Lord of Formosa

Lord of Formosa

by Joyce Bergvelt


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, May 30


The year is 1624. In southwestern Taiwan the Dutch establish a trading settlement; in Nagasaki a boy is born who will become immortalized as Ming dynasty loyalist Koxinga. Lord of Formosa tells the intertwined stories of Koxinga and the Dutch colony from their beginnings to their fateful climax in 1662. The year before, as Ming China collapsed in the face of the Manchu conquest, Koxinga retreated across the Taiwan Strait intent on expelling the Dutch. Thus began a nine-month battle for Fort Zeelandia, the single most compelling episode in the history of Taiwan. The first major military clash between China and Europe, it is a tale of determination, courage, and betrayal – a battle of wills between the stubborn Governor Coyett and the brilliant but volatile Koxinga. Although the story has been told in non-fiction works, these have suffered from a lack of sources on Koxinga as the little we know of him comes chiefly from his enemies.

While adhering to the historical facts, author Joyce Bergvelt sympathetically and intelligently fleshes out Koxinga. From his loving relationship with his Japanese mother, estrangement from his father (a Chinese merchant pirate), to his struggle with madness, we have the first rounded, intimate portrait of the man.

Dutch-born Bergvelt draws on her journalism background, Chinese language and history studies, and time in Taiwan, to create an irresistible panorama of memorable characters caught up in one of the seventeenth century’s most fascinating dramas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781788691390
Publisher: Camphor Press Ltd
Publication date: 04/26/2018
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 1,105,244
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.07(d)

Table of Contents

  • Prologue
  • The Explorer


  1. Son of a Pirate
  2. Fatherland
  3. Migrants and Colonists
  4. Pirate, Merchant, Mandarin
  5. Seeds of Rebellion
  6. The Young Mandarin
  7. Daughter of the Samurai
  8. The Imperial Surname
  9. A Question of Loyalty


  1. Leaseholders, Merchants, and Missionaries
  2. The Uprising
  3. The Physician
  4. A Lack of Trade
  5. Merchant, Interpreter, Intermediary
  6. His Father’s Fleet
  7. An Unreasonable Admiral
  8. Crossing the Strait


  1. Hostages
  2. The Siege of Fort Zeelandia
  3. The Demise of He Ting-bin
  4. A Defector of Value
  5. The Fall of Zeelandia
  6. The Loss of a Colony

  • Epilogue
  • Author’s Note
  • A Word of Thanks
  • Sources

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Lord of Formosa 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
In 1624 the island of Formosa belongs to the Dutch as a valuable fortress and trading post. The mainland, China, is fraught with tension and war as the Manchus battle the Ming dynasty and are slowly but certainly winning. Ming supporters are fleeing south and actually leaving for Formosa and other islands in the vicinity. Meanwhile Koxinga is the son of a powerful Ming Admiral who is willing to fight the Manchus to the bitter end. However, that is not the way history is to unfold. Koxinga hears a prophecy when he is very young that he will be the Lord of Formosa but also that he will have to pay an immense price for that glorious role. That fuels his evolution as a thinker, soldier, and trader, roles that are fostered by his father’s illustrious training and respected role throughout China. Meanwhile, the Dutch are in charge of Formosa but their strength is slowly being drained by the divisions in their own leadership. Many are good at trade but their poor treatment of the Chinese and distrust of fellow Dutch leaders will prove to be their undoing. When one makes that statement in a sentence, it may strike the reader as benign. But the reality is far from benign; literally thousands of deaths will follow as the Dutch send leader after leader to Formosa while Koxinga is planning a massive sea and land battle. The incremental victory of the Chinese on the island is fascinating reading. Koxinga, during these protracted developments, is suffering from what was probably syphilis. He attempts to get a Dutch physician to heal him but that doesn’t work out so well. Instead, his volatile temper is increasing to the point where his own supporters are afraid to be around him. His behavior in the finale of this novel is ruthlessly brutal. The Dutch men and women will lose numerous leaders and family members, but history is replete with such losses. Koxinga is honored to this day as an incomparable leader who made Formosa the successful and safe place it was and remains to the present. For those who love Chinese history, Lord of Formosa is a powerful read and one which this reviewer highly recommends!