Yongzheng Emperor

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Yongzheng Emperor
Portrait of the Yongzheng Emperor in Court Dress.jpg
The Yongzheng Emperor
5th Qing Emperor of China
Reign 27 December 1722 – 8 October 1735
Predecessor Kangxi Emperor
Successor Qianlong Emperor
Born (1678-12-13)13 December 1678
Beijing, China
Died 8 October 1735(1735-10-08) (aged 56)
Beijing, China
Burial Tailing, Western Qing Tombs, China
Empress Empress Xiaojingxian
Empress Xiaoshengxian
Issue Heshuo Princess Huaike
Honghui, Prince Duan
Hongfen
Hongyun
Hongshi
Hongli, Prince Bao
Hongzhou, Prince He
Fuyi
Fuhui, Prince Huai
Hongyan, Prince Guo
three other unnamed daughters
three adopted daughters
Full name
Chinese: Aixin-Jueluo Yinzhen 愛新覺羅胤禛
Manchu: Aisin-Gioro hala-i In-Jen
Posthumous name
Emperor Jingtian Changyun Jianzhong Biaozheng Wenwu Yingming Kuanren Xinyi Ruisheng Daxiao Zhicheng Xian
敬天昌運建中表正文武英明寬仁信毅睿聖大孝至誠憲皇帝
Temple name
Qing Shizong
清世宗
House Aisin Gioro
Father Kangxi Emperor
Mother Empress Xiaogongren
Yongzheng Emperor
Chinese name
Chinese 雍正帝
Mongolian name
Mongolian Nairalt Töv Khaan
Manchu name
Manchu script ᡥᡡᠸᠠᠯᡳᠶᠠᠰᡠᠨ
ᡨᠣᠪ
Romanization Hūwaliyasun Tob hūwangdi
Personal name: Yinzhen
Chinese name
Chinese 胤禛
Manchu name
Manchu script ᡳᠨ
ᠵᡝᠨ
Romanization in jen

The Yongzheng Emperor (Chinese: 雍正帝) (13 December 1678 – 8 October 1735), born Yinzhen (胤禛), was the fifth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the third Qing emperor to rule over China proper. He reigned from 1722 to 1735. A hard-working ruler, the Yongzheng Emperor's main goal was to create an effective government at minimal expense. Like his father, the Kangxi Emperor, the Yongzheng Emperor used military force to preserve the dynasty's position. His reign was known for being despotic, efficient, and vigorous.

Although the Yongzheng Emperor's reign was much shorter than that of both his father (the Kangxi Emperor) and his son (the Qianlong Emperor), the Yongzheng era was a period of peace and prosperity. The Yongzheng Emperor cracked down on corruption and reformed the financial administration.[1] His reign saw the formulation of the Grand Council, an institution which had an enormous impact on the future of the Qing dynasty.

Birth and early life[edit]

Yinzhen was the eleventh son but the fourth prince of the Kangxi Emperor to survive into adulthood. His mother, who is historically known as Empress Xiaogongren, was originally a court attendant from the Manchu Uya clan. Around the time when Yinzhen was born, his mother was of a low status and did not have the right to raise her own children. For most of his childhood, Yinzhen was raised by Noble Consort Tong, the daughter of Tong Guowei, the Kangxi Emperor's maternal uncle and an eminent official in the early part of the Kangxi Emperor's reign.[a] She died when Yinzhen was just 9 years old. After the birth of more children, Yinzhen's mother was promoted to a pin and then to a fei,[b] and became known as defei or "Virtuous Consort." However, 'defei' refused to raise her first son at that time. Therefore, Kangxi Emperor raised Yinzhen by himself in short period.The Kangxi Emperor did not raise his children inside the palace alone. He exposed his sons (including Yinzhen) to the outside world and gave them a rigorous education. Yinzhen accompanied his father on several inspection trips around the Beijing area, as well as one further south. He became the honorary leader of the Plain Red Banner during the Battle of Jao Modo between the Qing Empire and the Mongol Dzungar Khanate led by Galdan Khan. Yinzhen was made a beile in 1689 and promoted to junwang (second-rank prince) in 1698.

In 1709, the Kangxi Emperor stripped his second son Yinreng of his position as crown prince. Yinreng had been the crown prince for his whole life; his removal left the position of heir open to competition among the Emperor's remaining sons (the Kangxi Emperor had 24 sons who reached adulthood). In the same year, the Kangxi Emperor promoted Yinzhen from junwang to qinwang (first-rank prince) under the title "Prince Yong of the First Rank" (和硕雍亲王; 和碩雍親王; héshuò Yōng qīnwáng). Yinzhen maintained a low profile during the initial stages of the succession struggle. To appoint a new heir, the Kangxi Emperor decreed that officials in his imperial court would nominate a new crown prince. The Kangxi Emperor's eighth son, Yinsi, was the candidate preferred by the majority of the court as well as many of the Kangxi Emperor's other sons. The Kangxi Emperor, however, opted not to appoint Yinsi as his heir apparent largely due to apprehension that Yinsi's political clout at court was beginning to overshadow that of himself. Thereafter, Yinzhen sensed that his father was in favour of re-instating Yinreng as heir apparent, thus he supported Yinreng and earned the trust of his father.

Disputed succession[edit]

Further information: Kangxi Emperor

In 1712, the Kangxi Emperor deposed Yinreng again, and chose not to designate an heir apparent for the remaining years of his reign. This resulted in stiff competition among his sons for the position of crown prince. Those considered 'frontrunners' were Yinzhi, Yinsi, and Yinti (the third, eighth and 14th princes, respectively). Of these, Yinsi received the most support from the Mandarins, but not from his father. Yinzhen had supported Yinreng as heir, and did not build a large political base for himself until the final years of the Kangxi Emperor's reign. Unlike Yinsi's high-profile cultivation of a partisan base of support, Yinzhen did so largely away from the limelight. When the Kangxi Emperor died in December 1722, the field of contenders shrank to three princes after Yinsi pledged his support to the 14th prince, Yinti.[2]

At the time of the Kangxi Emperor's death, Yinti, who held the appointment of Border-Pacification General-in-Chief (‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: 撫遠大將軍), was leading a military campaign in northwestern China. Some historians[who?] believe that Yinti's appointment implied that the Kangxi Emperor favoured Yinti and was grooming him for succession by sending him on a campaign to train him in military affairs. Others,[who?] however, maintain that the Kangxi Emperor intended to keep Yinti away from the capital to ensure a peaceful succession for Yinzhen. It was Yinzhen who nominated Yinti for the post, not Yinsi, with whom Yinti was closely affiliated.

Official court records state that on 20 December 1722 the ailing Kangxi Emperor called seven of his sons and the general commandant of the Beijing gendarmerie, Longkodo, to his bedside. Longkodo read the will and declared that Yinzhen would be the Kangxi Emperor's successor. Some evidence has suggested that Yinzhen contacted Longkodo months before the will was read in preparation for his succession through military means, although in their official capacities frequent encounters were expected. There is a widely circulated legend that Yinzhen modified the Kangxi Emperor's will by changing key Chinese characters specifying the heir to the throne. The best-known rumour was that Yinzhen modified the phrase "transfer the throne to the Fourteenth Prince" (‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: 傳位十四子shísì) to "transfer the throne to the Fourth Prince" (‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: 傳位于四子yúsì) by changing the character shi (十) to yu (于); others say it was modifying "fourteen" (十四) to "fourth" (‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: 第四 dìsì).[c] Historians remain divided on whether or not Yinzhen 'usurped' the throne, even though the scholar Feng Erkang believed that Yinzhen's succession was legitimate. Some events have been cited by historians as supporting the "legitimate succession" theory. For example, in January 1721, when the Kangxi Emperor celebrated the 60th anniversary of his enthronement, he sent Yinzhen, Yintao (the 12th prince) and Hongsheng (a son of the third prince Yinzhi) to oversee the veneration ritual at the imperial tombs. None of the princes who supported Yinti (namely, the third, eighth, ninth and tenth princes) was sent to attend the ritual.[3]

In 2013, an exhibit in Liaoning's Archive Bureau unveiled the Kangxi Emperor's succession will for the first time, and the exhibit finally disproved any notion that Yinzhen changed his father's will.[4]

Painting of Chinese man, in Western clothes, attacking a tiger with a pitchfork-like staff
18th-century Chinese painting of the Yongzheng Emperor wearing a European wig and dress, preparing to strike a tiger with a trident
Painting of people on a path in a large courtyard, flanked by soldiers, viewed from a distance
The Yongzheng Emperor offering sacrifices at the altar of the God of Agriculture, Shennong
Painting of the Yongzheng Emperor sitting on the ground near a waterfall
18th-century painting of the Yongzheng Emperor in costume

Yinzhen chose an era name similar to his given name; 1723 was to be the first year of the Yongzheng era. For his first official act as emperor, Yinzhen released his long-time ally, the 13th prince Yinxiang, who had been imprisoned by the Kangxi Emperor around the same time as the deposed crown prince, Yinreng. Some sources[which?] indicate that Yinxiang, the most militant of the princes, then assembled a group of special soldiers from the Fengtai command to seize immediate control of the Forbidden City and surrounding areas to prevent usurpation by Yinsi's subordinates. Yinzhen's personal account stated that he was emotionally unstable and deeply saddened over his father's death, and knew it would be a burden "much too heavy" for himself if he were to succeed the throne. In addition, after the will was read, Yinzhen wrote that the officials Zhang Tingyu and Longkodo, along with the princes Yinzhi (Prince Zhi)) and Yinzhi (Prince Cheng) led the other princes in the ceremonial "Three-Kneels and Nine-Salutes" to the deceased emperor. The following day, Yinzhen issued an edict summoning Yinti back from Qinghai, bestowing on their mother the title "Holy Mother Empress Dowager" the day Yinti arrived at the funeral.

In the first major comprehensive biography of the Yongzheng Emperor by Feng Erkang, the author puts the succession in perspective. Feng writes that there were some suspicious signs from the lost wills and the dates released, but the majority of evidence points to Yinzhen succeeding the throne legitimately (although with political and military maneuvering deemed necessary by the situation).[2] Yinsi, the eighth prince, had been bribing officials for support throughout his life, and his influence penetrated the Fengtai command. Furthermore, Feng suggests that "although we are not yet altogether certain on what happened with the succession, and which side is correct, it is reasonable to think that Yinzhen's political rivals manipulated all suspicion behind the will in an attempt to put a dark image on the emperor; imperial Chinese tradition had led certain schools of thought in believing that the Yongzheng Emperor's whole reign can be discredited simply because his succession of the throne did not come as a will of his father, the emperor and ultimate decision-maker in China." He further suggests that the Kangxi Emperor made a grave mistake by allowing his sons to become major political players (especially since the position of crown prince was empty), and a bloody battle of succession (including a possible usurpation) was the inevitable result of imperial Chinese institutions. Therefore, it would be an even bigger mistake to judge a ruler solely on the way he came to power. Certainly, the Yongzheng Emperor ensured his successor would have a smooth transition when the time came.

Reign[edit]

After ascending the throne in December 1722, Yinzhen adopted the era name "Yongzheng" (‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: 雍正 lit. "Harmonious Justice") in 1723 from his peerage title "yong" (‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: lit. "harmonious") and "zheng" (‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: lit. "just, correct, upright"). It has been suggested that the second character of his era name was an attempt to cover up his illegal claim to the throne by calling himself "justified". Immediately after succeeding to the throne, the Yongzheng Emperor chose his new governing council. It consisted of the eighth prince Yinsi, 13th prince Yinxiang, Zhang Tingyu, Ma Qi, and Longkodo. Yinsi was given the title "Prince Lian" while Yinxiang was given the title "Prince Yi", and these two held the highest positions in the land.

Continued battle against princes[edit]

The nature of his succession remained a subject of controversy and overshadowed the Yongzheng Emperor's reign. As many of his surviving brothers did not see his succession as legitimate, the Yongzheng Emperor became increasingly paranoid that they would plot to overthrow him. The earlier players in the battle for succession, Yinzhi, the eldest, and Yinreng, the former crown prince, continued to live under house arrest. Yinreng died two years after the Yongzheng Emperor's reign began.

The Yongzheng Emperor continued to perceive Yinsi and his party, consisting of the princes Yintang, Yin'e, Yinti, and their associates, as his greatest political challenge in the early years of his reign. To diffuse their political clout, the Yongzheng Emperor undertook a 'divide and conquer' strategy. Immediately after ascending the throne, the emperor bestowed on Yinsi the title "Prince Lian", nominally of the highest noble rank. Yinsi was also then appointed as the Minister of the Lifan Yuan (Feudatory Affairs Office) and the top-ranking member of the imperial council assisting the Yongzheng Emperor; some historians believe his position at the time was essentially that of a "Chancellor or Prime Minister". By ostensibly elevating Yinsi to a more prominent political role, the Yongzheng Emperor held Yinsi under close watch and kept him busy with affairs of state, reducing the chance of him conducting behind-the-scenes political maneuvers. Yinsi's allies received notably different treatment. Yintang was sent to Qinghai under the pretext of military service, but in reality was watched over by the Yongzheng Emperor's trusted protégé, Nian Gengyao. Yin'e, the tenth prince, was told to leave the capital to send off a departing Mongol prince, but since he refused to complete this trip as the emperor commanded, the Yongzheng Emperor stripped him of all his titles in May 1724 and sent him north to Shunyi to languish in solitude.

The 14th prince, Yinti, born to the same mother as the Yongzheng Emperor, was recalled to Beijing from his military post. The emperor selected Nian Gengyao to replace Yinti as the commander of the northwestern expeditionary force. Yinti, who expected to be placed on the throne himself, was reluctant to recognise the Yongzheng Emperor's succession as legitimate. Yinti was accused of violating imperial decorum at the funeral proceedings of the late emperor, and placed under house arrest by the Yongzheng Emperor at the imperial tombs in western Beijing. Historians believe that their mother, Empress Dowager Renshou, favoured Yinti partly because she raised him herself, while she did not raise the Yongzheng Emperor. Nonetheless the increasingly sharp conflict between her two surviving sons caused their mother great sorrow. She died less than six months after the Kangxi Emperor.

By forcibly dispatching Yinsi's party to separate locations geographically, the Yongzheng Emperor made it extremely inconvenient for his rivals to link up and conspire against him. While some of Yinsi's subordinates were appointed to high office, others were demoted or banished, making it difficult for Yinsi's party to maintain the same set of partisan interests. The Yongzheng Emperor publicly reprimanded Yinsi in 1724 for mishandling an assignment, eventually removing him from office and then sending him into house arrest. Yinsi was forced to rename himself "Acina", a derogatory slur in the Manchu language. The emperor also confiscated the assets of Yintang and Yin'e.

Relationship with the West[edit]

In 1724, the Yongzheng Emperor issued a decree proscribing Catholicism.[5] This was followed by the persecution of Chinese Christians that steadily increased during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor's son, the Qianlong Emperor.[6]

Descendants of the Ming dynasty's imperial family[edit]

In 1725, the Yongzheng Emperor bestowed a hereditary marquis title on Zhu Zhilian, a descendant of the imperial family of the Ming dynasty. Zhu was also paid by the Qing government to perform rituals at the Ming tombs and induct the Chinese Plain White Banner into the Eight Banners. Later in 1750, during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor's successor, the Qianlong Emperor, Zhu Zhiliang was posthumously honoured as "Marquis of Extended Grace". The marquis title was passed on to Zhu's descendants for 12 generations until the end of the Qing dynasty in the early 20th century.

Nian Gengyao and Longkodo[edit]

Nian Gengyao was a supporter of the Yongzheng Emperor long before the latter ascended the throne. In 1722, when he was recalling his brother Yinti from the northwest border in Xinjiang, the Yongzheng Emperor appointed Nian as the commander of the Qing army in Xinjiang. The situation in Xinjiang at the time was volatile, and a strong general was needed in the area. After several military conquests, however, Nian's stature and power grew. Some[who?] said he began seeing himself as equal to the emperor. Seeing Nian as no longer within his control, the Yongzheng Emperor issued an imperial edict demoting Nian to the position of a general of the Hangzhou Command. As Nian continued to remain unrepentant, he was eventually given an ultimatum and forced to commit suicide by consuming poison in 1726.

Longkodo was the commander of the militias stationed at the capital at the time of the Yongzheng Emperor's succession. He fell in disgrace in 1728 and died while under house arrest.

After taking the throne, the Yongzheng Emperor suppressed writings he deemed unfavorable to his court, particularly those with an anti-Manchu bias.[1] Foremost among these were those of Zeng Jing, an unsuccessful degree candidate heavily influenced by the 17th-century scholar Lü Liuliang. Zeng had been so affected by what he read that he attempted to incite the governor-general of Shaanxi-Sichuan, Yue Zhongqi (a descendant of anti-Jurchen General Yue Fei), to rebel against the Qing government. Yue Zhongqi promptly turned him in, and in 1730 news of the case reached the Yongzheng Emperor. Highly concerned with the implications of the case, the emperor had Zeng Jing brought to Beijing for trial. The emperor's verdict seemed to demonstrate a Confucian sovereign's benevolence: He ascribed Zeng's actions to the gullibility and naïveté of a youth taken in by Lü Liuliang's abusive and overdrawn rhetoric. In addition, the emperor suggested that Lü Liuliang's original attack on the Manchus was misplaced, since they had been transformed by their long-term exposure to the civilising force of Confucianism.

The Yongzheng Emperor is also known for establishing a strict autocratic-style rule during his reign. He detested corruption, and punished officials severely when they were found guilty of an offense. In 1729, he issued an edict prohibiting the smoking of madak,[citation needed] a blend of tobacco and opium. The Yongzheng Emperor's reign saw the Qing dynasty further establish itself as a powerful empire in Asia. He was instrumental in extending what became known as a "Kangqian Period of Harmony" (‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: 康乾盛世; cf. Pax Romana). In response to the tragedy of the succession struggle during his father's reign, the Yongzheng Emperor created a sophisticated procedure for choosing a successor. He was known for his trust in Mandarin officials. Li Wei and Tian Wenjing governed China's southern areas with the assistance of Ortai.

"The Yongzheng Emperor Offering Sacrifice at the Xiannong Altar" in Beijing, Qing dynasty painting

Expansion in the northwest[edit]

1734 map of China
French map of "China and Chinese Tartary" from the Yongzheng era (1734)

Like his father, the Yongzheng Emperor used military force in order to preserve the Qing Empire's position in Outer Mongolia.[1] When Tibet was torn by civil war in 1727–1728, he intervened. After withdrawing, he left a Qing citizen (the amban) and a military garrison to safeguard the dynasty's interests.[1]

For the Tibetan campaign, the Yongzheng Emperor sent an army of 230,000 led by Nian Gengyao against the Dzungars and their army of 80,000. Due to geography, the Qing army (although superior in numbers) was at first unable to engage their more mobile enemy. Eventually, they engaged the Dzungars and defeated them. This campaign cost the treasury at least eight million silver taels. Later in the Yongzheng Emperor's reign, he sent a small army of 10,000 to fight the Dzungars again. However, that army was annihilated and the Qing Empire faced the danger of losing control of Mongolia. A Khalkha ally of the Qing Empire would later defeat the Dzungars.

Following the reforms of 1729, the treasury's income increased from 32,622,421 taels in 1721 to about 60 million taels in 1730, surpassing the record set during the Kangxi Emperor's reign; but the pacification of the Qinghai area and the defence of border areas were heavy burdens on the treasury. Safeguarding the country's borders cost 100,000 taels per year. The total military budget came up to about 10 million taels a year. By the end of 1735, military spending had depleted half the treasury, leaving 33.95 million taels. It was because of the cost of war that the Yongzheng Emperor considered making peace with the Dzungars.

Identification of Qing with China[edit]

Since our dynasty began to rule China, the Mongols and other tribes living in extremely remote regions have been integrated into our territory. This is the expansion of China's territory (Zhongguo zhi jiangtu kaituo guangyuan).

Yongzheng's Dayi juemilu (A Record of Rightness to Dispel Confusion) (Yongzheng emperor, 1983: 5), as translated by Mark Elliott in The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China. (2001) p. 347, modified by Gang Zhao.[7]

Since the Shunzhi Emperor's time, the Qing emperors had identified China and the Qing Empire as the same, and in treaties and diplomatic papers the Qing Empire called itself "China".[8] During the Kangxi and Yongzheng emperors' reigns, "China" (Dulimbai Gurun in Manchu) was used as the name of the Qing Empire in official Manchu language documents, identifying the Qing Empire and China as the same entity, with "Dulimbai Gurun" appearing in 160 official diplomatic papers between the Qing Empire and the Russian Empire.[9] The term "China" was redefined by the Qing emperors to be a multi-ethnic entity which included non-Han Chinese ethnic groups and their territories.[10] China and Qing were noticeably and increasingly equated with each other during the Qianlong Emperor's reign, with the Qianlong Emperor and the Qing government writing poems and documents using both the Chinese name Zhongguo and the Manchu name Dulimbai Gurun. Compared to the reigns of previous Qing emperors such as the Yongzheng and Kangxi emperors, the use of China to refer to the Qing Empire appears most during the Qianlong Emperor's reign, according to scholars who examined documents on Sino-Russian relations.[11]

Religion[edit]

The Yongzheng Emperor was firmly against Christian converts among the Manchus. He warned them that the Manchus must follow only the Manchu way of worshipping Heaven since different peoples worshipped Heaven differently.[12] The Yongzheng Emperor stated: "The Lord of Heaven is Heaven itself. . . . In the empire we have a temple for honouring Heaven and sacrificing to Him. We Manchus have Tiao Tchin. The first day of every year we burn incense and paper to honor Heaven. We Manchus have our own particular rites for honouring Heaven; the Mongols, Chinese, Russians, and Europeans also have their own particular rites for honouring Heaven. I have never said that he [Urcen, a son of Sunu] could not honour heaven but that everyone has his way of doing it. As a Manchu, Urcen should do it like us."[13]

Death and succession[edit]

The Yongzheng Emperor ruled the Qing Empire for 13 years before dying suddenly in 1735 at the age of 56. Legend holds that he was assassinated by Lü Siniang, a daughter or granddaughter of Lü Liuliang, whose family was executed for literary crimes against the Qing government. Another theory was that Lü Siniang was the Yongzheng Emperor's lover, and the real mother of the Qianlong Emperor, but he refused to let her become the empress. It is generally accepted that he died while reading court documents. It is likely that his death was the result of an overdose of the medication he was consuming which he believed would prolong his life.

To prevent the succession tragedy which he himself had faced, the Yongzheng Emperor was said to have ordered his third son Hongshi (an ally of Yinsi) to commit suicide. He also devised a system for his successors to choose their heirs in secret. He wrote his chosen successor's name on two scrolls, placed one scroll in a sealed box and had the box stored behind the stele in the Qianqing Palace. He kept the other copy with him or hid it. After his death, the officials would compare the scroll in the box with the copy he had kept. If they were deemed identical, the person whose name was on the paper would be the new emperor.[14]

The Yongzheng Emperor was interred in the Western Qing tombs 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Beijing, in the Tailing (‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: 泰陵) mausoleum complex (known in Manchu as the Elhe Munggan). His fourth son Hongli, then still known as "Prince Bao (of the First Rank)", succeeded him as the Qianlong Emperor. The Qianlong Emperor was regarded as one of the greatest emperors of the Qing dynasty, with a historical stature comparable to that of his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor. The Qianlong Emperor rehabilitated many figures who had been purged during his father's reign, including restoring honours to many of his uncles who were formerly his father's rivals in the succession struggle.

Family[edit]

The Yongzheng Emperor had 14 children with his primary wife and consorts. Of these children, only five, Hongshi, Hongli, Hongzhou, Hongyan, and the Princess Huaike, were known to have survived into adulthood.

  • Father: Kangxi Emperor (of whom he was the fourth son)
  • Mother: Concubine from the Manchu Uya clan (1660–1723), who became known as Empress Dowager Renshou (仁壽皇太后) when her son became the emperor. She is posthumously known as Empress Xiaogongren (孝恭仁皇后; Manchu: Hiyoošungga Gungnecuke Gosin Hūwanghu).

Spouses[edit]

Empresses
Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Empress Xiaojingxian
孝敬憲皇后
Lady Ulanara
烏拉那拉氏
13 May 1679 29 September 1731 Fiyanggu (費揚古) of the Ulanara clan Married the then Prince Yong in 1691 and became his primary consort;
Became Empress in 1722
Empress Xiaoshengxian
孝聖憲皇后
Lady Niohuru
鈕祜祿氏
1 January 1693 2 March 1777 Lingzhu (凌柱) of the Niohuru clan Started out as a lowly ranked consort of the then Prince Yong;
Promoted to Consort Xi (熹妃) in 1723;
Promoted to Empress Dowager Chongqing (崇慶皇太后) in 1735 when her son, Hongli (the Qianlong Emperor), ascended the throne
Imperial Noble Consorts
Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Imperial Noble Consort Dunsu
敦肅皇貴妃
Lady Nian
年氏
unknown 1725 Nian Xialing (年遐齡), the xunfu of Huguang Nian Gengyao's younger sister;
Started out as a secondary consort of the then Prince Yong;
Became a Noble Consort after the Yongzheng Emperor's coronation;
Promoted to Imperial Noble Consort in 1725
Imperial Noble Consort Chunque
純愨皇貴妃
Lady Geng
耿氏
1689 1784 Geng Dejin (耿德金), a military officer Became a concubine of the then Prince Yong in 1703;
Became Imperial Concubine Yu (裕嬪) in 1723;
Promoted to Consort Yu (裕妃) in 1730;
Promoted to Dowager Noble Consort Yu (皇考裕貴太妃) in 1737 by the Qianlong Emperor;
Further promoted to Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Yu (皇考裕皇貴太妃) in 1778 on her 90th birthday
Consorts and Imperial Concubines
Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Consort Qi
齊妃
Lady Li
李氏
unknown 1737 Li Wenhui (李文輝), a prefecture governor Started out as a secondary consort of the then Prince Yong;
Promoted to Consort Qi after the Yongzheng Emperor's coronation
Consort Qian
謙妃
Lady Liu
劉氏
1714 1768 Liu Man (劉滿), a military officer Became a daying in 1729;
Promoted to Noble Lady in 1730;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Qian (謙嬪) in 1733;
Promoted to Consort Qian in 1735
Consort Ning
寧妃
Lady Wu
武氏
unknown 1734 Wu Zhuguo (武柱國), a provincial governor Became Imperial Concubine Ning (寧嬪) in 1732;
Posthumously honoured as Consort Ning in 1734
Imperial Concubine Mao
懋嬪
Lady Song
宋氏
unknown 1729 Jinzhu (金柱), a managerial official Started out as a concubine of the then Prince Yong;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Mao in 1723
Noble Ladies
Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Noble Lady
貴人
Lady Guo
郭氏
unknown 1786 unknown Became a changzai in 1723;
Promoted to Noble Lady in 1729
Lady Li
李氏
unknown 1760 unknown Became a Noble Lady in 1729
Lady An
安氏
unknown 1749 or 1750 unknown
Lady Hai
海氏
unknown 1761 unknown Became a changzai in 1725;
Promoted to Noble Lady in 1735
Lady Zhang
張氏
unknown 1735 unknown Started out as a changzai;
Promoted to Noble Lady in 1735
Lady Lao
老氏
unknown unknown unknown
First Class Female Attendants (Changzai), Second Class Female Attendants (Daying), and others
Name / Title Born Died Father Notes
Changzai Na
那常在
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Li
李常在
unknown 1785 unknown Became a daying in 1730;
Promoted to changzai in 1732
Changzai Ma
馬常在
unknown 1768 unknown Started out as a palace maid before being promoted to daying;
Promoted to changzai in 1730
Changzai Chun
春常在
unknown 1761 unknown Became a changzai in 1735
Changzai Gao
高常在
unknown between 1732 and 1734 unknown Became a daying in 1729;
Promoted to changzai in 1730
Changzai Chang
常常在
unknown 1732 unknown Became a changzai in 1729
Changzai Gu
顧常在
unknown 1729 unknown Became a changzai in 1729;
Died about five months later
Changzai Ji
吉常在
unknown unknown unknown Started out as a Female Attendant before being promoted to changzai
Daying Su
蘇答應
unknown 1729 unknown Became a daying in 1726
Daying Ying
英答應
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Wang
汪答應
unknown unknown unknown
Daying De
德答應
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Chang
常答應
unknown unknown unknown
Gege Yi
伊格格
unknown unknown unknown
Gege Zhang
張格格
unknown unknown unknown
Yunhui
雲惠
unknown unknown unknown

[15]

Sons[edit]

Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Mother Notes
Prince Duan of the First Rank
端親王
Honghui
弘暉
1697 1704 Empress Xiaojingxian
Hongfen
弘昐
19 July 1697 30 March 1699 Consort Qi Died young
Hongyun
弘昀
19 September 1700 10 December 1710 Consort Qi Died young
Hongshi
弘時
18 March 1704 20 September 1727 Consort Qi Banished from the Aisin Gioro clan in 1727;
Posthumously rehabilitated and restored to the Aisin Gioro clan by the Qianlong Emperor in 1735
Qianlong Emperor
乾隆帝
Hongli
弘曆
25 September 1711 7 February 1799 Empress Xiaoshengxian Became Prince Bao of the First Rank (寶親王) in 1733;
Enthroned on 8 October 1735
Prince Hegong of the First Rank
和恭親王
Hongzhou
弘晝
5 January 1712 2 September 1770 Imperial Noble Consort Chunque Made a qinwang in 1733
Fuyi
福宜
1720 1721 Imperial Noble Consort Dunsu Died young
Prince Huai of the First Rank
懷親王
Fuhui
福惠
1721 1728 Imperial Noble Consort Dunsu Originally named Hongsheng (弘晟);
Died young
Fupei
福沛
1723 1723 Imperial Noble Consort Dunsu Died one day after he was born
Prince Guogong of the Second Rank
果恭郡王
Hongyan
弘曕
9 May 1733 27 April 1765 Consort Qian Adopted by Yunli;
Inherited the Prince Guo peerage in 1738 as a qinwang;
Demoted to beile in 1763;
Promoted to junwang in 1765

Daughters[edit]

Title / Posthumous title Born Died Mother Spouse Notes
unnamed 1694 1694 Imperial Concubine Mao Died before reaching a month old
Heshuo Princess Huaike
和碩懷恪公主
1695 1717 Consort Qi
unnamed 1706 1706 Imperial Concubine Mao Died before reaching a month old
unnamed 1715 1717 Imperial Noble Consort Dunsu Died young

Adopted daughters[edit]

Title / Posthumous title Born Died Father Spouse Notes
Heshuo Princess Shushen
和碩淑慎公主
1708 1784 Yunreng, the Yongzheng Emperor's second brother Janggimboo (觀音保; d. 1735) of the Borjigit clan, married in 1726
Heshuo Princess Hehui
和碩和惠公主
1714 1731 Yunxiang, the Yongzheng Emperor's 13th brother Dorjisabuteng (多爾濟塞布騰; d. 1735) of the Borjigit clan, married in 1729
Heshuo Princess Duanrou
和碩端柔公主
1714 1754 Yunlu (允祿), the Yongzheng Emperor's 16th brother Qimotedorji (齊默特多爾濟; d. 1782) of the Borjigit clan, married in 1730

Ancestry[edit]

In fiction and popular culture[edit]

  • The Yongzheng Emperor appears in the flying guillotine-themed wuxia films produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio.
  • The Yongzheng Emperor is mentioned in the wuxia novel Ernü Yingxiong Zhuan (兒女英雄傳) by Wenkang (文康). It was adapted into the 1983 Hong Kong television series The Legend of the Unknowns (十三妹) and the 1986 Chinese film Lucky 13 (侠女十三妹).
  • A popular legend tells of the Yongzheng Emperor's death at the hands of a female assassin, Lü Siniang (呂四娘), a fictitious granddaughter (or daughter, in some accounts) of Lü Liuliang. She did so to avenge her grandfather (or father), who was wrongly put to death by the emperor. The legend was adapted into many films and television series.
  • There are two legends about the origins of the Yongzheng Emperor's son and successor, Hongli (the Qianlong Emperor). The first, more widely circulated in southern China, says that Hongli is actually the son of Chen Shiguan (陳世倌), an official from Haining, Zhejiang. Shortly after he was born, Hongli switched places with one of the Yongzheng Emperor's daughters, was raised as the emperor's son, and eventually inherited the throne. The wuxia writer Louis Cha adapted this legend for his novel The Book and the Sword. The second legend on the Qianlong Emperor's origins, more popular in northern China, stated that during a trip to the Mulan Hunting Grounds (木蘭圍場) in Rehe Province, the Yongzheng Emperor had an illegitimate affair with a palace maid and they conceived a son, who became the Qianlong Emperor.
  • The Yongzheng Emperor is featured as an important character in Tong Hua's novel Bu Bu Jing Xin and he had a romantic relationship with the protagonist, Ma'ertai Ruoxi. He is referred to as the "Fourth Prince" in the novel. Taiwanese actor Nicky Wu portrayed the Fourth Prince in Scarlet Heart, a 2011 Chinese television series adapted from the novel.
  • The Yongzheng Emperor appears in the romance fantasy novel series Meng Hui Da Qing (梦回大清) by Yaoye (妖叶).
The Yongzheng Emperor in film and television
Year Region Title Type Yongzheng Emperor actor Notes
1975 Hong Kong The Flying Guillotine
血滴子
Film Chiang Yang Produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio
1980 Hong Kong Dynasty
大內群英
Television series Alex Man 57 episodes
1988 Hong Kong The Rise and Fall of Qing Dynasty Season 2
滿清十三皇朝2
Television series Wai Lit 50 episodes
1994 Mainland China The Book and the Sword
书剑恩仇录
Television series Liu Dagang 32 episodes
1995 Hong Kong Secret Battle of the Majesty
九王奪位
Television series Kwong Wa 40 episodes
1996 Taiwan 雍正大帝 Television series Tou Chung-hua
1997 Taiwan Legend of YungChing
江湖奇俠傳
Television series Adam Cheng 58 / 59 episodes
1997 Hong Kong The Hitman Chronicles
大刺客
Television series Eddie Cheung 35 episodes
1997 Mainland China Yongzheng Dynasty
雍正王朝
Television series Tang Guoqiang 44 episodes
2001 Taiwan 玉指環 Television series Chin Han alternative Chinese title 才子佳人乾隆皇
2001 Mainland China Emperor Yong Zheng
雍正皇帝
Television series Liu Xinyi 31 episodes
2002 Mainland China Li Wei the Magistrate
李卫当官
Television series Tang Guoqiang 30 episodes; also known as Li Wei Becomes an Official
2002 Hong Kong Doomed to Oblivion
郑板桥
Television series Savio Tsang 30 episodes
2002 Mainland China Jiangshan Weizhong
江山为重
Television series Liu Guanxiong 31 episodes; alternative Chinese title 大清帝国
2003 Mainland China Palace Painter Master Castiglione
宫廷画师郎世宁
Television series Kenny Bee 24 episodes
2003 Hong Kong The King of Yesterday and Tomorrow
九五至尊
Television series Kwong Wa 20 episodes
2004 Mainland China 36th Chamber of Southern Shaolin
南少林三十六房
Television series Zhang Tielin 32 episodes
2004 Mainland China Huang Taizi Mishi
皇太子秘史
Television series Zhao Hongfei 32 episodes
2004 Mainland China Li Wei the Magistrate II
李卫当官2
Television series Tang Guoqiang 32 episodes
2005 Mainland China Shang Shu Fang
上书房
Television series Kou Zhenhai 52 episodes
2005 Mainland China The Juvenile Qianlong Emperor
少年宝亲王
Television series Zhang Guoli 40 episodes
2008 Mainland China The Book and the Sword
书剑恩仇录
Television series Shen Baoping 40 episodes
2010 Mainland China The Legend of Zhen Huan
后宫甄嬛传
Television series Chen Jianbin 76 episodes
2011 Mainland China Scarlet Heart
步步惊心
Television series Nicky Wu 35 episodes
2011 Mainland China Palace
宫锁心玉
Television series Mickey He 35 episodes
2012 Mainland China Palace II
宫锁珠帘
Television series Mickey He 35 episodes
2014 Hong Kong Gilded Chopsticks
食為奴
Television series Ben Wong 25 episodes

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Noble Consort Tong was the Kangxi Emperor's cousin. She made a guifei ("Noble Consort") in 1677 and later promoted to huang guifei, and, after the death of Empress Xiaozhaoren, became the highest-ranked consort in the Kangxi Emperor's harem.
  2. ^ The ranks of consorts in the palace were, Empress, Noble Consort (guifei), Consort (fei), pin, guiren, and so on; fei is therefore the third highest rank of the consorts.
  3. ^ There is little supporting evidence – especially considering that the character 于 was not widely used during the Qing dynasty; on official documents, 於 () was used. Secondly, Qing tradition insisted that the will be written in both Manchu and Chinese, both of which are official languages. Manchu writing, however, is more intricate and (in this case) impossible to modify. Furthermore, the Qing princes were referred to as "the Emperor's son(s)", in the order which they were born (for example, "the Emperor's fourth son": ‹The template Lang-zh is being considered for merging.›  Chinese: 皇四子)
  1. ^ a b c d Schirokauer, Conrad; Brown, Miranda (2006). A Brief History of Chinese Civilization. Belmont, California: Thomson Higher Education. ISBN 0-534-64305-1. 
  2. ^ a b Feng, Erkang. A Biography of Yongzheng (Chinese: 雍正传) China Publishing Group, People's Publishing House, Beijing: 2004. ISBN 7-01-004192-X
  3. ^ original words are:「康熙六十年正月,命皇四子雍親王胤禛、皇十二子貝子胤祹、世子弘晟以御極六十年,告祭永陵、福陵、昭陵。」
  4. ^ "康熙遺詔首曝光:傳位皇四子 雍正沒篡位 (Kangxi's Will Revealed For The First Time: He Actually Transferred The Throne To His Fourth Son. Yongzheng Did Not Scheme To Take The Thronw)" (in Chinese). Liaoning Evening News (Via Xinhua News Agency). 2 September 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Thomas H. Reilly, 2004, "The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom: Rebellion and the Blasphemy of Empire," Seattle, WA:University of Washington Press, p. 43ff, 14ff, 150ff, ISBN 0295984309, see [1], accessed 18 April 2015.
  6. ^ Jocelyn M. N. Marinescu (2008). Defending Christianity in China: The Jesuit Defense of Christianity in the "Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses" & "Ruijianlu" in Relation to the Yongzheng Proscription of 1724. ProQuest. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-549-59712-4. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Zhao 2006, p. 11.
  8. ^ Zhao 2006, p. 7.
  9. ^ Zhao 2006, pp. 8-9.
  10. ^ Zhao 2006, p. 12.
  11. ^ Zhao 2006, p. 9.
  12. ^ Mark C. Elliott (2001). The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China. Stanford University Press. p. 240. ISBN 0-8047-4684-2. In his indictment of Sunu and other Manchu nobles who had converted to Christianity, the Yongzheng Emperor reminded the rest of the Manchu elite that each people had its own way of honoring Heaven and that it was incumbent upon Manchus to observe Manchu practice in this regard: 
  13. ^ Mark C. Elliott (2001). The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China. Stanford University Press. p. 241. ISBN 0-8047-4684-2. The Lord of Heaven is Heaven itself. . . . In the empire we have a temple for honouring Heaven and sacrificing to Him. We Manchus have Tiao Tchin. The first day of every year we burn incense and paper to honour Heaven. We Manchus have our own particular rites for honouring Heaven; the Mongols, Chinese, Russians, and Europeans also have their own particular rites for honouring Heaven. I have never said that he [Urcen, a son of Sunu] could not honour heaven but that everyone has his way of doing it. As a Manchu, Urcen should do it like us. 
  14. ^ http://www1.chinaculture.org/library/2008-02/09/content_22919.htm
  15. ^ Draft history of the Qing dynasty (Chinese: 清史稿 卷二百十四.列傳一.后妃傳)

Further reading[edit]

Beatrice S. Bartlett. Monarchs and Ministers: The Grand Council in Mid-Ch'ing China, 1723-1820. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991). ISBN 0520065913.

External links[edit]

Yongzheng Emperor
Born: 13 December 1678 Died: 8 October 1735
Regnal titles
Preceded by
The Kangxi Emperor
Emperor of China
1722–1735
Succeeded by
The Qianlong Emperor