FORMOSA AND CHINA

The situation was quite difficult: the most beautiful silk came from China, but the Emperor of China had banned foreign trading posts on his territories. The VOC came up with a trick; it established the trading post called Fort Zeelandia on the Island of Formosa, modern-day Taiwan, in 1624. The island lay south of China which made it an ideal

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186. A contract with Zheng Zhilong

Chinese admiral Zheng Zhilong managed to get hold of the trading monopoly with the Dutch. Only he can trade on behalf of the Chinese Emperor with the VOC. He agreed with VOC governor in Formosa Hans Putmans to supply silk in exchange for pepper in this contract. Silk for Formosa 1630 Archief VOC, inv. no. 1103

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187. Impregnable castle?

Fort Zeelandia was considered to be impregnable: it was well positioned and sheltered at the entrance to the bay. The VOC nevertheless lost the fortress after a siege of many months by an overwhelming military force under the command of the Chinese Coxinga. The fall of Zeelandia in 1662 spelled out the definitive end of VOC rule over Formosa. View

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188. Fort Zeelandia

Trade with China took place in the Dutch Fort Zeelandia on the island of Formosa. The silk trading ran via Chinese merchants, who also supplied the Dutch with porcelain, gold, ginger, opium, sappanwood and alum earth. In turn the Chinese were mostly interested in pepper, spices, sandalwood, cotton fabrics, tin and ivory. They also bought deer skins on Formosa for

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189. Last effort

After the fall of Fort Zeelandia, the VOC did not abandon its ambitions for Formosa. In the north the old fort near Kelang was retaken and the VOC even won a battle there. However, the VOC did not succeed in reconquering the island. Small map of Tamsuy and surrounding villages as well as the small island of Kelang Anonymous, 1654

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190. Memoirs of a VOC governor

Frederick Coyett was the last VOC commander of Formosa. Fort Zeelandia was surrendered to the Chinese on his watch. He was sentenced to death in Batavia for supposedly surrendering unnecessarily. The sentence was not executed, however, Coyett was banned to the east of the East Indian Archipelago for life. The ban was lifted in 1674 on the condition that he

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191. Surrender

After many months of being under siege, the VOC governor was forced to surrender by Coxinga. A treaty with 16 articles was proposed. The most striking points included the surrender of Fort Zeelandia and the merchandise in the buildings, permission for the Dutch to board their ships with provisions and the safe-conduct for the Chinese to leave the fortress. Treaty

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192. Help turned into pillage

Balthasar Bort was the leader of an expedition which was meant to give assistance to the Dutch in Fort Zeelandia in 1662. They had been under siege by the Chinese for months. Bort had left for Formosa with a fleet of twelve ships but changes his mind on the way and started pillaging along the Chinese coast. Fort Zeelandia may

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193. Nautical chart for China

VOC captains used to have parchment charts for the crossing to China and Taiwan. This specimen was made by Joan Blaeu II from the famous family of cartographers. Chart of the Chinese Sea and Coast Joan Blaeu II, 1687 Verzameling Buitenlandse Kaarten Leupe, inv. no. 288

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194. Pilot chart

As soon as they got close to their destination, the master switched to a more detailed chart. This enabled them to enter the harbour safely. Chart of the Chinese Sea showing the island of Formosa Anonymous, 1650-1700 Verzameling Buitenlandse Kaarten Leupe, inv. no. 271  

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195. The victor

This puppet is a true celebrity in Taiwan. Admiral Coxinga defeated the Dutch on Formosa in 1662. From that moment on, China considered Formosa to be part of its Empire. His victory over the Dutch made Coxinga a hero who we may recognise in the Taiwanese Punch and Judy shows. A traditional hand puppet of Coxinga from the Taiwanese puppet

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196. Dutch hand puppet

The siege of Fort Zeelandia is still a popular story in Taiwanese puppet shows. The hand puppets which depict the Dutch are the Asiatic male characters with yellow beards. During his stay at the Dutch Design trading post in the former Fort Zeelandia, Gerard Jaspere designed a new version of the puppet and used local crafts in producing them. His

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197. Wish list

Each year, the Heren Zeventien drew up a ‘requirement’, a sort of list of goods they wished to receive from China in the next year of trading. In 1755 they wanted in particular to have silk and other textiles. The 52 colour samples indicate which colours and patterns are required. Colour samples for silk and other fabrics from China 16

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198. Chine de commande

This is bone china that matched European tastes: ‘Chine de commande’. The VOC brought models for the Chinese in wood, glass or metal to copy. Chinese painters also copied European scenes and landscapes on the porcelain. Tea pot with European landscapes 1760-1780 On loan from the Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden

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199. A trade delegation

The VOC tried to establish trading connections on the southern Chinese coast by sending delegations. Johan Nieuhof went on some of these trade missions and wrote a comprehensive report about the voyages and the Chinese court in Peking. He did not only describe ‘the accomplishment of the Legation’, but also ‘all curiosities and things worth telling that occurred on his

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200. Tea craze

The tea craze struck the Republic’s elite in the 18th century. All kinds of luxury crockery or ‘chinaware’ were designed for the precious tea. Many objects were introduced for storing the tea. A Zeeland silversmith made these silver tea caddies; the little chest of tortoise shell and silver came from India. Tea boxes in a little chest of tortoise shell

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201. Canton

China did not allow direct trade with foreign countries until 1725, but then under strict conditions and on a limited scale. In the 18th century Canton became the centre of the Chinese trade for the VOC. View of Canton Johannes Vingboons, 1665 Verzameling Buitenlandse Kaarten Leupe. Supplement, inv. no. 619.42

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202. Loss of the Geldermalsen

‘…they saw that the ship had already struck and could not be moved (…) to their utter dejection’. Loaded to the gunwale with Chinese silk, tea, porcelain and gold, the Geldermalsen returns to the Republic in 1752. But the ship ran into the Admiral Stellingwerf reef north of Sumatra. It was a real drama: the ship struck a hole in

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203. Porcelain protected by tea

This bone china or porcelain is still in perfect condition, although it has been on the bottom of the sea for over two hundred years. How can it be that this fragile porcelain from the wrecked Geldermalsen was still almost completely intact? This was because of the tea. Over the course of time the tea covered the porcelain with a

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204. The wreck of the Geldermalsen

After an extensive search in the archives Michael Hatcher discovered the wreck of the Geldermalsen in 1984. This was a huge surprise: in addition to all kinds of utensils, he found 160,000 pieces of china and 125 ingots of pure gold. The cargo was auctioned at Christie’s in Amsterdam in 1986 for more than 37 million guilders. Auction catalogue of

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Research into the Geldermalsen

Interview with Peter Diebels regarding his research into the location and lading bill of the Geldermalsen in the 1980s. Partly based on comprehensive archival research carried out in the Nationaal Archief in 1983/1984 by Peter Diebels and Harry de Bles, students of maritime history, Michael Hatcher discovered the wreck of the Geldermalsen in 1984. In addition to all kinds of

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205. Small open boat

Jan Styns is one of the sailors whose ship Zeewijk struck the dangerous reefs of the ‘Houtman Abrolhos’. The drowning crew managed to reach an island and kept themselves alive for months. When rescue failed to appear they built an open boat from the timbers of the wreck. 82 of the original 208 men aboard managed to reach Batavia. Styns

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The cabin boys of Bontekoe – fragment (behind the curtain)

Film The story of the ocean voyage of Bontekoe from 1646 was adapted for the big screen in 2007 based on Johan Fabricius’ book De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe (‘The cabin boys of Bontekoe’). The replica of the VOC ship Batavia – moored in Lelystad – played a prominent part in the movie. Fragment ‘De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe’ 2007 Director Steven

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207. Ship’s log of Bontekoe

VOC commander Willem IJsbrantsz Bontekoe from Hoorn became famous for his logbook. In the logbook he described his adventurous voyage to the Chinese coast and the return journey from Batavia to the Dutch Republic. The logbook by Bontekoe 1622-1625 Archief VOC, inv. no. 5049

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208. Success

The first edition of Willem Bontekoe’s logbook is an immediate success. After the first edition in 1646, printed by Jan Jansz Deutel, over seventy reprints appeared. Journael ofte Gedenckwaerdige beschrijvinge van de Oost-Indische Reyse van Willem Ysbrantsz Bontekoe van Hoorn (Journal or memorable descriptions of the East-Indian voyages of Willem Ysbrantsz Bonte-koe of Hoorn) Willem Ysbrantsz Bontekoe, Utrecht 1649 Library

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209. The cabin boys of Bontekoe

An exciting boy’s book; that is what Johan Fabricius made from the story of the voyage of Bontekoe. His book met with huge success and translations appeared in many European and Asian languages. First edition of De scheepsjongens van Bontekoe (‘The cabin boys of Bontekoe’) Johan Fabricius, The Hague 1924 On loan from the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague

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210. Demise of the VOC

In the course of the 18th century, the VOC suffered increasingly greater losses. The period of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784) really brought the company to its knees, it is no longer possible to trade with the East-Indies. When the French armies expel the Stadtholder from the Dutch Republic in 1795, short of actually dying, the VOC is no more.

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