Late in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) a large number of novels about chivalrous heros and complicated legal cases appeared in Chinese literature. One of the most enduring and popular folk legends of China has been the story of Lord Bao and his seven heroes and five gallants, whose exploits were sung of in ballads, operas and songs for over a thousand years.
The central hero is Lord Bao, who rises from humble beginnings to high office at the imperial court, gathering around him a group of Robin Hood-type men to fight crime and corruption. The seven heroes of the imperial court form a musketeer-like relationship with the five gallants, and roam around rescuing maidens in distress, succouring the old and weak, using their exceptional fighting talents to kill evildoers.
The adventures of the seven heroes and five gallants provide much insight into traditions that have formed the Chinese character through the ages.