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The Dutch former Colonies

Taiwan ( Formosa )

fort, voc,taiwan, formosa, fort zeelandia


Pehou (Peng-Hu)
Tayouan, 1624 to February 1662, Factory. Fort Zeelandia, redoutés Zeeburg (1627) and Utrecht (1635)
Saccam, Fort Provintia (1652).
Tamsuy, October 1642 to June 1661. Fort Anthonio (1642).
Kelang, from 1642 to 1667. Fort North Holland.
While the Spanish were in the Philippines, the Dutch had come to Indonesia in the early 1600's and founded Batavia (Jakarta) in 1619. The Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) or United Dutch East India Company, formed in 1602, managed their colonial businesses and trade. In search of a mid-station for their Asian trade, the Dutch traders had already been to the Penghu archipelago (Pescadores) located in the Taiwan Strait in 1603. They had also made repeated attempts to dislodge the Portuguese from Macau but were unsuccessful.

When the Dutch decided to settle in Penghu, their actions drew a quick response from the Ming regime in China. The Ming government had maintained its restrictions on travel abroad and saw this as a threat. They attacked the Dutch on Penghu in 1624. After eight months both sides signed a truce agreement. This agreement had three main points. The Dutch would abandon Penghu; the Ming would not oppose the Dutch occupation of Formosa ; and trade would be maintained between the Ming and the Dutch. Since the Ming government did not claim sovereignty over Formosa, this was an easy arrangement for them to make. Following the treaty, the Dutch developed settlements at Anping near Tainan in southwest Taiwan. Soon however they were conscious of the Spanish presence on the north of the island. They also experienced Japanese attempts to establish firm trading bases in Formosa. As a result of this, the Dutch replaced the governor in Batavia and reassigned him as governor of Formosa. From there he could consistently look after Dutch trade activities and interests with both China and Japan.

The Dutch quickly established two forts in the Tainan area. One located at Anping was first called Fort Orange and then Zeelandia. The other, located nearby was called Provintia. Both were capable of defense. Zeelandia housed their trading functions while Provintia housed the administrative, sleeping and warehouse functions. From these solid bases, the Dutch gradually expanded their influence on the island.

Both aborigines and Chinese dwelt near the area where the Dutch settled but they offered little or no opposition. However as the Dutch began to confiscate more land and levy taxes, resentment and resistance slowly built up. In the meantime, the Dutch used missionaries to try to convert the aborigines and using Roman characters translated the Bible into their language. For those who refused to become Christians, the Dutch resorted to military force to drive them from the area. The Dutch also levied a 10% customs duty on all trading in Formosa whether import or export. This 10% duty was opposed by Japanese traders who had been used to trading with the Chinese on Formosa. In 1625, a Japanese sea captain named Hamada Yahiyoue refused to pay these taxes and declared himself exempt. This declaration would sour the trade between the Dutch commercial firm in Hirato and the Japanese samurai government. In 1627 , Japanese traders brought aborigines leaders to be presented to the Japanese Shogun, but hopes of an alliance were unsuccessful. Finally, trade would temporarily break off when in 1628, Hamada led some aborigines in a failed attempt to assassinate the Dutch governor. An international conflict loomed between the Dutch and Japanese but it dissipated when in 16 35 the Tokugawa shogun began a policy of isolationism (sakoku). They forbade trade and then outlawed shipbuilding of ocean going vessels and other ships from 1633-1636. In 1639 they formally entered into a self-imposed isolation policy that would last until 1853 when the " black ships" of Admiral Perry would force their way into Tokyo Bay. With trade down to a trickle and with ship-building hampered, even the Japanese pirate groups lost their influence in the Taiwan Strait.

Dutch Colonial Profit

Using the labor of the aborigines and the Chinese immigrants, the Dutch were quick to gain profit from Formosa. Trade increased. The Dutch could get spices, amber, kapok and opium from Southeast Asia through Batavia. They also got silver from Japan and silk, pottery, Chinese medicine and gold from China. All this was exchanged for sugar, venison and deer hides from Formosa. Formosa was proving valuable to them.

The pirates who surrounded Formosa still existed but the Dutch made a treaty with Cheng Chih-lung a pirate leader, to guarantee the safety of their vessels at sea. The Dutch could now spend time developing agriculture in Formosa. Farmland belonging to the Dutch East India Company was established and immigration encouraged. Immigrants had to pay 10% of the profit they made in renting land from the company. The Dutch successfully improved the spice crop and introduced several new crops to the island such as cabbages, garden peas, tomatoes, mangos, capsicum, rice and especially sugarcane. They also brought in the Indian buffalo.


During the Dutch rule of the island, there were revolts from the aborigines and Chinese, but the Dutch were able to employ a policy of divide and conquer. The aborigines rose up in the Mattau incident in 1635 and the Xiaolung incident in 1636. As these revolts were crushed, the Dutch increased their hold on the island.

The Chinese whose immigration had been openly encouraged also became dissatisfied. In 1652, Guo Huai-i a subordinate of the pirate Cheng Chih-lung gathered the people together to resist the Dutch. Unfortunately Guo' s brother leaked information of the planned revolt to the Dutch and the Dutch with 2000 Christian aborigines met and defeated them.

Lacking appropriate weapons, Guo and 4,000 of his men were routed and hunted down. But this and the other revolts indicated a growing tendency of the various groups on the island to seek their own freedom. They did not look to be united with either China or Japan but simply to be left alone to make a living. In the meantime, the practice of the Dutch to play one side against the other to maintain power, would become a practice among each incoming regime.

Cheng Ch'eng-kung and the Ming Flight

In 1628, the Ming Dynasty found itself with far greater matters of concern than what was happening on Formosa, which had been left to the Dutch. The Manchus in the northeast were expanding their influence and threatening the very existence of the Ming. Seeking both military and capital support, the Ming regime called upon the pirate leader Cheng Chih-lung for help. Chih-lung had been based in Hirato, Japan and had taken a Japanese wife, Tagawa. Chih-lung, who operated both as an opportunistic trader and pirate, was also a mercenary leader with a strong army of followers . The Manchus began their conquest of China in earnest in 1646. They sought to conquer both by using force and enticement. The high officials of the Ming court who had fled south were offered similar positions in the Ch'ing court if they ceased resistance. Chih-lung who posed a military threat was also offered the opportunity to switch sides for a court appointment. Chih-lung's family suspiciously opposed this exchange, but Chih-lung decided to go for the bait and received a comfortable place in Beijing. When Chih-lung later failed to bring his forces along with him, the Manchus placed him under house arrest. Chih- lung's wife Tagawa then committed suicide.

Ch'eng-kung , Chih-lung's son (b. 1624) by Tagawa was away pursuing studies when news of this reached him. He abandoned his studies and having inherited the pirate enterprise from his father he became a scourge to the coastal cities on the east. Ch'eng-kung pledged himself to try to re-establish the Ming rule in China, despite the fact that by not joining his father Chih-lung, he would hasten Chih- lung's execution in 1661.

In 1660, the Manchus ordered all inhabitants of China's east coastal region to move inland 1.728 kilometers, in effect eliminating ports of refuge and supplies for pirates or Ming loyalists. Soon, there were few places on the mainland coast where Ch'eng-kung and his pirates could take refuge except for Kinmen (Quemoy) and the Amoy Islands. It was there that Ch'eng-kung met Ho-Bin a translator who had been working for the Dutch East India Company. Ho-Bin told him of the advantages of the island of Formosa.

Formosa, the Ming Invasion

Armed with maps of Formosa supplied by Ho-Bin, Ch'eng-kung set out with a fleet of 400 ships and 25,000 men to take the island. Penghu (the Pescadores) was their first stop. They quickly occupied Penghu and made plans to invade Formosa where the Chinese immigrants who had just suffered defeat in the rebellion of Guo Huai-i were sympathetic to a savior.

Upon landing Ch'eng-kung first seized food supplies for his troops. Then he attacked Fort Provintia because it had fewer defenses. Finally he laid siege to Fort Zeelandia. The Dutch were put in a predicament. They were outnumbered and supplies began to run low. They cried to the governor in Batavia for assistance and to the aborigines, but the distances were too great for sufficient help from Batavia and the aborigines could not muster a strong enough force to break the siege. Eventually after a siege of nine months, they surrendered in 1662. The Dutch had ruled Formosa for 38 years.

The Dutch maintained a base, Fort Zeelandia, on Taiwan from 1624 until 1662, when they were driven away by Koxinga. The island itself was a source of cane sugar and deerskin. It was also a place where Dutch VOC merchants could trade with Chinese merchants from the mainland. Here they could buy the silk needed for the Japanese market.
Fort Zeelandia (Chinese: 熱蘭遮城; pinyin: rèlánzhē chéng; POJ: Ji̍at-lân-jia Siâⁿ) was a fortress built over ten years from 1624–1634 by the Dutch Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, in the town of Anping (Tainan) on the island of Formosa, present day Taiwan, during their 38-year rule over the western part of it. Although the site has been previously named Orange City (奧倫治城), Anping City (安平城), and Tayoan City (台灣城), the current name of the site in Chinese is Fort Anping (安平古堡).

The Dutch chose a sandy peninsula off the coast of Tainan as the site of the fortress since this would allow the fortress direct access to the sea and with it, supplies and reinforcements from Batavia in event of a siege. Unfortunately, the site chosen lacked adequate supplies of fresh water, which had to be shipped in from the mainland.

The bricks used for the construction of the fortress were brought over from Java, and the mortar used consisted of a mixture of sugar, sand, ground seashells and glutinous rice. The fort was designed to be surrounded by three concentric layers of walls and the four corners of the fort were built into protruding bastions for better defence.

On 30 April 1661, General Zheng Cheng-gong ("Koxinga") of Ming China (1368-1644) laid siege to the fortress (defended by 2,000 Dutch soldiers) with 400 warships and 25,000 men. After a nine-month siege with the loss of 1,600 Dutch lives, the Dutch surrendered the Fortress on 1 February 1662, when it became clear that no reinforcements were forthcoming from Batavia (present day Jakarta, Java, Indonesia) and when the defenders ran short of fresh water.

Under the Koxinga-Dutch Treaty (1662) signed on 1 February 1662 between Koxinga and Frederick Coyett, the Dutch governor, the Dutch surrendered the Fortress and left all the goods and property of the VOC behind at Fort Zeelandia. In return, all officials, soldiers and civilians were free to leave with their personal belongings and supplies.

On 9 February 1662, Frederick Coyett handed over the keys to the fort and led the remaining Dutch forces and civilians back to Batavia by sea, ending 38 years of Dutch colonial rule on Taiwan.


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Fort Zeelandia

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Fort Zeelandia

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Fort Zeelandia

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Penghu Island

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Taiwan and the Pecadores-1724

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The reef Pratas-South Chinese Sea

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Formosa-a thief life burried, his mother has to look

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The self sacrifice-of Minister-Hambroeck-op-Formosa,-1662