Hall of Military Prowess (Hall of Martial Spirit)
In 1618 the Manchu government had been founded on the banks of the bleak Songhua River. Seven years later the Great Khan, Nurhachi (1559-1626), set up his capital in Shenyang in 1628, calling his new dynasty Qing(pure). Their movement came when in 1644 the Ming dynasty general Wu Sangui (1616-78) appealed to them for help to expel the rebel leader Li Zicheng who had forced his way into Beijing. The Manchus promptly accepted, drove Li Zicheng out of the city.
Since 1683, it was where dictionaries were compiled. A grand exhibition of royal documents and art works of the Qing court is open to the public in October 2004 at the Hall of Martial Valour covering an area of 12,000 square meters. On display are at least 200 precious official documents, books, and machines, Buddhist scriptures, paintings, and calligraphic scrolls, the Qing emperors accumulated since the early 1680s. As one of the activities to mark the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Palace Museum in Beijing, the exhibition gives the audience a glimpse of the cultural achievements of the Qing Dynasty. Massive scale renovation efforts were undertaken since early 2003, to restore the lost splendour of the Hall of the Martial Valour, a relic of the Ming Dynasty Palace. Later occupied by the Qing emperors and rebuilt after it suffered a disastrous fire in 1869.
Wu Shangui And Li Zicheng
Hall of Military Prowess was built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty. After the collapse of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Li Zicheng called his new kingdom Dashun (the Region of Grand Obedience). At that time, Wu Sangui, one of the Ming generals, stationed at Shanhaiguan Pass in Hebei Province. But Li held Wu’s father as hostage in Beijing. After Wu Sangui threw in his lot with the Manchus, fought off the army that Li sent against him, and invited Dorgun (1612-50), Huang Taiji younger brother, as a regent to join him in recapturing Beijing. Li Zicheng retaliated by executing Wu Sanguis father and displaying the head on the walls of Beijing. The Hall of Martial Spirit (Wuyingdian) was the very place where Li Zicheng first set up court is still there. But the morale of Li Zicheng’s troops was fading fast, and not even his formal assumption of imperial rank on June 3, 1644, could shore him up. The next day he and his troops weighed down by booty, fled to the west. On June 6, the Manchus and Wu Sangui entered the capital and the boy emperor was enthroned in the Forbidden City with the reign title of Shunzhi (1638-61, reigned 1643-61). They tried to hunt down and destroy the leading anti-Ming rebels. Li Zicheng was their first target as he fled southwest with his army to Xi’an, where his career as a military rebel had commenced some twenty years earlier. After consolidating their hold on Shanxi Province, the Qing forces, in the spring of 1645, closed in on Li Zicheng with a skillfully executed pincer movement. Forced out of Xi’an, Li fled with a dwindling number of followers southeast along the Han River to Wuchang, crossed the Yangtze River, and was finally cornered by the pursuing Manchus in the mountains on the northern border of Jiangxi Province. In the summer of 1645, Li Zicheng died there one source said that he committed suicide; the other source argued that peasants from whom he had tried to steal food beat him to death.
Dorgun was a Manchu prince who routed Li Zicheng’s troops from Beijing and acted as a regent for the Emperor Shunzhi.