29 Facts About Zheng Zhilong


Zheng Zhilong, Marquis of Tong'an, baptismal name Nicholas Iquan Gaspard, was a Chinese admiral, merchant, military general, pirate, and politician of the late Ming dynasty who later defected to the Qing dynasty.


Zheng Zhilong was from Nan'an County in Fujian province of China.


Zheng Zhilong was the father of Koxinga, Prince of Yanping, the founder of the pro-Ming Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan, and as such an ancestor of the House of Koxinga.


Just like other typical Zheng clans in Fujian, Zheng Zhilong's ancestors originated in Northern China but due to the Uprising of the Five Barbarians and Disaster of Yongjia by the Five Barbarians, the Zheng family were among the northern refugees who fled to Southeastern China and settled in Fujian.


Between 1144 and 1210 Zheng Zhilong's ancestors moved to Longxi county and moved on to Nan'an.


Zheng Zhilong came to Zhangzhou from the north and opened in Gugu County.


Contemporary biographies tell a possibly apocryphal story of how when Zheng Zhilong was a child, he and his brothers wanted to eat longan fruit.


Zheng Zhilong was said to be "very good looking" and when he first came to Japan he was 18 years old.


Zheng Zhilong left home as a teenager, jumping aboard a merchant ship.


Zheng Zhilong went to Macau where his mother's brother lived.


Zheng Zhilong was baptized as a Catholic in Macau, receiving the Christian name Nicholas Gaspard.


Zheng Zhilong's uncle asked him to take some cargo to Hirado, Japan, where he met a rich old Min man named Li Dan, the Japanese city's Kapitan Cina or Chinese headman, who became his possible mentor.


Zheng Zhilong conceived Koxinga with her, leaving Japan before she gave birth in 1624.


Zheng Zhilong allegedly had an unknown daughter with another Japanese woman who was not Tagawa Matsu, but this is only mentioned by one writer, Palafox who is very unreliable.


Zheng Zhilong initially worked as a translator, although there is debate if he was engaging pirate activities simultaneously.


In 1624, Zheng Zhilong officially became a privateer for the Dutch East India Company after they colonized Taiwan.


The Dutch did not like how powerful Li Dan was becoming, so they used Zheng Zhilong to weaken Li Dan's position.


Zheng Zhilong prospered and by 1627 he was leading four hundred junks and tens of thousands of men, including Chinese, Japanese, and even some Europeans.


Zheng Zhilong had a bodyguard of former black slaves who ran away from the Portuguese.


Zheng Zhilong was actually loved by many peasants in the southern provinces of China.


Zheng Zhilong earned their respect by refraining from unnecessary attacks on their towns and giving some stolen grain to them during famines.


Zheng Zhilong gave unemployed fisherman and sailors jobs in his vast fleet.


The Ming dynasty's southern fleet surrendered to Shibazhi, and Zheng Zhilong decided to switch from being a pirate captain to working for the Ming dynasty in an official capacity.


Whether or not this story is true is unknown, but it reflects the popular appraisal of Zheng Zhilong who was seen as a benevolent leader.


Zheng Zhilong was appointed by the Chinese Imperial family as "Admiral of the Coastal Seas".


Zheng Zhilong bought a large amount of land, and became a powerful landlord.


In 1646, Zheng Zhilong decided to defect to the Manchus and thusly left the passes of Zhejiang unguarded, allowing Manchu forces to capture Fuzhou.


Zheng Zhilong's defection was facilitated by Tong Guozhen and Tong Guoqi.


Zheng Zhilong did not listen and the Qing noticed his followers and army had not followed him in his defection, so he was placed under house arrest and taken to Beijing.