Wu Sangui


Wu Sangui

Wu Sangui (zh-cpw|c=吳三桂|p=Wú Sānguì|w=Wu San-kuei; styled Changbai 長白 or Changbo 長伯) (1612 – October 2, 1678) was a Ming Chinese general who was instrumental in the succession of rule for the Qing Dynasty in 1644. Considered by most people to be a traitor to both the Ming and the Qing dynasties, Wu declared himself Emperor of China as ruler of the Zhou Dynasty in 1678, but his revolt was quelled by the Kangxi Emperor.

Early life and service under Ming

Wu was born in Gaoyou, Jiangsu Province to Wu Xiang (吳襄). Under the patronage of his father Wu Xiang and maternal uncle Zu Dashou, He quickly rose to the rank of full General (Zong Bing) at the young age of 27.

He was one of the Generals at the Battle of Songjin. He escaped capture.

Defection to Qing

In 1644, Wu opened the gates of the Great Wall of China at Shanhai Pass to let Manchu soldiers, enemies of the Empire which he served, into China proper.

He did not surrender to the Manchus until after the defensive capability of the Ming Empire had been greatly weakened and political apparatus destroyed by the armies of Li Zicheng. Wu was about to join the rebel forces of Li, who had already sacked Beijing, when he heard that his concubine Chen Yuanyuan had been taken by Li. Enraged, he contacted and negotiated with the Manchu and their leader Dorgon, resulting in the opening of the gates of the Great Wall.

It is commonly believed that this act led to the ultimate destruction of the Ming Empire and the establishment of the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty.

Loyalty and revolt

He was rewarded with the position of Pingxi Wang (平西王) in Yunnan by the Qing imperial court, after he conquered the region from the remnants of Ming loyalists. It had been extremely rare for someone outside of the royal family, especially a non-Manchu, to be granted the title of "Wang" (king). Those being awarded the title of "Wang" who were not members of the royal family were called "Yixing Wang" (异姓王, literally meaning "kings whose surnames are different from that of the emperor"). It was believed that "Yixing Wang"s didn't usually have good ends, largely because they were not trusted by emperors as members of the emperors' own family were.

Wu Sangui was not trusted by the Qing imperial court, but he was still able to rule his land with little or no interference from the imperial court, largely because the Manchus, an ethnic minority, needed time after their prolonged conquest to figure out how to impose the rule of a dynasty of minority people on the vast Han-Chinese society they held in their hands. In fact, as a semi-independent ruler in the distant southwest, he was seen as an asset to the Qing court, and for much of his rule he received massive annual subsidies from the central government. This money, as well as the long period of stability, was spent by Wu Sangui in bolstering his army in the southwest, in preparation for an eventual clash with the Qing.

In 1674, he revolted against the Qing and started the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, declaring himself the "All-Supreme-Military Generalissimo" ("Tiānxià Dōuzhāotǎo Bīngmǎ Dàyuánshuài" 天下都招討兵馬大元帥). In 1678, he went further and declared himself the emperor of a new Zhou Dynasty, with the era name of Zhaowu (昭武). He made his capital at Hengzhou (衡州), which is now Hengyang, Hunan. He died there in the same year of natural causes and was succeeded by his grandson Wu Shifan. The remnants of his armies were defeated soon thereafter.

Wu Sangui's son, Wu Yingxiong (吳應熊), married the fourteenth daughter (建寧公主) of Manchu emperor Huang Taiji.

In modern culture

Wu Sangui in contemporary China was regarded as a traitor and opportunist, due to his betrayal of both the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty.

His early life and military career were portrayed in the China Central Television show "Jiangshan Fengyuqing" (江山风雨情, which could be loosely translated as "Turmoil and love stories of the late Ming Dynasty").

He and concubine Chen Yuanyuan was famous a couple of love story in the Chinese history.

Zhou Dynasty (1678 – 1681)


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  • sangui- — sàn·gui conf. sangue, relativo al sangue: sanguifero, sanguivoro {{line}} {{/line}} ETIMO: da sangue …   Dizionario italiano

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  • Wu Sangui — in mandschurischer Kaisertracht Wu Sangui (chinesisch 吳三桂 Wú Sānguì, W. G. Wu San kuei; * 1612; † 2. Oktober 1678 in Hengzhou, Provinz Honan) war ein Befehlshaber an der Großen Mauer, der nach dem Fall der Ming Dynastie auf die Seite… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Wu Sangui — Wu Sangui. Wu Sangui o Wu San kuei (1612, Liaodong 2 de octubre, 1678, Hunan) fue un general chino que ayudó a los manchúes a establecer la dinastía Qing. Aunque hubo luchado por muchos años contra los Manchú en la frontera noreste de China,… …   Wikipedia Español


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