Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Kêng Chung-ming

KÊNG Chung-ming 耿仲明 (T. 雲臺), d Dec. 30, 1649, a native of Kai-chou, Liaotung, was throughout his life closely associated with K'ung Yu-tê [q. v.]. When their superior, Mao Wên-lung [q. v.], was executed in 1629 they both fled to Têng-chou, Shantung, becoming lieutenant colonels under the governor, Sun Yüan-hua [q. v.]. When K'ung rebelled early in 1632, Kêng, with the aid of conspirators, took the city of Têng-chou for him from within, naming himself brigade-general. After a failure at Lai-chou and the consequent collapse of the rebellion he joined the Manchus and received appointment as a brigade-general, sharing with K'ung Yu-tê the command of a body of troops known as T'ien-yu 天佑, "heaven protected." He aided the Manchus in the capture of Lü-shun in 1633 and accompanied the expedition next year to the Ta-t'ung district. In 1636 he was given the title of Prince Huai-shun 懷順王.

Together with K'ung Yu-tê Kêng led Chinese troops in many of the Manchu operations against the Ming and in 1642 was incorporated in the Plain Yellow Banner. He was fined 1,000 taels for concealing captured booty, but continued in 1643 and 1644 as an important leader on the Manchu side. When Peking fell he joined in the westward pursuit of Li Tzŭ-ch'êng [q. v.], after which he took part in the war against the Ming adherents in Kiangnan, returning in 1645 to the capital where he received marks of honor. He spent the next two years fighting the adherents of the Ming Prince of Kuei (see under Chu Yu-lang) in Hunan, returning to fresh honors in 1648. Given the title Prince of the Tranquilized South (Ching-nan wang 靖南王), he set out for Kwangtung, this time in sole charge of an expedition of conquest. After his departure an inquiry was sent to him regarding a report from the Board of Punishments that his subordinates had received and concealed runaway slaves. Kêng found more than three hundred such slaves in his army, sent them back in fetters to Peking and then, without awaiting a decision in the case, committed suicide in Chi-an, Kiangsi, December 30, 1649. In the following year official posthumous honors to him were denied by the regent, Dorgon [q. v.], and his son was prohibited from assuming the title of Prince. These restrictions were removed by Emperor Shih-tsu in 1651, and in 1678 a grandson was allowed to transfer his remains for burial in Kai-chou.


[1/240/6a; 2/78/44b; 4/6/9b; 34 (Yung-chêng edition)/175; 四王合傳 Ssŭ-wang ho-chuan; Haenisch, E., "Biographien," T'oung Pao, vol. 14 (1913), p. 81.]

George A. Kennedy