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Ch'in Liang-yü

Ch'in Liang-yü<> 秦良玉 (T. 貞素) d. 1648, age 75?, woman leader of the Ming loyalists, was a native of Chung-chou, Szechwan. Her father gave her much the same literary and military training that he gave her brothers, Ch'in Pang-p'ing 秦邦平 (d. 1621) and Ch'in Min-p'ing 秦民平 (d. 1624), and enjoined them to be loyal to the Ming dynasty. Ch'in Liang-yü became the wife of Ma Ch'ien-ch'êng 馬千乘, a native chieftain or t'u-ssŭ 土司 of Shih-chu 石蛀, Szechwan, whose ancestors had received from the Sung Emperor Kao-tsung, about 1130 A.D., the hereditary rank of hsüan-fu shih 宣撫使. The couple gained some military fame when they used their troops, which were known as pai-kan ping 白桿兵, to quell a local rebellion in 1600. About fifteen years later Ma was falsely accused of treason and died in prison at the age of forty-one (sui). Because his son, Ma Hsiang-lin 馬翔麟, was still young, the rank of hsüan-fu shih was transferred to the widow. When Liaotung was threatened by the Manchus in 1620 the emperor commanded her to dispatch a detachment of her troops to Manchuria. She sent her brothers with several thousand recruits, but shortly after the fall of Shên-yang (Mukden) on May 4, 1621, they sufferred overwhelming defeat at Hun-ho (near Shên-yang). Ch'in Pang-p'ing was killed and Ch'in Min-p'ing escaped with wounds. She herself, coming too late to be of assistance, was ordered to return to Szechwan to enlist more soldiers. She reached home in time to assist the governor of the province in suppressing the rebellion of Shê<> Ch'ung-ming 奢崇明 (d. 1629), for which she was given the rank of brigadegeneral. Her son, Ma Hsiang-lin, was given the rank of hsüan-wei shih 宣慰使, one grade higher than the hereditary hsüan fu shih. Her brother was advanced to the rank of colonel, but was killed in a battle with bandits in 1624.

After the Manchus succeeded in taking several cities near Peking in 1630 Emperor I-tsung again summoned her army to strengthen the defense at the capital. The quarter in Peking in which her troops were encamped is still called Szechwan ying 四川營, or "Szechwan Camp". At an [169]audience in the palace the emperor presented her with four poems in praise of her bravery and loyalty. Soon after the Manchus evacuated that region she returned to her province where she was entrusted with the task of exterminating bandits. But she left a detachment of her troops in Peking under the command of her son, Ma Hsiang-lin, and his wife, Ma Fêng-i 馬鳳儀 (n ê<> e Chang 張, daughter of Chang Ch'üan, q.v.). In May 1633 Ma Fêng-i herself was orderedto assist Tso Liang-yü<>[q.v.] to exter minate bandits in Honan. About two months later she was killed in battle at Lin-hsien in that province. Back in Szechwan the troops of Ch'in Liang-yü<> gained several victories over the bandits but they were defeated by Chang Hsien-chung [q.v.] in 1640, owing to errors on the part of officials higher in command. She tried in vain to prevent Chang Hsien-chung from conquering the province, but did succeed in protecting her home town from devastation. The Prince of Kuei (see under Chu Yu-lang) bestowed on her the title, Marquis Chung-chên 忠貞侯 and Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent-titles that were inscribed on her tomb two years after her death. Her grandson surrendered to the Manchus in 1659, but the family retained the native chieftainship until 1761 when the district of Shih-chu was changed into an independent sub-prefecture.

In 1751 a scholar and official by the name of Tung Jung 董榕 (T. 念青 H. 定巖, d. 1760, age 50 sui), printed a play, entitled 芝龕記傳奇 Chih-k'an chi ch'uan-ch'i, concerning the career of Ch'in Liang-Yüand another woman leader of the same period, named Shên Yün-y ing 沈雲英 (1624-1661). The latter was a daughter of Shên Chih-Hsü沈至緒 (d. 1643), a s econd captain in command of the garrison at Tao-chou, Hunan, who was killed when defending that city against an onslaught of bandits,Inder Chang Hsien-chung. Shên Yün-ying took over her father's command, bravely defended the city, and saved it from the besieging bandits. By a special decree she was made a second captain to succeed her father at Taochou, but she resigned the command when she heard that her husband, a first captain at Chingehou, Hupeh, had also been killed in the fight against the bandits. She then returned to her home at Hsiao-shan, Chekiang.

[ M.1 /270/11b; Shih-chu t'ing-chih (1843) 7/2b;小說枝譚 Hsiao-shuo chih-t'an- 下 /96; Hsiang-Ch'êng-hsien (Honan) chih (1746) 13/9a and Fêng-yang fu (Anhwei) chih (1908) 6/24a for approximate date of M a Ch'ien-Ch'êng's death, deduced from the biography of Chang Ning 張寧, an official in Szechwan who resigned because he was unable to save Ma's life;明通鑑 Ming-t'ung-chien 83/21a, 23a;蕭山縣志, Hsiao-shan hsien-chih (1929) 22/9b.]