Soul of China

Ming Dynasty patriots

In this issue, we share with you two stories about Ming patriots who fought against the Manchurian army in the mid-17th century. The Manchurians overran China in 1644, signaling the ascent of the Qing Dynasty. One of their most detested orders was requiring all male Chinese to wear pigtail.
The order prompted the people of Jiang Yin (江陰) City to stage an armed uprising in July 1645 under the leadership of Chen Ming Yu (陳明遇) and Yan Ying Yuan (閻應元).
Chen was the head of the city by then. The popular support he enjoyed stemmed mainly from his generosity to the people.Chen and Yan organized the city dwellers and households in fighting the Manchurians. Rich families were mobilized to finance the revolt and help defray the costs of manufacturing weapons.
In the first 10 days of September, the Manchurian army led by Bo Luo (博洛) moved from Suzhou (蘇州) to Jiang Yin. Bo Luo sent men to advise Chen and his followers to surrender. Chen and Yan scolded and drove Bo Luo’s emissaries away. The two became more resolute to continue the revolt to defend the city.
It was already the Mid-Autumn Festival and the supplies of the city were dwindling. To raise the morale of their men, Chen and Yan distributed “money for relishing the full moon (賞月錢).”
On Sept. 10, under a downpour and the cover of artillery fire, the Manchurian army stormed Jiang Yin City. Chen ordered all his 43 family members, old and young, to light fires and burn themselves to death. He himself rushed to the defense office with a knife to battle the enemy.
Chen was seriously wounded in the fight. Weak and still holding his knife, he leaned on a wall where he remained standing until he died. Chen Ming Yu heroically gave up his life.
Like Chen, Huang Dao Zhou (黄道周) would be remembered as a martyr in the resistance against the Qing Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was already in decline when Huang excelled in his court examination and assumed the position of editor of the Imperial Academy. He was in charge of writing state history and recording state events.
By the time the Manchurian army expanded its invasion southward, killing people and burning and looting homes on their way, Huang was the military minister of Long Wu (隆武), the Ming emperor who had escaped to southern China with what remained of his court.
Huang was mad at Zheng Zi Long (鄭芝龍), South Ming’s military leader who refused to resist and fight the Manchurian army and would later defect to the Qing camp. Instead of sitting still waiting for death, Huang decided to risk his life and die in the battlefield.
Huang recruited 4,600 volunteers and led them to northern Jiangxi near southern Anhui province to contain the Manchurian invaders. Although he was able to win a few small victories, he was hopelessly outnumbered. His whole army was eventually annihilated, and Huang was captured.
During his detention, Huang relentlessly cursed the invaders. He also refused to eat or even drink a drop of water, looking upon death as his final destination.
Huang Dao Zhou wrote a poem to express his determination to die for the country. On April 20, 1646, he died a martyr in Nanjing.