[JUAN DE PALAFOX Y MENDOZA - Nació en Fitero, Navarra, España, en 1600. Virrey de la Nueva España del 10 de junio de 1642 al 23 de noviembre de 1642. Murió en Burgo de Osma, Soria, España, en 1659.]
A family member Fung-yin has found an interesting reference citing an account on the fate of 鄭芝龍Cheng Zhi-long's personal guards, his own Black Battalion. [Readers of this blog must now already know that Cheng Zhi-long was Koxinga's father.] This story was recorded in a book by Don Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, entitled "History of the Conquest of China by the Tartars", translated into French and published posthumously in Paris in 1670 [see insert - title page in Spanish]. The English version appeared one year later. The Tartars of course referred to the Qing.
Palafox was born on June 26, 1600 in Fitero, Navarra, in Spain and later graduated from University of Alcalá and University of Salamanca in 1620. In 1629, he became a Catholic priest. He was consecrated the Bishop of Puebla in 1639 and arrived in June, 1640, in Mexico to assume the post. From June to Nov, 1642, he was the interim Viceroy of New Spain. He returned to Spain in 1649 and died Bishop of the Osma District in Soria in Oct, 1659.
So how was he able to compose this 32-chapter historical tome without having set foot in China at all?
Well, in the 17th Century, the China -> the Philippines -> Mexico -> Spain was arguably the most traveled East <-> West trade route. Every summer, merchant ships sailing from Manila, loaded with goods produced in China, arrived in Port Acapulco. As one in charge of the Philippine vessels and at the same time holding a high position in the Catholic Church, Palafox was regularly briefed on Chinese contemporary affairs. The information was crucial for preparing the Spanish priests leaving from Mexico on preaching missions to China. His book was based almost entirely on intelligence from Manila; it was therefore not a first-hand account. What's unique, however, is that it has details of battles between Cheng Zhi-long and the Dutch and that between the Qing armies and the remnants of the Ming forces. In fact, a whole 3 chapters (more than 70 pages) were devoted to the legendary life and adventures of Lord Cheng. And among them, a rare and precious mention of the Black soldiers.
In 1646, despite Koxiga's impassioned pleas against the move, Cheng nevertheless unwisely yielded to the Qing. Some of his men went over with him that included 200 of his most loyal guards of the Black battalion - whom he had previously recruited from Macao.
They, however, did not, or were not allowed to accompany Lord Cheng to Beijing. Instead, they were re-assigned to serve in the garrison army of the City of Canton (Guang-zhou). In 1647, in a pitched battle, they helped the Qing and repelled the attack by a Ming militia force. Their fearless fighting had earned the respect of the awe-struck Qing soldiers. And after the battle, the Black soldiers dropped their weapons and worshiped in a church run by the Jesuits [note: conceivably, the padres there might have been the source of Palafox's report].
While the Black guardsmen had earlier fought for their beloved Lord Cheng including battles against the Qing, Palafox, however, had incorrectly stated that these brave men survived the last battle and surrendered with Cheng. There was no such last stand, Lord Cheng had lamentably fallen victim to an elaborate Qing pacification scam. It is often said that the Qing had "set a trap to catch sparrows and caught an eagle instead".
Again, no further records of their whereabouts subsequent to the skirmish in Canton. Some of their brethren had already chosen to go with Koxinga to fight the Qing and ultimately ended up in Taiwan.