National Hero Wen TianxiangWen Tianxiang was a native of Jiangxi, in China's southeast; he had patriotic aspiration from youth. At the age of twenty he received the title of zhuangyuan for his achievement in an Imperial examination. Because of corruption in officialdom, however, Wen chose not to pursue a civil administrative career.
In 1275, the Southern Song dynasty was in crisis, and generals from all over the empire were called back to defend the capital Lin'an. At that time Wen as 40 years old; he sold off his family property immediately, amassed the forces of thirty thousand soldiers and rushed to Lin'an. The Mongol army being nearby, Wen and a fellow patriotic, Zhang Shijie, urged a battle to the death but the Dowager Empress and Prime Minister advocated surrender. After the flight of the Prime Minister south Wen replaced him. He travelled to the enemy battalion and denounced their soldiers but was soon desposed in favour of Jia Yuqing, who took the Prime Ministership. Jia surrendered to the Mongols and in 1276 the enemy commander Bo Yan lead his troops into Lin'an, thus ending the Southern Song.
Bo Yan knew that Wen would not surrender, so he escorted him to Beijing in July. At Zhenjiang, on the lower Yangzi River, Wen and his followers escaped with aid from a local boatman. Wen Tianxiang escaped dangers and eventually began to organise an army to resist the Mongols in Zhejiang and Fujian. The Mongols were forced to divert troops to deal with him. In 1278 Wen Tianxiang was captured in the barren mountain range of Haifeng by Zhang Hongfan and asked to write to advise another senior resistance general to surrender. Wen only wrote a two phrased poem: "From antiquity life is to die / One must reserve reserve to loyalty in history."
In April 1279, Wen Tianxiang was escorted to Beijing and the Mongol minister Bo Luo used both hard and soft tactics to induce him to capitulate, but to no avail. A few years later, the Mongol emperor heard that Hebei rebels were planning to rescue Wen Tianxiang and decided to induce him to capitulate personally. Nevertheless, Wen refused to kneel or submit and at the age of 47 years, was executed. He went to the execution field, saluted the south and retained his composure as death approached.