鄭芝龍 (Cheng Chi-long, 1595 [or 1604] - 1661), father of 鄭成功 (aka Koxinga [國姓爺], 1624-1662), had commanded a vast privateer fleet with thousands of ships before accepting the official invitation to become a 都督同知 [equivalent to class-one deputy minister of defense] with the Ming Empire in 1628. He served the Ming Court reasonably well, albeit reluctantly at times, until 1646, when he was tricked by a Manchurian in-law into surrendering to the Qing. He was quickly sent to Beijing, from Hokkien, and kept under house arrest before any rescuing attempts by the Cheng Clan were possible.
It may appear puzzling as to why such a powerful rich-as-a-nation warlord could fall into such an obvious trap; in fact, even the Qing Court was surprised. The reason, usually glossed over or totally ignored by historians, might be the droughts and widespread famine in war-torn China at that time that had rendered it impossible for 鄭芝龍 to maintain his military base - not without resorting to drastic self-preserving measures that would have created even more human misery. This he had apparently chosen not to do. Plus, a lifetime of military actions had already worn him out, which he had also pointed out to Koxinga. Instead, he took the easy way out, against the counsel of his advisers, even the impassioned plea of Koxinga, and perhaps then willingly walked into the ambush in the form of a dinner party on a boat. In the Confusianism tradition, 鄭芝龍 has been regarded unfavorably (unjustly as far as the Cheng Clan is concerned), to be contrasted with his son's "higher" moral calling (see below).
In the ensuing years in Beijing, 鄭芝龍 was used as the pawn in Qing's dealing with Koxinga who, however, steadfastly maintained that his loyalty to the Ming emperor trumped a son's piety to his father and refused to abandon Ming. For the ultimately failed attempt in convincing Koxinga to yield, 鄭芝龍, together with 10 members of his immediate family, were sentenced to death and murdered in 寧古塔 where they were imprisoned [note: 連橫 claimed in his 台灣通史 that the execution took place in Beijing Marketplace北京柴市 - this appeared a citation error].
This Nov 24, 1661, Qing royal order of Emperor 康熙 (1654-1722, reigned 1661/2 - 1722) recorded the death sentence of 鄭芝龍, his two sons 鄭世恩 and 鄭世蔭, and family. At the same time, 鄭芝豹 (鄭芝龍's brother) and his sons, who had surrendered to the Qing before the Koxinga revolt, were spared.
Earlier on May 17, 1657, Emperor 順治 (1638-1661, reigned 1644-1661) had decreed that, instead of an immediate execution, 鄭芝龍 and family members be banished to and imprisoned in 寧古塔 (near present-day 黑龍江省牡丹江市). In addition, all family properties and holdings were to be confiscated. They were forced to travel on foot in yokes and chains all the way from Beijing to the destination (a distance of ca 1,440 km). Reports showed that female members of the family suffered the most ("indescribable hardship"), probably because of their bound-feet. Accompanying 鄭芝龍 in the prison was also a Franciscan priest originally from Macau where 鄭芝龍 was baptized.