Prince Sengge Rinchen (Mongolian: ᠰᠡᠩᠭᠡᠷᠢᠨᠼᠡᠨ Sengerinchen, Chinese: 僧格林沁; Tibetan: སེང་གེ་རིན་ཆེན།, 1811–May 19, 1865) was a Mongol nobleman and general during the Qing dynasty, who is mainly known for his role during the Second Opium War and the suppression of the Taiping and Nian rebellions.
Sengge Rinchen came from the Horqin Left Back Banner in Inner Mongolia and belonged to the Borjigin clan, which could trace its origins back to Genghis Khan's brother Hasar. His personal name consists of the Tibetan words for "lion" and "treasure" respectively. In 1825, he became an imperial prince of the second degree (郡王).
Sengge Rinchen is mainly known for his role in a number of military campaigns in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1853, Sengge Rinchen stopped the northern expedition of Taiping army and captured one of its leaders, Li Kaifang. In 1855, Sengge Rinchen's status was elevated to Prince of the First Degree in recognition of this.
Four years later during the Second Opium War, he was appointed imperial commissioner in charge of leading the campaign against the British and French invasion. In 1859, he defeated the British and French forces at the Taku Forts. However, only one year later he slipped away to Peking with 150 cavalrymen, leaving his garrison at Taku Forts to fend for themselves against a second, larger force composed of 11,000 British and 7,000 French. When only one of the Taku Forts resisted, while the rest surrendered without a fight, Sengge fell back to defend Peking with 30,000 "invincible" Manchu cavalry combined with an entrenched garrison of 20,000 Chinese army. The Manchu cavalry was shy 28,000 men from its reputed strength, while his garrison ran away in face of artillery fire. Once Peking fell, Senge was subsequently transferred to fight against the Nian rebellions, which he fought successfully and earned him back all his former titles and ranks. In 1865, during a campaign against the Nian Shandong, Sengge Richen was ambushed by a group of Nian rebels and killed. The Nian rebellion was finally suppressed in 1868.
Following his death, the imperial court canonized Sengge Rinchen in recognition of his service to the Qing dynasty and made his rank as imperial prince hereditary under the name of the "loyal prince" (忠親王). In 1889, Empress Dowager Cixi ordered that a shrine be erected in his memory under the name Xianzhongci (顯忠祠), which still stands in the Dongcheng District in Beijing.
In official history works in the People's Republic of China's, Sengge Rinchen's Qing loyalist stance is interpreted as an expression of his Chinese patriotism, and in 1995, the local government of Tongliao in Inner Mongolia opened a Sengge Rinchen memorial museum.
- Hummel, Arthur William, ed. Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period (1644-1912). 2 vols. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1943.