Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Shang K'o-hsi

3649385Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 2 — Shang K'o-hsiGeorge A. Kennedy

SHANG K'o-hsi 尚可喜, d. 1676, age 73 (sui), was a native of Liaotung. His father was killed in battle while serving as a major in the Ming armies. In 1630 Shang K'o-hsi was stationed on P'i-tao, an island off the mouth of the Yalu River to which large numbers of Ming soldiers had retired after being driven from Liaotung by the Manchus (see under Mao Wên-lung). During the revolt of K'ung Yu-tê [q. v.] Shang remained on the Ming side, but in 1633 he made overtures to the Manchus, and in the following year formally joined forces with them. He was made a brigade-general by the latter, and with his Chinese soldiers, now organized as the "Heaven Assisted Army" (天助兵), was sent to garrison Hai-chou, south of Liaoyang. After a few skirmishes with Ming troops, he was in 1636 given the title "Wisely-obedient Prince" (智順王), and for the next seven years his army played an important part in the Manchu advance into China. In 1644 he joined in the westward pursuit of Li Tzŭ-ch'êng [q. v.], returning in the following year to his former post at Hai-chou. When the Manchu government in 1646 undertook the task of conquering the resisting Ming forces in the southwest, Shang K'o-hsi was sent with K'ung Yu-tê and others on the expedition. In 1647 he took part in the annihilation of one of the Ming armies near Hsiang-t'an and went to the relief of Kueiyang—both in Hunan.

After Hunan had been cleared of Ming troops, Shang returned to Peking where in 1649 he was given the title of "Prince who Pacifies the South" (平南王), and was sent to carry the war into Kwangtung. After his departure he became involved in the same scandal that resulted in the suicide of his associate, Kêng Chung-ming [q. v.], but extricated himself by payment of a fine. He marched into Kwangtung, drove the Ming Prince of Kuei westward (see under Chu Yu-lang) and during the year 1650 succeeded in establishing himself at Canton whence he gradually extended his authority throughout the province. In 1652 a counter-attack by Ming forces overwhelmed his colleague, K'ung Yu-tê, who was in the neighboring province of Kwangsi, and by 1654 the threat of the Ming armies under Li Ting-kuo [q. v.] became so strong that Shang K'o-hsi and his associate, Kêng Chi-mao [q. v.], appealed to Peking for help. For the next few years there was heavy fighting, but in 1656 the Prince of Kuei and his supporters retreated westward to Yunnan, leaving Kwangtung free from danger of attack. In 1660, by the transfer of Kêng Chi-mao to Fukien, Shang Ko-hsi was left in full control of Kwangtung province. For several years he had difficulties with the Tanka 蜑家 or 蜑戶, a group of aborigines who lived on boats and, like Chêng Ch'êng-kung [q. v.] farther north, carried on piratical expeditions under the guise of a movement to restore the Ming dynasty. But, apart from this, he held the province securely under his control. In 1671, on the plea of illness, he requested that his son, Shang Chih-hsin [q. v.], then in government service in Peking, be dispatched to take temporary charge of his affairs. Two years later, he asked permission to retire to his old home in Liaotung, being then, he said, over seventy (sui).

The granting of this request precipitated the San-fan Rebellion, the most serious revolt which the Manchus had to face early in their rule. The government not only approved of his retirement, but made plans to bring the administration of Kwangtung under the control of the central authorities. Though this step was apparently agreeable to Shang K'o-hsi, it was strongly resented by the neighboring dictators, Wu San-kuei [q. v.] in Yunnan, and Kêng Ching-chung [q. v.] in Fukien. When they saw the probability of their own respective empires being similarly taken over by the central government, they decided to rebel. Meanwhile Shang K'o-hsi had recognized the tyrannical character of his son, Shang Chih-hsin, and had petitioned the emperor to nominate in his stead a younger son, Shang Chih-hsiao [q. v.], as heir to the rank of prince. This was done in 1674. Shang K'o-hsi remained loyal to the Manchu ruler, though the rebellion continued to grow around him. At the beginning of 1676 the forces of Kêng Ching-chung took Ch'ao-chou on the eastern border of Kwangtung, and those of Wu San-kuei penetrated the province from the west as far as Chao-ch'ing, while Shang Chih-hsin, disgruntled over his loss of a title, communicated with the rebels from within. Shortly thereafter the son went to the length of putting his father under arrest, with the aim of forcing him to join the rebels. Shang K'o-hsi, who was confined to his bed, tried to commit suicide. Although he did not succeed in this, his illness was aggravated to such an extent that he died in the latter part of 1676. He was granted the posthumous name Ching 敬 and in 1681 his remains were taken back to Hai-chou, where they were interred with appropriate honors.

Shang K'o-hsi had twenty-three sons. Of those who followed military careers, ten rose to the rank of lieutenant-general, and another to the rank of general. Three sons became privy-councillors. Nine of Shang K'o-hsi's grandsons and great-grandsons were captains in the Banner organization, and nine held civil posts of the rank of district magistrate or higher.

[1/240/9a; 2/78/17a; 4/6/7b; Ssŭ Wang ho chuan (see bibl. under Kêng Ching-chung); 平南敬親王尚可喜事實册 P'ing-nan Ching Ch'in-wang Shang K'o-hsi shih-shih ts'ê in 史料叢刊 Shih liao ts'ung-k'an (1924); Haenisch, E., T'oung Pao, 1913, p. 95; Ming-Ch'ing shih-liao (see under Hung Ch'êng-ch'ou).]

George A. Kennedy