. The surviving Dutch women and children were then turned into slaves. Koxinga took Hambroek's teenage daughter as a concubine,[14][15][16] and Dutch women were sold to Chinese soldiers to become their wives, the daily journal of the Dutch fort recorded that "the best were preserved for the use of the commanders, and then sold to the common soldiers. Happy was she that fell to the lot of an unmarried man, being thereby freed from vexations by the Chinese women, who are very jealous of their husbands."[17] In 1684 some of these Dutch wives were still captives of the Chinese.[18]

William Campbell wrote "Koxinga received his answer sternly ; then, causing it to be rumoured that the prisoners incited the Formosans to rebel against him, ordered all the Dutch male prisoners to be slain. This was accordingly done ; some being beheaded, others killed in a most barbarous manner, to the number of five hundred ; their bodies stripped quite naked, and buried fifty and sixty in a hole. Nor were the women and children spared, many of them likewise being slain, though some of the best were preserved for the use of the commanders, and the rest sold to the common soldiers. Happy was she who fell to the lot of an unmarried man, being thereby freed from vexations by the Chinese women, who are very jealous of their husbands."[19][20][21][22] James W. Davidson wrote "The daughter of Mr. Hambroek, a very sweet and pleasing maiden, Koxinga had made one of his concubines, and she had consequently been placed in his harem."[23]

The women of the Dutch became slaves and their men were slaughtered as the area in the vicinity of Fort Zeelandia was seized by the Chinese forces of Koxinga.[24] Crucifixion, decapitation and torment were inflicted by Koxinga on Dutch men.[25]

Some Dutch physical looks like auburn and red hair among people in regions of south Taiwan are a consequence of this episode of Dutch women becoming concubines to the Chinese commanders.[26] The Chinese took Dutch women as slave concubines and wives and they were never freed: in 1684 some were reported to be living, in Quemoy a Dutch merchant was contacted with an arrangement to release the prisoners which was proposed by a son of Koxinga's but it came to nothing.[27] The Chinese officers used the Dutch women they received as concubines.[28][29][30] The Dutch women were used for sexual pleasure by Koxinga's commanders.[31] This event of Dutch women being distributed to the Chinese soldiers and commanders was recorded in the daily journal of the fort.[32]

A teenage daughter of the Dutch missionary Antonius Hambroek became a concubine to Koxinga, she was described by the Dutch commander Caeuw as "a very sweet and pleasing maiden".[33][34]

Dutch language accounts record this incident of Chinese taking Dutch women as concubines and the date of Hambroek's daughter[35][36][37][38]

"Antonius Hambroek, of de Belegering van Formoza"

The topic of the Chinese taking the Dutch women and the daughter of Antonius Hambroek as concubines was featured in Joannes Nomsz's play which became famous and well known in Europe which revealed European anxiety at the fate of the Dutch women and being subjected to defeat by non-Europeans.[39] The title of the play was "Antonius Hambroek, of de Belegering van Formoza" rendered in English as "Antonius Hambroek, or the Siege of Formosa".[40][41]

English language accounts of the fate of the Dutch women[edit]

Dutch language accounts of the fate of the Dutch women[edit]

Cultural influences[edit]

The battle was depicted in the movie The Sino-Dutch War 1661 (Chinese: 鄭成功1661), which ended in Koxinga's victory over the Dutch.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  •  This article incorporates text from The island of Formosa, past and present: History, people, resources, and commercial prospects. Tea, camphor, sugar, gold, coal, sulphur, economical plants, and other productions, by James Wheeler Davidson, a publication from 1903 now in the public domain in the United States.
  •  This article incorporates text from The island of Formosa: historical view from 1430 to 1900, by James Wheeler Davidson, a publication from 1903 now in the public domain in the United States.
  1. ^ Manthorpe (2009), p. 65.
  2. ^ 盧建榮 (1999). 入侵台灣:烽火家國四百年 (in Chinese). Taipei: 麥田出版. ISBN 957708916X. 
  3. ^ Andrade (2008), §15.
  4. ^ http://www.taiwandocuments.org/koxinga.htm
  5. ^ Coyett (1903), pp. 455-456.
  6. ^ Campbell (1903), p. 544.
  7. ^ Coyett (1903), p. 421.
  8. ^ Lach & Kley (1998), pp. 18-21.
  9. ^ Davidson (1903), p. 38.
  10. ^ a b Andrade (2008).
  11. ^ Struve (1998), p. 232.
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