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The last of the Ming

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All but forgotten today, Zhū Shùguì or the Prince of Ningjing (寧靖王; níngjìngwáng), one of the last descendants of China’s Ming dynasty, rulers of China from 1368 to 1644, died in Tainan in 1683. Chong Zhen, the last Ming emperor, hanged himself in Beijing as it was being overrun by rebel troops in 1644, and was eventually replaced by the first Manchu or Qing emperor, Shunzhi. However, several of the vanquished Ming emperor’s relatives escaped to form a rival southern Ming dynasty. Zhū Shùguì was one of these hapless survivors. One by one, his fellow princes were defeated in battle, with the last formal pretender, the Prince of Gui, murdered in 1662. Zhū Shùguì fled to Kinmen and in 1663 he was finally persuaded to move to Tainan by Koxinga’s son, Zheng Jing, becoming the nominal head of the dynasty but with little real power. In a final show of defiance he committed suicide with his household on hearing of the Zhengs’ surrender to the Qing in 1683 – the dynasty died with him. Zhū Shùguì’s modest tomb is in Chuhu, south of Tainan.

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