Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yin-t'i (禵)

YIN-t'i 胤禵 Feb. 10, 1688–1755, Feb. 16, one time aspirant to the throne, was the fourteenth son of Emperor Shêng-tsu. His mother was Empress Hsiao-kung [q. v.]. He was therefore a younger brother of Yin-chên [q. v.]. During the last fifteen years of his father's reign, when the struggle of the princes for the throne was most acute, he opposed the claims of his brother, Yin-chên, taking the side of his half brothers, Yin-t'ang and Yin-ssŭ [qq. v.]. In 1708 he supported Yin-ssŭ in the latter's ambition to be designated Heir Apparent, and thus incurred his father's disfavor. In the following year he was given the rank of a prince of the fourth degree (貝子), the same rank which was given to Yin-t'ang.

As the years passed, Yin-t'i gradually gained his father's favor. About this time Tsewang Araptan [q. v.], King of the Eleuths, was very powerful and in 1715 attacked Hami, the northwestern outpost of the empire. Emperor Shêng-tsu did not intend to make war and massed troops in Kansu and Mongolia merely as a precautionary measure. However, in 1717, the Eleuths invaded and occupied Tibet (see under Tsewang Araptan). This precipitated a campaign against them, and the Emperor decided to send one of his sons as commander-in-chief of the armies in the northwest. For this important task he chose Yin-t'i, giving him in 1718 the rank of Fu-yüan Ta chiang-chün 撫遠大將軍. Early in 1719, when Yin-t'i left Peking, the whole Court, including his brothers and other princes, were ordered to see him off, and he was given the retinue and the honors due only to a prince of the first degree. It appears from this recognition that the Emperor intended to make Yin-t'i his successor but wished first to give him an opportunity to distinguish himself. At any rate, Yin-t'i's supporters so interpreted events and looked forward to the day when he should become Emperor. One of those eager to advance Yin-t'i's cause was Yin-t'ang, who contributed heavily to his brother's purse.

In the spring of 1719 Yin-t'i established his headquarters at Sining and made preparations for the war (1720) in which Tibet was recovered (see under Yên-hsin) and the country of the Eleuths was invaded (see under Furdan and Funinggan). At the same time Turfan was taken and the frontier was extended westward from Hami. However, a general offensive against the Eleuths, though planned, was postponed year by year. Late in 1721, Yin-t'i was ordered to return to Peking for a council of war. He arrived early in 1722 and was accorded many special honors. The council finally decided to adopt peaceful means by negotiating a truce with the Eleuths through Cheptsun Damba Khutukhta (see under Galdan). When Yin-t'i again set out for the front (May 1722) he requested Yin-t'ang to report to him on happenings in the capital, particularly about the health of his father. From this and other evidence it seems that Yin-t'i was virtually certain of succeeding to the throne.

However, when Emperor Shêng-tsu died (December 20, 1722) it was Yin-chên who, through the help of Lungkodo [q. v.], was proclaimed Emperor. Though residing in the capital, Yin-t'ang was powerless to promote Yin-t'i's cause since Lungkodo had charge of the Peking gendarmerie. Moreover, Yin-t'i, in distant Sining, was under the surveillance of two of his subordinates, Yen-hsin and Nien Kêng-yao [qq. v.], both of whom were secret allies of Yin-chên. On December 21, 1722 a decree was issued ordering Yin-t'i to come at once to Peking. When he arrived at the capital and discovered that all hopes for his accession had faded he was very angry. His first act was to inquire of the Board of Ceremonies what rules he should observe in doing homage to the new Emperor. The latter evidently regarded this inquiry as impertinent. for he soon ordered him to take up his residence at a resort north of Peking, rather than in the city. Nevertheless in June 1723 Emperor Shih-tsung made Yin-t'i a prince of the second degree, indicating that the favor was granted out of deference to their common mother. Yet no warnings, coercions or demonstrations of kindness deterred Yin-t'i from showing his resentment against, or his disregard of, the Emperor or his decrees. In August 1724 he was ordered to dwell as guardian near the tomb of his deceased father. Actually, however, he was a prisoner closely guarded by the military who were stationed nearby. Early in 1726 he was degraded to a prince of the fourth class on the charge of extravagance and cruelty while stationed in Sining.

In the spring of 1726 a Bannerman named Ts'ai Huai-hsi 蔡懷璽, attempted to communicate with Yin-t'i, asserting that in a dream he had been instructed by a god to assist Yin-t'i on the ground that he was the lawful Emperor, and to announce that Yin-t'ang's mother was to be made Empress Dowager (perhaps he regarded Yin-t'i's own mother as a tool of Yin-chên and so disqualified). Refused admittance by the servants, Ts'ai twice tossed over the wall of Yin-t'i's residence slips of paper on which were written the above assertions. The first piece of paper Yin-t'i handed to the officer on guard after having cut off the part concerning the 'lawful emperor'. When the second unmutilated communication was intercepted the Emperor accused Yin-t'i of attempting to cover up important evidence of treason. In June he was deprived of all ranks and was removed to the Shou Huang Tien 壽皇殿 in the Ching-shan 景山 enclosure of the Forbidden City. In July when the alleged "crimes" of Yin -ssŭ and Yin-t'ang were announced, Yin-t'i was condemned on fourteen counts but his punishment was commuted to imprisonment. Emperor Shih-tsung declared that Yin-t'i had been misled by his half brothers and thus was entitled to less severe treatment.

For more than nine years Yin-t'i was imprisoned at Ching-shan and then was released by order of his nephew, Emperor Kao-tsung (late in 1735). In 1737 he was given the rank of a prince of the sixth degree which in 1747 was raised to the third degree. As he grew older he became less bitter; in 1748 he was commended for good behavior and was made a prince of the second degree with the designation Hsün (恂郡王). At his death in 1755 he was canonized as Ch'in 勤.

Yin-t'i's eldest son, Hung-ch'un 弘春, at one time (1733–34) held the princedom of the second degree with the designation, T'ai (泰郡王), but was degraded in 1734, and deprived of all ranks in 1735. Hung-ch'un's great~grandson, I-shan [q. v.], was the general who was defeated by the British troops in Kwangtung in 1842. Another son of Yin-t'i, Hung-ming (see under Yung-chung), was in 1735 made a prince of the third degree and was canonized as Kung-ch'in 恭勤. Hung-ming's son, Yung-chung [q. v.], was a celebrated poet. The descendants of Yin-t'i belonged to the Bordered Blue Banner.


[1/226/14a; 15/3/35; Ch'ing-ch'u san ta-i-an k'ao-shih (see bibl. under Fu-lin); Wên-hsien ts'ung-pien (see bibl. under Dorgon); see bibl. under Yin-ssŭ.]

Fang Chao-ying