Author Topic: Wu Sangui Part Deux: Electric Boogaloo  (Read 742 times)

Brigadier Pudding

  • Valued Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 1002
  • Fabulous Quotient -127
    • View Profile
  • Gender: Ma'am
Wu Sangui Part Deux: Electric Boogaloo
« on: August 14, 2012, 09:38:38 AM »
This timeline will deal with an alternate Rebellion of the Three Feudatories (三藩之亂, san fan zhi luan). This period is not very well-studied or chronicled: there is exactly one full-length English work on the rebellion. So in this post and the next one I’ll basically just introduce the setting, characters, context, and the point of divergence before getting into the meat of the timeline.

I am interested. Tell me more.

OK. In the mid-17th century, the Manchus overthrew the Ming Dynasty. They were able to do this in part because a lot of key generals and bureaucrats defected to their side. Now it is 1673. The Ming Dynasty is dead. The Manchu Qing Dynasty controls all of China. But not really. Three military leaders who had previously defected have, over time, come to exert total control over four southern provinces. They have absolute civil and military authority in their fiefs, and the cost of maintaining their armies is almost half the yearly national revenue. The Qing have heretofore tolerated this state of affairs because the south was the last stronghold of the Ming Dynasty. But by 1673, the Ming Dynasty is clearly dead, and the Qing court can’t really live with the fact that they have no control over south China. There are a bunch of boring shenanigans involving insincere promises to retire by the three feudatories which I won’t bother explaining, and at the end of the year war breaks out.

There are too many words. I want a picture.

OK. Here’s a map. It's at the bottom of the post because I can't figure out how to post attachments inline.

The solid black line represents the territory controlled by the three feudatories at the beginning of the war. The dotted line shows the territory controlled by the rebels at the height of their success. It is half of China, more or less. For the first two and a half years of the war, the rebels enjoyed a more or less uninterrupted run of success. They won battles, secured defections from important generals, and pushed the Qing near their breaking point. Two things that the map doesn’t show but that deserve explanation:

1) Tibet is not really shown on the map, but the Dalai Lama vaguely supported the rebels. This is not terribly important.

2) Taiwan is shown on the map, and it was controlled by Ming restorationists, to the extent that there was any functioning government on the island at all. This is very important.

Anyway, though the rebels were very successful in the initial part of the war, they lost. The tide started to turn against them in 1676, and the rebellion was totally defeated by 1681.


Why?

Good question. There are a bunch of reasons. The most important is disunity - several of the rebel armies spent about as much time fighting each other as they did fighting the Qing. Another reason why they failed was their lack of decisiveness. In the early portion of the war, the rebels experienced almost uninterrupted success, yet were reluctant to really push their advantage. Further, while a bunch of people defected to the three feudatories, there was never the kind of mass change of allegiance among rank-and-file members of the gentry that they needed. I can explain this in greater detail if you’d like it.

What will be different in this timeline?

The three feudatories will experience greater success, but there won’t be a straightforward dynastic transition. That would be both boring and not terribly realistic. Instead, the better performance of the rebels relative to real life will lead to a more exciting outcome, that being total fucking chaos and a generation of civil war. There will be lots of warlords. There will also be lots of Dzungars. There will be some sort of Manchu-Korean thing and the Zheng family will retain control of Taiwan in the short and medium-term. There will be millenarian religious lunacy in some form. There will be European intervention in some very limited form. We will also discuss Japan.

I think there’s a lot of room to mess around here. China will ultimately be re-united, but not before experiencing a generation of internal conflict. Whatever polity emerges will be poorer, less populated, and much more miserable than the Qing Dynasty was at the same time in real life.

I would like to know more about this fascinating period in Chinese history.

OK. The Great Enterprise, by Frederic Wakeman, can be read in its entirety for free on Google Books. Go to page 1099, where the section on the Rebellion of the Three Feudatories starts. Volume 9 of The Cambridge History of China has a good chapter on the rebellion as well. If you have JSTOR access, Kai-Fu Tsao’s article “Kang-Hsi and the San-Fan 三藩 War” is great (if you don’t have JSTOR access, ask nicely and I will send you a copy). If you search for “three feudatories” on Google Books, you can find some nice short synopses of the conflict as it occurred in real life.

What will happen next?

I’m going to post the next part tomorrow evening. This post has been really broad and hopefully I’ve adequately explained the cause of the war and what basically happened. The next post will introduce the actual people who you need to know about (Wu Sangui, the Kangxi Emperor, Zheng Jing, Wang Fuchen, and so on). It will also describe the beginning part of the war as it occurred in real life and in this timeline up until the point of divergence, which will be revealed.

If you have any questions or comments or whatever just post them and I will try not to be condescending and obnoxious even though you probably deserve it. Also, let’s talk about the Euros. The English had a factory on Taiwan! The Portuguese are right there on Macau and the Dutch and Spanish are kicking around too. What will they do? Probably not much.   
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 10:23:47 AM by Lafinur »

Lafinur

  • Knight Grand Cross
  • *
  • Posts: 7747
  • Fabulous Quotient -121
    • View Profile
  • Gender: Father
Re: War of the Three Feudatories
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2012, 09:48:45 AM »
 Oh, Wu Sangui Part Deux: Electric Boogaloo! So this is the Three Feudatories thing you was talking about a while back.

 It being a while since I last read them, seeing the Cambridge History of China and The Great Enterprise takes me back to crazy memories of Li Zicheng and Dorgon.  :allears:

 I can't imagine what will happen with the Europeans (since the Portuguese have been kicked out of everything except Macau and the Dutch themselves, who did the kicking, have been kicked out of Taiwan by crazy Ming admirals) but the promises involving the Shogunate and what I presume to be some version of the White Lotus or some other people waiting for Buddha Maitreya are appealing.



Edit: having checked the map, I can now see why they lost: they made a dash for useless old Gansu and Mongolia rather than Nanjing and Beijing.  :doh:
 
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 10:08:10 AM by Lafinur »
There\'s no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one.

I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born.

Brigadier Pudding

  • Valued Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 1002
  • Fabulous Quotient -127
    • View Profile
  • Gender: Ma'am
Re: War of the Three Feudatories
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2012, 10:15:14 AM »
Oh, Wu Sangui Part Deux: Electric Boogaloo!

This needs to be the title of the thread. MAKE IT HAPPEN.


Edit: having checked the map, I can now see why they lost: they made a dash for useless old Gansu and Mongolia rather than Nanjing and Beijing.  :doh:
Actually, the Gansu thing is because Wang Fuchen defected. Wu Sangui had the right idea but just kind of stopped in Hubei. I accidentally deleted the part of your post that talked about millenarianism, but I want to do something different instead of the same old White Lotus routine. Right now I'm leaning towards Muslim Hong Xiuquan.

Doctor Imperialism

  • Garbage Poster
  • *
  • Posts: 603
  • Fabulous Quotient -563
    • View Profile
  • Gender: Gentleman
Re: Wu Sangui Part Deux: Electric Boogaloo
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2012, 05:27:49 PM »
“Kang-Hsi and the San-Fan 三藩 War” is great (if you don’t have JSTOR access, ask nicely and I will send you a copy).

Asking nicely.

Anyways, great idea. This looks to be a pretty obscure period in history, and the summary of events you provided really helps explain the situation. I'll be watching this one closely.

Ofaloaf

  • Valued Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 1376
  • Fabulous Quotient -70
    • View Profile
Re: War of the Three Feudatories
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 03:19:08 PM »
Oh, The Great Enterprise is a nice read. Wu Sangui's order to revive Ming customs and raise the flag of the Zhou dynasty sounds interesting, likewise Sun Yanling's callbacks to the Qi and Liang dynasties. Is there any significance in the choice of these dynastic references? Is there any particular reason why Wu Sangui used the flag of the Zhou and not, say, the Tang or Shan or whatever?

Edit: having checked the map, I can now see why they lost: they made a dash for useless old Gansu and Mongolia rather than Nanjing and Beijing.  :doh:
Actually, the Gansu thing is because Wang Fuchen defected. Wu Sangui had the right idea but just kind of stopped in Hubei.
It's them confounded Wudang Mountains that always screw up everything. Wudang Mountains ain't nuthing ta fuck with.

Noble Aryan Brahmin

  • Soldier of Kr'rundor
  • *
  • Posts: 790
  • Fabulous Quotient -118
    • View Profile
  • Gender: Woman
Re: Wu Sangui Part Deux: Electric Boogaloo
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2012, 08:01:18 AM »
Frankly, I've always longed for a TL featuring second Sam Kok-level period of chaos... :allears:

I wonder why you mention Japan though. By this point Japan had been 60 years under Sakoku. That suggests a possible armed engagement with Tungning. How was their relationship during this time around ?
« Last Edit: September 06, 2012, 09:19:42 PM by Fan Kui »
"Walk tall, kick ass, learn to speak Arabic, love music and never forget you come from a long line of truth seekers, lovers and warriors." - Hunter S Thompson

> Uguu, The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

> It's pointless discussing it most of the time, as it all boils down to the same points, which degenerate into the intellectual version of chimpanzees throwing faeces at each other.

 > I was kept awake by the haunting thought that I would be wasting time sleeping instead of arguing with people on the internet

Doctor Imperialism

  • Garbage Poster
  • *
  • Posts: 603
  • Fabulous Quotient -563
    • View Profile
  • Gender: Gentleman
Re: Wu Sangui Part Deux: Electric Boogaloo
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2012, 06:04:34 PM »
Any updates on this? Seemed like a great idea, and I'd hate to see it go out with a whimper.

(Also, I never received that JSTOR file  :rage:)