Li Tzu-cheng (lē dzō-chŭng) [key], 1605–45, Chinese rebel leader who contributed to the fall of the Ming dynasty. With the help of scholars he organized a government in S Shanxi prov., proclaimed a new dynasty, and sought popular support by giving famine relief and spreading songs and stories lauding his heroic qualities. By 1643 he held much of Hubei, Henan, and Shaanxi provs., and in 1644 he captured Beijing, finding the last Ming emperor dead by suicide. Advancing to Shanhaiguan, a strategic pass on the Great Wall, Li confronted the Ming general Wu San-kuei. Rather than surrender to a Chinese rebel leader, Wu preferred to collaborate with the Manchus. Li was driven from Beijing, and within a year he was killed and his forces were crushed. The new Manchu Ch'ing dynasty rewarded Wu with an independent satrapy in Yunnan and Guizhou provs.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.