Great Rites Controversy
The Great Rites Controversy (Chinese: 大禮議) took place in the decade following 1524 in Ming China. It pitted the young and newly empowered Jiajing Emperor against the Grand Secretary Yang Tinghe and the majority of the Confucian officials in his government.
The Jiajing Emperor had succeeded his hedonistic cousin the Zhengde Emperor after the latter had failed to leave any surviving children. In order to perform the proper rituals owed him according to tradition, it was necessary that the Jiajing Emperor be posthumously adopted by the late emperor. This, the Jiajing Emperor steadily refused to do. The conflict between the emperor and officialdom was finally broken by memorials to the throne arguing – along the lines established by Wang Yangming's new school of Neo-Confucianism – that rituals performed contrary to the emperor's own heart would be empty and of no account in any case. Instead, his own father Zhu Youyuan, the late Prince Xian of Xing, was posthumously elevated to the status of emperor; Yang Tinghe was forced into retirement; and other enemies and dissenters at court were beaten, imprisoned, or banished.