Episode 13 – Li Dan (李旦)

The man, the myth, the legend.

Li Dan was arguably the greatest of the pirate princes that operated within the Taiwan Strait. He single-handedly built an empire, uniting the pirate bands from Japan to Java into a coalition – the first Asian mulitnational congolmerate – and he did it all through the cunning use of multiple personas, crafty underhanded dealing and sheer charisma.

The Castle of Batavia painting by Andries Beeckman, 1656.
This painting shows the style of fortress that the Dutch constructed in Southeast Asia.

One name mentioned in conjunction with pirates and Taiwan is Yan Shiqi. As there is limited information on him and his background parallels Li Dan’s remarkably, some scholars have suggested that they are one and the same. Shiqi apparently also went to by Christian name Pedro. Here’s a link to a short article on him.

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