Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Wang Fu-ch'ên

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WANG Fu-ch'ên 王輔臣, d. Oct. 10, 1681, general, was a native of Tatung, Shansi. It is reported that he came from a family named Li 李 of Honan, and that at the close of the Ming period he attached himself to a band of outlaws. Later he joined the general, Chiang Hsiang [q. v.], and was adopted by a man named Wang Chin-ch'ao 王進朝, hence the surname by which he is now known. He was tall and of light complexion and was known by the nickname, Ma yao-tzŭ 馬鷂子, "The Eagle Who Preys on Horses". When Chiang Hsiang rebelled against the Manchus in 1648 Wang was a colonel in Chiang's army and became celebrated for his bravery in fighting the besieging army under Ajige [q. v.]. In 1649 he surrendered to the Manchus and served under the Plain White Banner. Before long he was made an Imperial Bodyguard. In 1653 he was sent to serve under Hung Ch'êng-ch'ou [q. v.] in fighting the remnant Ming forces in Southwest China. For his exploits he was given the title of a brigade-general and in 1659 was appointed brigade-general in command of the armies in eastern Yunnan. At this time Wu San-kuei [q. v.] was given civil and military control of Yunnan and Wang, being his subordinate, was on intimate terms with him.

In 1670 Wang Fu-ch'ên was promoted to be provincial commander-in-chief of Shensi with headquarters at P'ing-liang, Kansu. In 1673 Wu San-kuei rebelled in Yunnan and sent a messenger to Wang, calling on him to join the rebellion. Wang delivered the message and the messenger to Peking and, for this manifestation of loyalty, was rewarded by Emperor Shêng-tsu with the rank of a third-class viscount. He was greatly disappointed, however, when an offer to lead his men to Hunan to fight Wu San-kuei was rejected; and when Molo 莫洛 (posthumous name 忠愍, d. 1675) was appointed commander-in-chief of the armies in Shensi and Szechwan. Late in 1674 Molo ordered Wang to accompany him in an advance to Szechwan from Shensi. Molo, it is said, had treated Wang condescendingly. On December 30, 1674, while Molo was camping near Ning-ch'iang, Wang fell on him and killed him. Thus Wang became at one stroke a partisan in Wu's rebellion, and received from Wu 200,000 taels silver, in addition to titles and ranks. In a short time Wang got control of many cities in Kansu and Shensi. Only General Chang Yung [q. v.] in western Kansu, and the Manchu armies at Sian, checked his further advance. In the meantime Emperor Shêng-tsu sent warm letters to Wang, promising him pardon if he would repent immediately. Wang's revolt, of course, had caused a serious setback to Emperor Shêng-tsu's military plans, so that even southern Shensi was lost to Wu's men. Hence the emperor ordered Dongge 洞鄂 (d. 1706, seventh son of Dodo [q. v.]), to command the troops at Sian and to coordinate the attack on Wang Fu-ch'ên. After fighting for more than a year, Wang's territory was reduced to a small area round Ping-liang which then was besieged. In 1676 Tuhai [q. v.] was made commander-in-chief to press the siege. After several victories Wang was forced to surrender to that general. As Emperor Shêng-tsu was then tempting Wu Sankuei's partisans to surrender, he did not punish Wang, but re-invested him with his former ranks and titles. He also gave him the new title, Ching-k'ou Chiang-chün 靖寇將軍, and ordered him to serve under Tuhai at Han-chung. But Wang, feeling unsafe, attempted, without success, to hang himself; and his wives committed suicide. Late in 1681, after Wu San-kuei's rebellion had ended, Tuhai was ordered to escort Wang to Peking. Wang, however, was aware of the retribution awaiting him and strangled himself at Sian (October 10). Thereupon his hereditary rank was abolished and his family was incorporated in the Plain White Banner.

According to Liu Hsien-t'ing [q. v.], Wang Fu-ch'ên did not himself wish to rebel, but was forced to do so by his subordinates. Liu also asserts that when Tuhai returned to Peking the latter was severely rebuked by Emperor Shêngtsu on the ground that he had shown himself to be a partisan of Wang. Consequently Tuhai committed suicide. The only one who profited by Wang's revolt was his adversary, Chang Yung.

[2/80/15a; P'ing-ting San-ni fang-lüeh (see under Han T'an); Liu Hsien-t'ing, Kuang-yang tsa-chi 4/16a.]

Fang Chao-ying