Zheng Chenggong, better known in the West by his
Koxinga or Coxinga (Chinese: 國姓爺; pinyin: Guóxìngyé;
Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kok-sèng-iâ), was a Chinese Ming loyalist who
Qing conquest of China
Qing conquest of China in the 17th century, fighting them
on China's southeastern coast.
Koxinga defeated the Dutch outposts on Formosa, and
established a dynasty which ruled the island as the Kingdom of
Tungning from 1661 to 1683.
1.1 Early years
1.2 Under the Longwu Emperor
1.3 Zheng Zhilong's surrender and the death of Tagawa
1.4 Resistance to the Qing
1.5 On Taiwan
1.6 In the Philippines
2.2 Family tree
3 Modern-day legacy and influences
4 Memorial institutions
5 See also
7 External links
Zheng Sen was born in 1624 in Hirado, Hizen Province, Japan, to Zheng
Zhilong, a Chinese merchant and pirate, and a Japanese woman, recorded
only by her surname Tagawa, or probably Tagawa Matsu. He
was raised there until the age of seven with the Japanese name
Fukumatsu (Japanese: 福松), and then moved to Nan'an county in
Fujian province of China.
In 1638, Zheng became a Xiucai (a successful candidate) in the
imperial examination and became one of the twelve Linshansheng
(廩膳生) of Nan'an. In 1641,
Koxinga married the niece of Dong
Yangxian, an official who was a Jinshi from Hui'an. In 1644, Koxinga
studied at the Imperial Nanking University, where he met and became a
student of the scholar Qian Qianyi.
Beijing fell to rebels led by
Li Zicheng and the Chongzhen
Emperor hanged himself on a tree at modern-day
Jingshan Park in
Beijing. Manchu armies aided by Wu Sangui's forces defeated the rebels
and took the city. The Ming remnant forces retreated to
they put Prince Fu on the throne as the
Hongguang Emperor in an
attempt to continue the Ming dynasty in the south. The next year, the
Manchu armies led by Dodo advanced south and conquered
Nanjing while the Ming leader defending Yangzhou, Shi Kefa, was
killed. The Hongguang emperor was captured and executed.
Under the Longwu Emperor
In 1645, Prince Tang was installed on the throne as the Longwu Emperor
with support from
Zheng Zhilong and his family. The Longwu Emperor
established his court in Fuzhou, which was controlled by the Zhengs.
In the later part of the year, another Ming Prince Lu proclaimed
himself as Regent (監國) in
Shaoxing and established his own court
there. Although Prince Lu and Longwu's regimes stemmed from the same
dynasty, both of them pursued different goals.
Due to the natural defences of
Fujian and the military resources of
the Zheng family, the emperor was able to remain safe for some
Longwu Emperor granted Zheng Zhilong's son, Zheng Sen, a
new given name, Chenggong (成功; Chénggōng; Sêng-kong;
"success"), and the title of
Koxinga ("Lord of the Imperial
Koxinga first led the Ming armies to resist the Manchu
invaders and won the favour of the Longwu Emperor. The Longwu
Emperor's reign in
Fuzhou was brief, as
Zheng Zhilong refused to
support his plans for a counter-offensive against the rapidly
expanding forces of the newly established
Qing dynasty by the Manchus.
Zheng Zhilong ordered the defending general of Xianxia Pass
(仙霞關), Shi Fu (a.k.a. Shi Tianfu, a relative of Shi Lang), to
Fuzhou even when Qing armies approached Fujian. For this
reason, the Qing army faced little resistance when it conquered the
north of the pass. In September 1646, Qing armies broke through the
inadequately defended mountain passes and entered Fujian. Zheng
Zhilong retreated to his coastal fortress and the
Longwu Emperor faced
the Qing armies alone. Longwu's forces were destroyed and he was
captured and died shortly afterwards.
Zheng Zhilong's surrender and the death of Tagawa
The Qing forces sent envoys to meet
Zheng Zhilong secretly and offered
to appoint him as the governor of both
if he would surrender to the Qing.
Zheng Zhilong agreed and ignored
the objections of his family, surrendering himself to the Qing forces
Fuzhou on 21 November 1646.
Koxinga and his uncles were left as
the successors to the leadership of Zheng Zhilong's military forces.
Koxinga operated outside
Xiamen and recruited many to join his cause
in a few months. He used the superiority of his naval forces to launch
amphibious raids on Manchu-occupied territory in
Fujian and he managed
Quanzhou prefecture in early 1647. However,
Koxinga's forces lacked the ability to defend the newly occupied
Following the fall of
Tong'an to Zheng, the Manchus launched a
counterattack in the spring of 1647, during which they stormed the
Zheng family's hometown of Anping. Koxinga's mother, Lady Tagawa, had
Japan in 1645 to join her family in
younger brother, Tagawa Shichizaemon, remained in Japan). She did
not follow her husband to surrender to the Qing Dynasty. She was
caught by Manchu forces in Anping and committed suicide after refusal
to submit to the enemy, according to traditional accounts.
Resistance to the Qing
Zheng Chenggong statue in Xiamen, Fujian, China
Koxinga was strong enough to establish himself as the head of
the Zheng family. He pledged allegiance to the only remaining
claimant to the throne of the Ming Dynasty, the Yongli Emperor. The
Yongli Emperor was fleeing from the Manchus in south-western China
with a motley court and hastily assembled army at the time. Despite
one fruitless attempt,
Koxinga was unable to do anything to aid the
last Ming emperor. Instead, he decided to concentrate on securing
his own position on the southeast coast.
Koxinga enjoyed a series of military successes in 1651 and 1652 that
increased the Qing government's anxiety over the threat he posed.
Zheng Zhilong wrote a letter to his son from Beijing, presumably at
the request of the
Shunzhi Emperor and the Qing government, urging his
son to negotiate with the Manchurians. The long series of negotiations
Koxinga and the Qing
Dynasty lasted until November 1654. The
Qing government appointed Prince Jidu (son of Jirgalang) to lead an
attack on Koxinga's territory after the failed negotiations.
On 9 May 1656, Jidu's armies attacked Jinmen, an island near Xiamen
Koxinga had been using to train his troops. Partly as a result of
a major storm, the Manchus were defeated and they lost most of their
fleet in the battle.
Koxinga had sent one of his naval commanders
Zhoushan island prior to Jidu's attack, and now that
the Manchus were temporarily without an effective naval force in the
Koxinga was free to send a huge army to Zhoushan, which
he intended to use as a base to capture Nanjing.
Koxinga's Ming loyalists fought against a majority Han Chinese
Bannermen Qing army when attacking Nanjing.
Koxinga Temple in Tainan
Extent of territory held by
Koxinga (red), sphere of influence (pink)
Koxinga led his troops on a landing at Lakjemuyse (zh)
to attack the Dutch colonists in Dutch Formosa. The Taiwanese
Aboriginal tribes who were previously allied with the Dutch against
the Chinese during the
Guo Huaiyi Rebellion
Guo Huaiyi Rebellion in 1652 turned against the
Dutch during the
Siege of Fort Zeelandia
Siege of Fort Zeelandia and defected to Koxinga's
Chinese forces. The Aboriginals (Formosans) of Sincan defected to
Koxinga after he offered them amnesty, and proceeded to work for the
Chinese, beheading Dutch people. The frontier aboriginals in the
mountains and plains also surrendered and defected to the Chinese on
17 May 1661, celebrating their freedom from compulsory education under
Dutch rule by hunting down Dutch people and beheading them, and by
destroying their Protestant school textbooks. On 1 February 1662,
the Dutch Governor of Formosa, Frederick Coyett, surrendered Fort
Zeelandia to Koxinga. According to Frederick Coyett's own
self-justifying account written after the siege, Koxinga's life was
saved at the end of the siege by a certain Hans Jurgen Radis of
Stockaert, a Dutch defector who strongly advised him against visiting
the ramparts of the fort after he had taken it, which Radis knew would
be blown up by the retreating Dutch forces. This claim of a Dutch
defector only appears in Coyett's account and Chinese records make no
mention of any defector. In the peace treaty,
Koxinga was styled "Lord
Teibingh Tsiante Teysiancon Koxin". This effectively ended 38
years of Dutch rule on Taiwan.
Koxinga then devoted himself to
Taiwan into a military base for loyalists who wanted to
restore the Ming dynasty.
In the Philippines
In 1662, Koxinga's forces raided several towns in the Philippines.
Koxinga's chief adviser was an Italian friar named Vittorio Riccio,
whom he sent to
Manila to demand tribute from the colonial government
of the Spanish East Indies, threatening to attack the city if his
demands were not met. The Spanish refused to pay the tribute and
reinforced the garrisons around Manila, but the planned attack never
took place due to Koxinga's sudden death in that year after expelling
the Dutch on Taiwan.
Koxinga's threat to invade the islands and expel the Spanish was an
important factor in the Spanish failure to conquer the Muslim Moro
people in Mindanao.[according to whom?] The threat of Chinese invasion
forced the Spanish to withdraw their forces to Manila, leaving some
Jolo and by
Lake Lanao to engage the Moro in protracted
conflict, while Zamboanga in
Mindanao was immediately evacuated
following Koxinga's threats. The Spanish were also forced to abandon
their colony in the Maluku Islands (Moluccas) and withdraw their
soldiers from there to Manila.
Tonio Andrade judged that
Koxinga would most likely have been able to
defeat the Spanish if the threatened invasion had taken place.[dubious
– discuss][additional citation(s) needed] 
Koxinga died of malaria at the age of 37. There were speculations that
he died in a sudden fit of madness when his officers refused to carry
out his orders to execute his son Zheng Jing.
Zheng Jing had had an
affair with his wet nurse and conceived a child with her. Zheng
Jing succeeded his father as the King of Tungning.
Main article: House of Koxinga
A portrait of Zheng Chenggong painted by Huang Zi 黃梓
Zheng Chenggong’s short but eventful career was characterised by
family tension and conflicting loyalties. The title of
of the Imperial Surname") was one that Zheng himself used during his
lifetime to emphasize his status as an adopted son of the deposed
imperial house, so it was also a declaration of ongoing support to the
Ming dynasty. Despite his deliberate self-identification as the
noble, loyal vassal of a vanquished master, Koxinga’s actual
relationship with the
Longwu Emperor lasted only twelve months or so,
beginning in September 1645 and ending with the Emperor's death the
following year. Although many secondary sources claim that the two
men shared a "close bond of affection", there is an absence of any
reliable contemporary evidence on Koxinga’s relationship with the
In contrast, Koxinga’s father
Zheng Zhilong left his Japanese wife
not long after the birth of his son;
Koxinga was a boy of seven
when he finally joined his father on the Fujianese coast. It seems
Zheng Zhilong recognised his son’s talent and encouraged him in
his studies and the pursuit of a career as a scholar-official, which
would legitimise the power the Zheng family had acquired, using
sometimes questionable means. Zheng Zhilong’s defection to the
Qing must have seemed opportunistic and in stark contrast to
Koxinga’s continued loyalty to the Ming. But it is difficult to deny
that in refusing to submit to the Qing,
Koxinga was risking the life
of his father, and that the subsequent death of
Zheng Zhilong could
only be justified by claiming loyalty to the Ming. It has even
been suggested that Koxinga’s fury at the incestuous relationship
between his son, Zheng Jing, and a younger son’s wet nurse was due
to the fact that strict Confucian morality had played such a crucial
role in justifying his lack of filial behaviour.
The one possible exception to this may have been his relationship with
his mother, which has generally been described as being extremely
affectionate, particularly in Chinese and Japanese sources. Their
time together, however, was apparently very short – despite frequent
Zheng Zhilong for her to join him in China,
Koxinga’s mother was only reunited with her son some time in 1645,
and a year later she was killed when the Qing took Xiamen.
A portrait of Zheng was in the hands of Yuchun who was his descendant
in the eight generation.
During the Siege of Fort Zeelandia,
Koxinga executed Dutch missionary
Antonius Hambroek and took his teenage daughter as a
concubine. Other Dutch women were sold to Chinese soldiers to
become their wives. In 1684 some of these Dutch wives were still
captives of the Chinese.
Queen Tang, who had no son, was king Zheng Jing's seishitsu.
Modern-day legacy and influences
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Koxinga in Fort Zeelandia, Anping, Tainan, Taiwan
Koxinga's legacy is treated differently on each side of the Taiwan
Koxinga is worshiped as a god in coastal China[clarification
needed], especially Fujian, by overseas Chinese in
Southeast Asia and
in Taiwan. There is a temple dedicated to
Koxinga and his mother
Tainan City, Taiwan. The
National Cheng Kung University in Tainan,
one of the most prestigious universities in Taiwan, is named after
Koxinga's army also brought the Qinxi fraternal brotherhood into
Taiwan, of which some of his army were members of the organization. In
the present day, the Qinxi currently exists in Taiwan. The
associated with them.
The Battles of Coxinga
The Battles of Coxinga was written by
Chikamatsu Monzaemon in
Japan in the 18th century, first performed in Kyoto. A 2001 film
The Sino-Dutch War 1661
The Sino-Dutch War 1661 starred
Vincent Zhao as Koxinga.
The film was renamed Kokusenya Kassen after the aforementioned play
and released in
Japan in 2002.
Koxinga has received renewed attention since rumors began circulating
People’s Liberation Army Navy
People’s Liberation Army Navy were planning to name their
newly acquired aircraft carrier, the ex-Soviet Varyag, the "Shi Lang".
Shi Lang famously defeated Koxinga’s descendants in the 1683
Battle of Penghu, thus bringing
Taiwan under Qing rule. However, the
Chinese government denied all allegations that the vessel would be
dedicated to the decorated
Qing dynasty admiral.
Koxinga is regarded as a hero in the People's Republic of China,
Taiwan, and Japan, but historical narratives regarding Koxinga
frequently differ in explaining his motives and affiliation. Japan
treats him as a native son and emphasized his maternal link to Japan
in propaganda during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The
People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China considers
Koxinga a national hero for
driving the imperialist Dutch away from
Taiwan and establishing ethnic
Chinese rule over the island. On mainland China,
honoured as the "Conqueror of Taiwan, Great Rebel-Quelling
General" a military hero who brought
Taiwan back within the Han
Chinese sphere of influence through expanded economic, trade and
cultural exchanges. In China,
Koxinga is honoured without the
religious overtones found in Taiwan.[clarification needed]
The Republic of China, which withdrew to
Taiwan after losing the
Chinese Civil War, regards
Koxinga as a patriot who also retreated to
Taiwan and used it as a base to launch counterattacks against the Qing
dynasty of mainland China. In Taiwan,
Koxinga is honored as the
island’s most respected saint for expelling the Dutch and seen as
the original ancestor of a free Taiwan, and is known as Kaishan
Shengwang, or "the Sage King who Opened up Taiwan" and as "The
Yanping Prince", referring to the Kingdom of Tungning, which he
established in modern-day Tainan.
Koxinga is remembered and revered as a divine national hero
with hundreds of temples, schools, tertiary educations, and other
public centers named in his honor.
Koxinga is accredited with
replacing Dutch colonial rule with a more modern political system.
Taiwan into an agrarian society
through the introduction of new agricultural methods such as the
proliferation of iron farming tools and new farming methods with
cattle. For these reasons,
Koxinga is often associated with "hints of
[a] consciousness of Taiwanese independence".
However, not all Taiwanese accept the popularized interpretation of
Koxinga legacy. Supporters of Taiwanese independence are skeptical
about embracing the
Koxinga legacy. Koxinga's mixed Japanese heritage
(the Japanese were an occupying force for 50 years between 1895 and
1945) and the positive connotations in mainland China have all made
Taiwan independence supporters problematic.
In mainland China,
Koxinga is considered a positive historical but
human figure (not deified as he often is in Taiwan).[clarification
needed] Koxinga’s retreat to
Taiwan is seen largely as an
inspirational story of Chinese nationalists seeking refuge against
hostile forces. Koxinga's aspirations to see
Taiwan united with the
mainland is often accentuated. Furthermore,
Koxinga facilitated the
settlement of a large number of
Han Chinese to
Taiwan who brought with
them their Han cultures, traditions, and languages. As a direct
Han Chinese make up approximately 98% of the Taiwanese
There are hundreds of public pieces, shrines dedicated to and worship
Koxinga Temple in
Tainan City, Taiwan, is perhaps the
most interesting as it is "the only Fujianese style shrine in
Taiwan".[attribution needed] The temple "illustrat[es] the
geographic connection between
Taiwan and the Mainland, [whilst]
describ[ing] the evolution of life from the past to the
present",[attribution needed] which means that the temple
Koxinga is a legacy shared by both
Taiwan and the
Mainland and that this perhaps is still important today.
Mainland China however, there is only one official memorial to
their "conqueror of Taiwan" and that is on Gulang Island of Xiamen,
Fujian Province, which is positioned directly across Taiwan's Kinmen.
The imposing statue of Zheng Chenggong in full military regalia, gazes
over the water facing Taiwan. (Not to be confused with the 9 meter
tall Zheng Chenggong statue that is on a pedestrian-only island in the
Jiankong islet in Jincheng Township, Kinmen County, Taiwan).
Whilst "the statue of Zheng portrays a clean-shaven young general in
armour ... [in] Taiwan,
Koxinga seldom appears as a warrior. His
portraits show him as a Ming noble in civilian robes – and wearing a
small beard, a symbol of seniority and sobriety".[attribution
This difference in commemoration of the
Koxinga story illustrates the
wide difference in attitudes on either side of the
Taiwan Strait on
the issue of
National Cheng Kung University (
Cheng Kung Senior High School
Cheng Kung class frigate
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Koxinga
Great Clearance (1661–1669)
History of Taiwan
Kingdom of Tungning
Koxinga Ancestral Shrine
^ Wills (1974), p. 28 and Keene (1950), p. 46 both agree
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ISNI: 0000 0000 6674 7108
BNF: cb161440677 (data)
House of Zheng
Born: 27 August 1624 Died: 23 June 1662
Prince of Yanping
1655 – 23 June 1662
Frederick Coyett (as Governor of Formosa)
Ruler of the Kingdom of Tungning
14 June 1661 – 23 June 1662