Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Mingju

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3649114Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — MingjuFang Chao-ying

MINGJU 明珠 (T. 端範), 1635–1708, official, was a grandson of Gintaisi [q. v.] of the Nara clan. Gintaisi was one of the two rulers of the Yehe nation which was conquered by Nurhaci [q. v.] in 1619. Mingju was nine years old when his family, serving under the Manchu Plain Yellow Banner, moved to Peking in 1644 as nobles of the new dynasty. At first an officer of the Imperial Bodyguard, he rose by degrees to be a sub-chancellor of the Hung-wên yüan 弘文院 in 1666. In 1668 he became president of the Board of Punishments; a year later president of the Censorate; and in 1671 president of the Board of War.

When Wu San-kuei [q. v.], in 1673, pretended to Emperor Shêng-tsu that he was willing for the three frontier garrisons or San-fan of South China (of which the one at Yunnan was under his command) to be transferred to Liaotung, most officials in Peking advised the Emperor not to carry out the program for fear that it would lead to civil war. Mingju and Misḥan [q. v.], however, insisted on accepting the challenge and even resorting to arms if Wu failed to comply. The young Emperor approved the suggestion, thus precipitating the San-fan Rebellion which covered ten provinces and lasted eight years. During the war the Emperor relied much on Mingju, appointing him president of the Civil Office in 1675 and a Grand Secretary in 1677.

Mingju was friendly to Chinese scholars and saw to it that his sons were well-versed in Chinese literature. But in politics he followed the example of Oboi and Songgotu [qq. v.] in permitting the formation of a political group which stooped to bribery and corruption. By appointing his followers to key positions, he became in the sixteen-eighties the most powerful official in the empire. However, early in 1688, Kuo Hsiu [q. v.], then a censor, memorialized the throne on eight instances of corruption practiced by this group and designated Mingju as the leader. Having been long aware of the situation, the Emperor acted at once and punished all who were involved. Mingju was deprived of his titles and offices, but in the same year was made a senior assistant chamberlain of the Imperial Bodyguard, a post he held until his death twenty years later. During the wars against Galdan [q. v.] he served as commissioner of grain transport for the expeditionary forces.

A skillful business executive, he spent most of his later years in commercial enterprises (see under An Ch'i) and thus accumulated a vast fortune which remained in the family till the close of the eighteenth century when one of his descendants, Ch'êng-an 成安, was falsely accused by Ho-shên [q. v.], and the family property was confiscated.

The family of Mingju was closely related by marriage to the Ch'ing imperial house. His great-aunt was the mother of Abahai [q. v.], and he himself married a daughter of Ajige [q. v.]. The youngest of his three sons, K'uei-fang 揆芬, married a woman of the imperial clan. His eldest son, Singde, was a well known poet and the second son, K'uei-hsü [qq. v.], also a poet, was one of the powerful political figures in the later K'ang-hsi period.

[1/275/2b; 3/9/19a; 34/151/4b; Pa-ch'i Man-chou shih-tsu t'ung-p'u (see under Anfiyanggû), 22/2a; Tung-hua-lu, Ch'ien-lung 37: 10; Chao-lien [q. v.], Hsiao-t'ing hsü-lu 5/23a; Ku-tung so-chi (see bibl. under Lang T'ing-chi) 6/19a; Haenisch, E., T'oung Pao, 1913, p. 91; Shêng-yü [q. v.], Hsüeh-chi hsün-pei lu, 13/4a.]

Fang Chao-ying