Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Manggûltai

MANGGÛLTAI 莽古爾泰, 1587–1633, Jan. 11, was the fifth son of the founder of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Nurhaci [q. v.]. His mother (Gundai, née Fuca, see under Nurhaci) was the second wife of Nurhaci. By a previous marriage she had given birth to a son named Anggala 昂阿拉 (d. 1636). In addition to Manggûltai she gave birth to Nurhaci's tenth son, Degelei 德格類 (1596–1635), and his third daughter, Manggûji 莽古濟 (d. 1636), who in 1601 married a Hada chief, and in January 1628, a Mongol.

Manggûltai first had an opportunity to display his military talents in the campaign against the Ula tribe in 1612. He was later given command of the Plain Blue Banner, and in 1616 was made one of the four hošoi beile to assist Nurhaci in the government—the four being, in the order of their rank: Daišan, Amin, Manggûltai and Abahai [q. v.]. The four beile played leading parts in the crushing defeat of the Ming armies in 1619 (see under Yang Hao), and in subsequent battles in Liaotung and Korea. When Nurhaci died in 1626 no provision had been made regarding a successor. But Daišan and his sons took the lead by nominating the fourth and youngest beile, Abahai. Although Abahai thus became nominally the head of the government he was forced in practice to share authority with the other three, if not actually to serve as their tool. In the ceremony of installation he is reported to have won an oath of allegiance from the younger members of the clan, after which he turned and bowed three times to Daišan, Amin, and Manggûltai. These three sat on a level with him on all state occasions, but the situation, besides giving rise to much ill-feeling, was not in conformity with Chinese patterns of political organization which it became the tendency to adopt after the removal by Nurhaci in 1625 of his headquarters to Mukden. In 1630 Abahai imprisoned Amin on a charge of cowardice. In the following year, at the siege of Ta-ling-ho, he found an opportunity to censure Manggûltai who in turn lost his temper and drew his sword. Degelei prevented Manggûltai from doing violence, but the episode was discussed by a council of princes who reduced his rank from hošoi beile to doroi beile and condemned him to pay a large fine. After further discussion, a report was introduced by Daišan ridiculing the custom of having three leaders sitting on a level, "like the images of a Buddhist trinity". It was agreed that hereafter he and Manggûltai should occupy seats below the throne to the right and left—a procedure which was first carried out early in 1632.

The death of Manggûltai in 1633 made possible a further approach by Abahai to absolute sovereignty, since the only remaining one of the "four beile" was Daišan, his original supporter. In 1635 Manggûltai's younger brother, Degelei, died. Early in the following year a servant in the employ of Manggûji charged that Manggûltai had plotted treason. The family's possessions were confiscated, and among them were found a number of seals prepared with the legend, "Seal of the Emperor of the Great Chin Kingdom" 大金國皇帝之印. Convinced that Manggûltai had planned to make himself Emperor, Abahai ordered the execution of his son, his sister (Manggûji), and his half-brother (Anggala), as accomplices, and decreed that the names of both Manggultai and Degelei should be expunged from the genealogical records of the Imperial Family. A few months later he himself assumed the title of Emperor and with it absolute rule of his people.

In 1713 the descendants of Manggûltai and Degelei were permitted by Emperor Shêng-tsu to wear the red girdle, thus being recognized as belonging to the Gioro clan but not as members of the Imperial Family who were privileged to wear the yellow girdle. There are grounds for believing that Nurhaci's sixteenth son Fiyanggû 費揚古, about whom the official records are silent, may have been a brother of Manggûltai and Degelei, in which case it is probable that he was executed with his sister in 1636.


[1/223/2a, 9b; 2/3/43a; 3/首12/1a; 34/133/9a; Tung-hua lu, T'ien-ming 7:3, T'ien-ts'ung 5:12; Man-chou lao-tang pi-lu (see under Nurhaci), 上/27b, 下/27b, 35a; Ch'ing Huang-shih ssŭ-p'u (see under Fu-lung-an), 3/5, 4/2b.]

George A. Kennedy