Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/I-tsung

I-tsung 奕誴 (H. 清華園主人), July 23, 1831–1889, Feb. 18, was the fifth son of Emperor Hsüan-tsung (see under Min-ning). His mother was a secondary consort. In 1846 he was named heir to his uncle, Mien-k'ai [q. v.], who was a prince of the first degree with the designation, Tun (惇親王). But in accordance with the law of the dynasty he inherited the reduced rank of a prince of the second degree (Chün-wang 郡王) with the same designation, Tun. He was six days younger than his half-brother, Emperor Wên-tsung (see under I-chu), but the two did not get along well during the first few years of the emperor's reign. In 1855, owing to alleged breach of decorum and other offenses, I-tsung's princedom was reduced one degree, but early in the following year he was reinstated as a Chün-wang. It seems that he gradually won the emperor's favor and in 1856 was appointed a chamberlain of the Bodyguard. In 1860, when the emperor was preparing to celebrate his thirtieth birthday, he showered favors upon the princes and made I-tsung a prince of the first degree. During the reign of his nephew, Emperor Mu-tsung (see under Tsai-ch'un), I-tsung was accorded many honors, and in 1862 was appointed head tutor in Manchu to the child emperor with the title Hung-tê-tien tsung anda 弘德殿總諳達. In the reign of Emperor Tê-tsung (see under Tsai-t'ien), I-tsung was likewise given various honors, and after 1886 was exempted from all services at Court. He retired, probably to his country villa, Ch'inghua Yüan 清華園, which in 1911 became the campus of Tsing Hua College. After his death he was canonized as Ch'in 勤.

I-tsung had eight sons, five of whom held princedoms of different degrees. Three of the five were sponsors of the Boxers who nearly wrecked the dynasty in 1900, namely, the eldest, Tsai-lien 載濂, who, as heir to I-tsung, inherited the reduced rank of a prince of the third degree (beile 貝勒) with the title, Chün-wang; the second, Tsai-i (see below); and the third, Tsai-lan 載瀾, who held the rank of a prince of the eighth degree.

Tsai-i 載漪, mentioned above, was in 1860 made the adopted heir of I-chih [q. v.], known as the second Prince Jui (瑞郡王). As heir, he inherited both a fortune and the rank of a beile, or prince of the third degree. For more than thirty years he remained inconspicuous, but in 1893 was made an adjutant-general, and in the following year—during the celebration of the sixtieth birthday of Empress Hsiao-ch'in [q. v.]—he was raised to a prince of the second degree, or Chün-wang. The designation attached to his princedom should have been Jui 瑞—that is to say, identical with that of I-chih—but owing to the mistake of a copyist the character Tuan 端 (having some similarity in form) was written instead. In previous reigns an error of this nature would have resulted in the dismissal of the clerk and of many high officials, but the Court was then in such confusion that the mistake remained for some time unnoticed, and when discovered was allowed to stand.

Thus Tsai-i became Prince Tuan (1894), but even so he remained for many years an unimportant personage. His wife was the daughter of Kuei-hsiang 桂祥, the second brother of Empress Hsiao-ch'in, and thus he had reason to feel particularly affiliated with the Empress Dowager. When Emperor Tê-tsung promulgated the sweeping reforms of 1898 (see under T'an Ssŭ-t'ung) the conservative adherents of the Empress Dowager felt themselves steadily pushed into oblivion. Tsai-i, his wife, and his brothers, were the first of the conservatives who, in order to protect their privileges, rallied to the side of the Empress Dowager in putting an end to the reform program. After the reformers were executed or scattered, and the Emperor was safely relegated to a Palace Compound, the Empress Dowager resumed her power as ruler, with Tsai-i as one of her favorites. A plot to have Emperor Tê-tsung murdered or someone else put in his place was under way, and Tsai-i was active in it since his eldest son, P'u-chün 溥儁, was to be the successor. Tsai-i was disappointed, however, to find the plot frustrated by the disapproval of foreign diplomats and provincial officials, and had to be satisfied with having his son named heir-apparent (early in 1900). His grievances against foreigners were thus to him very real, and it is not surprising that he lent to the Boxers, who were anti-foreign, his definite support. He, perhaps more than anyone else, was responsible for influencing the Empress Dowager to favor the Boxers and to summon them to Peking. On June 10, 1900 he was appointed chief member of the Tsungli Yamen, indicating a definite trend toward anti-foreignism in the Court. Concurrently he held the post of general commandant of the Marksmen for Tiger Hunts (虎槍營) and, as father of the heir-apparent, had more influence than other Imperial Clansmen. He and other arch-conservatives such as Tsai-hsün (see under Yin-lu) seized upon the plan of using the Boxers to attack the foreigners in Peking. Some officials who opposed his policy were executed (see under Hsü Ching-ch'êng). High officials like Jung-lu [q. v.] and Prince Ch'ing (I-k'uang, see under Yung-lin) who foresaw the disastrous consequences of the policy, were forced into silence, perhaps thinking that Tsai-i's will should prevail since it was his son who was to inherit the throne. Up until the time that the foreign troops entered Peking and lifted the siege of the Legation Quarter (August 14), Tsai-i exercised almost full control, even attempting, it is alleged, to murder Emperor Tê-tsung, Prince Ch'ing, and others.

When the Empress Dowager and the Emperor fled from Peking on August 15 Tsai-i, Tsai-hsün, and Tsai-lan followed. On August 31 Tsai-i was made a Grand Councilor but on September 25, when the Court, then in Taiyuan, Shansi, was pressed by the foreign powers to punish the sponsors of the Boxer movement, Tsai-hsün, Tsai-lien, and others were reduced to commoners, and Tsai-i was deprived of his offices. But the Allies were not satisfied with this lenient treatment. On February 13, 1901 Tsai-hsün was ordered to commit suicide, and this took place on February 21. The former governor of Shansi, Yü-hsien (see under Jung-lu), was ordered to be executed. Though the Allies demanded death sentences for Tsai-i and Tsai-lan, they had to be content with an order that the two would be banished to Ili and imprisoned there for life. It is said that when Tsai-i was informed of this sentence at Ning-hsia, he set off immediately for Ili, only too happy that his life was spared. He remained in exile for ten years, and took up residence in Kansu after that province joined the revolution in 1911. On November 30, 1901 his son, P'u-chün, was deprived of his status as heir-apparent and was expelled from the Palace.


[1/171/22b; 1/227/7b; Lo Tun-jung 羅惇曧, 拳變餘聞 Ch'üan-pien yü-wên in 庸言 Yung-yen, vol. I, no. 4 (Jan. 16, 1913); Bland and Backhouse, China under the Empress Dowager (1910) with portrait of P'u-chün, opposite page 280; I-chih [q. v.], Lo-hsün-li chai shih-kao.]

Fang Chao-ying