The second plague pandemic and Dutch Formosa

I just realized that while the Dutch were in Taiwan between 1624–1668, and the Spanish were here from 1626 to 1642, the second plague pandemic was raging on back in Europe.

The second plague pandemic hit the low countries first in 1623–25, killing 10% of people in Amsterdam alone, and it came roaring back in the periods between 1635–36, 1655, and 1664.

The period of Dutch Formosa spans the period of the second plague pandemic in the low countries.

At the same time, the Spanish didn’t fare any better, but the worse of the pandemic hit Spain after the Spanish already surrendered Northern Taiwan to the Dutch. In 1649 the population of Seville was cut by half. In total, 1.25 million people died on the Iberian peninsula as a result of the second plague pandemic.

Could that be the real reason why both the Spanish and the Dutch didn’t control Taiwan as effective as they did other places? They were simply too distracted by more than 10% of their population being wiped out?

The little ice age was also a thing at the time, coupled with locusts and the plague. All of those things came together and brought down the Ming empire. The plague hit China between 1633 and 1644, which killed 200K in Beijing. It probably made running a colony dependent on trade with China very difficult for the Dutch.


interestig. Did it ever occur here in taiwan at those times?

I’m also very curious. Koxinga did die not long after he occupied Tainan (and took in daughters of missionary Antonius Hambroek as concubines). I also wonder if the plague took place in the Philippines during that same period.

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This really is a fascinating inquiry. I must admit, i am less of a human history buff and more interested in ecology of the non human form. But i do find these things absolutely intertwined with the natural order and you have triggered an interest in me (thanks!). Do you have any links by chance that discusses your above points? Its not a pressing thing for me, but i would like to learn more as free time allows :slight_smile:

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I hope you don’t mind that I added the “not-covid-19” tag. We wouldn’t want people who boycott all covid-19 threads to skip this one by mistake. :slightly_smiling_face:


Not really. I’ve sure someone else notice the overlapping timing of these events before, however, I just realized that after reading about the second plague pandemic. I started because I was wondering if there was a huge plague in Ming China that simply went unnoticed because it just so happen to coincide with the famine and drought caused by the little ice age.

That’s when I noticed Europe was actually being hit hard when they ventured into East Asia.

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I’ve read some of the history from this period (ex Formosa Under the Dutch) and don’t recall much about the European plagues. More about malaria, which most believe to have killed Koxinga.