Song and Yuan Dynasties
Qin Guan (1049–1100) is the earliest prominent ancestor whom Ching writes about. A poet and government official, he was a close personal friend and political ally of the prominent official Su Dongpo. After two failed attempts, Qin Guan passed the metropolitan examinations in 1085 and eventually became an instructor at a Confucian school in Caizhou. He attempted to take the special court examination at the Song capital of Kaifeng, but was blocked by Neo-Confucian elements at court who disapproved of his relatively dissolute lifestyle – he was known to be intimate with several courtesans – and because of his association with Su Dongpo’s faction. From 1090 onwards, he held a minor government post in Kaifeng. Later he and many other government officials fell out of favor in 1094 when the Empress Dowager died and Emperor Zhezong began to rule in his own right. Qin Guan worked as a minor government official in a series of small towns until his death.
The second figure Ching describes is Qin Hui (1090–1155) a man almost universally hated as a traitor to the Chinese people. In 1127 the Northern Song dynasty collapsed when the Jurchens captured Kaifeng. Remnants of the Song court founded the Southern Song dynasty in the city of Hangzhou, under Emperor Gaozong. In the years following the formation of the Southern Song dynasty, the Song general Yue Fei led successful military campaigns against the Jurchens. However, Song government officials, including Qin Hui, believed an ultimate military victory was impossible and feared that Yue’s successes made a peaceful coexistence with the Jurchens unlikely. Yue Fei was recalled to Hangzhou, imprisoned, and murdered on Qin Hui’s orders. Frank Ching argues that Qin Hui was probably neither a relative of Qin Guan, nor an ancestor of the modern Qin clan. He also cautions against excessively demonizing Qin, noting that some objective historians have called Qin a “scapegoat” for Emperor Gaozong, whom many Chinese historians have been reluctant to criticize directly.
Qin Yubo (1295–1374), a seventh-generation descendant of Qin Guan, worked as a government official until he retired to Shanghai in 1354. In the late 1360s, as the Yuan dynasty was disintegrating, the warlord Zhu Yuanzhang repeatedly asked for Qin Yubo’s services, a request to which Qin very reluctantly agreed. In 1368 Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty and declared himself the Hongwu Emperor. Qin Yubo was named a chief examination official in the Ming capital of Nanjing, and later prefect of Longzhou. After his death, the Hongwu Emperor appointed him the City God of Shanghai.
Read more about this topic: Ancestors: 900 Years In The Life Of A Chinese Family
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