The Spanish Experience in Taiwan 1626–1642

The Baroque Ending of a Renaissance Endeavour


José Eugenio Borao Mateo

ISBN : 978-962-209-083-5


October 2009

330 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$350.00
No longer available

Taiwan in the seventeenth century was a pivotal site of conflict between the expansionist Dutch and Spanish colonial empires. This book examines the economic and religious motives which brought the Spaniards to Taiwan from Manila in the first half of the century. Since 1624, Dutch expansion had been threatening the thriving trade between Fujian and Manila. Meanwhile, religious authorities were eager to find a staging post to enable missionaries to enter Japan in those years of strong persecution and to create an alternative entry point into China. José Eugenio Borao’s meticulous and multilingual research constructs a new historical realm centered on the Spaniards, who at times faced opposition from the Japanese or the Dutch, while trying to forge relations with China and particularly with the natives of northern Taiwan. During this period Taiwan natives were experiencing many changes because of growing exposure to foreign sailors and increasing immigration from China. On this small island, we can also observe the transition from the fading Renaissance ideology that still motivated the Spanish endeavor to a more Baroque pessimism towards the end of their adventure. The author suggests that this transition affected also the natives, who most probably began to see their own existence in a new light.

José Eugenio Borao Mateo (Zaragoza, Spain, 1955) received his PhD in history from the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona in 1989. Soon afterwards he joined the faculty of the Department of Foreign Languages at National Taiwan University where he is currently professor of Spanish language and culture.

“The fruit of several years of painstaking work on a wealth of archival sources in a number of languages, José Eugenio Borao’s new book offers a comprehensive, updated, and convenient overview of the Spanish colonial experience in Taiwan. This volume renders a great service to all historians of Taiwan and its aboriginal past, of the Spanish expansion in the Pacific, and more generally of early modern European-Asian relations.” —Eugenio Menegon, Boston University

“Borao’s book is more than a simple study of Spanish activities on Taiwan during the seventeenth century. It is a meticulous, document-based analysis of the theoretical and practical aspects of commerce, conflict, and colonial politics with far-reaching repercussions for understanding the larger history of the region—and beyond.” —Peter Borschberg, National University of Singapore

“Featured to be a landmark in Taiwanese historiography, Borao grants us with the outcome of a lifelong scholarly endeavor—Spanish Isla Hermosa. After the monumental Spaniards in Taiwan, the present volume represents a superb exercise of contextualization within the political, economical and religious seventeenth-century conundrum, exposing the dramatic temperament that witnessed how the ideal collapsed and brought up the modern world.” —Isaac Donoso Jiménez, Philippine Normal University