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A Demon In Human Shape


The Ming Dynasty ended with the reign of Tchong tching, which was a continued series of murders, robberies, and intestine war, a vast number of seditious male-contents forming themselves into eight armies, each having a commander, but they were afterwards reduced to two chiefs, who were named Li and Tchang. Li and Tchang agreed to divide the provinces between them ; Li going Northwards; and Tchang took the western provinces of Sze tchuen and Hou Quang for his Share.

Tchang, nicknamed Yellow Tiger, was born in a poor family in Shensi. Following a disastrous famine, Tchang became the leader of a gang of freebooters who used hit-and-run tactics to plunder widely throughout North China. Although his forces were bought off several times and were defeated by government troops, they retreated into the hills, regrouped, and continued their raids.

Tchang seemed to be a demon in human shape, he was good-natured and affable to none but his Soldiers, whom he used with great familiarity , for to all others he was cruel beyond example. If any man committed a trifling fault, he killed all the people that lived in the same street ; five thousand eunuchs were slain by his order, because one of them had not given him the title of Emperor ; having called ten thousand Literati to an examination, as soon as they were assembled in the hall appointed for their compositions, he caused them all to be murdered on pretense that by their Sophisms they stirred up the people to rebel.

Upon leaving the City of Tchin tou fou, which was the capital of Sze Tchuan, to enter the Province of Chensi, he caused all the inhabitants to be brought out in chains, and massacred in the fields.

He ordered all his Soldiers to kill their women, because they were only troublesome to an army in war, and he set them an example by cutting the throats of three hundred of his own, reserving only twenty to wait on the three Queens.

Tchang was obsessed with ears and feet, so he had his own personal guards retrieve the ears and feet of the people killed in the outlying districts in order to count how many people they killed there.

He did not leave the province of Sze tchuen to enter that of Chen si, till he had burnt the capital and several other towns.

As he was preparing to engage the Tartars, who were not far off, he was told that five warriors were seen upon the hills at some distance, upon which he went immediately to reconnoitre them, without putting on his helmet or cuirass, and as soon as he came in fight of them he was shot through the heart with an arrow. His Death dispersed his army, and the people received the Tartars as their deliverers, and joyfully submitted to their yoke.

Note: Tchang,  张献忠,  Pingyin Zhang Xianzhong, Wade-Giles romanization Chang Hsien-chung, byname Yellow Tiger, born 1606, Dingbian, Shaanxi province, died Jan. 2, 1647, Xichong, Sichuan province, Chinese rebel leader at the close of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

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