My aunt is part of an informal discussion group interested in the history of China. Apparently, during the Ming dynasty in the 1600s, there was a general whose treachery (I the charge was he was aiding the enemy, somehow. My aunt claims it was the Mongolians.) resulted in the ordered executions of him, and all members of ten related families under him. I believe he was based in Fujian.

The distinguishing detail is that since the general was of noble blood, the Portuguese actually helped him and the ten families escape to southern China to avoid execution.

Does this description match any known historical figure in China? If so, is there a more detailed resource on him?

I am interested because the family history claims that my maternal grandfather's mother was descended from one of these ten families, and explains why her family was decently well off in late 1800s Guangdong.

  • Welcome to History.SE! This looks like a good question, are there any other details? – Reliable Source Feb 3 '13 at 7:24
  • @ReliableSource Thanks, I'm afraid the details are a bit spotty. I'm getting them directly from grandparents and great aunts/uncles who are getting up there in years... I don't have any written source to back it up. – Fujian Feb 3 '13 at 7:30
  • The transition between the Ming and Qing dynasties in the 17th centuries caused many shifts in loyalties, so individual acts of treachery are hard to pin down. What I am confused about here is that the Qing, who took over in 1644, mostly aligned with the Mongols at the time. Remaining Ming loyalists held areas in the South, so the premise of the question (flight to the South after aiding the Mongols) seems unlikely. I'm also wondering: what is your relative's Chinese family name (i.e. one of the ten)? – Drux Feb 5 '13 at 21:09
  • Proposal: You could try to reach out to Lazlo Montgomery who runs the China History podcast. He's a quite knowledgeable autodidact who might know the answer or do some research perhaps as part of a future podcast episode. Hope this helps. – Drux Feb 6 '13 at 16:22
  • This seems to be a collage. The only person in Chinese history to have been punished with the execution of ten families (usually it stops at nine) was Fang Xiaoru, a Ming loyalist who defied an usurper. For treacherous generals in 17th century China, historiography unequivocally assigns the title to Wu Sangui, who betrayed the nation by opening the Pass of Mountain and Seas to the Manchurian horde. – Semaphore Sep 16 '15 at 8:08

They may be thinking of Zhu Yujian, the last prince of the Ming Dynasty who escaped the Qing with the help of Zhen Zhilong, who had the christian name of Nicholas Iquan Gaspard.

  • Both the linked pages make no mention of those ten families, though. – o0'. Feb 5 '13 at 15:36
  • @lohoris - The prince was the 9th generation of his family, and the Chongzhen Emperor wiped out his own branch of the family before committing suicide. Many of the Ming nobles and generals then declared for the Manchurians to quell the numerous peasant rebellions, those who did not were seen as traitors and eventually destroyed. – RI Swamp Yankee Feb 5 '13 at 17:16

The most well-known 'treacherous general' (from the Qing perspective) based in Fujian is perhaps Geng Jingzhong who was the paramount feudal lord of the region. He was one of the participants of the 'Revolt of the three fiefdoms/feudatories' with two other similar feudal lords of Yunnan and Guangdong, which ended in a Qing victory after about a decade. After the defeat he was executed, and it is very likely his extended family was punished as well.

It is interesting to note that a concurrent rebellion happened with the Chahar Mongols who were nominally under Qing rule at the time. The extent of direct cooperation between the feudatories and the Mongols is unclear.

In terms of nobility, Geng Jingzhong was wedded to a Qing princess, as were his father and grandfather.

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