Hong Taiji

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Qing Taizong Wen Huangdi
清 佚名 《清太宗崇德皇帝朝服像》.jpg
Khan of the Later Jin dynasty
Reign 20 October 1626 – 15 May 1636
Predecessor Nurhaci
Successor None
(Assumed imperial dignity)
China Qing Dynasty Flag 1889.svg 2nd Emperor of the Qing dynasty
Reign 15 May 1636 – 21 September 1643
Predecessor Tianming Emperor
Successor Shunzhi Emperor
Spouse Borjigit Jerjer, Empress Xiaoduanwen
Empress Xiao Zhuang Wen
Borjigit Harjol, Consort Chen
Issue Hooge
State Princess Aukhan
Makate, State Princess Wen Zhuang
State Princess Jing Duan
Yatu, State Princess Yong Mu
Atu, State Princess Shu Hui
State Princess Shu Zhe
State Princess Yong An
State Princess Duan Shun
Fulin, Shunzhi Emperor
Princess Ke Chun of the Second Rank
Full name
Posthumous name
Emperor Yingtian Xingguo Hongde Zhangwu Kuanwen Rensheng Ruixiao Wen (in 1643)
Manchu: Genggiyen su hūwangdi
Temple name
Qing Tàizōng
House House of Aisin Gioro
Father Nurhaci
Mother Empress Xiaocigao
Born (1592-11-28)28 November 1592
Died 21 September 1643(1643-09-21) (aged 50)
Burial Zhaoling

Hong Taiji (28 November 1592 – 21 September 1643; reigned 1626 – 1643), also transliterated as Huang Taiji based on the Chinese language transcription of his name and referred to as Abahai in Western literature, was an Emperor of the Qing dynasty. He was responsible for consolidating the empire that his father Nurhaci had founded. He laid the groundwork for the conquering of the Ming dynasty, although he died before this was accomplished. He was also responsible for changing the name of his people from Jurchen to Manchu in 1635, as well as that of the dynasty from Later Jin to Qing in 1636. The Qing dynasty lasted until 1912.

Because his father Nurhaci did not assume imperial dignity while alive, Hong Taiji is sometimes considered to be the first Qing emperor, but because Nurhaci was posthumously awarded the imperial title, Hong Taiji is usually called the second emperor of the Qing.

Name and titles[edit]

Hong Taiji is written as Hung Taiji name.png (Hung Taiji) in the Manchu language. In Chinese, Hong Taiji is also known as Hóng Tàijí (洪太極) or Huáng Táijí (皇太極). This name corresponded to well-known Mongolian title Khong Tayiji (Crown Prince) which was sinicized as Hong Taiji or Huang Taizi.[1] There are different views about the name Abahai. According to one view, the name Abakhai is wrong: Hong Taiji was never mentioned under this name in Manchu and Chinese sources; it was a mistake first made by Russian clergyman G.V. Gorsky and later repeated by sinologists starting in the early twentieth century.[2] Giovanni Stary states that this name may have originated in a confusion with "Abkai" in Abkai sure, which was Hong Taiji's era name in the Manchu language.[3] According to another view, Abakhai was a real name derived from Mongolian Abakai – honorary name given to younger sons of monarchs.[dubious ] According to another view, Hong Taiji was mistakenly referred to as Abahai in Western scholarly literature, the result of a confusion with Nurhaci's favorite concubine. He was first Khan of the Later Jin and then Emperor of the Qing dynasty, after he changed its name. His title as Great Khan was Bogd Khaan (Manchu: Gosin Onco Hūwaliyasun Enduringge Han). His reign names were Tiāncōng (Chinese: 天聰, Manchu: ᠠᠪᡴᠠᡳ ᠰᡠᡵᡝ Abka-i sure) 1627–1636; and Chóngdé (Chinese:崇德, Manchu: ᠸᡝᠰᡳᡥᡠᠨ ᡝᡵᡩᡝᠮᡠᠩᡤᡝ Wesihun erdemungge, Mongolian: Degede Erdemtü) 1636–1643. Tiāncōng means "heavenly braininess" and Chóngdé means "lofty virtue." His temple name was Tàizōng 太宗.

His posthumous name evolved to become longer and longer:

  • 1643: Yingtian-xingguo-hongde-zhangwu-kuanwen-rensheng-ruixiao Wen Emperor (應天興國弘德彰武寬溫仁聖睿孝文皇帝)
  • 1662: Yingtian-xingguo-hongde-zhangwu-kuanwen-rensheng-ruixiao-longdao-xiangong Wen Emperor (應天興國弘德彰武寬溫仁聖睿孝隆道顯功文皇帝)
    • "Prosperous Way and Manifestation of Might" was added
  • 1723: Yingtian-xingguo-hongde-zhangwu-kuanwen-rensheng-ruixiao-jingming-longdao-xiangong Wen Emperor (應天興國弘德彰武寬溫仁聖睿孝敬敏隆道顯功文皇帝)
    • "Reverence and Diligent" was added
  • 1735: Yingtian-xingguo-hongde-zhangwu-kuanwen-rensheng-ruixiao-jingming-zhaoding-longdao-xiangong Wen Emperor (應天興國弘德彰武寬溫仁聖睿孝敬敏昭定隆道顯功文皇帝)
    • "Illustrious stability" was added

Consolidation of power[edit]

Hong Taiji was the eighth son of Nurhaci, whom he succeeded as the second ruler of the Later Jin dynasty in 1626. Although it was always thought of as gossip, he was said to be involved in the suicide of Prince Dorgon's mother, Lady Abahai in order to block the succession of his younger brother. This is speculated because at the time of Nurhaci's death, there were four Lords/Beile with Hong Taiji as the lowest rank, but also the most fit one. Originally, at the end of Nurhaci's reign, Hong Taiji got hold of the two White Banners, but after Lady Abahai's death, he switched his two banners with Dorgon and Dodo's two Yellow banners (Nurhaci gave his two Yellow Banners to the two). In the end, Hong Taiji had control over the two strongest/highest class banners- the Plain/Bordered Yellow Banner and the most influence. From there, he slowly got rid of his competitor's powers. Later, he would also receive the Plain Blue Banner from his fifth brother Manggūltai, which was the third strongest banner. Those three banners would officially become the Upper Three Banners during the early part of the Qing dynasty.

His reign[edit]

During his reign, he started using officials of the Han ethnicity. After a 1623 revolt Nurhaci came to mistrust his Nikan (Han) followers. Hong Taiji started incorporating Han people into the country and government. He realized that they would still be the majority and the Manchus would still be the minority, which means to control the Han people, they would need to live together or else the Qing dynasty would be a repeat of the Yuan dynasty.


He continued the expansion of the state in the region later known as Manchuria, pushing deeper into Mongolia and raiding Korea and Ming China. His personal military abilities were widely praised and he effectively developed the military-civil administration known as the Eight Banners or Banner system. This system was well-suited to accept the different peoples, primarily Chinese and Mongols, who joined the Manchu state either following negotiated agreements or military defeat.

In 1636, Hong Taiji invaded Joseon Korea (see the Second Manchu invasion of Korea), as the latter did not accept that Hong Taiji had become emperor. With the Joseon dynasty surrendered in 1637, Hong Taiji succeeded in making them cut off relations with the Ming dynasty and force them to submit as protectorate of the Qing Empire. Also during this period, Hung Taji took over Inner Mongolia in three major wars, each of them victorious. In 1640 he completed the conquest of the Evenks, when he defeated and captured their leader Bombogor.

At the same time, Hong Taji upgraded the weapons of the Empire. He realized the advantage of the Red Cannons and later also bought the Red Cannons into the army. Though the Ming dynasty still had more Cannons, Hong Taji now possessed the cannons of equal might and Asia's strongest cavalry.

Huang Taji's plan at first was to make a deal with the Ming dynasty. He originally did not want to conquer China, in fact the people who encouraged him invade China were his advisors Fan Wencheng, Ma Guozhu, Ning Wanwo, who were all Han Chinese.[4] If the Ming dynasty was willing to give support and money that would be beneficial to the Qing's economy, the Qing Dynasty in exchange would not only be willing to not attack the borders, but also admit itself as a country one level lower than the Ming dynasty; however, since all the Ming Court officials were reminded of the Jin Empire during the Song dynasty, the court heavily refused the exchange. Huang Taiji rejected the comparison, saying that "Neither is your Ming ruler a decensant of the Song nor are we heir to the Jin. That was another time."[5] This ultimately forced Huang Taji to take the offensive.

The change from Jin to Qing[edit]

In 1635, Hong Taiji changed the name of his people from Jurchen (Manchu: Jušen.svg Jušen) to Manchu, or Manju.svg Manju in the Manchu language. The original meaning of Manju is not known and so the reasons for its adoption remain opaque. There are many theories as to the reason for the choice of name but two of the most commonly cited are its sounding similar to the Manchu word for "brave" and a possible connection with the Bodhisattva Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, of whom Nurhaci claimed to be an incarnation.

The dynastic name Later Jin was a direct reference to the Jin dynasty founded by the Jurchen people, who ruled northern China from 1115 to 1234. As such, the name was likely to be viewed as closely tied to the Jurchens and would perhaps evoke hostility from Chinese who viewed the Song dynasty, rival state to the Jin, as the legitimate rulers of China at that time. Hong Taiji's ambition was to conquer China proper and overthrow the Ming dynasty, and to do that required not only a powerful military force but also an effective bureaucratic administration. For this, he used the obvious model, that of the Ming government, and recruited Ming officials to his cause. If the name of Later Jin would prove an impediment to his goal among many Chinese, then it was not too much to change it. Whatever the precise motivation, Hong Taiji proclaimed the establishment of the Qing dynasty in 1636. The reasons for the choice of Qing as the new name are likewise unclear, although it has been speculated that the sound – Jin and Qing are pronounced similarly in Manchu – or wuxing theory – traditional ideas held that fire, associated with the character for Ming, was overcome by water, associated with the character for Qing – may have influenced the choice. Another possible reason may be that Hong Taiji changed the name of the dynasty from (Later) Jin to Qing in 1636 because of internecine fraternal struggle and skirmish between brothers and half brothers for the throne. According to Taoist philosophy, the name Jin has the meaning of metal and fire in its constituent, thereby igniting the tempers of the brothers of the Manchu Royal household into open conflicts and wars. Huangtaiji therefore adopted the new name of Qing 清, the Chinese character of which has the water symbol [3 strokes] on its left hand side. The name, which means clear and transparent, with its water symbol was hoped to put out the feud among the brothers of the Manchu Royal household.

The banners status[edit]

Before Hong Taiji was emperor, he controlled the two White banners. Upon Nurhaci's death, Hong Taiji immediately switched his two White Banners with Nurhaci's two Yellow Banners, which should have been passed on to Dorgon and his brothers. As emperor, he was the holder of three banners out of eight. He controlled the Upper Three Banners or the Elite banners which at the time were the Plain/Bordered Yellow Banners and Plain Blue Banner. Later the Plain Blue Banner was switched by Dorgon to the Plain White Banner as the third Elite Banner. At the end of his reign, Hong Taiji gave the two Yellow Banners to his eldest son Hooge. Daisan, who was the second son of Nurhaci, and his son controlled the two Red Banners. Dorgon and his two brothers controlled the two White Banners and Šurhaci's son Jirgalang controlled the remaining Bordered Blue Banner.


Hong Taiji died on 21 September, possibly of stroke, just a few months before his army would seize control of Beijing. He therefore did not live to see his ambition of conquering Ming China come about, although his son, the Shunzhi Emperor, succeeded him and became the first of the Qing dynasty emperors to govern China. That the Qing state succeeded not only in conquering China but also in establishing a capable administration was due in large measure to the foresight and policies of Hong Taiji. His body was buried in Zhaoling, located in northern Shenyang.


As the emperor, he is commonly recognized as having abilities similar to the best emperors such as Yongle, Tang Taizong because of his effective rule, effective use of talent, and effective warring skills. According to half historian and half writer Jin Yong, Hong Taiji had the broad and wise views of Qin Shi Huang, Emperor Gaozu of Han, Emperor Guangwu of Han, Emperor Wen of Sui, Emperor Taizong of Tang, Emperor Taizu of Song, Kublai Khan, the Hongwu Emperor, and the Yongle Emperor. His political abilities were paralleled only by Genghis Khan, Emperor Taizong of Tang, and Emperor Guangwu of Han[citation needed]. In this sense, Hong Taiji is considered by some historians as the true first emperor for the Qing dynasty[citation needed]. Some historians suspect Hong Taiji was overall underrated and overlooked as a great emperor because he was a Manchu.[citation needed]




In 1636 Hong Taiji reformed the titles of his wives, who had all until then been called fujin (福晉).[6] From that year on, there would be one empress (huanghou 皇后) and seven kinds of consorts: Imperial Noble Consort (huangguifei 皇貴妃), Noble Consort (guifei 貴妃), Consort (fei 妃), Concubine (bin 嬪), Worthy Lady (guiren 貴人), Palace Woman (changzai 常在), and Responder (daying 答應).[6] Yet ten of Hong Taiji's fifteen wives—one "first consort" (yuanfei 元妃), one "successor consort" (jifei 繼妃), two "side-chamber consorts" (cefei 側妃), and six "ordinary consorts" (shufei 庶妃)—are known by the titles that his father Nurhaci had used to refer to his own harem.[6] Hong Taiji's five primary wives were all from the Borjigit clan of the Khorchin Mongols, "the earliest Mongol allies of the Manchus."[7] Two of them (Bumbutai and Harjol) were sisters, and both were nieces of Jere, who had been married to Hong Taiji in 1614 and became his empress in 1636.[8]

A portrait of Bumbutai, mother of Hong Taiji's ninth son Fulin, painted between 1636 and 1643 when her title was "Consort Zhuang of the Yongfu Palace." She is better known by her posthumous title of Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • Jere or Jerjer (哲哲; 1600–1649), daughter of Manggusi (莽古思), a Khorchin Mongol prince (beile) of the Borjigit clan; she arrived at the palace in 1614, was officially made empress in 1636, and became empress dowager when Hong Taiji died in 1643; she is known posthumously as Empress Xiaoduanwen; she gave birth to Hong Taiji's 2nd, 3rd, and 8th daughters.[9]
  • Bumbutai (布木布泰; 1613–1688), niece of Jere and daughter of Jaisang, a Borjigit of the Khorchin Mongols. She was presented to Hong Taiji in 1625 and made Consort Zhuang of the Yongfu Palace (永福宮莊妃) in 1636; she became Empress Dowager in 1643 when her son Fulin (Hong Taiji's 9th son) became the Shunzhi Emperor; she is known posthumously as Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang; in addition to her son, Bumbutai also had three daughters, Hong Taiji's 4th, 5th, and 7th.[10]
  • Harjol (海蘭珠; d. 1641), also a daughter of Jaisang, and older sister of Bumbutai; she arrived in the palace in 1634, was named Consort Chen of Guansui Palace (關睢宮宸妃) in 1636, and is known posthumously as First Consort Minhui Gonghe (敏惠恭和元妃).[11] She was much loved by Hong Taiji, who declared a general amnesty when their son was born in 1637, but their son died a few months later before he was given a name.[11]
  • Namuzhong (娜木鍾; d. 1674), a Khorchin Mongol of the Borjigit clan; was named Noble Consort of Linzhi Palace (麟趾宮貴妃) in 1636; Namuzhong previously served as a primary consort of Ligdan Khan (林舟汗), the last Borjigin khan of Mongolia to die with the title of Khagan, and held the title Great Consort Nangnang (囊囊大福晋) .After his death, the Khan's successor Ejei Khan surrendered to Jurchen forces. Namuzhong married Hong Taiji after the surrender of Chahar, and was given the posthumous title of Great Noble Consort Yijing (懿靖大貴妃); gave birth to one son (Bombogor) and to Hong Taiji's 11th daughter. Namuzhong also bore Ligdan Khan a son, Abutai (阿布奈; d. 1675), who was informally adopted by Hong Taiji and made a Prince of the First Rank under the Qing dynasty.[11]
  • Batemazhao (巴特瑪璪; d. 1667), also of the Mongol Borjigit clan; Batemazhou served as a secondary consort of Ligdan Khan and was married to Hong Taiji at the same time as Namuzhong. She was named Virtuous Consort of Yanqing Palace (衍清宮淑妃) in 1636 and is posthumously known as Virtuous Consort Kanghui (康惠淑妃); did not give birth.[11]
  • First Consort, Hong Taiji's first wife,[citation needed] daughter of Prince[verification needed] Eidu (弘毅公額亦都) of the Niohuru clan; gave birth to one son (Lobohoi).[11]
  • Successor Consort of the Ulanara clan; gave birth to two sons (Hooge and Loge) and one daughter (Hong Taiji's first).[12]
  • Side-chamber Consort Yehe Nara (葉赫那拉), who gave birth to one son (Šose).[13]
  • Side-chamber Consort Zaru-Borjigit (扎魯特博爾濟吉特), who gave birth to two daughters (Hong Taiji's 6th and 9th).[14]
  • Ordinary Consort Nara (納喇), who had one son (Gose) and two daughters (Hong Taiji's 10th and 13th).[15]
  • Ordinary Consort Hilei (奇壘), who gave birth to Hong Taiji's 14th daughter.[16]
  • Ordinary Consort Yanja (顏扎), who had one son (Yebušu).[13]
  • Ordinary Consort Irgen Gioro (伊爾根覺羅), who bore Hong Taiji one son (Cangšu).[13]
  • Ordinary Consort of unknown clan, who had one son (Tose).[13]
  • Ordinary Consort of unknown clan, who gave birth to Hong Taiji's 12th daughter.[17]


A portrait of Hong Taiji's ninth son Fulin in adulthood, after he had become the Shunzhi Emperor.
  1. Hooge 豪格 (1609–1648), born to Successor Consort of the Ula Nara clan.[18]
  2. Loge 洛格 (1611–1621), born to Successor Consort of the Ula Nara clan.[18]
  3. Lobohoi 洛博會 (1611–1617), born to First Consort of the Niohuru clan.[11]
  4. Yebušu 葉布舒 (1627–1690), born to Ordinary Consort Yanja.[13]
  5. Šose 碩塞 (1628–1655), born to Side-chamber Consort of the Yehe Nara clan.[13]
  6. Gose 高塞 (1637–1670), born to Ordinary Consort Nala.[13]
  7. Cangšu 常舒 (1637–1699), born to Ordinary Consort Irgen Gioro.[13]
  8. Unnamed eighth son who died young (1637–1638), born to Harjol, who was then Consort Chen of Guansui Palace.[11]
  9. Fulin 福臨 (1638–1661), born to Bumbutai, who was then Consort Zhuang of the Yongfu Palace and later became Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.[19]
  10. Toose 韜塞 (1639–1695), born to Ordinary Consort of unknown clan.[13]
  11. Bombogor 博穆博果爾 (1642–1656), born to Namuzhong, who was then Noble Consort of Linzhi Palace.[11]


Whereas Nurhaci's daughters had been called gege (which then meant "young lady"), in 1636 Hong Taiji declared that imperial daughters would henceforth be named "state princess" (Manchu: gurun gungju; Chinese: 固倫公主).[20] This system was followed with few exceptions until the end of the dynasty.[20]

  1. State Princess Aukhan (敖漢)(1621–1654); married Bandi of the Mongolian Borjigit clan in 1633.[21]
  2. State Princess Wenzhuang (靖端長公主), personal name Makata (馬喀塔) (1625–1663); married Eje of the Chakhar Mongols in 1635. In 1661 Eje died and Makata married Eje's younger brother Abunai.[22]
  3. State Princess Jingduan (靖端長公主) (1628–1686); married Jitate of the Mongolian Borjigit clan in 1639.[22]
  4. State Princess Yongmu (雍穆長公主), personal name Yatu (雅圖) (1629–1678); married her cousin Birtakhar in 1641.[23]
  5. State Princess Shuhui (淑慧長公主), personal name Atu (阿圖) (1632–1700).[24]
  6. State Princess (1633–1649).[24]
  7. State Princess Shuzhe (淑哲長公主) (1633–1648).[24]
  8. State Princess Yong'an (永安長公主) (1634–1692).[25]
  9. Ninth daughter (1635–1652).[26]
  10. Tenth daughter (1635–1661).[26]
  11. State Princess Duanshun (端順長公主) (1636–1650).[26]
  12. Twelfth daughter (1637–1678).[27]
  13. Thirteenth daughter (1638–1657).[27]
  14. Princess of the second rank Kechun (和碩恪純長公主) (1642–1704/5).[28][nb 1] Born to Ordinary Consort (庶妃) Hilei 奇壘 of the Chahar Mongols; married Wu Sangui's son Wu Yingxiong 吳應熊 in 1653.[28] Wu Yingxiong, who lived in Beijing, was executed after the Three Feudatories rebelled in 1673.[28]


  1. ^ Date of birth: 12th month of the 6th year of Chongde, that is, sometime between 1 and 29 January 1642. Death: 12th month of the 43rd year of Kangxi, that is, sometime between 27 December 1704 and 24 January 1705, inclusively.


  1. ^ Grupper 1984, p. 69.
  2. ^ Stary 1984, pp. 298–99.
  3. ^ Stary 1984, p. 299.
  4. ^ Wakeman 1985, p. 204.
  5. ^ Wakeman 1985, p. 205.
  6. ^ a b c Rawski 1998, p. 132.
  7. ^ Rawski 1991, p. 176.
  8. ^ Rawski 1991, p. 174 (sister pair); Rawski 1998, p. 132 (Jere as Bumbutai's aunt).
  9. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, pp. 5270 (2nd and 3rd daughters) and 5273 (8th) in ch. 166 ("Tables of princesses" 公主表); and p. 8901 (dates and successive ranks) in ch. 214 ("Biographies of consorts" 后妃傳).
  10. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, pp. 5271 (4th daughter), 5272 (5th and 7th), and 8903 (dates and ranks).
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Zhao et al. 1927, p. 8904.
  12. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, pp. 5269 (1st daughter) and pp. 8904–5 (sons).
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i Zhao et al. 1927, p. 8905.
  14. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, pp. 5272 (6th daughter), 5274 (9th daughter), and 8905 (rank and name of consort).
  15. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, pp. 5274 (10th daughter), 5275 (13th daughter), and 8905 (name and rank; son).
  16. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, pp. 5276 (14th daughter) and 8905 (rank).
  17. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, pp. 5275 (identity of daughter) and 8905 (rank of consort).
  18. ^ a b Zhao et al. 1927, pp. 8904-5.
  19. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, p. 8903.
  20. ^ a b Rawski 1998, p. 145.
  21. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, p. 5269.
  22. ^ a b Zhao et al. 1927, p. 5270.
  23. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, p. 5271.
  24. ^ a b c Zhao et al. 1927, p. 5272.
  25. ^ Zhao et al. 1927, p. 5273.
  26. ^ a b c Zhao et al. 1927, p. 5274.
  27. ^ a b Zhao et al. 1927, p. 5275.
  28. ^ a b c Zhao et al. 1927, p. 5276.

Works cited[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Daily life in the Forbidden City, Wan Yi, Wang Shuqing, Lu Yanzhen. ISBN 0-670-81164-5.
  • Qing imperial genealogy(清皇室四譜).
  • Qing dynasty Taizong’s veritable records《清太宗實錄》
  • Royal archives of the Qing dynasty (清宮档案).
  • Samjeondo Monument
Hong Taiji
Born: 28 November 1592 Died: 21 September 1643
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor(/Khan) of Qing empire(/Later Jin)
Succeeded by
Shunzhi Emperor
Preceded by
Ejei Khan
Great Khan of the Mongols
Succeeded by
Shunzhi Emperor