Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Sun Ch'êng-tsung

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SUN Ch'êng-tsung 孫承宗 (T. 稚繩, H. 愷陽), Jan.–Feb., 1563–1638, Dec. 14, Ming scholar and general, was born in Kao-yang, Chihli. He spent much of his youth traveling in the northern part of his native province and Shansi, seeking information about the defense of the frontiers. A chin-shih of 1604, he was appointed a compiler of the Hanlin Academy, and later was connected with the Supervisorate of Imperial Instruction. When the Ming Emperor, Hsi-tsung (see under Chu Yu-chiao), came to the throne in 1620, Sun Ch'êng-tsung was his favorite lecturer; so attached did the Emperor become to him that he refused to grant him leave to take the post of vice-president of the Board of War. But the serious state of affairs in Liaotung after the fall of Kuang-ning in March 1622, induced the Emperor to make him president of the Board and concurrently a Grand Secretary. Sun began a vigorous reorganization by removing inefficient men from their posts, and after being invested with independent authority to superintend all phases of the defensive program, went to take charge personally at Shanhaikuan. Here he remained until 1625, fortifying cities and outposts, drilling armies, constructing barracks, and planting military colonies. His policy aimed at the holding of Ning-yüan as a strategic center, instead of retirement to Shanhaikuan as advocated by others. In 1624 he was much disturbed over the misgovernment of the eunuch, Wei Chung-hsien [q. v.], and tried to secure a personal interview with the Emperor, but was frustrated by Wei. Lack of support from the government led to his resignation which became effective in November 1625. Four years later, after the downfall of Wei's regime and in a new crisis caused by the Manchu invasion, he was summoned to advise the new Ming Emperor (see under Chu Yu-chien) and was charged with the defense of Tungchow, twelve miles east of Peking. In 1630 he directed the operations of Tsu Ta-shou [q. v.] and others—a move which resulted in the recapture of four cities from the enemy. Though honored by the Emperor with new titles, he refused to accept them, and repeatedly asked permission to resign. On December 15, 1631, his resignation was accepted and he retired at the age of sixty-nine (sui).

When the Manchus reached Kao-yang, seven years later, Sun led his relatives and retainers in a desperate resistance, and when this failed he committed suicide. In 1645 he was posthumously given the honorary title of Grand Preceptor and was canonized by the Ming Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) as Wên-chung 文忠. His character appealed sufficiently to the Manchus to induce Emperor Kao-tsung also to canonize him in 1776 as Chung-ting 忠定.

Sun's collected works, entitled 孫高陽文集 Sun Kao-yang wên-chi, 20 chüan, were printed about the year 1655. They were banned for a number of years in the Ch'ien-lung period, but were reprinted in 1807. Three chüan of his prose are included in the collectanea Ch'ien-k'un chêng-ch'i chi (chüan 570–72, see under Huang Tao-chou). An undated treatise of his on the use of carts in warfare may be found in the Chi-fu ts'ung-shu (see under Ts'ui Shu).

A descendant in the ninth generation, General Sun Yüeh 孫岳 (T. 禹行), 1878–1928, was a graduate of the military school at Paoting. He joined the revolutionists in 1911, took part in a number of civil wars, and helped Fêng Yü-hsiang (see under Sung Ch'ing) in the coup d'état of 1924.


[M.1/250/1a; M.30/4/34a; M.39/6/1a; M.55/1/1b; M.64 hsin 2/1a; M.84 ting chung 71a; Pao-ting fu-chih (1886) 57/14b, 44/16a; Discussion of his death, Sun K'ai-yang hsien-shêng hsün ch'êng lun, and a biographical sketch by a personal friend, Ts'ai Ting, entitled Sun Kao-yang ch'ien hou tu shih lüeh-pa in the collection, Ching-t'o i-shih (see bibl. under Yüan Ch'ung-huan); Nien-p'u edited by Sun Ch'i-fêng [q. v.]; Mu-chai ch'u-hsüeh chi by Ch'ien Ch'ien-i [q. v.] 46, 47.]

George A. Kennedy