Battle of Tunmen

Battle of Tunmen
LocationTuen Mun
Result Ming Chinese victory.
Ming Dynasty China Portugal Kingdom of Portugal
Commanders and leaders
Wang Hong (汪鋐) Portugal Simão de Andrade
Squadron of Junks Caravel ships
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown
Battle of Tunmen
Traditional Chinese 屯門海戰

The Battle of Tunmen or Tãmão was a naval battle in which the Ming imperial navy defeated a Portuguese fleet led by Simão de Andrade in 1521.


Simão de Andrade had been kidnapping Chinese children to sell in Malacca.[1] and ignored Chinese sovereign authority at Tãmão, building a fort.[2] The Chinese believed that the Portuguese roasted and ate the Chinese children they had kidnapped.[3] The Chinese responded by blockading the Portuguese. The Portuguese would have starved if they had not run the blockade.


Looking towards Lintin Island from Castle Peak, Tuen Mun

The Portuguese called their settlement Tamão, which is understood as a corruption of "Tunmen" (屯門, Túnmén), the name for the western Hong Kong and Shenzhen area that has existed since the Tang dynasty. Chinese sources state that the Portuguese settled around the Tunmen Inlet (屯門澳, Túnmén Ào), but the current whereabouts of the Tunmen Inlet is unknown, so the precise location of the Portuguese settlement and the battlefield remains under debate among historians.

In the present day, "Tunmen" refers to Tuen Mun, the Cantonese reading of the same Chinese characters. This leads some researchers to link the Tunmen of Ming times to Tuen Mun in the New Territories of Hong Kong. "Tunmen Inlet" would then refer to one of two bays around Tuen Mun: Castle Peak Bay, next to the current Tuen Mun New Town; or Deep Bay between the New Territories and Nantou in present-day Shenzhen, where a Ming coastal defense force was stationed.[4]

Adding to the confusion is the description in Portuguese sources that Tãmão was an island. As Tuen Mun is not an island, researchers have proposed that Tãmão actually refers to one of the nearby islands. Lintin Island, west of Tuen Mun, is commonly accepted in Western academia as one of the more likely possibilities,[5] while the much larger Lantau Island has also been suggested.[6]

The battle

During this period China's navy maintained around 50 ships.[7] Simão de Andrade's fleet was defeated by the Chinese navy, which emboldened the Chinese to take further military action the following year, at the Second Battle of Tamao (1522) against Martim Afonso de Mello.[8][9]

The Chinese were commanded by Wang Hong. The battle started in either April or May, and ended when the Portuguese fled to Malacca in October.[10] Many Portuguese vessels were captured by Chinese forces. The Chinese killed and captured so many Portuguese that only three Portuguese ships survived the battle, out of the many ships and Chinese junks with which they attacked the Chinese. They managed to escape only because a strong wind arose and scattered the pursuing Chinese ships, enabling the Portuguese to escape to the open sea. For many years afterwards, the Chinese would kill every single Portuguese who attempted to land in China.[11]

However, with gradual improvement of relations and aid given against the Japanese Wokou pirates along China's shores, by 1557 Ming China finally agreed to allow the Portuguese to settle at Macau in a new Portuguese trade colony.[12] The Malay Sultanate of Johor also improved relations with the Portuguese and fought alongside them against the Aceh Sultanate.

See also


  1. Zhidong Hao (2011). Macau History and Society (illustrated ed.). Hong Kong University Press. p. 11. ISBN 988-8028-54-5. Retrieved 14 December 2011. At the same time the Portuguese stationed in Tunmen began to set up fortifications, attacked and looted Chinese ships and kidnapped Chinese men and women. However, the main problem was very likely the Portuguese purchase and enslavement of Chinese children, who had been most likely kidnapped by local criminals. The purchase and enslavement of these kidnapped children was carried out by men led by Andarde's younger brother, Simão de Andrade in 1518-19. By that time Fernão Peres de Andrade had already returned to Lisbon with triumph. The Chinese arrested Peres on his way back to Guangzhou, and he died in prison there in 1524. The Portuguese were expelled from Tunmen in 1521 and the authorities in Beijing and Guangzhou announced a ban on trade with the Portuguese.
  2. Peter Y. L. Ng, ed. (1983). New Peace County: A Chinese Gazetteer of the Hong Kong Region. Hong Kong University Press. p. 25. ISBN 962-209-043-5. Retrieved 21 November 2011. enable them to dominate the foreign trade. Thus when Simao de Andrade reached China in 1519 he built a fort in the neighbourhood of Tunmen without first seeking Chinese government permission. This and other tactless behaviour was resented by the Chinese, and in 1521 a Chinese naval force fell on the Portuguese and defeated them.
  3. Tomé Pires; Armando Cortesão; Francisco Rodrigues (1990). Armando Cortesão, ed. The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires: An Account of the East, From the Red Sea to China, written in Malacca and India in 1512-1515; and The Book of Francisco Rodrigues: Pilot-Major of the Armada That Discovered Banda and the Moluccas: Rutter of a Voyage in the Red Sea, Nautical Rules, Almanack ... Volume 1 of The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires: An Account of the East, from the Red Sea to Japan, Written in Malacca and India in 1512-1515, and The Book of Francisco Rodrigues, Rutter of a Voyage in the Red Sea, Nautical Rules, Almanack and Maps, Written and Drawn in the East Before 1515 (illustrated, reprint ed.). Asian Educational Services. p. xxxix. ISBN 81-206-0535-7. Retrieved 14 December 2011. Though according to Vieira the Emperor magnanimously said, "These people do not know our customs; gradually they will get to know them:, more charges--some of them quite fantastic--were being brought against the Portuguese. After being told that one of the charges was that "we bought kidnapped children of important people and ate them roasted", Barros commented: "They believe this to be true, as being about people of whom they had never heard; and we were the terror and fear of all that East, so it was not too much to believe that we did such things, just as we too think of them and other far-flung countries, about which we have but little knowledge". Some early Chinese historians even go so far as to give vivid details of the price paid for the children and how they were roasted.
  4. Lau, Chi-pang; Liu, Shuyong (2012). 屯門: 香港地區史研究之四 [History of Tuen Mun] (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Joint Publishing. p. 35. ISBN 9789620431470.
  5. Braga, J. M. (May 1939). "The "Tamao" of the Portuguese Pioneers". Tien Hsia Monthly. VIII (5): 420–432.
  6. Lau and Liu (2012), p. 39
  7. Ng (1983), p. 65. Quote: "were more than fifty ships in the fleet. These were the heady days when Wang Hong was able to engage and defeat a Portuguese expedition"
  8. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. China Branch (1895). Journal of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society for the year ..., Volumes 27-28. The Branch. p. 44. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  9. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. North-China Branch (1894). Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volumes 26-27. The Branch. p. 44. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  10. Hao (2011), pg. 12. Quote: "A Portuguese fleet of several ships came to China again in April or May 1521. The Ming court ordered the Guangdong authorities to expel them. Led by Wang Hong, the Ming naval forces engaged in battles against the Portuguese and won. Many Portuguese were captured and endured horrific execution. More ships came in the following months and attacked the Chinese, but all failed. At the end of October they retreated to Malacca after many casualties. This was the Battle of Tunmen."
  11. Pires, Cortesão, Rodrigues (1990), p. xi. Quote: "In the meantime, after the departure of Simão de Andrade, the ship Madalena, which belonged to D. Nuno Manuel, came from Lisbon under the command of Diogo Calvo, arriving at Tamão with some other vessels from Malacca, among them the junk of Jorge Álvares, which the year before could not sail with Simão de Andrade's fleet because it had sprung a leak. When the instructions issued from Peking against the Portuguese arrived in Canton, together with the news of the death of the Emperor, the Chinese seized Vasco Calvo, a brother of Diogo Calvo, and other Portuguese who were in Canton trading ashore. On 27 June 1521 Duarte Coelho arrived with two junks at Tamão. Besides capturing some of the Portuguese vessels, the Chinese blockaded Diogo Calvo's ship and four other Portuguese vessels in Tamão with a large fleet of armed junks. A few weeks later Ambrósio do Rego arrived with two other ships. As many of the Portuguese crews had been killed in the fighting, slaughtered afterwards or taken prisoner, by this time there were not enough Portuguese for all the vessels, forcing Calvo, Coelho and Rego to abandon the junks in order to better man the three ships. They set sail on 7 September and were attacked by the Chinese fleet, but managed to escape thanks to a providential gale that scattered the enemy junks, and arrived at Malacca in October 1521. Vieira mentions that other junks that arrived in China with Portuguese aboard were all attacked, their crews either killed in the initial fighting or taken prisoner and slaughtered later.
  12. Wills, John E., Jr. (1998). "Relations with Maritime Europe, 1514–1662," in The Cambridge History of China: Volume 8, The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 2, 333–375. Edited by Denis Twitchett, John King Fairbank, and Albert Feuerwerker. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-24333-5, 343-344.

Coordinates: 22°22′17″N 113°58′42″E / 22.3713°N 113.9782°E / 22.3713; 113.9782

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/26/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.