View of Fort Zeelandia
View of Zeelandia, anonymous, 1644 – 1646, Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, RP-P-OB-75.470.
The following is an account of one key plank of VOC claims to Taiwan. In this, the VOC representative stresses that the act of accepting protection has resulted in the cession of sovereignty to the Dutch East India Company.
Dagregister gehouden te Edo door Willem Jansz
“Tayouan has about two hundred villages. They lack a chief or a lord and they war constantly with each other day and night. There were five villages in the vicinity of Tayouan and they asked for the protection of the Dutch fort against their enemies. If they received this protection, they would give their land to us and become our subjects. We did as they asked and they acknowledged us as sovereign.”
5 June 1631, Dagregister gehouden te Edo door Willem Jansz. van Amersfoort, NFJ 271.
Letter from Peter Nuijts to Batavia
“In Hirado, we have learned of the arrival of two Japanese junks out of Taiwan in Nagasaki, and that Pheesodonne (Suetsugu Heizō) has brought sixteen inhabitants from [the village] of Sinkan. The same Pheesodonne gives out that one of these is an ambassador come to see the emperor [shogun] with presents. He has provided them with clothes and has sent an express messenger to petition the councillors [in Edo] that they will be brought there and allowed to see the shogun. They have also, we understand, made great complaints about our procedures on Taiwan.”
7 September 1627, Letter from Peter Nuijts to Batavia, H. T. Colenbrander and W. P. Coolhaas, eds., Jan Pietersz. Coen: Bescheiden Omtrent Zijn Bedrijf in Indië (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1919–1954), 7.2:1155
Letter from Coxinga
“all the people that are living [in Taiwan] with you are my people [mijn volk] and they are much beloved by me.”
Translaet uit zekere Chinesen brief door den groot mandorijn Coksinja geschreven, VOC 1222: 516.
The colonization of Taiwan in 1624 represented the company’s boldest experiment in East Asia and it sent ripples of impact flowing out through the wider region. When the company asserted its authority over incoming vessels, it came swiftly into conflict with Japanese traders, who had already been using the bay for a number of years. The VOC faced an even more dangerous foe in the form of Koxinga and the Zheng maritime organization which eventually ejected the Dutch from their colony in 1662.