Restraining violence on the seas
The Tokugawa, the Zheng maritime network, and the Dutch East India Company
in A global history of early modern violence

In late 1672, news reached Nagasaki that a Ryukyuan tributary vessel had been captured on its way from that island archipelago to China. Tokugawa officials had been dealing with violence on the sea lanes criss-crossing East Asia for years, but there was something different about this episode. The ship from the Ryukyu kingdom had not been attacked by a European fleet. Rather it had been seized by vessels attached to the sprawling Zheng maritime network based in Taiwan. This chapter examines Tokugawa responses to two maritime operations: the first carried out by a European overseas enterprise, the Dutch East India Company, the second by its great Asian rival, the Zheng maritime network. By comparing the very different ways these played out, the chapter argues that the rise of the Zheng presented a new and difficult challenge for polities across Asia, even for those like Tokugawa Japan that had dealt successfully with European maritime violence.


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