Jingtai Emperor

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Jingtai Emperor
Emperor of the Ming Empire
Reign 22 September 1449 – 11 February 1457
Predecessor Zhengtong Emperor
Successor Tianshun Emperor
Spouse Empress Xiaoyuanjing
Empress Suxiao
Imperial Noble Consort Tang, concubine
Consort Gongjingxian, concubine
Li Xi'er, concubine
Issue Zhu Jianji, Crown Prince Huaixian
Priness Gu'an
unnamed daughter
Full name
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Qiyu (祁鈺)
Era name and dates
Jingtai (景泰): 14 January 1450 – 14 February 1457
Posthumous name
Emperor Gongren Kangding Jing[1]
Temple name
Ming Daizong [2]
House House of Zhu
Father Xuande Emperor
Mother Empress Dowager Xiaoyi
Born (1428-09-21)21 September 1428
Died 14 March 1457(1457-03-14) (aged 28)

The Jingtai Emperor (景泰 IPA: [tɕìŋtʰâɪ]) (21 September 1428 – 14 March 1457), born Zhu Qiyu, was Emperor of China from 1449 to 1457. The second son of the Xuande Emperor, he was selected in 1449 to succeed his older brother, the Zhengtong Emperor, when the latter was captured by Mongols following the Tumu Crisis. He reigned for 8 years before being removed from the throne by his brother, who was restored as the Tianshun Emperor. The Jingtai Emperor's era name, "Jingtai", means "Exalted View".


Zhu Qiyu ascended the throne in 1449 after his older brother, the Zhengtong Emperor, was defeated and taken prisoner by the Oirat Mongols of Esen Khan.

The Zhengtong Emperor was eventually released in 1450 after the Mongols learned that the Ming government had installed Zhu Qiyu as the new emperor. After that, the Jingtai Emperor continued to rule as emperor while his brother was granted a technical title of "grand-emperor" and was forced to live in obscurity.

During the Jingtai Emperor's reign, aided by the prominent minister Yu Qian, he paid particular attention to matters affecting his country. He repaired the Grand Canal as well as the system of dykes along the Yellow River. As a result of his administration, the economy prospered and the dynasty was further strengthened.

The Jingtai Emperor reigned for eight years. When his death was imminent in 1457, he refused to name an heir, particularly because his own son had died mysteriously — perhaps poisoned. The sidelined Zhengtong Emperor saw an opportunity to regain the throne and through a military coup overthrew the Jingtai Emperor and declared himself his successor. The former Zhengtong Emperor, now emperor again, adopted a new era name, "Tianshun", and is hence also known as the Tianshun Emperor. The Jingtai Emperor was demoted to the rank of Prince of Cheng, which was the title he had held before ascending the throne, and was placed under house arrest in Xiyuan (西苑).[3] The Jingtai Emperor died a month later with some sources hinting that he was murdered by eunuchs on the order of the Tianshun Emperor.

After the Jingtai Emperor's death, the Tianshun Emperor denied his brother's rightful honor to be buried at the Ming Dynasty Tombs (together with his predecessors) located north of Beijing. He was instead buried well away from that locale in the hills west of Beijing and was buried as a prince rather than an emperor. His posthumous name was also shortened to five characters, instead of the normal seventeen, to reflect his demoted status.

Personal information[edit]


  • Empress Xiaoyuanjing (孝淵景皇后), family name Wang (汪) (died 1505), married the Jingtai Emperor in 1449 when he was still Prince of Cheng, deposed in 1452, mother of Princess Gu'an and another daughter
  • Empress Suxiao (肅孝皇后), family name Hang (杭) (died 1456), was the Jingtai Emperor's concubine before he ascended the throne, created empress following the deposition of Empress Xiaoyuan in 1452, mother of Zhu Jianji
  • Imperial Noble Consort Tang (唐皇貴妃) (buried alive with Jingtai Emperor after his death)
  • Li Xi'er (李惜兒), was a courtesan prior to becoming the Jingtai Emperor's concubine


Number Name Formal Title Born Died Mother Spouse Issue Notes
1 Zhu Jianji
Crown Prince Huaixian
1 August 1448 21 March 1453 Empress Su Xiao none none Posthumously demoted to Heir Apparent (世子) in 1457;
original title restored under the Southern Ming Dynasty


Number Title Born Died Date Married Spouse Issue Mother Notes
1 Princess Gu'an
19 February 1449 20 March 1491 1470 Wang Xian
unknown Empress Xiao Yuan Jing Demoted to Gu'an Junzhu (固安郡主) on 12 March 1470;
original title restored posthumously
2 unknown none none none Empress Xiao Yuan Jing Became a nun after refusing to marry


  1. ^ Demoted to the princely rank by his brother, the restored Tianshun Emperor, he received the posthumous name Li ( – "the Rebellious", "the Violent") when he died in 1457; however, his nephew, the Chenghua Emperor, restored his imperial title in 1476 and changed his posthumous name to Emperor Gongren Kangding Jing
  2. ^ Was denied a temple name by his brother, the restored Tianshun Emperor, but in 1644 the Prince of Fu (福王), the new self-proclaimed emperor of the Southern Ming dynasty, conferred on him the temple name Daizong, which is accepted in most history books, unlike the temple name of the Jianwen Emperor, also conferred by the Prince of Fu, but not recorded in most history books. "Dai" (代) means "proxy", in reference to the Jingtai Emperor being a regent emperor only, as his brother had been taken prisoner by the Mongols
  3. ^ Present day Zhongnanhai to the west of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Jingtai Emperor
Born: 21 September 1428 Died: 14 March 1457
Regnal titles
Preceded by
The Zhengtong Emperor
Emperor of China
Succeeded by
The Tianshun Emperor