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Persons in Chinese History - The Five Tigers (wu hu 五虎)

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The Five Tigers (wuhu 五虎) were high court officials during the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644) who supported the domination of the emperor by the chief eunuch Wei Zhongxian 魏忠賢. The members of this "eunuch faction" (yandang 閹黨) were Cui Chengxiu 崔呈秀, Tian Ji 田吉, Wu Chunfu 吳淳夫, Li Kuilong 李夔龍, and Ni Wenhuan 倪文煥. Cui Chengxiu was a foster-son (yizi 義子) of Wei Zhongxian, and therefore an ideal channel for the eunuch tyrant to learn who in the officialdom belonged to the Donglin Faction (Donglin dang 東林黨), the greatest rival of the eunuch clique. Facts about members of the Donglin Faction were noted down in a register called Tongzhilu 同志錄, and such about officials inimical to eunuchs, but not Donglin members, in a register called Tianjianlu 天鑒錄. Cui was rewarded with the titles of Minister of War (bingbu shanshu 兵部尚書), Junior Mentor (shaofu 少傅) and Grand Mentor of the Heir Apparent (taizi taifu 太子太傅), and in addition to all that, was also made Left Censor-in-chief (zuo duyushi 左都御史). Corruption and nepotism were seen all over the fields where Cui had a hand on. He recommended the other "tigers" to Wei Zhongxian and suggested to make them foster-sons, too. Ni Wenhuan was made Censor-in-chief (yushi 御史), then surveillance commissioner (anchashi 按察使) of the metropolitan region (Jifu 畿輔). It was him who erected a "living shrine" (shengci 生祠) for Wei Zhongxian, where the eunuch tyrant was venerated as a saint, while still living. Ni was therefore elevated to the post of Chamberlain for Ceremonial (taichang 太常). Li Kuilong was Left Vice Censor-in-chief (zuo fu duyushi 左副都御史), Wu Chunfu Minister of Works (gongbu shangshu 工部尚書), Tian Ji Minister of War. In 1627, when the Chongzhen Emperor 崇禎 (r. 1627-1644) acceeded to the throne, the eunuch gang was purged. Cui committed suicide, his corpse was mutilated, and his head exhibited at the city gate of Jizhou 薊州. The other "tigers" were executed.

Source: Xue Hong 薛虹 et al. (ed. 1998), Zhongguo huangshi gongting cidian 中國皇室宮廷辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), p. 530.

December 2, 2015 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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