ABSTRACT

After founding Zeelandia Castle in 1624 at the entrance of the bay of Tayouan (near present-day Tainan city) the Dutch East India Company (VOC) came to govern over a large part of Taiwan before it was dislodged from the island by the Chinese Ming loyalist Zheng Chenggong on 1 February 1662 after an eight-month siege. 1 During their thirty-eight-year rule on Formosa (as Taiwan was called at the time) the Dutch merchants amassed, in the course of their daily pursuits, a wealth of archival data about East Asian overseas trade and about the island and its native Austronesian languages speaking peoples. Until quite recently the few Chinese scholars of the Dutch period in Taiwanese history rarely used these archives and instead drew on the selection of contemporary records published in William Campbell’s 1903 Formosa under the Dutch. 2 Since the appearance of important source publications concerning the VOC on Taiwan, such as the Dagregisters van het Kasteel Zeelandia (The Diaries of Zeelandia Castle), De VOC en Formosa 1624–1662 and De Missiven van de VOC-gouverneur in Taiwan, first in Dutch and then in Chinese translation, the study of pre-modern Taiwan has made a dramatic leap forward. 3 Drawing on these newly published data from VOC records various PhD theses have been published in English about Sino-Dutch colonization, the colonial ‘civilizing process’ of the indigenous population, and the Zheng family. 4