Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Dorgon

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3637572Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — DorgonFang Chao-ying

DORGON 多爾袞, Nov. 17, 1612–1650, Dec. 31, the first Prince Jui 睿親王, was the fourteenth son of Nurhaci [q. v.]. His mother, Empress Hsiao-lieh [q. v.], gave birth to three of Nurhaci's sons, the other two being Ajige and Dodo [qq. v.]. The terms of Nurhaci's will are not clearly known. He may have designated the youthful Dorgon as heir, the elder son, Daišan [q. v.], to act as regent until Dorgon reached maturity. More probably he ordered the seven or eight princes, each of whom was then in control of a Banner (see under Nurhaci), to elect one of their number as nominal ruler. At, the same time a Banner was assigned to each of the three sons of Empress Hsiao-lieh, thus creating a powerful combination. The princes then in power—Daišan, Amin, Manggûltai, and Abahai [qq. v.]—fearing that with Empress Hsiao-lieh as a co-ordinating factor the coalition of her three sons would become too strong, forced her to commit suicide. Before her death she pleaded with the princes to look after Dorgon and Dodo who were then both in their teens.

When Abahai began to rule jointly with the other three powerful princes, he made Dorgon and Dodo Hošoi Beile (princes of the highest order) and gave each a Banner—Dorgon's being the Plain White and Dodo's the Bordered White. The elder brother, Ajige, was not given a banner, but received several niru from the two White Banners. As Dorgon and Dodo were both young Abahai treated them well and they in turn gave him their loyal support. Dorgon accompanied the troops in almost every campaign in the T'ien-ts'ung period (1627–36). In 1628 he exhibited bravery in the war against the Chahar Mongols and was given the title of Mergen daicing, or "Wise Warrior". In 1635 he was assisted by Yoto and Haoge [qq. v.] in subduing the Mongols of Chahar. When Abahai proclaimed himself emperor (1636) he made Dorgon a prince of the first degree with the designation Jui (see above).

In 1638 Dorgon was given the title, Fêng-ming Ta Chiang-chün 奉命大將軍 and was made commander of one of the two armies that invaded China—the other being led by Yoto. These armies raided more than forty cities in Chihli and Shantung (including Tsinan and Tientsin) and returned to Mukden in 1639 with much booty and many captives. A year later Dorgon supervised the cultivation of land at I-chou. Then followed the long siege of Sung-shan and Chin-chou, the fall of which in 1642 extended the Manchu territory almost to the Great Wall. In 1643, when Abahai died, the choice of a successor again became a problem. At first Daišan named Abahai's eldest son, Haoge, but the latter declined and left the conference. Ajige and Dodo wanted Dorgon to take the throne, but Dorgon declined on the ground that acceptance would be an act of disloyalty to the deceased emperor who had brought him up. The issue was finally settled when many generals who had fought under Abahai and loved him as their commander declared that they wanted one of Abahai's sons on the throne. Thus Abahai's ninth son, Fu-lin [q. v.], then only six sui, was proclaimed emperor, with Dorgon and Jirgalang [q. v.] as co-regents. Yet even after the entire court had taken an oath of allegiance to the throne, two princes—Adali (see under Lekedehun) and Šoto 碩託, second son of Daišan, conspired to make Dorgon emperor. But Dorgon and Daišan exposed the conspirators and had them executed.

Presently the fall of Peking to Li Tzŭ-ch'êng [q. v.] became known in Mukden and, on the advice of Fan Wên-ch'êng [q. v.], Dorgon personally led an army into China. The surrender of Wu San-kuei [q. v.] gave the Manchus an easy victory over Li Tzŭ-ch'êng, and Dorgon entered Peking on June 6, 1644. He was met by some Ming officials who paid their respects, as they had to the rebel leader, Li Tzŭ-ch'êng. Dorgon lived for a time in the Palace, but later moved southeast of the Palace to a smaller court which in Ming times was known as Nan-ch'êng 南城. Active and farsighted, Dorgon enlisted the help of many Chinese, including Fêng Ch'üan and Hung Ch'êng-ch'ou [qq. v.], in the conduct of the government. He sent troops in pursuit of Li Tzŭ-ch'êng, and in other ways laid the foundations of the new dynasty. On October 19 Fu-lin entered the palace in Peking and eleven days later was proclaimed Emperor of China. During the first seven years of Fu-lin's reign the government was directed by Dorgon who had supreme power and was called "Regent Uncle" ( 叔父攝政王, a title altered in 1645 to "Imperial Regent Uncle" 皇叔父攝政王). Under Dorgon's direction the provinces of Shensi, Honan and Shantung were occupied, and in 1645 Kiangnan, Kiangsi, Hupeh, and part of Chekiang were added to the throne (see under Ajige and Dodo). In 1646 Szechwan and Fukien were conquered (see under Haoge and Bolo). Although the Southern Ming forces succeeded in 1648 in recovering part of their territory, they were soon routed and restricted to the southwestern provinces (see under Chu Yu-lang and Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ). A rebellion of the Sunid Mongols was suppressed and the antagonistic Khalkas were defeated (see under Dodo).

In civil government Dorgon continued most of the institutions and practices of the Ming period. Officials of the defunct dynasty were welcomed and new Chinese officials were selected by examination or recommendation. Dorgon also enlisted the help of the German Jesuit, Adam Schall (see under Yang Kuang-hsien) as head of the Imperial Board of Astronomy after satisfying himself that Schall's calculations were more accurate than those of the Moharnmedans. Taxes were lowered and the power of the eunuchs was restricted. The order to shave the forehead and to braid the hair after the Manchu custom met with opposition, but in due time the decree prevailed. Much to the distress of the agricultural population of Chihli province, rich farms were allotted to the Eight Banners (see under Oboi) and to princes, nobles and common soldiers. During the Ming dynasty, however, such confiscation of property had taken place not only in the metropolitan area but also in distant provinces. Apart from racial enmity, the new regime was regarded by the common people as little, if any, more oppressive than that of the defunct dynasty.

Dorgon gradually centralized the power in his own hands, national policies being determined at his own residence where the imperial seals were kept. Late in 1644 Jirgalang was reduced to an assistant regent (輔政王) and received a stipend half that of Dorgon's. Although Dorgon repeatedly enjoined courtiers to pay more respect to the emperor than to himself, such orders served only to demonstrate how great his power really was. Meanwhile he treated harshly those princes who ventured to oppose him. In 1647 he discharged Jirgalang as assistant regent and appointed his own brother, Dodo, to the post. Early in 1648 Jirgalang was reduced yet further in rank, on various charges. In the same year Haoge, who had never been on friendly terms with Dorgon, was charged with various crimes and placed in confinement where he committed suicide. Several other princes were similarly humiliated. At the same time Dorgon extended his control over other banners than his own which was the Plain White. First he took over the Plain Blue Banner which originally belonged to Manggûltai and which at one time was controlled by Abahai. Then he took command of the Bordered White Banner of his brother, Dodo, after the latter's death (1649). Thus he commanded three Banners while the emperor controlled only the two Yellow Banners.

Early in 1648 Dorgon was excused from prostrating himself before the emperor at audiences. Late in 1648 (or early in 1649) he was granted the title of Imperial Father Regent(皇父攝政王). In 1649 he went personally to direct the siege of Ta-t'ung, Shansi, where a general had rebelled (see under Chiang Hsiang). Early in 1650 his wife died and he married the widow of Haoge, his nephew. He ordered the king of Korea to send princesses to be his concubines, and planned to build a palace and a city in the southern part of Jehol where he hoped to retire as a feudal lord with the bondsmen of the two White Banners as his subjects. Entrusting minor governmental affairs to his henchmen, Bolo, Nikan, and Mandahai [qq. v.], he gave himself up to the pursuit of pleasure. Although indisposed at the time, he went to Jehol, late in 1650, on a hunting trip. Being constitutionally weak, he died on the last day of the year at Kharahotun 喀喇和屯 near the Great Wall, aged only thirty-nine (sui). Ten days later he was posthumously honored as an emperor, was given the temple name Ch'êng-tsung 成宗 and was canonized as I Huang-ti 義皇帝.

While Dorgon was alive his word was law, and was implicitly followed throughout the empire. But his unexpected death created a state of confusion because, so far as is known, he had not relinquished the regency nor had he designated anyone to take his place. He left no male heir, but sometime before his death adopted a nephew, Dorbo 多爾博 (fifth son of Dodo). But as Dorbo was then very young the affairs of the White Banners were left to several of Dorgon's former lieutenants, one of whom was Ubai [q. v.]. These men claimed that they had verbal instructions from their deceased master relating to affairs of state. For a time they might well have taken over the regency—doing anything they pleased on the ground that they were carrying out Dorgon's last wishes. They failed, however, to press these claims vigorously. When Ajige, by threats and coercion, tried to make himself master of the White Banners, Ubai and his colleagues, instead of acting in the name of Dorbo, sought the help of Jirgalang and other princes who bore grudges against Dorgon and were only biding their time. Ajige was condemned (January 26, 1651) on the testimony of Ubai and his associates and finally committed suicide (November 28). But Jirgalang and the other princes, seeing that the leaders of the White Banners had no clear policy, began to plot against them, hoping to avenge themselves on Dorgon and his heir. Moreover, they could not tolerate a group claiming unlimited authority on the dubious sanction of Dorgon's last words.

The princes, nevertheless, recognized that they must act cautiously. They co-operated with the leaders of the two Yellow Banners in taking over the government in the name of the youthful emperor, Fu-lin. The latter, then fourteen sui, formally abolished the regency on February 1, 1651. Within the next few days, Ubai and his colleagues were elevated in rank and Dorgon's name was entered in the Imperial Ancestral Temple (February 8). Influential princes went over to the side of the emperor and their ranks were also raised (February 18, 20). Among the princes thus elevated were Nikan and Bolo who had a grudge against Dorgon for having previously lowered their ranks. With their ranks thus restored, these two became witnesses for the government against Ubai and other leaders of the Plain White Banner. In their trial, on February 24, the latter were charged with interference in affairs of state by falsely claiming to possess Dorgon's last commands. Two of them were executed and the rest were temporarily reduced to commoners. Some of Dorgon's former protégés, among them Suksaha (see under Oboi), now became his enemies. On March 6 they testified that Dorgon had once possessed robes and pearls such as only an emperor ought to own, but that these were deposited in his coffin by his followers; and that Dorgon had plotted with Holhoi 何洛會 and others to construct a new capital for himself. Holhoi was one who had gained Dorgon's favor by testifying against Haoge, the emperor's eldest brother. So Holhoi was condemned to a lingering death.

The supporters of Dorgon having thus been dealt with, Dorgon himself was posthumously denounced in a decree issued on March 12, 1651, which charged that he had usurped power, had humiliated other princes, had acted as though he were emperor, had altered official records, etc. All his posthumous honors were withdrawn, his princedom was abolished, and his right to a male heir was abrogated. Consequently Dorbo was ordered to return to his own branch of the family. The posthumous honors of an empress, which Dorgon had conferred on his mother, were also withdrawn. Many princes and officials who for various reasons had been punished by Dorgon, such as Jirgalang and Ebilun [q. v.], were restored in rank. In April 1651 other followers of Dorgon were condemned—two of them, Grand Secretaries Ganglin 剛林 and Kicungge 祁充格 being executed. In October 1651 Tantai (see under Yanggûri) was executed because, among other misdemeanors, he had vowed to be loyal to Dorgon. In April 1652 five more officials, several of them members of the Imperial Clan, were likewise punished for having supported Dorgon in various ways.

After the condemnation of Dorgon and the disinheritance of Dorbo, the former's adopted son, the Plain White Banner, the most opulent of the time, was placed into the service of Fu-lin himself. This and the two Yellow Banners became known as the Three Superior Banners (上三旗) because they were the property of the Throne. They were also known as the Three Banners of the Imperial Household Department, or Nei-wu fu 內務府, because they came under the control of that Department. The Bordered White Banner was not assigned to any one prince, but became one of the Five Inferior Banners (下五旗). Whenever a new princedom was created, a number of companies from these Five Banners were allotted to it, the number of companies depending on the rank of the princedom. But as the power of the throne increased no one prince was allowed to own a banner as his exclusive right. Even his power over the members of the companies allotted to him was gradually reduced.

In 1655 two officials memorialized that in view of Dorgon's great contributions to the dynasty the punishments that had been meted out to him were greater than he deserved. But a council of princes headed by Jirgalang refuted every point in the memorial with the result that the two officials were exiled. Since Dorgon was denied an heir no one was left to look after his tomb, and it fell into disrepair. When, in 1773, Emperor Kao-tsung eulogized on the merits of Dorgon he ordered that his tomb be repaired and that his nearest relatives be allowed to offer sacrifices there. Five years later when the same emperor made a re-estimate of the merits and demerits of the founders of the dynasty, he restored several branches of the Imperial Family to princely ranks. Most highly eulogized was Dorgon who was posthumously cleared of the charges against him and was restored to his rank as Prince Jui. He was also given the posthumous name, Chung 忠, and was celebrated in the Imperial Ancestral Temple. His relatives were re-united to the Imperial Family and Ch'un-ying 淳頴 (great-great-grandson of Dorbo) succeeded to the princedom. His branch of the Imperial Family, and seven others, were thereafter known as the Eight Great Families (八大家) or Princes of the Iron Helmet (鐵帽子王), who enjoyed the right of perpetual inheritance. The founders of these families were, in the order of their rank: Daišan (Prince Li), Dorgon (Prince Jui), Dodo (Prince Yü), Haoge (Prince Su), Jirgalang (Prince Chêng), Boggodo (Prince Chuang, see under Yin-lu), Lekedehun (q.v., Prince Shun-ch'êng), and Yoto (Prince K'o-ch'in).

In addition to having the designation Shê-chêng Wang 攝政王, or regent, Dorgon was known in his time by the following names: Mergen Wang 墨爾根王 ("Wise Prince"), T'ai-hsing Khan 台星可汗, Chiu Wang 九王, and Ama Van (in Jesuit accounts). His residence in Peking, the Nan-ch'êng, was converted in 1694 into a Lama temple which in 1776 was given the name P'u-tu Ssŭ 普度寺. In this temple a suit of Dorgon 's armor was preserved.

Dorgon was not proficient in Chinese literature, but was credited with the authorship of a famous letter sent to Shih K'o-fa [q. v.] in 1644 calling on the latter to surrender. This letter, and Shih's cordial but firm reply, have been much admired and are incorporated in many anthologies. But according to Fa-shih-shan [q. v.], as reported by Chao-lien [q. v.] in the Hsiao-t'ing hsü-lu (chüan 2), Dorgon's letter was really composed by Li Wên 李雯 (T. 舒章) and the reply by Shih was composed by Hou Fang-yü [q. v.]. Li Wên was a celebrated poet and writer of the late Ming period and a friend of Ch'ên Tzŭ-lung [q. v.]. He served in the Manchu Court from 1644 to 1646 as a secretary of the Grand Secretariat.

[1/224/1a; 2/2/1a; 3/首4/1a; /4/1/4a; 多爾袞攝政日記 Dorgon shê-chêng jih-chi (1933); Chang-ku ts'ung-pien (see under Hung Ch'êng-ch'ou), nos. 3, 4; Chiang Liang-ch'i [q. v.], Tung-hua lu, 4/8a, 6/9b, 6/17b–21a; 文獻叢編 Wên-hsien ts'ung-pien, no. 20; Yü Chêng-hsieh [q. v.], Kuei-ssŭ ts'un-kao, 9/5a; Du Halde, History of China (1736), p. 424; Tung-hua lu, Shun-chih: 1–8; Mêng Sên 孟森, 八旗制度考實, in Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology (Academia Sinica), vol. VI, part 3 (1936), pp. 343–412; Chêng T'ien-t'ing 鄭天挺, 多爾袞稱皇父之臆測 in 國學季刊 Kuo-hsüeh chi-k'an, vol. VI, no. 1 (1936); Ming Ch'ing shih-liao (see under Hung Ch'êng-ch'ou).]

Fang Chao-ying