The United East India Company (VOC) in Taiwan 1629-1662

Compiled by J.L. Blussé, M.E. van Opstall, W.E. Milde and Ts’ao Yung-Ho; with additional input from Chiang Shu-sheng and N.C. Everts.

The Dutch settlement on Taiwan island between 1629 and 1661 was unique in many respects. It was on Taiwan that the United East India Company first attempted to colonise and develop a country on a grand scale. In addition, the Zeelandia fort acted as the hub of all VOC trade in the South China Sea.

The best sources for studying this period are the daily registers as they give a clear picture of everyday life in and around the fort. They also offer a wealth of information about scouting expeditions, conversions to Christianity, education, trade, relations with China, Chinese immigration and the eventual expulsion of the Dutch. Indeed, as far as the history of Taiwan in the 17th century is concerned the daily registers are practically the only source available.

The edition of the daily registers consists of a transcript of the text and introductions to successive volumes. Gaps in the text have been filled using other source material from the VOC (for example, letters that were sent over).

The documentary edition spans four volumes. The project was implemented by the University of Leiden with occasional support from Taiwanese foundations and in close collaboration with Taiwanese experts. All four volumes of the edition are being translated into Chinese by Professor Chiang Shu-sheng, the first volume of which has already been published in Taiwan.

To facilitate research in the VOC archives, an online general VOC glossary has been compiled based on separate glossaries (explanations of terms) that were published in the Dutch series Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën (RGP).