Tianqi Emperor

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Tianqi Emperor
Emperor of China
Reign 1 October 1620 –
30 September 1627
Predecessor Taichang Emperor
Successor Chongzhen Emperor
Spouse Empress Xiao Ai Zhe
Issue 3 sons and 3 daughters
Full name
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Youxiao (由校)
Era name and dates
Tianqi (天啓): 22 January 1621 –
4 February 1628
Posthumous name
Emperor Datian Chandao Dunxiao Duyou Zhangwen Xiangwu Jingmu Zhuangqin Zhe
Temple name
Ming Xizong
House Ming Dynasty
Father Taichang Emperor
Mother Empress Dowager Xiaohe
Born (1605-12-23)23 December 1605
Died 30 September 1627(1627-09-30) (aged 21)
Burial Deling, Ming Dynasty Tombs, Beijing
Tianqi Era Teacups, Nantoyōsō Collection, Japan

The Tianqi Emperor (23 December 1605 – 30 September 1627) was the 15th emperor of the Ming dynasty from 1620 to 1627. Born Zhu Youxiao,[1] he was the Taichang Emperor's eldest son. His era name means "Heavenly opening".[2]


Zhu Youxiao became emperor at the age of fifteen, on the death of his father who ruled less than a month.[2] He did not pay much attention to affairs of state, and was accused of failing in his filial duties to his dead father by not continuing his father's wishes. It is possible that Zhu Youxiao suffered from a learning disability or something more. He was illiterate[2] and showed no interest in his studies. However, he was an outstanding carpenter and craftsman, often spending vast amounts of time on woodworking and instructing his servants to sell his creations undercover on the market just to see how much they were worth.

Because he was unable to read memorials and uninterested in the affairs of state, his head eunuch, Wei Zhongxian usurped power[1] along with Madame Keshi, Zhu Youxiao's nanny.[2] Zhu Youxiao apparently devoted his time to carpentry.[1] Wei took advantage of the situation and began appointing the people he trusted to important positions in the palace. Meanwhile Madam Keshi, who was the nanny of the young emperor sought to retain power by removing all other women from the emperor's harem by locking away the concubines of the emperor and starving them to death.

One Confucian moralist group, the Donglin Party, expressed distress at the conditions of the Imperial State.[3] In response, the palace covertly ordered the execution of a number of officials associated with the Donglin. Living conditions worsened during his reign and Tianqi faced several popular uprisings.

Zhu Youxiao died in 1627 and was succeeded by his younger brother Zhu Youjian, the Chongzhen Emperor, as all his sons died early. As both his daughters died early too, it seems that there are no natural heirs from Zhu Youxiao left any more.


Number Title Name Born Death Married Spouse Mother Notes
1 Crown Prince Huaichong
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Ciran (慈燃)
1623 1623 none none Empress Zhang Stillborn
2 Crown Prince Daohuai
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Ciyu (慈焴)
1623 1624 none none Consort Hui, née Fan
3 Crown Prince Xianchong
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Cijiong (慈炅)
1625 30 May 1626 none none Consort Rong, née Ren Died in the Wanggongchang Explosion


Number Title Name Born Death Married Spouse Mother Notes
1 Princess Yongning
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Shu'e (淑娥)
1622 1624 none none Consort Hui, née Fan
2 Princess Huaining
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Shumo (淑嫫)
17 April 1624 1625 none none Consort Cheng, née Li Born in the big earthquake in Beijing


In August & September 2009, a 42-hour prime-time TV series dramatizing the power of Wei Zhongxian & Madam Ke during the reign of the Tianqi Emperor was shown on Chinese television – two hours per night for 21 days. It vividly showed how a hereditary monarchy can lead to the rampant abuse of power. The series ended on Thursday, 17 September, just two weeks before the 60th anniversary (five 12-year cycles) of the establishment of the PRC.


  1. ^ a b c "Tianqi". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Zhu Yujiao – The Tianqi Emperor". Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  3. ^ "Donglin". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2014-03-22. 


Tianqi Emperor
Born: 23 December 1605 Died: 30 September 1627
Regnal titles
Preceded by
The Taichang Emperor
Emperor of China
Succeeded by
The Chongzhen Emperor