Yikuang, Prince Qing
|Prince Qing of the First Rank|
|Prince Qing of the First Rank|
|Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet|
|Reign||8 May 1911 – 16 November 1911|
16 November 1838|
|Died||28 January 1917
another four wives
three other sons
Yikuang (Manchu: ᡳᡴᡠᠸᠠᠩ I-kuwang; Chinese: 奕劻; 16 November 1838 – 28 January 1917), better known by his title Prince Qing (or Prince Ch'ing), was a noble and politician of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty. He served as the first Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet, an office created in May 1911 to replace the Grand Council. Yikuang and his eldest son, Zaizhen, were notorious for political corruption.
Early life and career
Yikuang was born in the Manchu Aisin-Gioro clan as the eldest son of Mianxing (綿性), a lesser noble who held the title of a buru bafen fuguo gong (Duke Who Assists the State). His grandfather was Yonglin (永璘), the 17th son of the Qianlong Emperor and the first in line of the Prince Qing peerage, one of the 12 "iron-cap" princely titles.
Yikuang inherited the title of a fuguo jiangjun (General Who Assists the State) in 1850 and was promoted to beizi (Prince of the Fourth Rank) in 1852. In January 1860, the Xianfeng Emperor further elevated Yikuang to the status of a beile (Prince of the Third Rank). In October 1872, after the Tongzhi Emperor married Empress Xiaozheyi, he promoted Yikuang to a junwang (Prince of the Second Rank) and appointed him as a yuqian dachen (御前大臣; a senior minister reporting directly to the emperor).
Service under the Guangxu Emperor
In March 1884, during the Guangxu Emperor's reign, Yikuang was put in charge of the Zongli Yamen (foreign affairs ministry) and given the title "Prince Qing of the Second Rank" (慶郡王). In September 1885, he was tasked with assisting Prince Chun in overseeing maritime and naval affairs. In February 1886, he was awarded the privilege of entering the inner imperial court to meet the emperor. In January 1889, he was given an additional appointment: you zongzheng (右宗正; Right Director of the Imperial Clan Court). After the Guangxu Emperor married Empress Xiaodingjing in 1889, he awarded additional privileges to Yikuang. In 1894, when Empress Dowager Cixi celebrated her 60th birthday, she issued an edict promoting Yikuang to the status of a qinwang (Prince of the First Rank), hence Yikuang was formally known as "Prince Qing of the First Rank".
Prince Qing was involved in the "sale" of official positions, in which a person could obtain an official post through the prince's recommendation by paying him a certain sum of money. Prince Qing became a "go-to person" for backroom deals in politics.
During the Boxer Rebellion from 1899 to 1901, Prince Qing was more sympathetic towards the foreigners whereas Prince Duan sided with the Boxers against the foreigners. Two factions were formed in the Qing imperial court – one comprised a number of "moderate" pro-foreign politicians, including Prince Qing, while another xenophobic faction was headed by Prince Duan. However, Prince Qing was discredited for his pro-foreign stance when a multi-national military force marched into Beijing during the Seymour Expedition of 1900. He was immediately replaced by the "reactionary" Prince Duan as the leader of the Zongli Yamen (the foreign affairs ministry). Qing imperial forces and Boxers, acting under Prince Duan's command, defeated Seymour's first expedition. Prince Qing even wrote letters to foreigners, inviting them to take shelter in the Zongli Yamen during the Siege of the International Legations, when Prince Duan's men besieged the Beijing Legation Quarter. Another pro-foreign general, Ronglu, offered to provide escorts to the foreigners when his soldiers were supposed to be killing foreigners. Prince Qing and Prince Duan's forces clashed several times. He ordered his own Bannermen to attack the Boxers and the Kansu Braves.
Prince Qing was then sent by Empress Dowager Cixi, along with Li Hongzhang, to negotiate for peace with the Eight-Nation Alliance after they invaded Beijing in 1901. Prince Qing and Li Hongzhang signed the Boxer Protocol on 7 September 1901. During the conference, Prince Qing was seen as a representative while the actual negotiations were done by Li Hongzhang. Returning to Beijing as a senior member of the imperial court, Prince Qing persisted in his old ways, and was despised by not only reformers, but also by moderate court officials.
In June 1901, the Zongli Yamen was converted to the Waiwubu (外務部; foreign affairs ministry), with Prince Qing still in charge of it. In December, Prince Qing's eldest son, Zaizhen, was made a beizi (Prince of the Fourth Rank). In discussions over Manchuria, Prince Qing "was bolder in resisting the Russians [than Li Hongzhang], though he was in the last resort weak and unable to hold out against pressure. The Japanese regarded him as a 'nonentity' but this judgment may have been influenced by the fact that he did not often accept their advice." He was also appointed to the Grand Councilin March 1903. Later that year, he was put in charge of the finance and defence ministries – in addition to his position as head of the foreign affairs ministry. However, he was also relieved of his duties as a yuqian dachen (御前大臣) and replaced by his eldest son, Zaizhen.
After the Guangxu Emperor died on 14 November 1908, Empress Dowager Cixi chose Prince Chun's two-year-old son, Puyi, to be the new emperor. Puyi was "adopted" into the emperor's lineage, hence he was nominally no longer Prince Chun's son. Empress Dowager Cixi died the following day.
Service under the Xuantong Emperor
Puyi ascended the throne as the Xuantong Emperor, with his biological father, Prince Chun, serving as regent. In 1911, Prince Chun abolished the Grand Council and replaced it with an "Imperial Cabinet", after which he appointed Prince Qing as the Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet (內閣總理大臣).
When the Wuchang Uprising broke out in October 1911, Prince Qing stepped down as Prime Minister, offering his position to Yuan Shikai instead, and appointed himself as the Chief Executive of the Bideyuan (弼德院; a government body established in May 1911 which provided advice to the emperor). Prince Qing and Yuan Shikai persuaded Empress Dowager Longyu (Empress Xiaodingjing) to abdicate on behalf of the Xuantong Emperor. The empress dowager heeded their advice in February 1912.
Life after the fall of the Qing dynasty
After the fall of the Qing dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China, Prince Qing and his eldest son, Zaizhen, amassed a fortune and moved from Beijing to the British concession in Tianjin. They later moved back to the Prince Qing Residence (慶王府) at No. 3, Dingfu Street in Beijing's Xicheng District.
Prince Qing died of illness in 1917 in his residence. Puyi awarded him the posthumous title "Prince Qingmi of the First Rank" (慶密親王). In the same year, Li Yuanhong, the President of the Republic of China, gave Zaizhen permission to inherit his late father's princely title "Prince Qing of the First Rank".
- Father: Mianxing (綿性; 1814–1879), buru bafen fuguo gong (不入八分輔國公).
- Lady Hegiya (合佳氏)
- Lady Liugiya (劉佳氏)
- Four other wives
- Zaizhen, Yikuang's eldest son, born to Lady Hegiya.
- Zaibo (載搏), Yikuang's second son, born to Lady Liugiya.
- Third son, name unknown, died at a young age.
- Fourth son, name unknown, died at a young age.
- Zailun (載倫), Yikuang's fifth son, born to Lady Liugiya. He married Sun Baoqi's daughter, while his own daughter married the son of Empress Dowager Cixi's younger brother, Guixiang (桂祥).
- Sixth son, name unknown, died at a young age.
- 12 daughters
- Peter Harrington (2001). Peking 1900: The Boxer Rebellion. Osprey Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 1-84176-181-8.
- Diana Preston (2000). The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners that Shook the World in the Summer of 1900. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 70. ISBN 0-8027-1361-0.
- Larry Clinton Thompson (2009). William Scott Ament and the Boxer Rebellion: Heroism, Hubris and the "Ideal Missionary". McFarland. p. 67. ISBN 0-7864-4008-2.
- Paul A. Cohen (1997). History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. Columbia University Press. p. 49. ISBN 0-231-10650-5.
- Frank Moore Colby, Harry Thurston Peck, Edward Lathrop Engle (1901). The International Year Book: A Compendium of the World's Progress During the Years 1898-1902. Dodd, Mead & company. p. 207.
- Appletons' Annual Encyclopedia and Register of Important Events of the Year ..., Volume 5. D. Appleton & Co. 1901. p. 112.
- Ian Nish, The Origins of the Russo-Japanese War (Longman, 1985; ISBN 0582491142), p. 140.
- Evelyn Rawski (1998) The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Institutions University of California Press, pg. 125
Yikuang, Prince QingBorn: February 1836 Died: January 1918
|Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet
8 May 1911 – 1 November 1911
This article incorporates text from The Century, Volume 70, a publication from 1905 now in the public domain in the United States.