World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Zheng Zhilong


Zheng Zhilong

Zheng Zhilong
Illustration of Zheng Zhilong and his son Koxinga
Personal details
Born 1604
Died 1661 (aged 56–57)
Beijing, Qing Empire
Spouse(s) Tagawa Matsu
Relations Father: Zheng Shaozu
Mother: Lady Wang
Children Zheng Chenggong
Tagawa Shichizaemon
Religion Catholic, Mazu (goddess), Marici (Buddhism)
Noble Rank Earl of Nan'an→Marquess of Nan'an→Marquess of Tong'an
Zheng Zhilong
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 鄭芝龍
Simplified Chinese 郑芝龙
Japanese name
Kanji 鄭 芝龍
Kana ジェン・ジーロン
Hiragana てい しりゅう
Western name
Western Nicholas Iquan Gaspard

Zheng Zhilong (1604–1661), also known as Nicholas Iquan Gaspard, was a Chinese merchant, pirate and military leader in the late Ming dynasty who later defected to the Qing dynasty. He was from Nan'an, Fujian.[1] He was the father of Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga), the founder of the pro-Ming Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan. After his defection, he was enfeoffed as a Count of the Second Rank by the Qing government, but was eventually executed because of his son's continued resistance against the Qing regime.


  • History 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Pirate 1.2
    • Shibazhi challenges the Ming fleet 1.3
    • Service under the Ming 1.4
    • Surrender to Qing 1.5
  • Notes 2
  • General References 3


Early life

Zheng was born in [1] The story may or may not be true, but it encapsulated the character of Zheng: he ran wild, grasped at low hanging fruit, got in trouble, and came out the better for it.[1]

Zheng left home as a teenager, jumping aboard a merchant ship. Sources vary on why he left home, some saying he slipped his hand up his stepmothers skirt, others recording his father chasing him through the streets with a stick.[1] Zheng went to Macau where his mother's brother lived (his uncle).[1] He was baptized as a Catholic in Macau, receiving the Christian name Nicholas Gaspard.[2] His uncle asked him to take some cargo to Nagasaki, Japan, where he met a rich old Min man named Li Dan, also known as "Captain China", who became his mentor and possible homosexual lover.[1] Li Dan had close ties with the Europeans and he arranged for Zheng to work as an interpreter for the Dutch (Zheng spoke Portuguese which the Dutch could also speak).[1] In 1622, when Dutch forces took over the Pescadores archipelago off the Taiwan Strait, Li Dan sent Zheng to the Pescadores to work with the Dutch as a translator in peace negotiations. Before leaving Japan he met and married a local woman named Tagawa Matsu.[1] He impregnated her with Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga), leaving Japan before she gave birth in 1624.[1] After Li died in 1623, Zheng acquired his fleet of ships.


The Dutch, wishing to control and monopolize commerce routes to Japan, collaborated with Chinese pirates.[3] Zheng initially worked as a translator but soon became a highly successful pirate under the tutelage of the Dutch, who provided ships and weapons in exchange for a cut of the loot.[1] Zheng prospered and by 1627 he was leading four hundred junks and tens of thousands of men.[1] He built ten outposts on Taiwan's southwestern coastal region, between Tainan and Chiayi, but was evicted shortly after when the Dutch arrived on the island.

Shibazhi challenges the Ming fleet

Shibazhi (十八芝) were a pirate organization of 18 well-known Chinese pirates, founded in 1625 by Zheng Zhilong. Members included Shi Lang's father Shi Daxuan (施大瑄). They began to challenge the Ming fleet and won a series of victories. In 1628, Zheng Zhilong defeated the Ming Dynasty's fleet. The Ming Dynasty's southern fleet surrendered to Shibazhi, and Zheng decided to switch from being a pirate captain to working for the Ming Dynasty in an official capacity.[1] Zheng Zhilong was appointed major general in 1628. Stories tell of how Cai, the governor who had forgiven Zheng for stoning him so many years ago, came to Zheng and asked for a position in the Ming navy. Zheng granted this request. Whether or not this story is true is unknown, but it reflects the popular appraisal of Zheng who was seen as a benevolent leader.

Service under the Ming

After joining the Ming navy, Zheng and his wife resettled on an island off the coast of Fujian, where he operated a large armed pirate fleet of over 800 ships along the coast from Japan to Vietnam. He was appointed by the Chinese Imperial family as "Admiral of the Coastal Seas". In this capacity he defeated an alliance of Dutch East India Company vessels and junks under renegade Shibazhi pirate Liu Xiang (劉香) on October 22, 1633 in the Battle of Liaoluo Bay. The spoils of this victory made him fabulously wealthy. He bought up a large amount of land, as much as 60% of Fujian, and became a very powerful landlord.

Zheng would continue to serve the Ming dynasty after the fall of the Ming capital Beijing in June 1644. After the capture of Nanjing in 1645, Zheng accepted an offer to serve as commander-in-chief of the imperial forces and was ordered to defend the newly established capital in Fuzhou under the Prince of Tang.

Surrender to Qing

In 1646, Zheng decided to defect to the Manchus leaving the passes of Zhejiang unguarded, allowing Manchu forces to capture Fuzhou. As a result of the Manchu victory, Zheng was greatly rewarded and retired very wealthy. However, he would later be executed by the Qing government in 1661 at Caishikou,[4] as a result of his son's continued resistance against the Qing regime.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Andrade, Tonio (2011). Lost colony : the untold story of China's first great victory over the West. Princeton, N.J:  
  2. ^ "Zheng Zhilong". Enyclopædia Britannica. 2011. 
  3. ^ 海禁下的民間活力: 尼古拉‧一官 [Nicholas Iquan]. National Palace Museum (in 中文). Taipei. 
  4. ^ 呂正理 (2010). 另眼看歷史(上):一部有關中、日、韓、台灣及周邊世界的多角互動歷史. p. 448.  

General References

  • Clements, Jonathan (2004). Coxinga and the Fall of the Ming Dynasty. Stroud: Sutton Publishing.  
  • Manthorpe, Jonathan (2005). Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.  
  • Michael, Franz (1942). The Origin of Manchu Rule in China. Baltimore.  
  • Andrade, Tonio (Dec 2004). "The Company's Chinese Pirates: How the Dutch East India Company Tried to Lead a Coalition of Pirates to War Against China, 1621-1662".  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.