About Nurhaci Aisin Gioro, Emperor Taizu of the Qing Dynasty
Nurhaci 努爾哈赤 1559-1626, Sept 30, founder of the Ch'ing Dynasty, was born in the Aisin Gioro 愛新覺羅 clan which held the hereditary chieftainship of a Jurjen or Ju-chên 女真, tribe. In some Ming accounts the clan is referred to as T'ung 佟. In the Ming period the Ju-chên people occupied the region north of Korea and east and northeast of Liao-tung 遼東 which was inhabited by Chinese. In ancient Chinese histories they are referred to as Su-shên 肅慎 and as senders of tribute consisting of bows and arrows. In later official histories they are referred to by various names. In the tenth century they were subjugated by the Khitans (Liao Dynasty, 916-1168) and thereafter are sometimes referred to as Ju-chên and still later as Ju-chih 女直. [The character 真 was tabooed by the Khitans after about 1031 A.D.] Gradually the Ju-chên became strong, and in the twelfth century subjugated the Khitans and founded the Chin dynasty (1115-1234). In the thirteenth century they were conquered by the Mongols. During the Ming period they called themselves Chu-shên 諸申 (another variation of Jurjen). But in the histories they are spoken of as Ju-chên, and as divided into three main tribes: Chien-chou 建州, Hai-hsi 海西, and Yeh-jên 野人. In the sixteenth century the Chien-chou Ju-chên occupied the region east of the Liao-tung frontier and north of the Yalu River; the Hai-hsi inhabited the area north of Shên-yang (Mukden); and the less civilized Yeh-jên lived farther north and east. Only in 1635 did the Ju-chên begin to call themselves Manchus (see under Abahai).
Nurhaci's family came from the Chien-chou Ju-chên, one of his ancestors becoming a tribal chieftain, probably early in the Yüan period (1279-1368). About the year 1412 Monge Temur 猛哥帖木兒 (or 孟特穆 d. 1433) was acknowledged by the Ming Emperor Ch'êng-tsu (明成祖) as Chief of a subdivision, later known as the Left Branch 左衛, of the Chien-chou tribe. He is the first ancestor claimed by Nurhaci who can be identified in Chinese history. By his descendants he was given the posthumous titles, Tse-wang 澤王 in 1636, and Chao-tsu Yüan Huang-ti 肇祖原皇帝 in 1648. At first he lived east of present Hun-ch'un, Kirin, and then occupied the northeastern tip of Korea. But in 1433 he was killed in a battle with another tribe. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Fanca 凡察 who in 1436 or 1437 led his men out of Korea westward to the valley of P'o-chu chiang 婆豬江 (also known as T'ung-chia chiang 佟家江), and joined the main Chien-chou tribe under the powerful chieftain, Li-man-chu 李滿住. In 1438 both tribes moved farther west and began to settle at Hetu Ala 赫圖阿拉 (later Hsing-ching). Four years later, after a dispute between Fanca and Monge Temur's son, Cungšan 充善, 董山, 童倉, d. 1467), over the chieftainship, the latter became head of the Left Branch, and a Right Branch (右衛) was created to be led by Fanca. Gradually Li-man-chu's descendants drifted into obscurity and the Chien-chou tribe was represented only by the two branches.
By the middle of the sixteenth century, Cungšan's great-grandson, Giocangga (or 覺昌安, or 教埸, 叫埸, posthumous titles 昌王, 景祖翼皇帝 d. 1582), lived with his five brothers near Hetu Ala. The six brothers were known as the Six Princes 六王 or Ninggûta beile 寧古塔貝勒. Though a chieftain himself, Giocangga was subject to the rule of the powerful chief of the Right Branch, Wang Kao 王杲 (d. 1575). The two families were further related by marriage, Giocangga's granddaughter being the wife of Wang Kao's son, Atai (阿台). According to the late Professor Mêng Sên (see under Chao I-ch'ing) Giocangga's fourth son, Taksi 塔克世, or 他失, 塔失, d. 1582, posthumous titles 失塔失福王顯祖宣皇帝), was married to Wang Kao's daughter or granddaughter who gave birth to three sons, the eldest being Nurhaci. In 1574 Giocangga and Taksi secretly allied themselves with the Ming general, Li Ch'êng-liang [q.v.], to attack Wang Kao, and eight years later, Atai (see under Nikan Wailan). Doubtless they planned to advance their own fortunes. However, late in 1582, when Atai's stronghold was taken by Li, Giocangga and Taksi, then inside the fort, were both killed, the former being burnt when the fort was set afire and the latter being killed by Li's men. Thus the powerful Chien-chou chiefs were all suppressed, at least for a time.
In 1583, a few months after the death of his father and grandfather (late in 1582), Nurhaci went to Li Ch'êng-liang to demand indemnity, and was given the right to succeed his father as a minor chieftain. He was then twenty-five sui, brave and ambitious. With thirteen suits of armor he began his career at Hulan Hada, southwest of Hetu Ala. Avenging the death of his ancestors was for him the pretext for waging war on his neighbors and enemies (see under Nikan Wailan). He established his authority over his relatives and tribesmen, not sparing any who opposed him. Among them he became known as Sure beile (Wise Prince). At this time he was submissive to Ming rule and regularly sent tribute to Peking, sometimes even going in person.
From every point of view Nurhaci's power was now rapidly expanding. In 1587 he erected a wall round his residence at Hulan Hada. There were then four strong states among the Hai-hsi Ju-chên north and northeast of Mukden, known collectively as Hûlun Ssû Kuo 扈倫四國 and individually as Hada, Yehe, Ula, and Hoifa. In 1588 Nurhaci married a granddaughter of Wan [q.v.], chief of Hada, and later in that same year married a daughter (Empress Hsiao-tz'û, see under Abahai) of Yangginu [q.v.], late chief of the Yehe. These marriages indicate the rise of his prestige which is further shown by the large number of chiefs of smaller tribes who placed themselves under his rule. In 1589 he captured some Bandits' lairs and rescued a number of kidnapped Chinese whom he delivered to the Ming authorities. For this the Ming Court conferred on him (October 1589) the rank of tu-tu ch'ien-shih 都督僉事 (junior assistant to the commander-in-chief, equivalent to a brigadier general). He was proud of this honor, and in 1590 led more than a hundred Ju-chên tribal chiefs to carry tribute to Peking-the group being entertained there on June 1.
In 1591 Narimbulu [q.v.], chief of the Yehe, and brother-in-law of Nurhaci, demanded that Nurhaci cede certain lands to the Yehe. When Nurhaci refused, the Yehe, the Hada, and the Hoifa sent a joint demand to intimidate him and pillaged some of his villages. In 1593 Narimbulu assembled an allied army from the four Hûlun states and from five other Mongol and Ju-chên tribes to invade the Chien-chou territory, but the allied forces were routed by Nurhaci. This was the greatest victory Nurhaci had achieved up to this time and it strengthened his position immensely. He took revenge on several of the small tribal chiefs who joined the allies against him, but tried to curry the favor of the Mongols who now recognized him as their equal. In 1595 he was given by the Ming Court the highest title granted a Manchu chief, namely General of the Dragon and Tiger 龍虎將軍). It was bestowed as a reward for having proposed in 1592-93 to lead his men to rescue Korea from the Japanese invasion of Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豐臣秀吉 (1536-1598) and for maintaining order among the Chien-chou tribes. At this time Nurhaci had already amassed a great fortune by monopolizing the trade in pearls, ginseng, fur, etc; by mining; by taking silver in return for his yearly tribute to the Ming Court; and by pillaging weaker tribes. He adopted a new way to cure ginseng which yielded large profits.
Having consolidated his authority over the Chien-chou tribes, and having sufficient wealth in money, Nurhaci set out to subdue his neighbors. In the years 1599-1601 he conquered the Hada tribe (see under Wan)-the first of the four tribes of the Hai-hsi Ju-chên to fall before his onslaught. On various pretexts he obtained within fifteen years a large area formerly belonging to the Hai-hsi tribes, namely that of the Hoifa in 1607 (see under Baindari), and of the Ula in 1613 (see under Bujantai). Only the Yehe of the Hai-hsi tribes, commanded by Gintaisi [q.v.] and aided by Ming troops, withstood his attack in 1613, and thus their separate existence was prolonged for six years more. Many other minor Ju-chên tribes surrendered to him without fighting.
In 1606 the friendly Mongols conferred on Nurhaci the title of Kundulun Khan 崑都侖汗 (or 神武皇帝). In 1608 he signed a treaty with the Ming generals on the Liao-tung border by which the boundary of his domain was established, and Chinese were forbidden to come to his territory to dig ginseng, to gather pearls, or to cultivate land. He decreed laws and appointed judges. After 1599 he had a Ju-chên alphabet worked out by Erdeni [q.v.] to take the place of the Mongolian script previously used. In 1603 he moved his capital to Hetu Ala, his ancestral village, and in 1605 built strong walls round it. In the new capital he gathered blacksmiths to manufacture arms, and established a large granary. These attempts at reform and at the increase of his power and affluence are evidence of the creative spirit of Nurhaci, and point to his ambition to create a strong and independent Ju-chên state.
For the realization of this ambition Nurhaci laid great stress on military efficiency. In 1601 he began to organize his men into four fighting units of 300 each, known as niru 牛彔 (later changed to tso-ling 佐領, or company, which were distinguished by yellow, white, blue, and red banners. As his conquests brought more men to his side, the number of companies increased, and these he distributed under the four Banners. In 1615 he divided each of the original Banners into two divisions, the new ones being distinguished by borders (鑲邊) on their flags. Under each of these Eight Banners there were five jalan 扎攔 (or 甲喇, later changed to ts'an-ling 參領) which in turn comprised five niru each. In later years the number of jalan and niru increased, but the number of Banners remained fixed at eight. Thus was founded the Eight Banner System (八旗制度), primarily a military organization which proved of great value to Nurhaci and to his successors in their wars of conquest. But the system also had social, political and economic aspects, owing to the fact that each company comprised not only the 300 warriors but also their families. Except for a few princes, everyone under Nurhaci's rule belonged to this organization. In time of peace the men and women of the company worked as farmers or as craftsmen, the affairs of each company being directed by an hereditary captain. In time of war the captain was ordered to supply a certain number of men from his company-the number depending on the seriousness of the situation. The captain also provided for all the needs of the conscripts by collecting provisions or money from the constituents as a whole. On the battlefield the men were grouped under their respective Banners which were fighting units. Thus by the Eight Banner System Nurhaci organized his entire state into a war machine which proved for half a century at least to be an invincible military organization.
As his military power grew, Nurhaci gradually assumed a hostile attitude toward the Ming Court of China. The last time he sent tribute to Peking was probably in January 1609 when his brother, Šurhaci [q.v.] , was in charge. In July 1609 Nurhaci began to show his strength by sending a detachment of 5,000 men to Fu-shun to demand payment for ginseng bought from him. Later in the same year he fortified Nan-kuan 南關 (present Hsi-fêng 西豐) in preparation for an attack on the Yehe tribe. The aid which the Ming troops gave to the Yehe especially irritated him and spurred him to become more and more independent of China. On February 17, 1616, the first day of the forty-fourth year of Wan-li, he proclaimed himself Han 汗 (Emperor), with the reign-title T'ien-ming 天命. His full title was Geren gurun be ujire genggiyen han, which may be translated as "Brilliant Emperor Who Benefits All Nations" 覆育列國英明皇帝. He named his dynasty Chin 金 (or Aisin), sometimes written Hou (後) Chin, or Later Chin, to denote that it was a continuation of the Chin dynasty of the twelfth century. In 1636 the dynastic name was changed to Ch'ing (see under Abahai). As the duties of his government multiplied, he appointed three sons and a nephew as Hošoi Beile 和碩貝勒 (then the highest princely rank) to assist him in the administration. In order of seniority, these beile were Daišan, Amin, Manggûltai, and Abahai [qq.v.], Amin being his nephew. Each of them was given hereditary command of a Banner. Later, when Nurhaci from among the rest of his sons chose leaders for the other four Banners, the Princes first chosen became known as the "Four Senior Beile" (四大貝勒), and those chosen later were called the "Four Junior Beile " (四小貝). Nurhaci's idea was to give each of the Eight Princes absolute power to rule his Banner, but after his death the Eight Princes should co-operate in all important affairs, such as waging war against invaders. They would also elect one of their number a leader who could be replaced. This idea, however, was never fully put into practice and was gradually nullified by his successors who concentrated the power in the hands of a sovereign (see under Abahai, Dorgon, and Yin-chên).
In 1618 Nurhaci led an army of 10,000 men to invade China, announcing at the same time seven grievances against the Ming Court: (1) the murder of his father and grandfather; (2) assisting the Hada tribe to fight against him; (3) permitting Chinese peasants to cross the border; (4) giving military assistance to the Yehe, in order to oppose him; (5) encouraging a Yehe maiden, to whom he was betrothed, to marry a Mongol prince; (6) driving his subjects from their farms near the border; (7) dispatching to him an envoy of inferior rank. He advanced to the Chinese border, took several cities, including Fu-shun; defeated the Chinese troops in several engagements, and returned with many captives. On the Ming side, Emperor Shên-tsung (ruled 1573-1620) paid little attention to border affairs, being primarily interested in hoarding vast treasure for himself and his favored sons. In 1619 he dispatched Yang Hao [q.v.] at the head of a large army to subdue Nurhaci, but Yang's forces were quickly overwhelmed and suffered enormous losses—one of the decisive battles being fought at Sarhfl, east of Fu-shun (see under Yang Hao). Late in September 1619 Nurhaci conquered the Yehe tribe (see under Gintaisi). In May 1621 he took from China the important cities of Shên-yang and Liao-yang and made the latter place his new capital and his base of operations.
Meanwhile the Ming Court, under the youthful emperor Hsi-tsung (see under Chu Yu-chiao), was dominated by ignorant and corrupt eunuchs (see under Wei Chung-hsien). Only the forces of Hsiung T'ing-pi [q.v.] could for a time stem Nurhaci's advance, but Hsiung was soon executed on false charges. Nurhaci not only conquered the Liao-yang region, he consolidated his position by the help of Chinese captives. In 1624 he moved to a new capital which he built east of Liao-yang but which he soon abandoned. In April 1625 he moved once more, this time to Shên-yang (Mukden) which remained the capital city until 1644. When he attacked Ning-yüan, early in 1626, he was defeated by the Ming general, Yüan Ch'ung-huan [q.v.]. This was his greatest defeat since the beginning of his career forty-three years previously. He was probably only slightly wounded, but his pride was severely affronted. He died seven months later. According to official accounts, he did not designate a successor. He may have had in mind for the place one of his younger sons (see under Hsiao-lieh), or he may have left the choice entirely to the seven or eight Princes then in charge of the Banners. However that may be, soon after Nurhaci's death Daišan led a group of the Princes in naming Abahai the Han to rule jointly with the other three "Senior Beile"—Daišan, Amin, and Manggûltai. In 1636, after Abahai had taken away the power of the other Princes and adopted many Chinese methods of government, he gave his father the temple name, T'ai-tsu 太祖, and the posthumous name, Wu Huang-ti 武皇帝, which in 1662 was altered to Kao (高) Huang-ti. Nurhaci was buried east of Mukden in the mausoleum known as Fu-ling 福陵.
Nurhaci had three wives and a number of concubines. His first wife, née Tunggiya 佟佳 (maiden name Hahana Jacing 哈哈納扎青) gave birth to his eldest daughter (1578-1652, wife of Hohori, q.v.), and to his older sons, Cuyen [q.v.] in 1580 and Daišan in 1583. What became of Hahana Jacing is not recorded. Nurhaci's second wife, née Fuca 富察 (maiden name, Gundai 袞代), had a son by her first husband before she married Nurhaci. Between the years 1587 and 1596 she gave birth to several sons and a daughter (see under Manggûltai). As Nurhaci grew richer and more powerful he took a number of concubines, some being daughters of tribal chiefs. But despite her low birth-and previous marriage, his second wife remained in her superior position until 1620 when she was accused of hiding valuables for herself and of flirting with Daišan. She was divorced and later was murdered by her own son, Manggûltai. But at the time of her downfall she was still referred to as Da Fujin 大福晉 (wife, empress) while her rivals were referred to as Fujin (secondary wives). Nurhaci's third wife was Empress Hsiao-lieh [q.v.] who in or after 1620 was elevated from her status as concubine. She, likewise, is referred to in old Manchu records as Da Fujin. However, in 1636, after Abahai became Emperor in fact as well as in name, and after many Chinese customs had been adopted, he conferred the posthumous name, Empress Hsiao-tz'û (see under Abahai), on his own mother who had been a secondary wife in her day, but he gave no such title to the three wives of Nurhaci. The title, Empress Hsiao-lieh, was conferred on Nurhaci's third wife by her own son, Dorgon [q.v.], in 1650; but as this title was revoked in 1651, only Abahai's mother was recognized as Empress. In later years the Manchu word, fujin, was deliberately mistranslated fei 妃 or concubine, and so all three of Nurhaci's wives became known as fei while Abahai's mother alone was referred to as Huang-hou 皇后, or Empress.
Of Nurhaci's sixteen sons, the following eight—Cuyen, Daišan, Manggûltai, Abatai, Abahai, Ajige, Dorgon, and Dodo [qq.v.]—rendered distinguished service as founders of the dynasty. Other sons of Nurhaci are: the third, Abai 阿拜 (1585-1648); the fourth, Tanggûldai 湯古代 (1585-1640); the sixth, Tabai 塔拜 (1589-1639); the ninth, Babutai 巴布泰 (1592-1655); the tenth, Degelei (see under Manggûltai); the eleventh, Babuhai 巴步海 (1596-1643); the thirteenth, Laimbu 賴慕布 (1611-1646); and also a certain Fiyanggû (see under Manggûltai). The sons, Cuyen, Manggûltai, Degelei, Babuhai, Ajige, and Fiyanggû, were either executed or were posthumously condemned.
Nurhaci had four younger brothers, the most illustrious being Šurhaci [q.v.], father of Amin and Jirgalang [q.v.]. The other three brothers were Murhaci 穆爾哈齊 (1561-1620), who was posthumously made a beile in 1653; Yarhaci 雅爾哈齊, who was posthumously given the rank of a prince of the second degree; and Bayara 巴雅喇 (1582-1624), who was also raised posthumously to a beile in 1653. Šurhaci and Murhaci were born of the same mother as Nurhaci. Murhaci was a brave warrior and among his eleven sons, the fourth, Udahai 務達海 (d. 1655), and the fifth, Handai 漢岱, were both generals in the early Ch'ing period. Bayara's son, Baiyintu 拜音圖, was a supporter of Dorgon . In 1652, when members of Dorgon's clique were persecuted, Baiyintu was imprisoned and deprived of his status as an Imperial Clansman, and his family was reduced to the rank of commoners. Not until 1799 was their status as Imperial Clansmen restored.
There are at least four official editions of Nurhaci's life under the title Shih-lu 實錄, or "Veritable Records". The first contains pictures of incidents in his life, especially of the battles he fought and won. It was completed in 1635 with short explanations of the pictures; and was partly revised in 1781 under the title, 滿洲實錄圖 Man-chou shih-lu t'u, or T'ai-tsu shih-lu t'u, 8 chüan, the illustrations being drawn by Mên Ying-chao 門應詔 or 召 ;光 (T. 吉占), a bannerman who later became prefect of Ning-kuo-fu, Anhwei (1787-93). This revised edition of 1781 was reproduced in 1930. The second Shih-lu, entitled Ch'ing (清) T'ai-tsu Wu Huang-ti shih-lu, 4 chüan, was completed on December 11, 1636 and was published in 1932. These first two versions were carefully preserved in the palace, virtually as forbidden books, because they disclose many Manchu customs which would be considered uncivilized from the Chinese point of view. They reveal the real origin of the Aisin Gioro family and show that they had been subject to Ming rule. Moreover, the choice of words for transliterating Manchu names is carelessly done, and the style is crude. For these reasons both Shih-lu were many times revised, and a third was completed about 1686, under the title Ch'ing T'ai-tsu Kao Huang-ti shih-lu, 10 chüan. The original manuscripts of three different drafts made in preparation for this Shih-lu were reproduced in 1933-34 under the title, T'ai-tsu Kao Huang-ti shih-lu kao-pên san-chung (稿本三種). The fourth and last Shih-lu, in 10 chüan, was completed early in 1740 under the same title as the third. It was published in 1931. This last version satisfied Emperor Kao-tsung because it excluded all references that hurt his pride. It became standard throughout the ensuing years until the discovery and publication of the earlier versions. Though all these versions of the Shih-lu are in Chinese, they are nevertheless based on early Manchu manuscript records. An incomplete copy of an original Manchu manuscript (31 volumes) is preserved in the Palace Museum, Peiping, and a copy of the same, revised in the Ch'ien-lung period, in 179 volumes, is in the Palace Museum in Mukden. The latter has recently been put into Chinese, and an abridged edition was published in 1929 by Chin-liang (see under Wêng T'ung-ho) under the title, 滿洲老檔秘錄 Man-chou lao-tang pi-lu. These Manchu records cover the early years (1607-16), the T'ien-ming period (1616-27) of Nurhaci's reign, and the T'ien-ts'ung period (1627-36) of Abahai's reign.
[ 1/1/la; 1/228/la; The second and fourth editions of Nurhaci's Shih-lu; Chiang Liang-ch'i [q.v.], Tung-hua lu; Hauer, E. (tr.), Huang Ch'ing K'ai-kuo Fang-lüeh (1926); Mêng Sên 孟森, 明元清系通紀 Ming-yüan Ch'ing-hsi t'ung-chi (1934); idem, 清太組告天七大恨之真本研 in 史學 Shih-hsüeh, no. 1 (1935); idem. 清太祖由明封龍虎將軍考 in Jour. of Sinological Studies (Kuo-hsüeh chi-k'an) vol. VI, no. 1 (1936); idem, 八旗制度考實 in Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology (Academia Sinica), vol. VI, part 3 (1936), idem, 清朝前紀 Ch'ing-ch'ao ch'ien-chi (1930); Wang Tsai-chin [q.v.], San-ch'ao Liao-shih shih-lu; Ch'n Chi-ju [q.v.], Chien-chou k'ao; P'êng Sun-i [q.v.], Shan-chung wên-chien lu; Huang Tao-chou [q.v.], Po-wu tien-hui, chüan 24; Cha Chi-tso [q.v.], Tsui-wei lu; 奉天通志 Fêng-t'ien t'ung-chih (1934); Ku-kung chou-k'an (see bibl. under Na-yen-ch'êng), nos. 245-459; Ming-Ch'ing shih-liao (see under Hung Ch'êng-ch'ou); Hsieh Kuo-chên, Ch'ing k'ai-kuo shih-liao k'ao (char. in bibl. of Abahai); idem. W. M. S. C. K.; Walter Fuchs, "The Personal Chronicle of the First Manchu Emperor," Pacific Affairs, vol. IX, no. 1; idem., Beiträge zur Manjurischen Bibliographic und Literatur (1936); Pan-li Ssê-k'u ch'üan-shu tang-an (see bibl. under Chi Yün) 1/62a; 八旗書錄 Pa-ch'i hua-lu, p. 39b; Inaba Iwakichi 稻葉岩吉, 滿洲發達史 Manshū Hattatsushi (1935, revised edition), chapter VI; idem. 光海君時代の滿鮮關係 Kô kaikun Jidai no Mansen kankei (1933), chapter III and appendix pp. 49-127; Mitamura Taisuke 三田村泰助, 天命建元の年次について Tô yô shi KenkYū 東洋史研究, vol. III, nos. 3, 4 (1936); Imanis Hishunjū 今西春秋, 清三朝實錄の纂修 in Shirin, vol. XX, nos. 3, 4 (1935); Sonoda Ikki 園田一龜, 清太祖奴兒哈赤崩殂考 in Manshū Gakuhô no. 2 (1933).
Nurhaci Aisin Gioro, Emperor Taizu of the Qing Dynasty's Timeline
November 28, 1592