Feng Yunshan

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Feng Yunshan (simplified Chinese: 冯云山; traditional Chinese: 馮雲山; pinyin: Féng Yúnshān; Jyutping: Fung4 Wan4 Saan1; 1815 – June 10, 1852) was an important leader during the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing government (1850–1864). In addition to being his distant cousin,[1] Feng was a companion of Hong Xiuquan from the very earliest days of the rebellion. Feng was the founder of the "God Worshippers" during the 1840s. This was the very first form the Taiping Rebellion took. He was one of the first Taipings to be baptized and Hong publicly announced how Feng was a deep friend of his.

Early life[edit]

Feng Yunshan worked as a village teacher in Heluo Village, Hua county, Guangdong.[2] Although educated, he was unable to pass the imperial examinations.[3] Like Hong Xiuquan, he was a Hakka, and he was among the first of Hong's converts to Hong's interpretation of Christianity, backlash to which cost him his teaching position.[4] Feng, Hong, and two other relatives of Hong left Hua county in April 1844.[5] They first traveled to Guangzhou and preached in the outlying areas before heading northwest to White Tiger Village.[6] There, Feng and Hong split off and traveled some 250 miles to the southwest to the village of Sigu, Guiping county, Guangxi, where distant relatives of Hong's resided, including two early converts who had returned home.[7] In November 1844, Hong returned home without Feng, who remained in the area and continued to preach.[8]

God-worshiping Society[edit]

After Hong Xiuquan's departure, Feng traveled deeper and deeper into the heart of the Thistle Mountain region, preaching and baptizing new converts.[9] Feng christened this group of believers the "God-worshiping Society."[10] Hakkas from this area, generally poor and beset by both bandits and local Chinese families angry at the presence of the Hakka in their ancestral lands, found refuge in the group with its promise of solidarity.[11] On August 27, 1847, Feng and the Society were joined by the returning Hong Xiuquan.[12]

In the months following Hong Xiuquan's return, Feng was twice captured by a competing local corps.[13] On the first occasion in December 1847, the God Worshipers freed him by force.[14] When Feng was captured a second time in January 1848, he was sent to a local magistrate who, after receiving a bribe from the God Worshippers, released him on the condition that he return to Guangdong.[15] Feng was unable to return to the God Worshippers until the summer of the following year.[16] Upon his return, he discovered that Yang Xiuqing and Xiao Chaogui had taken leadership roles within God Worshipping Society.[17] Both claimed to enter trances which allowed them to speak as a member of the Trinity; God the Father in the case of Yang and Jesus Christ in the case of Xiao.[18] When Feng returned in the summer of 1849, he and Hong Xiuquan investigated Yang and Xiao's claims and declared them to be genuine.[19] In early 1850, Feng became the first leader of the God Worshipper Society to call for open revolt.[20]

Taiping Rebellion[edit]

Feng was later announced as the "South King" of the Taiping Rebellion. He is credited with being the strategist of the rebellion and the administrator of the kingdom during its early days.

On May 24, 1852 as the Taiping marched by Quanzhou with no intention of invading, a Qing gunner fatally wounded Feng as he sat in his sedan chair. Rallied by the news, the Taiping surrounded Quanzhou and, in the space of 2 days, breached the walls and killed every citizen who had not fled. Feng finally succumbed to his wounds in June that year.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jen Yu-wen, The Taiping Revolutionary Movement 22-23 (1973)
  2. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 27, 67 (1996)
  3. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 67 (1996)
  4. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 67, 69, 80 (1996)
  5. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 69 (1996)
  6. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 71 (1996)
  7. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 71 (1996)
  8. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 78-79 (1996)
  9. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 79-80 (1996)
  10. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 80 (1996)
  11. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 81, 88 (1996)
  12. ^ Jonathan D. Spence, God's Chinese Son 95 (1996)
  13. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 34 (1966)
  14. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 34 (1966)
  15. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 35 (1966)
  16. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 37 (1966)
  17. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 35 (1966)
  18. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 35 (1966)
  19. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 37 (1966)
  20. ^ Franz H. Michael, The Taiping Rebellion: History 37 (1966)