Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Fan Wên-ch'êng

3637594Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Fan Wên-ch'êngFang Chao-ying

FAN Wên-ch'êng 范文程 (T. 憲斗, H. 煇嶽), 1597–1666, Aug. 31, one of the first four Grand Secretaries of the Ch'ing dynasty, a native of Fu-shun, near Shên-yang (Mukden), was a great-grandson of Fan Ts'ung 范鏓 (chin-shih of 1517) who was a president of the Board of War in the Ming period. When Nurhaci [q. v.] took Fu-shun in 1618 (see under Li Yung-fang), Fan Wên-ch'êng surrendered to the Manchus and was shown much favor. When in 1629 Manchu troops under Abahai [q. v.] pillaged their way to the walls of Peking and suffered a defeat at the hands of Yüan Ch'ung-huan [q. v.], Fan invented the story that Yüan was in league with the Manchus. The Ming emperor became suspicious, arrested and finally executed Yüan. Fan, in turn, was rewarded by Abahai with a minor hereditary title. Abahai relied much on him in the founding of the central government at Mukden, making him in 1636 a Grand Secretary—his colleagues being Ganglin (see under Dorgon), Hife (see under Songgotu), and Pao Ch'êng-hsien 鮑承先. Involved in 1643 in a conspiracy with Adali and Šoto (see under Lekedehun and Dorgon), Fan and his family, then belonging to the Plain Red Banner (?), were transferred to the Chinese Bordered Yellow Banner. When the news of the fall of Peking to Li Tzŭ-ch'êng [q. v.] reached Mukden in 1644 Fan memorialized the princes regent urging them to seize this opportunity to conquer an empire, but in so doing to spare the lives of the common people and refrain from the destruction that characterized former invasions.

Fan Wên-Ch'êng accompanied Dorgon [q. v.] in the expedition to Peking and suggested to him many ways of putting into effect the new Manchu regime and adapting it to the Chinese political organization. He recommended, for example, the introduction of extra sessions of the civil-service examinations, remittance of burdensome taxes, and the proper burial of the last Ming emperor. Although partially involved in 1651 in the case of Ganglin and Kicungge (see under Dorgon) who were condemned to death for having altered the official records of the reign of Nurhaci, Fan got off with but a brief suspension from office. In the following year he was made a member of the Council of princes and high officials and was raised to the hereditary rank of viscount of the first class. He retired in 1654, and three years later the emperor ordered that his portrait be painted and kept in the palace. He was canonized as Wên-su 文肅. Of his sons the best known was Fan Ch'êng-mo [q. v.].

[1/238/2b; 3/1/3a; 4/4/1a; Tung-hua lu, Shun-chih 1/4b, 2/4b; China Review IX, 1880-81, pp. 95–97; Fan Ch'êng-mo, Fan Chung-Ch'ên kung wên-chi, 5/2b.]

Fang Chao-ying