The Guo Huaiyi Rebellion
(also spelled Kuo Huai-i Rebellion
) was a peasant revolt
against Dutch rule in Taiwan
which took place in 1652
. Sparked by dissatisfaction with heavy Dutch taxation and extortion by low-ranking Dutch officials and servicemen, the rebellion initially gained ground before being brutally crushed by a coalition of Dutch soldiers and their aboriginal
allies. It is considered the most important uprising against the Dutch during the 37-year period of their colonisation of Taiwan.
The burden of Dutch taxes on the Chinese inhabitants of Taiwan was a source of much resentment. The falling price of venison, a chief export of the island at the time, hit licensed hunters hard, as the cost of the licenses was based on meat prices before the depreciation. The head tax
(which only applied to Chinese, not aborigines) was also deeply unpopular, and thirdly, petty corruption amongst Dutch soldiers further angered the Chinese residents.
The revolt was led by Guo Huaiyi
(1603–1652), a sugarcane
farmer and militia leader originally from Quanzhou
known to the Dutch by the name Gouqua Faet
. After his planning for an insurrection was leaked to the Dutch authorities, he decided to waste no time in attacking Fort Provintia
, which at the time was only surrounded by a bamboo
wall. On the night of 7 September 1652
the rebels, mostly militia-farmers armed with bamboo spears, stormed the fort. The Dutch garrison there took refuge in the stable (the most defensible building in the complex) and managed to hold off the assault, though some Dutch were captured, killed and mutilated.
The following morning a company of 120 Dutch musketeers came to the rescue of their trapped countrymen, firing steadily into the besieging rebel forces and breaking them. Governor Nicolas Verburg then sent messengers to summon aboriginal allies to the aid of the Dutch, to which the natives responded in their thousands. On September 11 the Dutch learned that the rebels had massed just north of the principal Dutch settlement of Tayouan. Sending a large force of Dutch soldiers and aboriginal warriors, they met the rebels that day in battle and emerged victorious, mainly due to the superior weaponry of the Europeans.
Over the following days, the remnants of Guo's army were either slaughtered by aboriginal warriors or melted back into the villages they came from, with Guo Huaiyi himself being shot, then decapitated, with his head displayed on a spike as a warning. In total some 4,000 Chinese were killed during the five-day uprising, approximately 1 in 10 Chinese living in Taiwan at that time. The Dutch responded by reinforcing Fort Provintia
(building brick walls instead of the previous bamboo fence) and by monitoring Chinese settlers more closely. However, they did not address the roots of the concerns which had caused the Chinese to rebel in the first place.