Daoguang Emperor

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Daoguang Emperor
Doro Eldengge Han
Төр Гэрэлт Хаан
清 佚名 《清宣宗道光皇帝朝服像》.jpg
8th Qing Emperor of China
Reign 3 October 1820 – 25 February 1850
Predecessor Jiaqing Emperor
Successor Xianfeng Emperor
Born (1782-09-16)16 September 1782
Forbidden City, Beijing
Died 25 February 1850(1850-02-25) (aged 67)
Old Summer Palace, Beijing
Burial Western Qing Tombs
Empress Empress Xiaomucheng
Empress Xiaoshencheng
Empress Xiaoquancheng
Empress Xiaojingcheng
Issue Yiwei, Prince Yinzhi
Gulun Princess Duanmin
Gulun Princess Duanshun
Gulun Princess Shou'an
Yigang, Prince Shun
Heshuo Princess Shouzang
Yiji, Prince Hui
Gulun Princess Shou'en
Yizhu, Xianfeng Emperor
Yicong, Prince Dun
Yixin, Prince Gong
Yixuan, Prince Chun
Heshuo Princess Shouxi
Gulun Princess Shouzhuang
Yihe, Prince Zhong
Yihui, Prince Fu
three other unnamed daughters
Full name
Chinese: Aixin-Jueluo Mianning愛新覺羅綿寧, later Minning
Manchu: Aisin-Gioro hala i Min-Ning
Posthumous name
Emperor Xiàotiān Fúyùn Lìzhōng Tǐzhèng Zhìwén Shèngwǔ Zhìyǒng Réncí Jiǎnqín Xiàomǐn Kuāndìng Chéng
Temple name
Qīng Xuānzōng
House Aisin Gioro
Father Jiaqing Emperor
Mother Empress Xiaoshurui
Portrait of the Daoguang Emperor sitting in the garden
The Daoguang Emperor is presented with prisoners of the campaign to pacify rebels in Xinjiang at the Meridian Gate in 1828
The Daoguang Emperor with his empress, imperial consorts and children in a palace courtyard
The Daoguang Emperor with his children
The Daoguang Emperor inspecting his guards at the Meridian Gate of the Forbidden City

The Daoguang Emperor (Chinese: 道光; pinyin: Dàoguāng Dì; Wade–Giles: Tao4-kuang1 Ti4; Manchu: ᡩᠣᡵᠣ ᡝᠯᡩᡝᠩᡤᡝ, Doro Eldengge Hūwangdi; ᠲᠥᠷᠥ ᠭᠡᠷᠡᠯᠲᠦ, Төр Гэрэлт Хаан; 16 September 1782 – 25 February 1850) was the eighth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the sixth Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1820 to 1850. His reign was marked by "external disaster and internal rebellion," that is, by the First Opium War, and the beginning of the Taiping Rebellion which nearly brought down the dynasty. The historian Jonathan Spence characterizes the Daoguang Emperor as a "well meaning but ineffective man," who promoted officials who "presented a purist view even if they had nothing to say about the domestic and foreign problems surrounding the dynasty."[1]

Early years[edit]

The Daoguang Emperor was born in the Forbidden City, Beijing, and was given the name Mianning (绵宁; 綿寧; Miánníng; Mien-ning). It was later changed to Minning (旻宁; 旻寧; Mǐnníng; Min-ning; Manchu: ᠮᡳᠨ ᠨᡳᠩ Min-ning) when he became emperor: The first character of his private name was changed from Mian to Min to avoid the relatively common character Mian. This novelty was introduced by his grandfather, the Qianlong Emperor, who thought it inappropriate to use a common character in the emperor's private name due to the longstanding practice of naming taboo.

Mianning was the second son of Yongyan, the 15th son of the Qianlong Emperor. Even though he was Yongyan's second son, he was first in line to succeed his father according to the dishu system because his mother, Lady Hitara, was Yongyan's primary spouse whereas his elder brother was born to Yongyan's concubine. In 1796, Yongyan was enthroned as the Jiaqing Emperor, after which he made Lady Hitara his empress consort.

Mianning was favoured by his grandfather, the Qianlong Emperor. He frequently accompanied his grandfather on hunting trips. On one such trip, at the age of nine, Mianning successfully hunted a deer, which greatly amused the Qianlong Emperor. In 1813, while he was still a prince, Mianning also played a vital role in repelling and killing White Lotus invaders who stormed the Forbidden City. This action earned him important merit in securing his claim to the throne later on.


Khoja rebellion in Xinjiang[edit]

In September 1820, at the age of 38, Mianning inherited the throne after the Jiaqing Emperor died suddenly of unknown causes. He became the first Qing emperor who was the eldest legitimate son of his father. Now known as the Daoguang Emperor, he inherited a declining empire with Westerners encroaching upon the borders of China. The Daoguang Emperor had been ruling for six years when the exiled heir to the Khojas, Jahangir Khoja, attacked Xinjiang from Kokand. By the end of 1826, the former Qing cities of Kashgar, Yarkand, Khotan, and Yangihissar had all fallen to the rebels.[2][3] After a friend betrayed him in March 1827, Khoja was sent to Beijing in an iron litter and subsequently executed,[4] while the Qing Empire regained control of their lost territory.

First Opium War[edit]

Main article: First Opium War

During the Daoguang Emperor's reign, China experienced major problems with opium, which was imported into China by British merchants. Opium had started to trickle into China during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor, but was limited to approximately 200 chests annually. By the time of the Qianlong era, this amount had increased to 1,000 chests, 4,000 chests by the Jiaqing era and more than 30,000 chests during the Daoguang era.

The Daoguang Emperor issued many imperial edicts banning opium in the 1820s and 1830s, which were carried out by Lin Zexu, whom he appointed as an Imperial Commissioner. Lin Zexu's efforts to halt the spread of opium in China led directly to the First Opium War. With the development of the First Opium War, Lin Zexu was made a scapegoat and the Daoguang Emperor removed Lin's authority and banished him to Yili. Meanwhile, in the Himalayas, the Sikh Empire attempted an occupation of Tibet but was defeated in the Sino-Sikh war (1841–1842). On the coasts, technologically and militarily inferior to the European powers, the Qing Empire lost the war and ceded Hong Kong to the British in the Treaty of Nanjing in August 1842.


In 1811, a clause sentencing Europeans to death for spreading Catholicism had been added to the statute called "Prohibitions Concerning Sorcerers and Sorceresses" (禁止師巫邪術) in the Great Qing Code.[5] Protestants hoped that the Qing government would discriminate between Protestantism and Catholicism, since the law mentioned the latter by name, but after Protestant missionaries gave Christian books to Chinese in 1835 and 1836, the Daoguang Emperor demanded to know who were the "traitorous natives" in Guangzhou who had supplied them with books.[6][page needed]

Nobility titles[edit]

The Daoguang Emperor granted the title of "Wujing Boshi" (五經博士; Wǔjīng Bóshì) to the descendants of Ran Qiu.[7]

Death and legacy[edit]

The Daoguang Emperor died on 25 February 1850 at the Old Summer Palace, 8 km/5 miles northwest of Beijing. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Yizhu, who was later enthroned as the Xianfeng Emperor. The Daoguang Emperor failed to understand the intention or determination of the Europeans, or the basic economics of a war on drugs. Although the Europeans were outnumbered and thousands of miles away from logistical support in their native countries, they could bring far superior firepower to bear at any point of contact along the Chinese coast. The Qing government was highly dependent on the continued flow of taxes from southern China via the Grand Canal, which the British expeditionary force easily cut off at Zhenjiang. The Daoguang Emperor ultimately had a poor understanding of the British and the industrial revolution that Britain and Western Europe had undergone, preferring to turn a blind eye to the rest of the world. It was said that the emperor did not even know where Britain was located in the world. His 30-year reign introduced the initial onslaught by Western imperialism and foreign invasions that would plague China, in one form or another, for the next one hundred years.

The Daoguang Emperor was interred in the Muling (慕陵; literally "Tomb of Longing" or "Tomb of Admiration") mausoleum, which is part of the Western Qing Tombs, 120 kilometers/75 miles southwest of Beijing.

On a side note, the Daoguang Emperor was the last Qing emperor to be able to choose an heir among his sons since his successors either had only one surviving son or had no offspring.



Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Empress Xiaomucheng
Lady Niohuru
unknown 1808 Buyandalai (布彥達賚) of the Niohuru clan Married Mianning in 1796 and became his primary consort;
Died before Mianning became Emperor;
Posthumously honoured as an Empress
Empress Xiaoshencheng
Lady Tunggiya
1790 29 April 1833 Shuming'a (舒明阿) of the Tunggiya clan Descendant of Tong Tulai (佟圖賴; 1606–1658);
Became Mianning's secondary consort in 1803;
Promoted to Mianning's primary consort in 1808;
Instated as Empress in 1822
Empress Xiaoquancheng
Lady Niohuru
24 March 1808 13 February 1840 Yiling (頤齡) of the Niohuru clan Became Noble Lady Quan (全貴人) in 1821;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Quan (全嬪) in 1822;
Promoted to Consort Quan (全妃) on 24 March 1823;
Promoted to Noble Consort Quan (全貴妃) on 30 May 1825;
Promoted to Imperial Noble Consort Quan (全皇貴妃) on 28 September 1833;
Promoted to Empress on 18 November 1834
Empress Xiaojingcheng
Lady Borjigit
19 June 1812 21 August 1855 Hualiang'a (花良阿) of the Borjigit clan Became Noble Lady Jing (靜貴人) in the early 1820s;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Jing (靜嬪) in 1826;
Promoted to Consort Jing (靜妃) in 1827;
Promoted to Noble Consort Jing (靜貴妃) in 1835;
Promoted to Imperial Noble Consort Jing (靜皇貴妃) in 1841;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Kangci (皇考康慈皇貴太妃) in 1850 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Promoted to Empress Dowager Kangci (康慈皇太后) in 1855 on her deathbed
Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangshun
Lady Uya
1822 1866 Lingshou (靈壽) of the Uya clan Became Noble Lady Lin (琳貴人) in 1835 or 1836;
Demoted to Changzai Xiu (秀常在) in 1837;
Restored as Noble Lady Lin in 1839;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Lin (琳嬪) in 1840;
Promoted to Consort Lin (琳妃) in 1842;
Promoted to Noble Consort Lin (琳貴妃) in 1846;
Promoted to Dowager Noble Consort Lin (皇考琳貴太妃) in 1850 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Lin (皇祖琳皇貴太妃) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor
Noble Consort Tong
Lady Sumuru
unknown 1877 Yuzhang (玉彰) of the Sumuru clan Started out as Noble Lady Tong (彤貴人);
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Tong (彤嬪) in 1832;
Promoted to Consort Tong (彤妃) in 1834;
Promoted to Noble Consort Tong (彤貴妃) in 1836;
Demoted to Noble Lady Tong (彤貴人) in 1844;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Tong (皇考彤嬪) in 1850 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Noble Consort Tong (皇祖彤貴妃) in 1874 by the Tongzhi Emperor
Noble Consort Jia
Lady Gogiya
1816 1890 unknown Started out as Noble Lady Jia (佳貴人);
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Jia (佳嬪) in 1836;
Demoted to Noble Lady Jia later;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Jia (皇考佳嬪) in 1850 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Consort Jia (皇祖佳妃) in 1862 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Noble Consort Jia (皇祖佳貴妃) in 1874
Noble Consort Cheng
Lady Niohuru
1813 1888 unknown Started out as Noble Lady Cheng (成貴人);
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Cheng (成嬪) in 1835;
Demoted to Noble Lady Cheng in 1847;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Cheng (皇考成嬪) in 1850 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Consort Cheng (皇祖成妃) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Noble Consort Cheng (皇祖成貴妃) in 1876 by the Guangxu Emperor
Consort He
Lady Nara
unknown 1836 Chengwen (成文) of the Nara clan Started out as a Female Attendant to Mianning;
Became Mianning's secondary consort in 1808;
Became Imperial Concubine He (和嬪) in 1822 after the Daoguang Emperor's coronation;
Promoted to Consort He in 1823
Consort Xiang
Lady Niohuru
unknown 1861 Jiufu (久福) of the Niohuru clan Started out as Noble Lady Xiang (祥貴人);
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Xiang (祥嬪) in 1823;
Promoted to Consort Xiang in 1825
Consort Chang
Lady Hešeri
31 December 1808 7 October 1860 Became Noble Lady Chang (常貴人) in 1829;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Chang (皇考常嬪) in 1850 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Posthumously promoted to Consort Chang by the Tongzhi Emperor
Imperial Concubine Zhen
Lady Hešeri
unknown unknown Ronghai (容海) of the Hešeri clan Started out as Noble Lady Zhen (珍貴人);
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Zhen in 1824 and promoted to Consort Zhen (珍妃) four months later;
Demoted to Imperial Concubine Zhen later
Imperial Concubine Tian
Lady Fuca
unknown 1845 unknown Started out as a secondary consort of Mianning;
Became Imperial Concubine Tian in 1820 after the Daoguang Emperor's coronation
Imperial Concubine Yu
Lady Shanggiya
unknown unknown unknown Started out as a daying;
Promoted to changzai in 1850;
Promoted to Dowager Noble Lady Shang (皇考尚貴人) in 1861 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Imperial Concubine Yu (皇祖豫嬪) in 1874 by the Tongzhi Emperor
Imperial Concubine Shun
Lady Nara
unknown unknown unknown Started out as a changzai;
Promoted to Noble Lady Shun (順貴人) in 1861;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Shun (皇考順嬪) in 1861 by the Xianfeng Emperor
Imperial Concubine Heng
Lady Caigiya
unknown 27 June 1876 unknown Started out as Changzai Yi (宜常在);
Promoted to Noble Lady Yi (宜貴人) in 1834;
Demoted to Changzai Yi later;
Further demoted to Daying Cai (蔡答應) in 1838;
Promoted to Dowager Changzai Cai (皇考蔡常在) in 1850 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Noble Lady Cai (皇祖蔡貴人) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Imperial Concubine Heng (皇祖恆嬪) in 1874
Noble Lady Ping
Lady Zhao
unknown 5 May 1823 unknown Started out as a concubine of Mianning;
Promoted to Noble Lady Ping in 1820
Noble Lady Li
Lady Li
unknown unknown Li Shanbao (李善保) Became Changzai Yi (意常在) in 1840 but demoted to Daying Li (李答應) nine months later;
Promoted to Dowager Changzai Li (皇考李常在) in 1850 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Noble Lady Li (皇祖李貴人) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor
Noble Lady Na
Lady Na
5 August 1825 9 September 1865 Najun (那俊) Became Changzai Lu (琭常在) in 1840 and promoted to Noble Lady Lu (琭貴人) nine months later;
Demoted to Changzai Lu in 1841;
Demoted to Daying Na (那答應) in 1845;
Promoted to Dowager Changzai Na (皇考那常在) in 1850 by the Xianfeng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Noble Lady Na (皇祖那貴人) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor
Noble Lady Ding
Lady Sun
unknown 24 January 1843 unknown Started out as a concubine of Mianning;
Became Noble Lady Ding in 1820
Changzai Man
unknown unknown 1833 unknown
Daying Mu
Lady Hešeri
unknown 1835 unknown Became Noble Lady Mu (睦貴人) in 1822;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Mu (睦嬪) in 1830;
Demoted to Noble Lady Mu in 1831 and then to Daying Mu
Female Attendant
Lady Liu
unknown 1842 unknown Became Daying Liu (劉答應) in 1833;
Demoted to Female Attendant in 1835



# Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Mother Notes
1 Prince Yinzhi of the Second Rank
16 May 1808 23 May 1831 Consort He Made a beile in 1819;
Given the posthumous name "Yinzhi" (隱志) in 1831 by his father;
Posthumously honoured as a junwang by the Xianfeng Emperor
2 Prince Shunhe of the Second Rank
22 November 1826 5 March 1827 Empress Xiaojingcheng Died in infancy;
Posthumously honoured as a junwang by the Xianfeng Emperor
3 Prince Huizhi of the Second Rank
2 December 1829 22 January 1830 Empress Xiaojingcheng Died in infancy;
Posthumously honoured as a junwang by the Xianfeng Emperor
4 Xianfeng Emperor
17 July 1831 22 August 1861 Empress Xiaoquancheng Enthroned on 9 March 1850
5 Prince Dunqin of the First Rank
23 July 1831 18 February 1889 Consort Xiang Adopted as Miankai's son in 1838 and inherited the Prince Dun peerage as a junwang;
Demoted to beile later;
Restored as a junwang in 1856;
Promoted to qinwang in 1860
6 Prince Gongzhong of the First Rank
11 January 1833 29 May 1898 Empress Xiaojingcheng Made a qinwang in 1850 under the title Prince Gong of the First Rank
7 Prince Chunxian of the First Rank
16 October 1840 1 January 1891 Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangshun Biological father of the Guangxu Emperor;
Biological grandfather of the Xuantong Emperor;
Made a junwang in 1850 under the title Prince Chun of the Second Rank;
Made an acting qinwang in 1864;
Promoted to qinwang in 1872
8 Prince Zhongrui of the Second Rank
14 March 1844 17 December 1868 Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangshun Made a junwang in 1850 under the title Prince Zhong of the Second Rank
9 Prince Fujing of the Second Rank
15 November 1845 22 March 1877 Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangshun Made a junwang in 1850 under the title Prince Fu of the Second Rank


# Title / Posthumous title Born Died Mother Spouse Notes
1 Gulun Princess Duanmin
1813 1819 Empress Xiaoshencheng Died young
2 unnamed 1825 1825 Consort Xiang Died in infancy
3 Gulun Princess Duanshun
1825 1835 Empress Xiaoquancheng Died young
4 Gulun Princess Shou'an
12 May 1826 23 April 1860 Empress Xiaoquancheng Demchüghjab (德穆楚克扎布; d. 1865) of the Borjigit clan, married in 1841
5 Heshuo Princess Shouzang
1829 1856 Consort Xiang Enchong (恩崇) of the Namudulu clan (那木都魯氏), married in 1842
6 Gulun Princess Shou'en
1830 1859 Empress Xiaojingcheng Jingshou (景壽; 1829–1889) of the Fuca clan, married in 1845
7 unnamed 1840 1844 Noble Consort Tong Died young
8 Heshuo Princess Shouxi
1841 1866 Noble Consort Tong Jalafungga (扎拉豐阿; d. 1898) of the Niohuru clan, married in 1863
9 Gulun Princess Shouzhuang
1842 1884 Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangshun Dehui (德徽; d. 1865) of the Boluote clan (博羅特氏), married in 1863
10 unnamed 1844 1845 Noble Consort Tong Died in infancy


  1. ^ Spence 1990, p. 149, 166.
  2. ^ Millward 1998, p. 34.
  3. ^ "Zhuozhou Celebrity — Lu Kun (涿州名人-卢坤)". Xinhua. 15 Jun 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2014.  (Chinese)
  4. ^ Rahul 2000, p. 98.
  5. ^ Maclay 1861, p. 336–337.
  6. ^ Maclay 1861.
  7. ^ Qin ding da Qing hui dian (Jiaqing chao)0. 1818. p. 1084. 
  8. ^ Qing Shi Gao vol. 214.
  • Spence, Jonathan D. (1990). The Search for Modern China. Norton. ISBN 9780393307801. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Jane Kate Leonard. Controlling from Afar: The Daoguang Emperor's Management of the Grand Canal Crisis, 1824-1826. Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1996. ISBN 0892641142. Shows the Daoguang Emperor in a competent and effective mode when dealing with a crisis early in his reign.
  • Pierre-Etienne Will, "Views of the Realm in Crisis: Testimonies on Imperial Audiences in the Nineteenth Century." Late Imperial China 29, no. 1S (2008): 125-59. JSTOR Link. Uses transcripts of imperial audiences to present Daoguang as more a victim of circumstances than the bumbling administrator in many accounts.
  • Karl Gutzlaff, Life of Taou-Kwang, Late Emperor of China. London, Smith, Elder & Co. 1852. . The only biography of the Daoguang Emperor; written by a missionary and contemporary.
  • Evelyn S. Rawski, The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (Berkeley: University of Californian Press, 2001) ISBN 0-520-22837-5.
  • Daily life in the Forbidden City, Wan Yi, Wang Shuqing, Lu Yanzhen. ISBN 0-670-81164-5.
  • 《清史稿》 (Qingshi Kao) Draft history of the Qing dynasty.


Daoguang Emperor
Born: 16 September 1782 Died: 25 February 1850
Regnal titles
Preceded by
The Jiaqing Emperor
Emperor of China
Succeeded by
The Xianfeng Emperor