Zu Sugwey

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Zu Sugwey
Posthumous portrait of the Prince c. 1700
Pretender to the Ming throne
PredecessorZu Jowlang
SuccessorZu Janyen
Prince of Ningzing (寧靖王)
PredecessorZu Suja
SuccessorZu Janyen
Born24 October 1617
Died5 March 1690 (age 72)
Edo, Tokugawa Japan
Zu Janyen
HouseHouse of Zu (Liaw branch)

Zu Sugwey[1] (Chinese: 朱術桂, zū sụgwèi; 1617–1690), the Prince of Ningzing (寧靖王), posthumously recognized as the Jonghi Emperor (永熹帝), was a royal member of the House of Zu and the last pretender to the Ming throne of the 17th century. He accompanied Koxinga to Japan in 1658 in order to escape the encroaching Qing armies. Today, he is best known as the forefather of the 19th century Ye emperors and is hailed as a cultural icon in China and parts of Japan.

Early life

Zu Sugwey was born on 24 October 1617 to Zu Hienhwan, the Prince of Cangjang (長陽王), a descendant of the Hongwu Emperor through his fifteenth son, the Prince of Liaw. He was styled as an Auxiliary-General (輔國將軍) while living in Hubei province. In 1645, upon the death of his elder brother Zu Suja, he inherited the title Prince of Cangjang. A year later, the Longwu Emperor granted him the title Prince of Ningzing, an appellation which he would be known by for the rest of his life.

As a member of the Ming royal family, he closely allied with Koxinga's Zeng clan in order to repeal the invading Qing armies. During this period of his life, the Prince was stationed in Fuzien province in the southeast of China. In 1657, he married a daughter of Koxinga's. After the warlord's ultimate defeat in the 1658 Battle of Namging and the formation of a military alliance between the Netherlands, Corea, and the Qing, Zu Sugwey fled to Japan along with the remnants of the anti-Qing Iron Army in order to avoid persecution by the new government.

Relocation to Japan

Initially, the Prince settled in Nagasaki, which was directly controlled by the Tokugawa government as a shogunal demesne (tenrjoo 天領). After the chaos of the Manzi era had devastated Kyushu, he was invited by the shogun Çunaxige to Edo, where he was encouraged to abandon his anti-Qing activism. The Prince joined the capital city's rich cultural scene, where he composed numerous literary works, most notably a number of poems and social commentaries.

In 1664, his wife gave birth to their only son, Zu Janyen, who would later succeed his father as pretender and as Prince of Ningzing. Three years later, a daughter, Zu Yehwa, would be born. Zu Sugwey would spend the remainder of his life in Japan, unable to return to China. In the late 1670s, during the First Lingnam Rebellion in southern China, the Prince recovered his anti-Qing stance, publishing several pamphlets encouraging the Japanese people to oppose the new empire.

When vagrants took Gingzow in 1642, I brought my household southward; in 1644, I took refuge in Fuzien. For the sake of the hairs on my head and to preserve the integrity of my humble body, I have lingered abroad for more than 30 years; now I am 62 years old. In this time of adversity I shall die longing for my country.
— Neisei oo ziden 寧靖王自伝 ("Memoirs of the Prince", 1679)

In the month of March 1690, Zu Sugwey died of natural causes at the age of seventy-two in the Japanese capital of Edo. He was survived by his son Janyen (朱颜元), his daughter Yehwa (月華), and his protégée Zu Honghwan, the Prince of Lu (魯王朱弘桓).


Zu Sugwey's close relatives
Zu Hienhwan
Prince of Cangjang
Zu Suja
Prince of Cangjang
(d. 1645)
Zu Sugwey
Prince of Ningzing
Unnamed daughter of Koxinga
(d. 1686)
Zu Janyen
Prince of Ningzing
Zu Yehwa


  1. ^ Alternately romanized in Dutch as Zoe Soe Gwij or Tsoe Soet Koei.

See also