Liu Jin

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Liú Jĭn (simplified Chinese: 刘瑾; traditional Chinese: (劉) (1451 – 1510) was a well-known Chinese eunuch during the reign of the Chinese Ming Dynasty Zhengde Emperor(r. 1505-1521). Liu was famous for being one of the most corrupt officials in Chinese history and the emperor in all but name for some time. He was the leader of the "Eight Tigers", a powerful group of eunuchs who controlled the imperial court. Liu Chin is from the area of Xingping (Hsing-p’ing), a county in Shaanxi (Shensi) province, approximately 30 miles west of Xian (or His-an or Sian) prefecture. A son of T’an lineage, when he was made a eunuch under the aegis of a eunuch official named Liu, he appropriated that surname.

Plotting against the emperor[edit]

The Zhengde Emperor's dissolute lifestyle placed a heavy burden on the people of the empire. He would refuse to receive all his ministers and ignored all their petitions whilst sanctioning the growth of the eunuch community in the imperial palace. Liu made some reforms such as encouraging widows to remarry, a move which went against the Neo-Confucianism views of the time.[1] Many officials and other eunuchs opposed Liu - the Prince of Anhua rebellion of Zhu Zhifan (安化王朱寘鐇) was a failed attempt to assassinate Liu and seize power. After officials suppressed the uprising an official called Yang Yiqing (楊一清) persuaded another eunuch Zhang Yong (张永/張永) to report Liu's plotting of rebellion. The Zhengde Emperor did not believe this report at first but took it seriously enough to consider expelling Liu to Fengyang County (凤阳县/鳳陽縣) in Anhui Province but Zhang's discovery of many weapons in Liu's houses sealed his fate.

Death[edit]

The emperor ordered Liu executed in Beijing by death by a thousand cuts over a period of three days, a process that resulted in Liu being cut 3,357 times. According to witnesses, angry onlookers bought a piece of his flesh for one qian (the smallest available currency at the time) and consumed it accompanied with rice wine. Liu died on the second day of his punishment after three to four hundred cuts.[2][3]

Personal wealth[edit]

According to one report, shortly before Liu was executed, 12,057,800 taels (449,750 kg) of gold and 259,583,600 taels (9,682,470 kg) of silver were taken from his residence.[4] In 2001, the Asian Wall Street Journal placed Liu on its list of the fifty wealthiest persons in the past 1,000 years[5] although the actual amount may in fact have been lower.[6]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 7: The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644
  • Frederick W. Mote & Denis Twitchett The Prince of Anhua Uprising.