An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zhu Benli 朱本鉝, Prince of Han 韓王, the Dingwu Emperor 定武

Jan 25, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhu Benli 朱本鉝, the Prince of Han 韓王, also known as the Dingwu Emperor 定武帝 (r. 1646-1663), was a ruler of the Southern Ming dynasty 南明 (1644-1661). He was a descendant of one of the many sons of Emperor Taizu 明太祖 (1368-1398), the founder of the Ming dynasty 明 (1368-1644) . His original name was Zhu Danji 朱亶塉, and he inherited his father's title of Prince of Han in 1611. During a military campaign against the rebel leader Li Zicheng 李自成 in Pingliang 平涼, Gansu, in 1643, he was captured, but soon released. Li Zicheng occupied and plundered the capital Beijing, the central government disintegrated, and the Chongzhen Emperor 崇禎 (Emperor Sizong 明思宗, r. 1627-1644 killed himself. In this situation a succession crisis broke out. While XXX proclaimed himself emperor in the southeast, Hao Yaoqi 郝搖旗 (also called Hao Yongzhong 郝永忠) compelled Zhu Benli to adopt the title of emperor. He chose the reign motto Dingwu 定武 "Settling Martiality".
His regime was the longest-surviving one of the Southern Ming princes. He had contact with the Prince of Gui 桂王 (the Yongli Emperor 永曆) whom he tried to convince that it was better to fight together against the Manchu invaders of northern China, instead of quarelling about who was the righteous emperor of the Ming. In the town of Fangshan 房山 near Xunxi 鄖西, Hubei, he built a fortress in which he resisted the Manchu armies. Hao Yaoqi, Li Laiheng 李來亨 and Liu Tichun 劉體純 assembled a dozen of leaders that swore to fight loyally for the Ming dynasty. They are known as the "Thirteen Heroes of Kuidong" 夔東十三家. In 1663 the Manchus conquered the region around Fangshan. The fate of Zhu Benli is unknown.

Xiong Tieji 熊鐵基, Yang Youli 楊有禮, eds. (1994). Zhongguo diwang zaixiang cidian 中國帝王宰相辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 356.