Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Abahai

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3633192Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — AbahaiFang Chao-ying

ABAHAI, Nov. 28, 1592–1643, Sept. 21, known in official accounts as Huang-t'ai-chi 皇太極 (Khungtaiji), was the eighth son of Nurhaci [q. v.]. He had two reign titles, T'ien-ts'ung 天聰 (1627–36), and Ch'ung-tê 崇德 (1636–44). His mother, Empress Hsiao-tz'ŭ (孝慈高皇后, 1575–1603), was the youngest daughter of Yangginu [q. v.], chief of the Yehe tribe. In 1616 when Nurhaci reorganized his government, three of his sons and one of his nephews, known together as the Four Senior Beile, were ordered to assist him. They were, in order of seniority, Daišan, Amin, Manggûltai [qq. v.], and Abahai. Abahai, being the youngest, was called the Fourth Beile. He was made ruler of one of the eight Banners, probably the Bordered Yellow. In 1619, when Nurhaci's realm was invaded by an expedition under Yang Hao [q. v.], Abahai showed unusual bravery and determination in resisting the invaders and emerged as hero of the campaign. In 1621 Nurhaci ordered the Four Beile to take turns monthly in the administration of national affairs. By this means Abahai became acquainted with civil administration. Immediately following Nurhaci's death Abahai and the other elder princes forced their father's third wife, Hsiao-lieh [q. v.],—mother of Dorgon and Dodo [qq. v.]—to commit suicide, probably in the hope of securing freer action for themselves. Daišan and his sons, Yoto and Sahaliyen [qq. v.], nominated Abahai as successor to Nurhaci. Thus on October 20, 1626, Abahai became the second Han or Khan of the Later Chin (see under Nurhaci).

From 1615 onward all the subjects of the state of Later Chin were divided into eight groups or Banners (see under Nurhaci). From among his sons and nephews Nurhaci selected eight princes, each of whom would have hereditary rule of a Banner. He hoped that after his death these princes would rule jointly under a nominal Khan. It is not clear whether he designated this Khan or whether he expected the princes to select one of their number (see under Nurhaci and Hsiao-lieh). In any case, he intended that the one selected should exercise but little more power than the other seven. When Abahai became Khan he was in control of the Bordered Yellow Banner and the Plain Yellow Banner. Of the other six banners, the Plain Red was controlled by Daišan, the Bordered Red by Yoto, the Bordered Blue by Amin, the Plain Blue by Manggûltai, the Plain White by Dorgon, and the Bordered White by Dodo. Nurhaci's order to give Ajige [q. v.] a Banner was not heeded.

Beginning early in his rule Abahai departed from his father's plans. For a time, however, he had to rule jointly with Daišan, Amin, and Manggûltai, and the four sat together as equals to receive homage or to decide on public affairs. Moreover, the three princes continued to take turns monthly as administrator of national affairs, a practice begun in 1621. The abolition of this practice early in 1629 was the first step taken by Abahai to eliminate the powers of his co-rulers. In 1630, because Amin had abandoned a newly conquered area, he was put in prison and there lived ten years. His banner was given to his brother, Jirgalang [q. v.]. In 1632, Daišan and Manggûltai abandoned their places beside Abahai and began to pay him the respect required of other princes. After Manggûltai died early in 1633, he was accused of having had treasonous ambitions in his lifetime, and his Banner was taken from the control of his family and placed temporarily under Abahai's two Yellow Banners (see under Dorgon). By such means Abahai came into control of three of the eight Banners, rid himself of two important rivals, and concentrated the power of the government in his own hands.

In this program Abahai met almost no opposition. His phenomenal political success was due chiefly to his ability as a military leader, demonstrated in the successful wars he waged against China, Korea, and the Mongolian tribes. Early in 1627 he tried to negotiate by correspondence a peace with Yüan Ch'ung-huan [q. v.], the Chinese governor who had defeated Nurhaci. In these negotiations Abahai demanded, in return for the tribute expected of him, large sums in gold and silver. Though the negotiations were fruitless they served to restrain the Chinese from attacking Abahai's rear while he invaded Korea. In his father's time the Manchus got their currency from Peking in exchange for the tribute they sent to the Ming Court. Ever since Nurhaci had ceased to send tribute to Peking the Manchus had suffered from shortage of money. One motive for Abahai's invasion of Korea was to force that country to send annual tribute of silver and cloth which he needed. He did not subdue Korea at this time, but agreed to correspond with the king of that country, Li Tsung 李倧 (temple name 仁祖, 1595–1649, reigned 1623–1649), on a basis of equality as a "brother." After thus silencing Korea he again attacked Yüan's forts (late in 1627), but was repulsed. Yüan was forced by his government to retire for several months, but was reinstated at Ning-yüan in 1628 with wider powers which permitted him to strengthen his defenses west of the Liao River. Abahai then negotiated with the Chinese general, Mao Wên-lung [q. v.], for the surrender of the island, P'i-tao, near the mouth of the Yalu River. But the plot was discovered and Mao was executed. In order to replenish his coffers Abahai led an army, in 1629, through the territories of the friendly Tumed and Kharachin Mongols, invading China by the passes near Hsi-fêng k'ou 喜峯口. Finally he attacked Peking. Yüan Ch'ung-huan hurried to the rescue but was imprisoned in Peking on the false charge of seditious relations with the Manchus. According to Ch'ing official accounts the evidence against Yüan was furnished by spies of Abahai who regarded Yüan as the main obstacle to the successful invasion of China.

Shortly after Abahai returned to Mukden with his booty the cities west of Shanhaikuan which he had taken were lost (see under Amin). In 1631 he surrounded Ta-ling-ho and took that city (see under Tsu Ta-shou). In the following year he again went to Inner Mongolia, advancing farther west than he had three years previously. There he encountered the Chahar Mongols and, after pillaging several cities near Kalgan, he signed a truce with the local general, making that city a trading post. However, in 1634, he again attacked the northern cities of Shansi and Chihli and subdued the Chahar Mongols, the strongest of the Inner Mongolian tribes. Meanwhile, with the surrender of K'ung Yu-tê and Kêng Chung-ming [qq. v.] in 1633, and Shang K'o-hsi in 1634, Abahai greatly increased the number of his Chinese troops and of his councilors who had literary training. His territory now extended south to Lu-shun (Port Arthur). He named his capital, Shêng-ching (Mukden), and his ancestral city (Hetu Ala), Hsing-ching 興京. By 1635 the last of the Chahars were subjugated by Dorgon and a seal said to have been used by the Mongol emperors during the Yüan dynasty was taken from them. The Inner Mongolians, being organized into companies and banners, remained loyal to the Ch'ing house (except for minor disturbances) throughout the dynasty. In the same year (1635) Abahai sent an expedition to conquer the Hurkas of the Amur region, bringing back more than seven thousand captives.

In 1635, doubtless on the advice of his Chinese councilors, Abahai forbade the use of the names, Ju-chên or Chien-chou (see under Nurhaci), in reference to his people, decreeing that the name Man-chou 滿洲 (Manchu) should be used instead. This change was made to obscure the fact that his ancestors had been under Chinese rule and that they are referred to in Chinese records as Ju-chên or Chien-chou. On May 14, 1636, he proclaimed himself emperor, changed the name of his dynasty to Ch'ing 清 and his reign-title to Ch'ung-tê. Representatives from many Mongolian tribes came to felicitate him. Later in 1636, he sent two armies to invade China, which pillaged Pao-ting and other cities and returned with many captives and much booty. Meanwhile Korea had stubbornly refused to recognize Abahai as emperor and perhaps was not very generous with her annual tribute to him. On December 28, 1638 Abahai personally commanded an army to invade Korea which he subdued in a month. The king of Korea was forced to recognize the suzerainty of the court at Mukden, relinquished his sons as hostages, and agreed to send annual tribute. Koreans who affirmed their loyalty to China were executed. Abahai also annexed the island, P'i-tao. In 1638 he established the Li-fan yüan 理藩院, a board in charge of affairs relating to Koreans and Mongols. Later in that year he sent two armies to invade China (see under Yoto and Dorgon) which returned in 1639 after pillaging many cities in Chihli and Shantung. In a final effort to stem these invasions the Ming emperor, I-tsung (see under Chu Yu-chien), made Hung Ch'êng-ch'ou [q. v.] commander of the forces in Liaotung. With Tsu Ta-shou [q. v.] and other generals Hung made a stubborn defense at Chin-chou, but soon Tsu was besieged in that city and Hung likewise, in the neighboring city of Sung-shan. In 1642 the defense collapsed and both generals surrendered, Abahai's territory now extended to the vicinity of Shanhaikuan. In the north his various expeditions (1636–37, 1689–40, 1641, and 1643–44) succeeded in bringing the whole Amur region under Manchu rule. However, his health failed; he died in 1643, and was succeeded by his ninth son, Fu-lin [q. v.], with Jirgalang and Dorgon as regents. Abahai was given the posthumous name Wên Huang-ti 文皇帝 and the temple name T'ai-tsung 太宗. His tomb was named Chao-ling 昭陵.

During his reign of seventeen years Abahai greatly strengthened the foundations of the Ch'ing dynasty as laid by his father, and paved the way for the conquest of China. Some credit for his success must be given to the Chinese who surrendered to him, as shown in the memorials they submitted during his reign. A number of these memorials, entitled 天聰朝臣工奏議 T'ien-ts'ung ch'ao Ch'ên-kung tsou-i, 3 chüan, were printed in the series, 史料叢刊初編 Shih-liao ts'ung-k'an ch'u-pien (1924). These Chinese were given high rank and were treated respectfully. Such generals as K'ung Yu-tê and Kêng Chung-ming not only brought with them many soldiers but also new weapons which the Chinese had begun to manufacture with the help of Portuguese missionaries from Macao (see under Sun Yüan-hua). Abahai did not underestimate the importance of literary activity. In 1629 he established the Wên Kuan 文館, or Literary Office which was expanded in 1636 to the Three Courts (三院) differentiated by the designations Kuo-shih 國史, Pi-shu 秘書, and Hung-wên 弘文. These courts were later consolidated into the Grand Secretariat. He also ordered Dahai [q. v.] to make improvements in the Manchu alphabet. Some documents written in the Manchu language before and after these improvements were made are still extant. The official history of his period, entitled Ch'ing T'ai-tsung Wên Huang-ti shih-lu (實錄), 65 chüan, was first compiled in the years 1652-55, but was revised in the years 1673-82. The final revision in 65 + 3 chüan was made during the years 1734-40. The classified collection of his edicts, entitled Ch'ing T'ai-tsung Wên Huang-ti shêng-hsün, (聖訓) 6 chüan, was printed in 1740.

Abahai had eleven sons, seven of whom reached maturity. The most important politically, aside from Fu-lin, was the eldest, Haoge [q. v.]. The sixth son, Gose 高塞 (H. 霓庵, 敬一主人, 1637–1670), had literary inclinations and was the author of a volume of verse, entitled 恭壽堂集 Kung-shou t'ang chi. Gose held the rank of a prince of the fifth degree and was given the posthumous name, K'o-hou 殼厚. Of Abahai's fourteen daughters, nine married Mongols. The youngest, Princess K'o-ch'un, married Wu Ying-hsiung, the eldest son of Wu San-kuei (for both see under Wu San-kuei). Wu Ying-hsiung was executed in 1674.

[1/2/1a; Huang Ch'ing k'ai-kuo fang-lüeh, translation of the same, with notes, by E. Hauer; Daily records, letters, and memorials published in Shih-liao ts'ung-k'an ch'u-pien; 清皇室四譜 Ch'ing Huang-shih ssŭ-p'u; Howorth, H. H., History of the Mongols (1876), pp. 384–454; 清代帝后像 Ch'ing-tai ti-hou hsiang, vol. 1; 明清史料 Ming Ch'ing shih-liao, vols. 1–10; 燃藜室紀述 Jan-li shih chi-shu, chüan 27, 28; Hsieh Kuo-chên 謝國楨, 清開國史料考 Ch'ing k'ai-kuo shih-liao k'ao; 奉天通志 Fêng-t'ien t'ung-chih (1934); 故宮週刊 Ku-kung chou-k'an, nos. 245–459; Imanishi Shunjū 今西春秋, 淸の太宗の立太子問題 in 史學研究 Shigaku Kenkyū, vol. VII, nos. 1–2 (1935); Mêng Sên 孟森,八旗制度考實 in Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology (Academia Sinica), vol. VI, pt. 3 (1936).]

Fang Chao-ying