Siege of Fort Zeelandia
The Siege of Fort Zeelandia , which took place in 1661 and 1662, ended the Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

's rule over Taiwan and began the Kingdom of Tungning
Kingdom of Tungning
The Kingdom of Tungning was a government that ruled Taiwan between 1661 and 1683. A pro-Ming Dynasty state, it was founded by Koxinga after the Ming government in mainland China was replaced by the Manchu-ruled Qing Dynasty...

'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".


In the year of 1659, after an unsuccessful attempt to capture Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

, Koxinga, leader of the Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 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 He Bin (Traditional Chinese: 何斌), who was working for the Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 in Formosa (Taiwan), fled to Koxinga's base in Xiamen
Xiamen , also known as Amoy , is a major city on the southeast coast of the People's Republic of China. It is administered as a sub-provincial city of Fujian province with an area of and population of 3.53 million...

 and provided him with a map of Taiwan.

By 1632, the Dutch had established a post on a peninsula named Tayoan (Traditional Chinese: , now Anping District of Tainan City), which was separated from the main part of Formosa by a shallow lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

 historically referred to as the Bay of Taijiang (台江內海; now disappered). The Dutch fortification consisted of two forts around the bay. The first was the multiple-walled Fort Zeelandia
Fort Zeelandia (Taiwan)
Fort Zeelandia was a fortress built over ten years from 1624–1634 by the Dutch Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, in the town of Anping on the island of Formosa, present day Taiwan, during their 38-year rule over the western part of it...

 situated at the entrance to the bay; this was the main fortification of the Dutch. The second was Fort Provintia
Fort Provintia
Chihkan Tower , formerly Fort Provintia in West Central District, Tainan City was built in 1653 by the Dutch during their colonization of Taiwan. The fort was surrendered to Koxinga. Since 1945 the site has been known as 'Red-topped Tower'...

, a walled administrative office located at the bay, which was smaller in size. Frederick Coyett
Frederick Coyett
Frederick Coyett , born in Stockholm or Moscow in 1615?, buried in Amsterdam, October 17, 1687, was a Swedish nobleman and the last colonial governor for the Dutch colony of Formosa...

, 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

Koxinga and his fleet set sail from Kinmen
Kinmen , also known as Quemoy , is a small archipelago of several islands administered by the Republic of China : Greater Kinmen, Lesser Kinmen, and some islets. Administratively, it is Kinmen County of Fujian Province, ROC. The county is claimed by the People's Republic of China as part of its...

 on March 23, 1661. His fleet consisted of hundreds of junks
Junk (ship)
A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel design still in use today. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty and were used as sea-going vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages...

 and ships of various sizes, with roughly 25,000 soldiers and sailors aboard. They arrived in the Pescadores
The Penghu Islands, also known as Pescadores are an archipelago off the western coast of Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait consisting of 90 small islands and islets covering an area of 141 square kilometers....

 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 Luermen 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. Koxinga's army was well disciplined and armed, some with bows and arrows, some with swords and shields, and some with large two-handed swords. Koxinga's soldiers wore iron scale armor, affording substantial protection from the firearms in use during the time. Lacking cavalry, Koxinga used shield bearers. His shield bearers smashed into the enemy ranks and swordsmen followed, with fearful massacre amongst the fugitives.

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 Anthonius 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.

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
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

, 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 assault in December.

January 1662, Koxinga's cannons bombarded the Dutch redoubt with cannon. When Koxinga's cannon began firing, the Dutch prayed: "We trust that our kindhearted God, who is almighty, will protect us from the terrible violence of our enemies, and we are begging him to do so fervently and with our entire hearts." The redoubt fell a day later.

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
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 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.


After arriving in Jakarta, Coyett was imprisoned for three years and tried for high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

, surrendering the post and the loss of valuable goods. He was pardoned and exiled to the most eastern of the Banda Islands
Banda Islands
The Banda Islands are a volcanic group of ten small volcanic islands in the Banda Sea, about south of Seram Island and about east of Java, and are part of the Indonesian province of Maluku. The main town and administrative centre is Bandanaira, located on the island of the same name. They rise...

. He was eventually released in 1674 after strong lobbying by his friends and relatives. He published a book named Neglected 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
Keelung City is a major port city situated in the northeastern part of Taiwan. It borders New Taipei and forms the Taipei–Keelung metropolitan area, along with the Taipei and New Taipei. Nicknamed the Rainy Port for its frequent rain and maritime role, the city is Taiwan's second largest seaport...

 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.

Cultural influences

The battle was depicted in the movie The Sino-Dutch War 1661
The Sino-Dutch War 1661
The Sino-Dutch War 1661, also known as Hero Zheng Chenggong, is a 2000 Chinese historical drama film directed by Wu Ziniu and starring Vincent Zhao, Jiang Qinqin, Du Zhiguo, Shimada Yôko, Xu Min and Zhang Shan. The film is based on the life story of Zheng Chenggong and focuses on his battle with...

(Traditional Chinese: 鄭成功1661), which ended in Koxinga's victory over the Dutch.
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