Approaching its demise, the Ming imperial administration enlisted members of the Cheng family as mercenaries to help in the defense of the coastal waters of Fukien. Under the leadership of Cheng Chih-lung, also known as Nicolas Iquan, and with the help of the local gentry, these mercenaries became the backbone of the empire’s maritime defense and the protectors of Chinese commercial interests in the East and South China Seas.
The fall of the Ming allowed Cheng Ch’eng-kung—alias Coxinga—and his sons to create a short-lived but independent seaborne regime in China’s southeastern coastal provinces that competed fiercely, if only briefly, with Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English merchants during the early stages of globalization.
Wei-chung Cheng (1974) studied Sociology at National Taiwan University and Cheng-chi University, and History at Leiden University where he obtained his PhD in 2012. He is a Postdoctoral fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
'The book under review unfolds a detailed narrative, which fits the chronological axis with a positivist and meticulous mood, attentive to detail and nuances. Although Cheng Wei-chung focused mainly on the role of the Zheng lineage, he also integrated other regional actors of relative relevance in the story: Asian as well as Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish commercial communities. (...) taking into account the enormous volumes of primary sources used in the book, it is a most valuable work of reference – a foundational and germinal book of obligatory consultation.Especially since in its narrative new lines of interpretation are glimpsed in nuce: new threads that stretch in future approaches to the Zheng lineage.'
MANEL OLLÉ, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona,
Monumenta Serica, (2017) 65:2
All interested in early modern Asian maritime history, the Ming-Ch’ing transition, and anyone interested in the history of European expansion and global interaction.