The Famous Formosan: The Man Who Invented a Nation


The 18th century's most notorious impostor. George Psalmanzar, was born in the south of France. He wrote a book in Latin called An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island subject to the Emperor of Japan which was published in 1704 which revealed a number of strange habits. He also claimed to be a native of the island of Formosa!

The story was pure fantasy, invented by Psalmanazar and elaborated upon by the mischievous chaplain. But the bishop – and every one of his associates – believed every word. Almost overnight Psalmanazar became a celebrity.

Aristocrats, churchmen, and scientists competed to wine and dine the strange young man, just to hear his stories. Formosa was an exotic, and few could have located it on a map. Today it is known as Taiwan, an island in the China Sea.


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