|16th Emperor of the Ming dynasty|
1 October 1620 –|
30 September 1627
|Coronation||1 October 1620|
|Born||23 December 1605|
|Died||30 September 1627(aged 21)|
|Burial||Deling, Ming tombs, Beijing, China|
|House||House of Zhu|
|Mother||Empress Dowager Xiaohe|
The Tianqi Emperor (23 December 1605 – 30 September 1627), personal name Zhu Youjiao, was the 16th emperor of the Ming dynasty of China, reigning from 1620–1627. He was the eldest son of the Taichang Emperor and a brother of the Chongzhen Emperor, who succeeded him. "Tianqi", the era name of his reign, means "heavenly opening".
Zhu Youjiao became emperor at the age of 15, following the death of his father, the Taichang Emperor, who ruled less than a month. He did not pay much attention to state affairs, and was accused of failing in his filial duties to his late father by not continuing the latter's wishes. It is possible that Zhu Youjiao suffered from a learning disability or something more. He was illiterate 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 the Tianqi Emperor was unable to read court memorials and uninterested in state affairs, the court eunuch Wei Zhongxian, and the emperor's wet nurse Madam Ke seized power and controlled the Ming imperial court, with the Tianqi Emperor as merely a puppet ruler. The Tianqi Emperor apparently devoted his time to carpentry. Wei Zhongxian took advantage of the situation and began appointing the people he trusted to important positions in the imperial court. Meanwhile, Madam Ke sought to retain power by removing all other women from the emperor's harem by locking away the emperor's concubines and starving them to death.
One Confucian moralist group, the Donglin Movement, expressed distress at the conditions of the government. In response, the imperial court, under Wei Zhongxian's control, covertly ordered the execution of a number of officials associated with the Donglin Movement. Living conditions worsened during the Tianqi Emperor's reign. The Ming dynasty also faced several popular uprisings.
The Tianqi Emperor died in 1627 and was succeeded by his fifth and sole surviving brother, Zhu Youjian, because he had no sons to succeed him. Zhu Youjian was enthroned as the Chongzhen Emperor. As both the Tianqi Emperor's daughters died early too, it seems that there are no natural heirs from the emperor left alive.
Portrayals in the media
In August and September 2009, a 42-hour television series dramatising the events 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 17 September, just two weeks before the 60th anniversary (five 12-year cycles) of the establishment of the People's Republic of China.
- Zhu Changluo (光宗 朱常洛; 1582 – 1620)
- Lady Wang (孝和皇太后 王氏; 1582 – 1619)
- Consorts and Issue:
- Lady Zhang Yan (孝哀悊皇后 張嫣; 1610 – 1644)
- Zhu Ciran (懷衝皇太子 朱慈燃; 1623)
- Lady Fan (皇貴妃 范氏)
- Lady Zhu Shu'e (永寧公主 朱淑娥; 1622 – 1624)
- Zhu Ciyu (悼懷皇太子 朱慈焴; 1623 – 1624)
- Lady Ren (皇貴妃 任氏)
- Zhu Cijiong (獻懷皇太子 朱慈炅; 1625 – 1626)
- Lady Duan (恭惠純妃 段氏; 1607 – 1629)
- Lady Li (成妃 李氏; 1605 – 1637)
- Lady Zhu Shumo (懷寧公主 朱淑嫫; 1624 – 1625)
- Lady Zhang (悼順裕妃 張氏; 1606 – 1623)
- Unnamed daughter
Tianqi EmperorBorn: 23 December 1605 Died: 30 September 1627
The Taichang Emperor
| Emperor of China
The Chongzhen Emperor