Episode 22 – The Spanish in the East

The Spanish and the Portuguese were important players in the actions of Europeans in the East and Far East. Though they had worked together to oust the Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula, they were still rivals for colonial territories. King Philip II of Spain would inherit the Portuguese crown in 1580, which lessened open conflicts between the two countries, but that rivalry still persisted.
Though the Spanish were largely preoccupied with conquering the Americas, they (like all European powers) had their eye on the Spice Trade. Due to treaties with the Portuguese, the Spanish needed to find a western route to the East going past the Americans and across the Pacific Ocean. Silver from Mexico gave them wealth with which to trade, but they needed to establish an outpost in the East. Ideally they wanted something on China’s doorstep, like how the Portuguese had Macau. In the end, they would settle in the Philippines and then look for expansion opportunities.

1597 map of Luzon (northern Philippines), Isla Hermosa (Taiwan) and the China’s east coast.
Dividing lines for Portuguese and Spanish claims by treaties.
Portuguese and Spanish trade routes to the Far East. (Portuguese east below Africa, Spanish west past the Americas)
Dutch map of the Moluccas – Spice Islands (map oriented with west at the top)

Update – World War II

Around eight months ago, Cameron Reilly and Ray Harris invited me to join them on their Cold War podcast. Despite my incessant tangents, it seems I left a good impression with my gracious hosts for Ray then invited me onto his long-running World War II podcast. Below are links to my appearance on his podcast and to Ray’s website.

The link to my episode on his website.
The link to the homepage on his website.

The link to my episode on Spotify.
The link to his list of episodes on Spotify.

Episode 19 – Pacification Campaign

The Dutch suffer frequent attacks by the local indigenous on both the Dutch established village of Sakam, where mainly Dutch and Chinese merchants conduct their trade, and on their allies in Sinkan village. Hans Putmans, like his predecessor Pieter Nuyts, kept asking for Batavia to send military reinforcements. In 1635 they finally consented and Putmans was ready to put the hammer down.

Link to the Taiwan government website for the Siraya people.
Link to the Wikipedia article on the Siraya people.

Episode 18 – Putmans continued; The Battle of Liaoluo Bay

After destroying Zheng’s fleet and liberally plundering the Chinese coast, Putmans is called to battle by Zheng and his hastily assembled replacement fleet. Can the Chinese turn the tide? What will be the long term consequences of this battle politically and economically?

The Battle of Liaoluo Bay, October 1633. [Image from Lost Colony by Tonio Andrade]
Sketch of Fort Zeelandia Circa 1635, by artist Johannes Vingboons.

Edit: I looked up the UK’s refugee plan and the African country was Rwanda.
Rwanda may have a rather poor track record in terms of human rights for anyone reading up on the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. One consequence of that was a vast reduction in the male population of Rwanda, which led to many leadership positions being filled – by necessity – by women. This actually led to some of the most progressive laws towards women and women’s rights than anywhere else in the world. Just food for thought.
Link here.

Episode 17 – Hans Putmans (Putman?)

Hans Putmans (or possibly Putman) was the fourth VOC Governor of Formosa and his first order of business was to fix the mess left at the end of Pieter Nuyts’ governorship. Like Nuyts, Putmans heralded from Middelburg, though he had a more varied career with the VOC, being posted to different trading posts before eventually being appointed to Formosa.
His role as governor began with a promising relationship with Zheng Zhilong, before taking an unexpected and somewhat bloody turn.

The Zheng family was based on Xiamen and Jinmen Islands. Xiamen had a perfect natural harbour that protected ships from ocean swells. That’s where Zheng kept his fleet. Gulangyu Island, where Putmans hid his fleet, is labelled south-west of Xiamen.
[Image from Lost Colony by Tonio Andrade]
Map of the Island of Formosa, circa 1665, by artist Johannes Vingboons.

Episode 16 – Pieter Laurens Nuyts

Pieter Nuyts (also spelt Nuijts) was the third Dutch Governor of Formosa. He was a father, a businessman, an explorer and a politician. He was also opportunistic, sometimes to his own detriment. This episode looks at his time as governor of Formosa.

In editing I discovered my Dutch pronunciation let me down a few times, especially toward the beginning of the recording. The Dutch pronunciation of Nuyts is ‘notes’, while the English pronunciation is ‘newts’.

A map from 1644 which carries both ‘New Holland’ and ‘Terra Australis’ as names for Australia. In the southwest corner you can see the area explored by Nuyts’ ship, het Gulden Zeepaert (the Golden Seahorse), marked as the land of Pieter Nuyts.
A map showing the area of Dutch control on Formosa circa 1650s and the area the Spanish control circa late 1630s.
The orange area is a kingdom of indigenous people known locally as Dadu, but to the Dutch as the Midday Kingdom.
A 1629 drawing showing an artist’s impression of the storming of Nuyts’ office, when Hamada Yahei held him hostage.

Episode 15 – Red Seal Ships and the Mandate of Heaven

Before continuing Zheng Zhilong’s story, we take a moment to look at piracy in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding seas, briefly discuss two unlikely samurai and get an understanding of the Chinese concept of the Mandate of Heaven.

Painting from 1665 by Hendrik van Schuylenburgh, depicting the VOC factory in Bengal.
1866 illustration of William Adams.
From this story about his life
17th Century painting by an unknown Japanese artist depicting a Red Seal Ship.

For those interested in reading more about former Dutch colonies in Asia,
read more here.

For those interested in reading more about foreigners who became samurai,
read more here (but ignore the picture of Tom Cruise).


The Summer holidays are here and as a teacher this means I have free time, so I’m going to visit family – some of whom I have not seen in ages. This means I will be away for about six weeks, give or take a week.
Not to worry, though. I have books and will get a lot of reading done, so I can jump back into recording upon my return.

Here’s a Taiwan Blue Magpie to keep you company until I return.
Copyright James Shone 2021

Episode 14 – Zheng Zhilong (鄭芝龍)

Born in Fujian Province (like Li Dan) and having spent his teenage years working abroad in European settlements in Asia (like Li Dan), Zheng Zhilong was constantly getting into trouble (like Li Dan) and angled his life toward piracy (like Li Dan). It seems inevitable that these two would meet and become the closest of allies.

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.