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|Prince Rui of the First Rank
Portrait of Dorgon
|Prince Regent of the Qing Dynasty|
|Predecessor||(None. Title created.)|
|Successor||(None. Title abolished.)|
Dorbo (adopted son)
|House||House of Aisin-Gioro|
17 November 1612|
Yenden (present-day Xinbin Manchu Autonomous County, Fushun, Liaoning)
|Died||31 December 1650
Kharahotun (present-day Chengde, Hebei)
|Manchu script name|
Dorgon was born of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan as the 14th son of Nurhaci, khan of the Later Jin Dynasty (later renamed to Qing Dynasty by Nurhaci's successor Hong Taiji). His mother was Nurhaci's primary consort Lady Abahai. Ajige and Dodo were his full brothers, and Hong Taiji was his half-brother. Dorgon was one of the most influential of Nurhaci's sons, and his role was instrumental to the occupation of Ming Dynasty's capital Beijing by Qing forces in 1644. During Hong Taiji's reign, Dorgon participated in many military campaigns, including the conquests of Mongolia and Korea.
Rise to power
After Hong Taiji died in 1643, Dorgon became involved in a power struggle with Hong Taiji's eldest son Hooge over the succession to the throne. The conflict was resolved with a compromise - both backed out, and Hong Taiji's ninth son Fulin ascended the throne as the Shunzhi Emperor. Since the Shunzhi Emperor was only six years old at that time, Dorgon was appointed regent and became the de facto ruler. Dorgon was conferred the title of "Emperor's Uncle and Prince Regent" (皇叔父攝政王), which was later changed to "Emperor's Father and Prince Regent" (皇父攝政王). It was greatly rumoured that Dorgon had a romantic affair with the Shunzhi Emperor's mother Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang and even secretly married her, but there are also refutations.Whether they secretly married, had a secret affair or kept their distance remains a controversy in the Chinese history community.
Dorgon's regency (1643–1650)
A quasi emperor
On 17 February 1644, Jirgalang, who was a capable military leader but appeared uninterested in managing state affairs, willingly yielded control of all official matters to Dorgon. After an alleged plot by Hooge to undermine the regency was exposed on 6 May of that year, Hooge was stripped of his title of Imperial Prince and his co-conspirators were executed. Dorgon soon replaced Hooge's supporters (mostly from the Yellow Banners) with his own, thus gaining closer control of two more Banners. By early June 1644, he was in firm control of the Qing government and its military.
In early 1644, just as Dorgon and his advisors were pondering how to attack the Ming, peasant rebellions were dangerously approaching Beijing. On 24 April of that year, rebel leader Li Zicheng breached the walls of the Ming capital, pushing the Chongzhen Emperor to hang himself on a hill behind the Forbidden City. Hearing the news, Dorgon's Chinese advisors Hong Chengchou and Fan Wencheng (范文程; 1597–1666) urged the Manchu prince to seize this opportunity to present themselves as avengers of the fallen Ming and claim the Mandate of Heaven for the Qing. The last obstacle between Dorgon and Beijing was Ming general Wu Sangui, who was garrisoned at Shanhai Pass at the eastern end of the Great Wall. He himself was caught between the Manchus and Li Zicheng's forces. Wu requested Dorgon's help in ousting the bandits and restoring the Ming. When Dorgon asked Wu to work for the Qing instead, Wu had little choice but to accept. Aided by Wu Sangui's elite soldiers, who fought the rebel army for hours before Dorgon finally chose to intervene with his cavalry, the Qing won a decisive victory against Li Zicheng at the Battle of Shanhai Pass on 27 May. Li's defeated troops looted Beijing for several days until Li left the capital on 4 June with all the wealth he could carry.
Settling in the capital
After six weeks of mistreatment at the hands of rebel troops, the Beijing population sent a party of elders and officials to greet their liberators on 5 June. They were startled when, instead of meeting Wu Sangui and the Ming heir apparent, they saw Dorgon, a horseriding Manchu with his shaved forehead, present himself as the Prince Regent. In the midst of this upheaval, Dorgon installed himself in the Wuying Palace (武英殿), the only building that remained more or less intact after Li Zicheng had set fire to the palace complex on 3 June. Banner troops were ordered not to loot; their discipline made the transition to Qing rule "remarkably smooth." Yet at the same time as he claimed to have come to avenge the Ming, Dorgon ordered that all claimants to the Ming throne (including descendants of the last Ming emperor) should be executed along with their supporters.
On June 7, just two days after entering the city, Dorgon issued special proclamations to officials around the capital, assuring them that if the local population agreed to shave their foreheads, wear queues, and surrender, the officials would be allowed to stay at their posts. He had to repeal this command three weeks later after several peasant rebellions erupted around Beijing, threatening Qing control over the capital region.
Dorgon greeted Shunzhi at the gates of Beijing on 19 October 1644. On 30 October the six-year-old monarch performed sacrifices to Heaven and Earth at the Altar of Heaven. A formal ritual of enthronement for Fulin was held on 8 November, during which the young emperor compared Dorgon's achievements to those of the Duke of Zhou, a revered regent from antiquity. During the ceremony, Dorgon's official title was raised from "Prince Regent" to "Uncle Prince Regent" (Shufu shezheng wang 叔父攝政王), in which the Manchu term for "Uncle" (ecike) represented a rank higher than that of imperial prince. Three days later Dorgon's co-regent Jirgalang was demoted from "Prince Regent" to "Assistant Uncle Prince Regent" (Fu zheng shuwang 輔政叔王). In June 1645, Dorgon eventually decreed that all official documents should refer to him as "Imperial Uncle Prince Regent" (Huang shufu shezheng wang 皇叔父攝政王), leaving him one step short of claiming the throne for himself.
One of Dorgon's first orders in the new Qing capital was to vacate the entire northern part of Beijing and give it to Bannermen. The Yellow Banners were given the place of honor north of the palace, followed by the White Banners to the east, the Red Banners to the west, and the Blue Banners to the south. This distribution complied with the order established in the Manchu homeland before the conquest and under which "each of the banners was given a fixed geographical location according to the points of the compass." Despite tax remissions and large-scale building programs designed to facilitate the transition, in 1648 many Chinese civilians still lived among the newly arrived Banner population and there was still animosity between the two groups. Agricultural land outside the capital was also delineated (quan 圈) and given to Qing troops. Former landowners now became tenants who had to pay rent to their absentee Bannermen landlords. This transition in land use caused "several decades of disruption and hardship."
In 1646, Dorgon also ordered that the civil examinations for selecting government officials be reinstated. From then on, examinations were held every three years as under the Ming. In the very first palace examination held under Qing rule in 1646, candidates, most of whom were northern Chinese, were asked how the Manchus and Han Chinese could work together for a common purpose. The 1649 examination asked "how Manchus and Han Chinese could be unified so that their hearts were the same and they worked together without division." Under the Shunzhi reign the average number of graduates of the metropolitan examination per session was the highest of the Qing dynasty ("to win more Chinese support"), continuing until 1660 when lower quotas were established.
The conquest of China
Under the reign of Dorgon––whom historians have variously called "the mastermind of the Qing conquest" and "the principal architect of the great Manchu enterprise"––the Qing subdued almost all of China and pushed loyalist "Southern Ming" resistance into the far southwestern reaches of China. After repressing anti-Qing revolts in Hebei and Shandong in the Summer and Fall of 1644, Dorgon sent armies to root out Li Zicheng from the important city of Xi'an (Shaanxi province), where Li had reestablished his headquarters after fleeing Beijing in early June 1644. Under the pressure of Qing armies, Li was forced to leave Xi'an in February 1645. He was killed––either by his own hand or by a peasant group that had organized for self-defense during this time of rampant banditry––in September 1645 after fleeing though several provinces.
From newly captured Xi'an, in early April 1645 the Qing mounted a campaign against the rich commercial and agricultural region of Jiangnan south of the lower Yangtze River, where in June 1644 a Ming imperial prince had established a regime loyal to the Ming. Factional bickering and numerous defections prevented the Southern Ming from mounting an efficient resistance. Several Qing armies swept south, taking the key city of Xuzhou north of the Huai River in early May 1645 and soon converging on Yangzhou, the main city on the Southern Ming's northern line of defense. Bravely defended by Shi Kefa, who refused to surrender, Yangzhou fell to Manchu artillery on 20 May after a one-week siege. Dorgon's brother Prince Dodo then ordered the slaughter of Yangzhou's entire population. As intended, this massacre terrorized other Jiangnan cities into surrendering to the Qing. Indeed Nanjing surrendered without a fight on 16 June after its last defenders made Dodo promise he would not harm the population. The Qing soon captured the Ming emperor (who died in Beijing the following year) and seized Jiangnan's main cities, including Suzhou and Hangzhou; by early July 1645, the frontier between the Qing and the Southern Ming had been pushed south to the Qiantang River.
On 21 July 1645, after Jiangnan had been superficially pacified, Dorgon issued a most inopportune edict ordering all Chinese men to shave their foreheads and to braid the rest of their hair into a queue identical to those of the Manchus. The punishment for non-compliance was death. This policy of symbolic submission helped the Manchus tell friend from foe. For Han officials and literati, however, the new hairstyle was shameful and demeaning (because it breached a common Confucian directive to preserve one's body intact), whereas for common folk cutting their hair was the same as losing their virility. Because it united Chinese of all social backgrounds into resistance against Qing rule, the hair cutting command greatly hindered the Qing conquest. The defiant population of Jiading and Songjiang was massacred by former Ming general Li Chengdong (李成東; d. 1649), respectively on August 24 and September 22. Jiangyin also held out against about 10,000 Qing troops for 83 days. When the city wall was finally breached on 9 October 1645, the Qing army led by the previous Ming defector Liu Liangzuo (劉良佐; d. 1667) massacred the entire population, killing between 74,000 and 100,000 people. These massacres ended armed resistance against the Qing in the Lower Yangtze. A few committed loyalists became hermits, hoping that for lack of military success, their withdrawal from the world would at least symbolize their continued defiance against foreign rule.
After the fall of Nanjing, two more members of the Ming imperial household created new Southern Ming regimes: one centered in coastal Fujian around the "Longwu Emperor" Zhu Yujian, Prince of Tang––a ninth-generation descendant of Ming founder Zhu Yuanzhang––and one in Zhejiang around "Regent" Zhu Yihai, Prince of Lu. But the two loyalist groups failed to cooperate, making their chances of success even lower than they already were. In July 1646, a new Southern Campaign led by Prince Bolo sent Prince Lu's Zhejiang court into disarray and proceeded to attack the Longwu regime in Fujian. Zhu Yujian was caught and summarily executed in Tingzhou (western Fujian) on 6 October. His adoptive son Koxinga fled to the island of Taiwan with his fleet. Finally in November, the remaining centers of Ming resistance in Jiangxi province fell to the Qing.
In late 1646 two more Southern Ming monarchs emerged in the southern province of Guangzhou, reigning under the era names of Shaowu (紹武) and Yongli. Short of official costumes, the Shaowu court had to purchase robes from local theater troops. The two Ming regimes fought each other until 20 January 1647, when a small Qing force led by Li Chengdong captured Guangzhou, killed the Shaowu Emperor, and sent the Yongli court fleeing to Nanning in Guangxi. In May 1648, however, Li mutinied against the Qing, and the concurrent rebellion of another former Ming general in Jiangxi helped Yongli to retake most of south China. This resurgence of loyalist hopes was short-lived. New Qing armies managed to reconquer the central provinces of Huguang (present-day Hubei and Hunan), Jiangxi, and Guangdong in 1649 and 1650. The Yongli emperor had to flee again. Finally on 24 November 1650, Qing forces led by Shang Kexi captured Guangzhou and massacred the city's population, killing as many as 70,000 people.
Meanwhile in October 1646, Qing armies led by Hooge (the son of Hong Taiji who had lost the succession struggle of 1643) reached Sichuan, where their mission was to destroy the kingdom of bandit leader Zhang Xianzhong. Zhang was killed in a battle against Qing forces near Xichong in central Sichuan on 1 February 1647. Also late in 1646 but further north, forces assembled by a Muslim leader known in Chinese sources as Milayin (米喇印) revolted against Qing rule in Ganzhou (Gansu). He was soon joined by another Muslim named Ding Guodong (丁國棟). Proclaiming that they wanted to restore the Ming, they occupied a number of towns in Gansu, including the provincial capital Lanzhou. These rebels' willingness to collaborate with non-Muslim Chinese suggests that they were not only driven by religion. Both Milayin and Ding Guodong were captured and killed by Meng Qiaofang (孟喬芳; 1595–1654) in 1648, and by 1650 the Muslim rebels had been crushed in campaigns that inflicted heavy casualties.
Dorgon died in 1650 during a hunting trip in Kharahotun (present-day Chengde, Hebei). He was posthumously granted the title of Emperor Yi (Chinese: 義皇帝) and the temple name "Chengzong" (成宗), even though he was never emperor during his lifetime. The Shunzhi Emperor even bowed thrice in front of Dorgon's coffin during the funeral.
Posthumous demotion and restoration
In 1651 Dorgon's rivals, led by former co-regent Jirgalang, submitted to the Shunzhi Emperor a long memorial listing a series of crimes committed by Dorgon, which included: possession of yellow robes, which were strictly for use only by the emperor; plotting to seize the throne from the Shunzhi Emperor by calling himself "Emperor's Father"; killing Hooge and taking Hooge's concubines for himself. The Shunzhi Emperor posthumously stripped Dorgon of his titles and even had Dorgon's corpse exhumed and flogged in public. It is believed that the Shunzhi Emperor hated Dorgon and saw him as a threat to the throne. Dorgon was posthumously rehabilitated during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor. In 1778 the Qianlong Emperor granted Dorgon a posthumous name zhong (忠; "loyal"), so Dorgon's full posthumous title became "Prince Ruizhong of the First Rank" (和碩睿忠親王).
Dorgon was survived by only a daughter. However he had adopted his nephew Dorbo (fifth son of Dorgon's brother Dodo), so Dorbo inherited Dorgon's princely title.
Dorgon is usually considered a good,devoted politician but he is also blamed for "Six Bad Policies(六大弊政)". These were policies designed to bolster the rule of the Qing conquerors, but which caused considerable disturbance and bloodshed in China, and included:
- Forced head-shaving (剃发) and adopting Manchu clothing (易服): Chinese men were compelled to shave the front of their heads and tie their hair in queues after the Manchu fashion, on pain of death. Massacres occurred in southern Chinese cities whose inhabitants resisted the imposition of the law.
- Land enclosure (圈地) and requisitioning of homes (占房): to provide economic bases for the Bannermen, they were allowed to enclose 'wasteland without owners' for their use; this law was however abused to take farmlands and estates which were already inhabited, with military force.
- Forced slavery (投充) and anti-escapee (逃人) laws: in the wake of the enclosure of vast agricultural estates, the manpower was provided by allowing Bannermen to seize commoners and enslave them. This in turn necessitated decrees to tackle the problem of escapees, including summary executions of people harbouring escaped slaves and hanging for repeated escapees.
- Primary spouses:
- Lady Borjigit (博爾濟吉特氏), a Khorchin Mongol, daughter of Jisang'a'erzhai (吉桑阿爾寨) and sister of Bumbutai known as Xiao Yu Er. When she died Dorgon posthumously granted her the title of "Grand Consort Jingxiaozhonggong" (敬孝忠恭元妃). After Dorgon died and was posthumously granted the title of an emperor, she received the posthumous title of Empress Chengzongyi (成宗義皇后).
- Lady Tunggiya (佟佳氏), from the Jurchen tribe of Jianzhou (建州), daughter of Imperial Secretary (尚書) Menggetu (蒙格圖).
- Lady Borjigit (博爾濟吉特氏), from the Zha'ermang (扎爾莽) Mongol tribe, daughter of Gendu'ertaiji (根杜爾台吉).
- Lady Borjigit (博爾濟吉特氏), a Khorchin Mongol, daughter of Labuxixitaiji (拉布希西台吉).
- Lady Borjigit (博爾濟吉特氏), a Khorchin Mongol, daughter of Suonuobutaiji (索諾布台吉) and a relative of Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang. Originally Hooge's wife, she married Dorgon after her husband lost to Dorgon in a power struggle and died.
- Yi Ae-suk (李愛淑), a princess of the Korean Joseon Dynasty, daughter of Yi Gae-eum (李愷胤).
- Secondary spouses:
- Lady Gongqite (公齊特氏), from the Chaha'er (察哈爾) tribe. The identity of her father is unknown.
- Lady Borjigit (博爾濟吉特氏), from an unknown Mongol tribe. The identity of her father is unknown.
- Lady Ji'ermote (濟爾莫特氏), origins unknown.
- Lady Yi (李氏), a Korean, daughter of Yi Si-seo (李世緒).
- Primary spouses:
- Donggo (東莪), Dorgon's daughter, born to Yi Ae-suk.
- Dorbo (多爾博), fifth son of Dorgon's brother Dodo, adopted by Dorgon. He inherited Dorgon's princely title.
- Elliott, Mark (2001). The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China. Stanford University Press. p. 242. ISBN 9780804746847.
- For Manchurians brother-in-law can ordinarily marry widowed wife,but to Hans it was terrible crime
- Wakeman 1985, p. 299.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 300, note 231.
- Dennerline 2002, p. 79.
- Roth Li 2002, p. 71.
- Mote 1999, p. 809.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 304; Dennerline 2002, p. 81.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 290.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 304.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 308.
- Wakeman 1985, pp. 311–12.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 313; Mote 1999, p. 817.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 313.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 314 (were all expecting Wu and the heir apparent) and 315 (reaction to seeing Dorgon instead).
- Wakeman 1985, p. 315.
- Naquin 2000, p. 289.
- Mote 1999, p. 818.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 416; Mote 1999, p. 828.
- Wakeman 1985, pp. 420–22 (which explains these matters and claims that the order was repealed by edict on 25 June). Gong 2010, p. 84 gives the date as 28 June.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 857.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 858.
- Wakeman 1985, pp. 858 and 860 ("According to the emperor's speechwriter, who was probably Fan Wencheng, Dorgon even 'surpassed' (guo) the revered Duke of Zhou because 'The Uncle Prince also led the Grand Army through Shanhai Pass to smash two hundred thousand bandit soldiers, and then proceeded to take Yanjing, pacifying the Central Xia. He invited Us to come to the capital and received him as a great guest'.").
- Wakeman 1985, pp. 860–61, and p. 861, note 31.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 861.
- See maps in Naquin 2000, p. 356 and Elliott 2001, p. 103.
- Oxnam 1975, p. 170.
- Naquin 2000, pp. 289–91.
- Naquin 2000, p. 291.
- Elman 2002, p. 389.
- Cited in Elman 2002, pp. 389–90.
- Man-Cheong 2004, p. 7, Table 1.1 (number of graduates per session under each Qing reign); Wakeman 1985, p. 954 (reason for the high quotas); Elman 2001, p. 169 (lower quotas in 1660).
- Zarrow 2004a, passim.
- Wakeman 1985, pp. 483 (Li reestablished headquarters in Xi'an) and 501 (Hebei and Shandong revolts, new campaigns against Li).
- Wakeman 1985, pp. 501–7.
- Dorgon's brother Dodo received the command to lead this "southern expedition" (nan zheng 南征) on April 1 (Wakeman 1985, p. 521). He set out from Xi'an on that very day (Struve 1988, p. 657). The Ming Prince of Fu had been crowned as emperor on 19 June 1644 (Wakeman 1985, p. 346; Struve 1988, p. 644).
- For examples of the factional struggles that weakened the Hongguang court, see Wakeman 1985, pp. 523–43. Some defections are explained in Wakeman 1985, pp. 543–45.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 522 (taking of Xuzhou; Struve 1988, p. 657; converging on Yangzhou).
- Struve 1988, p. 657.
- Finnane 1993, p. 131.
- Struve 1988, p. 657 (purpose of the massacre was to terrorize Jiangnan); Zarrow 2004a, passim (late-Qing uses of the Yangzhou massacre).
- Struve 1988, p. 660.
- Struve 1988, p. 660 (capture of Suzhou and Hangzhou by early July 1645; new frontier); Wakeman 1985, p. 580 (capture of the emperor around 17 June, and later death in Beijing).
- Wakeman 1985, p. 647; Struve 1988, p. 662; Dennerline 2002, p. 87 (which calls this edict "the most untimely promulgation of [Dorgon's] career.)"
- Kuhn 1990, p. 12.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 647 ("From the Manchus' perspective, the command to cut one's hair or lose one's head not only brought rulers and subjects together into a single physical resemblance; it also provided them with a perfect loyalty test").
- Wakeman 1985, pp. 648–49 (officials and literati) and 650 (common men). In the Classic of Filial Piety, Confucius is cited as "a person's body and hair, being gifts from one's parents, are not to be damaged: this is the beginning of filial piety" (身體髮膚，受之父母，不敢毀傷，孝之始也). Prior to the Qing dynasty, adult Han Chinese men customarily did not cut their hair, but instead wore it in a topknot.
- Struve 1988, pp. 662–63 ("broke the momentum of the Qing conquest"); Wakeman 1975, p. 56 ("the hair-cutting order, more than any other act, engendered the Kiangnan [Jiangnan] resistance of 1645"); Wakeman 1985, p. 650 ("the rulers' effort to make Manchus and Han one unified 'body' initially had the effect of unifying upper- and lower-class natives in central and south China against the interlopers").
- Wakeman 1975, p. 78.
- Wakeman 1975, p. 83.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 674.
- Struve 1988, pp. 665 (on the Prince of Tang) and 666 (on the Prince of Lu).
- Struve 1988, pp. 667–69 (for their failure to cooperate), 669-74 (for the deep financial and tactical problems that beset both regimes).
- Struve 1988, p. 675.
- Struve 1988, p. 676.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 737.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 738.
- Wakeman 1985, pp. 765–66.
- Wakeman 1985, p. 767.
- Wakeman 1985, pp. 767–68.
- Dai 2009, p. 17.
- Dai 2009, pp. 17–18.
- Rossabi 1979, p. 191.
- Larsen & Numata 1943, p. 572 (Meng Qiaofang, death of rebel leaders); Rossabi 1979, p. 192.
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