Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ghantimur

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GHANTIMUR 根特木, an important figure in Russo-Chinese relations in the latter half of the seventeenth century, was a chieftain (with the title of Beise 貝子) of a group of Solun tribesmen who inhabited the Amur region. Details of his early life are unknown, but we learn that he was with the Manchu army that was sent in 1655 against the Russian fort of Kumarsk (built by E. Khabarov in 1652, see under Šarhûda). Sometime during the years 1667–70 he, with his relatives and forty men of his tribe, went over to the Russians. An immediate attempt made by the Manchurian authorities to secure his return by force was unsuccessful, and special envoys sent by order of Emperor Shêng-tsu could not persuade him to come back.

Ghantimur was baptized as a Christian in 1684 and entered the ranks of the Russian nobility with the title and name of Prince Peter Ghantimurov. The Moscow Government put him in charge of some of the Tungus and Mongol tribes of the newly-acquired Dauria (Eastern Siberia). For permanent residence he chose Nerchinsk (built by Voevoda Athanasy Pashkov in 1656).

The so-called "treason" of Ghantimur gave rise to a long controversy between Russia and China. In an official letter to Czar Alexey Mikhailovich, dated June 29, 1670, Emperor Shêng-tsu demanded the extradition of Ghantimur. The demand was repeated to the Russian envoy, N. G. Spathar-Milescu (N. G. Spafarii of Russian accounts) and was reinforced by a threat to attack the Russian forts of Nerchinsk and Albazin (built by Khabarov in 1651). The refusal on the Russian side to satisfy the demand was one of the chief reasons for the failure of the negotiations which had been conducted by Spathar-Milescu at Peking and for the subsequent return of the Embassy to Moscow (1676). Fresh demands to extradite Ghantimur were presented in a letter dated November 26, 1683, which the Chinese emperor addressed to Alexey Tolbuzin, the commandant of Fort Albazin, and in two communications to the Czar of Russia, one dated September 17, and the other, September 22, 1686. But by the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689, see under Songgotu) those Chinese who had gone over to Russia or those Russians who had come to China prior to the conclusion of the treaty, were allowed to remain, although fugitives who crossed the border subsequent to the signing of the treaty were to be handed back to the country to which they belonged. Thus Ghantimur was no longer demanded by China, whereas the Russians who were in China before 1689 became Bannermen and lived in Peking (see under Sabsu and Maci).

Ghantimur died toward the close of the seventeenth century. His descendants have been living in the region of Nerchinsk up to the present time, but long before the Russian Revolution they forfeited their rights to the title of prince.

[Ho Ch'iu-t'ao [q. v.], Shuo-fang pei-shêng 首1/10b, 首2/27a; Cahen, Gaston, Histoire des relations de la Russie avec la Chine sous Pierre le Grand (1912) pp. 23–25, 34–38, IV; Bantysh-Kamenskii, N., Diplomaticheskoe sobranie del mezhdu Rossiiskim i Kitaiskim gosudarstvami s 1619 po 1792 god (1882); Manchu text of "The report on the arrival in the 15th year of the reign of Elhe-taifin [K'ang-hsi] of the Russian Envoy Ni-k'o-lai [N. G. Spathar-Milescu] and on the letter of the Russian Czar presented by him," edited and translated by A. O. Ivanovsky in Zapiski Vostochnago otdeleniia imperatorskago arheologicheskago obschestva, Vol. II, pp. 81–124 and 195–220 (1887).]

A. V. Marakueff