2011年7月10日 星期日

The Hambroek affair


Anthonius Hambroek (1607-1661) (in Taiwanese pronunciation, his last name = 范無如區) who arrived in Taiwan in 1648 and started his missionary work under the auspices of the VOC. He was posted to the aboriginal 麻豆社(Mattau) together with his wife, Anna Vincentamoy, and children.

A drama composed by Joannes Nomsz (1738-1803), "Anthonius Hanbroak, of de belegering van Formosa, treurspel [English translation = Anthonius Hambroek, or the Siege of Formosa, tragedy]" published in 1775 had secured for Hambroek his place in history [source: http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/Dutch/Ceneton/NomszHambroek1775.html]. The question is if the events depicted in the drama were true to the history.

The story started by setting the background: Koxinga landed so unexpectedly that he, Hambroek the minister, his wife, son and daughter, and many other prominent Christians, unable to escape to the safety of Zeelandia, fell into his hands. [Note: This probably refers to the fall of Ft Provintia, 270 Dutch including 140 soldiers were captured and later relocated to Sakam.]

In the drama, the scenes took place inside Ft Zeelandia where Hambroeck was sent by Koxinga to deliver the message for Coyett to surrender. There were 7 characters/players in all:

Anthonius Hambroek, Formosa preacher.
FREDRIK CAJÉT [i.e., Coyett], commander in Ft Zeelandia.
FREDRIK CAJET YOUNG, his son.
CORNELIA Hambroek, daughter of the pastor, wife of Fredrik [more to follow]
XAMTI, envoy of the Chinese general Coxinga.
Van den Broek, a captain, friend of Fredrik.
ELIZABETH, vrindin [girl friend] of Cornelia.

In this scene, a grief-stricken Cornelia is being consoled by Elizabeth while Hambroek is making his exit to return to a certain death (with the Coyetts looking on and a map of Ft Zeelandia on the wall):
Since Coyett married his second wife Helena de Sterke in 1658 after his first wife, Susanna Boudaens, passed in 1656, Cornelia might have been married not to Frederic Coyett but to his son, Balthasar. Other sources claimed that two Hambroke's adult daughters were inside Ft Zeelandia when he visited and two younger daughters were held hostages by Koxinga. And of the latter, one later became Koxinga's concubine and the other a subordinate's wife. In contrast, this drama mentioned only one adult daughter [Cornelia] and two other children, a boy and a girl.

Indeed, on May 24, 1661, Rev Hambroek was sent by Koxinga to Zeelandia. At the Senate meeting, the surrender issue was hotly debated. The initial consensus to give in was, however, reversed after a stirring speech by Rev Hambroek. A loose translation below:

"I am perfectly aware that my speech is my own death sentence. However, I will not disregard my duties to God and the Company because of fear. I'd rather risk a thousand times my own and my wife's lives than being exploited by our enemy. Because the cruel Koxinga will make up any excuse to kill all the captured Dutchmen. And since they are already doomed, if we negotiate for their lives out of sympathy, we will have fallen into the enemy's trap and be slaughtered at random. These savage enemy are calculating and sneaky at the same time with no mercy in their hearts. They only want to cheat, rob and massacre the Dutch in their worship of Satan."

Soldiers and civilians alike then vowed to take up arms and defend Zeelandia with all their might [and did]. Having delivered his own instead of Koxinga's message, Hambroek, despite the plea of his daughter (daughters?) and Coyett's advice to do otherwise, decided to return to Koxinga's camp to join his wife and children and face the music, he declared thus:

"Comrades, I will surely die; although, for the sake of you all and those captured by the enemy, I cannot allow myself to be blamed for hiding in the fort to see others sacrificed. May God save our people, He will deliver you from danger. You all must persevere and do not lose your faith."

Our friend Patrick Cowsill has provided this list regarding the aftermath, that

1. He [Koxinga] had all male POWs put to death - true
2. Hambroek was beheaded - true
3. Some women and children were beheaded - true
4. One of Hambroek's daughters was put in Koxinga's harem - doubtful, Hambroek's wife and children appeared to have all been killed (i.e., point 3 above)
plus no Cheng household record of such a union could be found
5. The remainder of the women were divided amongst his officers - unconfirmed, maybe true

There were also other loose ends:

(1) Hambroek et al were not executed immediately upon his return from Zeelandia. Rather it was after the Dutch, in captivity, had conspired with the Aborigines to revolt again Koxinga; this was when they were put to death; and

(2) Besides Hambroek, also killed were 牟士Petrus Mus of 諸羅山 and 溫世繆Aronldus Winsmius of 新港/赤崁. And possibly 安信紐Jacobus Ampzingius and 甘比宇Joannes Campius as well [church records indicate that both had died from other causes, however]. All preachers.

This was the unfortunate yet avoidable conclusion of the Hambroek affair as Koxinga's primary objective was the recovery of Taiwan, not one of taking Dutch lives. Hambroek had not only sealed his own fate but also that of his family and others.

In the end, Koxinga entered a peace treaty with Coyett and the Dutch were allowed to depart Zeelandia peacefully. This was not what Rev Hambroek had envisioned. He had predicted, incorrectly, a wholesale massacre if Zeelandia surrendered. Koxinga might have worshiped MaZu but she was hardly Satan incarnate. Without knowing Koxinga's pragmatism, in demonizing Koxinga, Hambroek's speech at the Senate might have been both dramatic and fear-inspiring, but it was quite misguided. And 1,600 Dutch had died by the end of the siege (Feb 9, 1662).

15 則留言:

  1. It's hard to fault Rev Hambroek. He had witnessed the slaughter of all those who had surrendered from Fort Provintia. It is also reported that Koxinga went through the countryside crucifying the Dutch that lived there in the most ghastly ways so that the indigenous population would doubt the power of the Dutch. After witnessing this, I am sure the reverend would've doubted that any surrendering Dutchman would go free.

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  2. Thanks for your comment, from Tainan, my favorite city, too.

    Ft Provintia surrendered on May 4, after only 4 days of siege. The soldiers and civilians, however, were all spared, not killed, and later confined to a camp in Sakam. So Rev Hambroek had not really witnessed any killings at all. Atrocities such as crucifixion, mutilation of hands and feet, baby killing, etc, were the Dutch way of demonizing their enemies, Koxinga included. None of these were practiced by the Ming-Cheng. In outlaying areas, the Aborigines had rised up against the abusive Dutch without Koxinga's having to resort to scare tactics. As you know, the Dutch-Aboriginal relationship was not a cordial one prior to Koxinga's arrival.

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  3. Eye Doc,

    Everything you've stated is contrary to what I have read in several history books. Granted, many of the English sources are sited from books written by Dutch and Englishmen from the period which would make them biased towards the Dutch. However, any information coming from Chinese sources from the period would be equally biased. If there are books in English that tell it the way you've stated I would love to know what they are. As it stands, I have to go with the reports that said the soldiers at Ft. Provintia were decapitated by Koxinga upon hearing that Zeelandia would not surrender, and that the Ming-Cheng were certainly not above scare tactics such as those described.

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  4. Hi Tainancity,

    Of course history is full of biases. We can only apply what we already know to the analysis of old records, be they Dutch or Chinese. And I tell the story the way I see it not to parrot some books written in English (or Chinese). I am sure you are familiar with "Asia in the Making of Europe, Vol III: A Century of Advance. Book 4: East Asia, Univ of Chicago Press, by DF Lach and EJ Van Kley, 1998). You can take it on face value as far as Coyett's accounts, for me, I try to read them between the lines.

    The "scare tactics" report, i.e., the Ming-Cheng atrocities committed against the Dutch came directly from Coyett himself (including the story of the 500 Dutchmen killed at Sakam). This was actually mentioned in reference to the Dutch clergymen's martyrdom which Coyett disputed in his book, the Neglected Formosa (- this issue remains controversial both then and now). And of the women taken from Ft Provintia to be concubines of Ming-Cheng officials (he did not specifically name Koxinga as being among the officials, BTW), Coyette pointed out that they were well-treated with few complaints. These women were later released and apparently left Taiwan with Coyette for Batavia in the end. Not all Dutch captives were killed, either. In fact, Cheng Jing some years later tried to negotiate with the Dutch the release of about 100 of the captives.

    Interestingly, Hambroek himself stated, when he was inside Ft Zeelandia, that at Sakam they were allowed a fair amount of freedom even church worship. It is very doubtful that he had witnessed any killings, as you have previously commented, except when he was being executed.

    Coyett's memoirs may or may not be factual in some respects, e.g., the Ming-Cheng atrocities might not be credible. Given that he was mistreated by the VOC and had had a long-running disagreement with the Dutch clergy, to "set the record straight" was his motive; it might have been quite self-serving, though.

    I do agree that Hambroek's speech should not be blamed for the death of more than a thousand Dutch during the siege of Ft Zeelandia. It was a decision made by Coyett and the Senate to stick it out until help arrived from Batavia, i.e., a delay tactic. It did not work out as planned.

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  5. I flipped through the Island of Formosa Past and Present (Davidson, 1903), and you're right, it does seem unlikely that Hambroek witnessed any of the slayings. The decapitations and executions took place in conjunction with his return to camp. I had my event order wrong. Davidson mentions scare tactics put in place by Koxinga previous to this, but it's not clear whether Hambroek saw these upcountry. He may have if they did indeed happen.

    Much of the information in Davidson's book comes directly quoted from the Ft. Zeelandia day-journal. It seems a much more credible source (penned by Coyett himself or not) than Coyett's own book written in defense of himself. Also, letters written by missionaries in the book seem to support the executions and scare tactics.

    What's not mentioned in the day journal is Hambroek's declaration that Koxinga was a devil-worshiper or anything too dramatic. It does mention his two adult daughters clinging to him, but merely states that Hambroek encouraged those in Zeelandia to stay the course. It did not seem, however, that the Dutch were close to surrender when Hambroek "gave his speech." It seems a lot of drama may have been added to the drama.

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  6. Hi Tainancity,

    The timeline was very confusing indeed. Even the events were unclear. The collection of documents in William Campbell's book Formosa under the Dutch, gives the best examples:

    Coyett reported that in Aug, 3 months after his return from Ft Zeelandia, Hambroek was still alive who requested Koxinga's permission to say a prayer for two Dutchmen crucified in Sakam (for inciting a riot). It should be noted that this was based on second-hand info extracted from two Black boys and a Chinese who were captured at Ft Zeelandia (p 322). In another part of the book, Hambroek was supposedly beheaded after his return from Zeelandia plus one of his daughters taken into Koxiga's harem (p 544). And on p 328, as reported by Joannes Kruyf, Hambroek and his son were both killed with no mention of the fate of his wife and daughter(s). And on p 84, Campius and Ampginzius were listed as being killed by Koxinga while they both actually died from other causes.

    The Hambroek drama indeed had taken quite a bit of liberty. After all it was written for money, more than 100 years after the event.

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  7. "In the end, Koxinga entered a peace treaty with Coyett and the Dutch were allowed to depart Zeelandia peacefully. This was not what Rev Hambroek had envisioned. He had predicted, incorrectly, a wholesale massacre if Zeelandia surrendered."

    Just to play the devil's advocate, was it actually an incorrect prediction? Hambroek was sent at the end of May, 1661. The Dutch did not surrender until February 1, 1662. By holding out that long, they were able to get very good terms. The terms were:

    1. Two Chinese hostages
    2. Koxinga's men were not allowed in the fort until the Dutch vacated
    3. The Dutch could vacate with loaded muskets, beating drums and colors

    I think Hambroek was right. The Dutch had no reason to surrender in May, 1661 because the Chinese had no idea how to get in the fort. That is why they waited almost a month to attack. (They landed on April 30, but didn't launch an attack until May 26.) When they did attack, it was flimsy: over 1,000 attackers died. 28 guns were captured or destroyed. Koxinga's banners were taken.

    The best part of Koxinga's force was his archers -- pretty useless for taking a fort on a peninsula. There is a good chance Koxinga did not fully comprehend this when he sent Hambroek, after only one attack. Eight months later, it was pretty apparent that some pretty good terms would need to be offered. In May, 1661, with between 25,000 to 50,000 men under his command and having yet to appreciate the Dutch resolve, I am guessing Koxinga would have seen those surrendering at his mercy, to be massacred, enslaved, made concubines or whatever.

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  8. Very good points, Patrick.

    (1) If the Dutch surrendered soon after the fall of Ft Provintia, those 1,600 in Ft Zeelandia would not have died during the siege. I think this is the lesson from the Hambroek affair.

    (2) The Chengs had dealt with the Dutch (and the Portuguese, the Spaniards, Japanese, even the Brits) since Cheng Zhi-Lung's time. The tactics of the Dutch was well-known to the Chengs and their followers. Coyett's "resolve" was at best "wishful thinking"; ultimately the help from Batavia never amounted to anything significant.

    (3) The most important point, which we have touched upon before, was the siege warfare practiced by Koxinga. He had done that a few times in China, long before the attack on Ft Zeelandia. Cutting off the food and water supplies was as effective as scaling the walls to attack plus the time was on Koxinga's side. And the weaponry used was heavy artillery, not archery. Heavy guns were actually available since early Ming Dynasty. And rifles had been purchased from Japan. You underestimate the firepower of the Koxinga army just like what Coyett had done.

    (4) Koxinga and Coyett had communicated with each other many times, long before Koxinga's armada arrived in Taiwan. They both knew the negotiation routine hence the somewhat favorable terms of the Dutch surrender. It was not a result of the Dutch strength but a face-saving way out for Coyett with Koxinga's approval; unfortunately, Coyett later was tried and imprisoned anyway.

    (5) Koxinga might have been ruthless, he was not so stupid as to invite even more hostilities from the Dutch by massacring their citizens, etc. He already had more than enough fighting against the Qing. There were at least 100 Dutch POWs, abandoned by Coyett, still around by Tung-Ning Era, some years later.

    Maybe I should post more on Koxinga's siege warfare.

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  9. "And the weaponry used was heavy artillery, not archery. Heavy guns were actually available since early Ming Dynasty. And rifles had been purchased from Japan."

    That's the problem though. Koxinga forces excelled at archery, not artillery. Look at their first attack. They lost all the heavy guns they took to it. Koxinga did have two companies of Malays (lots of runaway Dutch slaves) that could use muskets. I wonder how effective they were though. This is how his attacks went:

    1. Archers wreak havoc on the enemies.
    2. In the confusion caused by the archers, shock troops armed with swords and shields try to run over and cleave through the enemies.
    3. A second line ensues. These men have broadswords attached to poles. I guess the idea is to pick over the shoulders of the shock troops. Actually, I don't really get it. They need two hands to hold these weapons, meaning they must be hard to maneuver. The shock troops should be moving quickly.
    4. Koxinga counts on superior numbers. His men just go straight, eventually tromping over the enemy.

    For the Dutch soldiers manning the fort at Zeelandia, such an advance (1,000 attackers dying just like that) must have felt like the turkey shoot the Confederates experienced at the Battle of Crater.

    BTW, this is an excellent post, eyedoc.

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  10. "There were at least 100 Dutch POWs, abandoned by Coyett, still around by Tung-Ning Era, some years later." Interesting. What became of them?

    I often wonder what would have become of Koxinga if he hadn't died so young. He definitely would have gotten more space in the history books.

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  11. There is a huge difference between a siege and a battlefield battle. You are describing the first battle, not the siege, and it is an account from the Dutch side, very different from the Chinese version:

    (1) Captain Pedel and his men fired the first volley which had failed to take down any of the Koxinga's iron-man troop who were protected by thick cotton-filled blankets (futons if you will).

    (2) The Ming-Cheng soldiers were seamen, trained in sea battle and near-quarter combats, not in the long range archery. Archers are invariably land-based. While there were northerners in Koxinga's army, they were not deployed in the first land battle.

    (3) It was the Cafres not the Malays who were the expert musketeers in Koxinga's army.

    (4) You need to give Koxinga's men some credit. These were hardened veterans of many wars, not some easy targets for the Dutch to pick off. As for the Dutch, whether the soldiers were well-trained or merely some peasants empowered with weapons (as in Pizarro's conquistadors) remains open.

    Just for the fun of it: The archery scene that you have described has appeared in the movie "300 (i.e., the battle of Thermopylae)". As far as the siege of Ft Zeeladia, the "Last of the Mohicans (i.e., the siege of Ft William Henry)" comes to mind, especially the canon bombardment part. I'd say the latter is exactly what had happened to Ft Zeelandia.

    What had become of the Dutch POWs? It is tempting to speculate that they had spawned blue-eyes red-haired Han-Taiwanese still in existence today in Southern Taiwan, but there is no proof.

    Of course, Koxinga was a tragic figure on many levels. His loyalty to the Ming Court seemed to have waned during the last few months of his life. He might have begun to realize that recovering mainland China was beyond his grasp. He might have re-directed his attention to the SE Asia as many of his generals urged. Had that worked out, the Spanish gun that you have seen in Manila would be on display as a captured trophy in the Philippines province of the Ming-Cheng Kingdom.

    Thanks for your comments which are often the sources of my new posts.

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  12. "(4) You need to give Koxinga's men some credit. These were hardened veterans of many wars, not some easy targets for the Dutch to pick off."

    I'm working off Owen Rutter (and memory) here: Rutter, Owen. Through Formosa: An Account of Japan's Island Colony. SMC Publishing, Inc.: Taipei, 1923. Rutter visited Taiwan in 1922. As an ex-officer, his insight on tactics is quite deep. I should have mentioned that he repeatedly commented on and commended the blockade techniques of Koxinga. He had a lot of respect for the strategy of patience and starving out the enemy. He also made this point: "Before coming into contact with them [Koxinga's forces] the Dutch had despised the Chinese, but they very soon found them formidable fighters (Rutter, p. 76).

    Looking forward to you next post / enjoying your comments here.

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  13. On p 86 of Rutter's book, footnote 1:

    "The foregoing account is based mainly on the translation from 'f Verwcerloosde Formosa, 1665, in Rev. W. Campbell's Formosa under the Dutch, pp. 384 et seq."

    So he was merely re-telling Coyett's story with the same factual errors.

    I'll take the Dutch's grudging respect of Koxinga's fighting men any time, though.

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  14. Greetings from the United States. I'm writing about the May 24 speech you have quoted here. Do you have a source for this speech? It does not seem to be a part of Nomsz' play.

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  15. If memory serves right, the Hambroek speech was cited in "De Dagregisters van het Kasteel Zeelandia [熱蘭遮城日誌/The Zeelandia Diaries]", translated by Prof 江樹生, published in 1999 in Taiwan.

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