Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chêng Chih-lung

CHÊNG Chih-lung 鄭芝龍 (T. 飛黃, 飛虹), 1604–1661, Nov. 24, pirate and adventurer of the Ming-Ch'ing transitional period, was a native of Nan-an, Fukien. He was the eldest son of Chêng Shao-tsu 鄭紹組, a petty official of Ch'üan-chou. In his youth Chêng Chih-lung attracted the favorable attention of Ts'ai Shan-chi 蔡山繼 (T. 伯達, H. 五岳, chin-shih of 1601), who was prefect at Ch'üan-chou in the years 1615-18. As his family was poor Chêng Chih-lung went to Macao and found employment with Europeans. He was baptized Nicholas Gaspard but was known to Catholics as Nicholas Iquan (一官 being his childhood name). He worked for Europeans in Manila also and possibly for the Dutch in Taiwan. At the age of twenty (sui) he went to Hirado, near Nagasaki, and married a Japanese woman of the Tagawa 田川 family who bore him his eldest son, Chêng Ch'êng-kung [q. v.]. In 1624 he joined a band of pirates led by Yen Ssŭ-ch'i 顏思齊 who, with head-quarters in Taiwan, preyed alike on Dutch and Chinese trade. In the following year (1625) the Ming court sent Ts'ai Shan-chi, Chêng Chih-lung's friend of early years, to persuade the pirates to divert their activities to government service. The attempt failed owing to the objection of Chêng's brother, Chêng Chih-hu 鄭芝虎 (d. 1635). Three years later (1628), however, Chêng Chih-lung gave himself up to the governor-general of Fukien and Chekiang, Hsiung Wên-ts'an 熊文燦 (chin-shih of 1607 who was excuted in 1640 for failure to control insurgents at Ku-ch'êng, Hupeh), and took upon himself the defense of the coast against both the pirates and the Dutch. His capture of pirates won him official promotions and his great wealth was used to enhance his prestige at court.

When Peking fell (April 25, 1644) and the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) was enthroned at Nanking (June 19, 1644), Chêng Chih-lung was given the title, Earl of Nan-an 南安伯, and was commanded to send his troops to defend the new capital–an order which was carried out. In the following year Nanking also fell to the Manchus (June 8, 1645) and Chêng Chih-lung's brother, Chêng Hung-k'uei [q. v.], who had been assigned to defend Chinkiang, withdrew under Ch'ing military pressure to Fukien. There he met the Prince of T'ang (see under Chu Yü-chien) and accompanied the latter to Foochow. On August 18, 1645 Chu Yu-chien was enthroned and Chêng Chih-lung, as chief supporter of the new court, was made Marquis P'ing-lu 平虜侯 and later (1646) Duke P'ing-kuo 平國公. He presented his son, Chêng Ch'êng-kung, to the new emperor who was pleased with him and conferred upon him the imperial surname, Chu 朱. A struggle for leadership in the new court soon arose between the military group headed by Chêng Chih-lung and the civil group led by Huang Tao-chou [q. v.]. Since it was the rule of the Ming court to entrust leadership of the government to civil officials Chêng's faction failed to gain control and his interest in the Ming cause diminished. In the summer of 1646 when the Ch'ing troops achieved a sweeping victory both in Chekiang and Kiangsi, Chêng saw little hope for the restoration of the Ming regime and withdrew his forces from Hsien-hsia kuan—a strategic pass leading from Chekiang to Fukien (see under Chêng Ch'êng-kung). As a result, the Ch'ing forces under the command of the Manchu prince, Bolo [q. v.], marched through the unguarded pass, captured Chu Yü-chien at T'ing-chou, Fukien (October 6, 1646), and took Foochow where Chêng Chih-lung, after being offered preferment, surrendered to them (December 21, 1646). Although Chêng Chih-lung immediately accompanied the Ch'ing army to Peking, Chêng Ch'êng-kung and Chêng Hung-k'uei refused to join him.

In Peking Chêng Chih-lung was first attached to the Chinese Plain Yellow Banner, but was later transferred to the Bordered Red Banner. In 1648 he was made viscount of the third class and in 1653 was given the title, Earl T'ung-an 同安伯. At the instance of the emperor he made several vain appeals to his son, Chêng Ch'êng-kung, to surrender. In 1655 he was impeached, charged with traitorous connivance with his son, stripped of rank and imprisoned. Two years later Huang Wu [q. v.], insisting that the insurgents would never be quelled as long as members of their families were in Peking, secured an order exiling Chêng Chih-lung to Ninguta, Kirin, but there is no indication that this order was carried out. The charge persisted, however, and on November 24, 1661, Chêng Chih-lung and his entire family, including his sons, Chêng Shih-ên 鄭世恩 and Chêng Shih-yin 鄭世蔭 were executed in Peking.


[2/80/39a; M.1/260/9b; M.36/10/24a; M.59/63/2a; 海上見聞錄 Hai-shang chien-wên lu in 痛史; 明季南略 Ming-chi nan-lüeh, chüan 11; Taiwan hsien-chih (1821) 5/27a; 烏程縣志 Wu-ch'êng hsien-chih (1880) 15/23a; 泉州府志 Ch'üan-chou fu-chih (1870) 26/40a, 30/30b; See bibliography of Chêng Ch'êng-kung.]

Earl Swisher