Emperor Yingzong of Ming

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Emperor Yingzong of Ming
明英宗皇帝.jpg
6th Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Reign 7 February 1435 – 1 September 1449
Coronation 7 February 1435
Predecessor Xuande Emperor
Successor Jingtai Emperor
Retired Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Reign 1 September 1449 – 11 February 1457
8th Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Reign 11 February 1457 – 23 February 1464
Predecessor Jingtai Emperor
Successor Chenghua Emperor
Born (1427-11-29)29 November 1427
Died 23 February 1464(1464-02-23) (aged 36)
Burial Yuling, Ming tombs, Beijing
Full name
Surname: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Qizhen (祁鎮)
Era dates
Zhengtong (正統): 18 January 1436 – 13 January 1450
Tianshun[1] (天順): 15 February 1457 – 26 January 1465
Posthumous name
Emperor Fatian Lidao Renming Chengjing Zhaowen Xianwu Zhide Guangxiao Rui
法天立道仁明誠敬昭文憲武至德廣孝睿皇帝
Temple name
Ming Yingzong
明英宗
House House of Zhu
Father Xuande Emperor
Mother Empress Xiaogongzhang
Stele commemorating rebuilding of the Temple of Yan Hui in Qufu in 1441 (6th year of the Zhengtong era)

Zhu Qizhen (Chinese: 朱祁鎮; 29 November 1427 – 23 February 1464) was the sixth and eighth emperor of the Ming dynasty. He ascended the throne as the Zhengtong Emperor (Chinese: 正統; pinyin: Zhèngtǒng; literally: "right governance") in 1435, but was forced to abdicate in 1449, in favour of his younger brother the Jingtai Emperor, after being captured by the Mongols during the Tumu Crisis. In 1457, he deposed Jingtai and ruled again as the Tianshun Emperor (Chinese: 天順; pinyin: Tiānshùn; literally: "obedience to Heaven") until his death in 1464.[2] His temple name is Yingzong (英宗).

First reign[edit]

Emperor Yingzong of Ming

Zhu Qizhen was the son of the Xuande Emperor and his second wife, Empress Sun. At the beginning of the Zhengtong reign, the Ming dynasty was prosperous and at the height of its power as a result of the Xuande Emperor's able administration. The Zhengtong Emperor's accession at the age of eight made him the first child emperor of the dynasty – hence the Zhengtong Emperor was easily influenced by others, especially the eunuch Wang Zhen. At first, Wang Chen was kept under control by Grand Mother Empress Zhang, Zhengtong's grandmother and the unofficial regent, who collaborated closely with three ministers, all with the surname Yang (hence the common name "Three Yangs"), thus the good administration continued. In 1442 though, Empress Zhang died, and the three Yangs also died or retired around that time.[3]

Empress Chengxiao

The emperor began to completely rely on Wang Zhen for advice and guidance.

Imprisonment by the Mongols[edit]

At the age of 21, in 1449, the Zhengtong Emperor, advised by Wang Zhen, personally directed and lost the Battle of Tumu Fortress against the Mongols under Esen Taishi (d.1455). In one of the most humiliating battles in Chinese history, the Ming army, half million strong, led by Zhengtong, was crushed by Esen's forces, estimated to be 20,000 cavalry.[4][5] His capture by the enemy force shook the empire to its core, and the ensuing crisis almost caused the dynasty to collapse had it not been for the capable governing of a prominent minister named Yu Qian.

Although the Zhengtong Emperor was a prisoner of the Mongols, he became a good friend to both Tayisung Khan Toghtoa Bukha (1416–1453) and his grand preceptor (taishi) Esen. Meanwhile, to calm the crisis at home, his younger brother Zhu Qiyu was installed as the Jingtai Emperor. This reduced the Zhengtong Emperor's imperial status and he was granted the title of Tàishàng Huángdi (emperor emeritus).

House arrest and second reign[edit]

The Zhengtong Emperor was released one year later in 1450, but when he returned to China, he was immediately put under house arrest by his brother for almost seven years. He resided in the southern palace of the Forbidden City, and all outside contacts were severely curtailed by the Jingtai Emperor. His son, who later became the Chenghua Emperor, was stripped of the title of crown prince and replaced by the Jingtai Emperor's own son. This act greatly upset and devastated the former Zhengtong Emperor, but the heir apparent died shortly thereafter. Overcome with grief, the Jingtai Emperor fell ill, and the former Zhengtong Emperor decided to depose his brother by a palace coup. The emperor emeritus was successful in seizing the throne from the Jingtai Emperor when the latter was ill, after which he changed his regnal name to "Tianshun" (lit. "obedience to Heaven") and went on to rule for another seven years. Jingtai Emperor was demoted to Prince of Cheng and put under house arrest and soon died, probably murdered.

On 6 August 1461, the Tianshun Emperor issued an edict warning his subjects to be loyal to the throne and not to violate the laws.[6] This was a veiled threat aimed at the general Cao Qin (d. 1461), who had become embroiled in a controversy when he had one of his retainers kill a man whom Ming authorities were attempting to interrogate (to find out about Cao's illegal foreign business transactions).[6] On 7 August 1461, Cao Qin and his cohorts of Mongol descent attempted a coup against the Tianshun Emperor.[7] However, during the first hours of the morning of 7 August, prominent Ming generals Wu Jin and Wu Cong, who were alerted of the coup, immediately relayed a warning to the emperor.[8] Although alarmed, the Tianshun Emperor and his court made preparations for a conflict and barred the gates of the palace.[9] During the ensuing onslaught in the capital later that morning, the Minister of Works and the Commander of the Imperial Guard were killed, while the rebels set the gates of the Forbidden City on fire.[7] The eastern and western gates of the imperial city were only saved when pouring rains came and extinguished the fires.[10] The fight lasted for nearly the entire day within the city; during which three of Cao Qin's brothers were killed, and Cao himself received wounds to both arms. With the failure of the coup, in order to escape being executed, Cao fled to his residence and committed suicide by jumping down a well within the walled compound of his home.[11]

The Tianshun Emperor died at the age of 36 in 1464 and was buried in the Yuling (裕陵) mausoleum of the Ming Dynasty Tombs. Before he died, he had given an order, which was rated highly as an act of imperial magnanimity, that ended the practice of burying alive concubines and palace maids (so that they could follow emperors to the next world).[12]

Popular culture[edit]

Family[edit]

  • Parents:
    • Zhu Zhanji (宣宗 朱瞻基; 1399 – 1435)
    • Lady Sun (孝恭章皇后 孫氏; 1399 – 1462)
  • Consorts and Issue:
  1. Lady Qian Jinluan (孝莊睿皇后 錢錦鸞; 1426 – 1468)
  2. Lady Zhou (孝肅皇后 周氏; 1430 – 1504)
    1. Princess Chongqing (重慶公主; 1446 – 1499)
    2. Zhu Jianshen (憲宗 朱見深; 1447 – 1487)
    3. Zhu Jianze (崇簡王 朱見澤; 1455 – 1505)
  3. Lady Wan (靖莊宸妃 萬氏; 1431 – 1467)
    1. Zhu Jianlin (德莊王 朱見潾; 1448 – 1517)
    2. Zhu Jianshi (朱見湜; 1449 – 1451)
    3. Princess Chun'an (淳安公主)
    4. Lady Zhu Yanxiang (廣德公主 朱延祥; 1454 – 1484)
    5. Zhu Jianjun (吉簡王 朱見浚; 1456 – 1527)
    6. Zhu Jianzhi (忻穆王 朱見治; 1458 – 1472)
  4. Lady Wang (端靖惠妃 王氏; 1429 – 1485)
    1. Princess Jiashan (嘉善公主; c. 1448 – 1499)
    2. Zhu Jianchun (許悼王 朱見淳; 1450 – 1453)
  5. Lady Yang (莊僖安妃 楊氏; 1414 – 1487)
    1. Princess Chongde (崇德公主; c. 1451 – 1489)
  6. Lady Gao (莊靜淑妃 高氏; 1429 – 1511)
    1. Zhu Jianshu (秀懷王 朱見澍; 1452 – 1472)
    2. Princess Longqing (隆慶公主; 1455 – 1480)
  7. Lady Wei (恭端德妃 魏氏; 1426 – 1469)
    1. Princess Yixing (宜興公主; c. 1454 – 1514)
    2. Unnamed daughter
    3. Zhu Jianpei (徽莊王 朱見沛; 1462 – 1505)
  8. Lady Fan (恭和順妃 樊氏; 1414 – 1470)
    1. Unnamed daughter
  9. Lady Liu (安和麗妃 劉氏; 1426 – 1512)
  10. Lady Wang (昭肅賢妃 王氏; 1430 – 1474)
  11. Lady Wu (端莊昭妃 武氏; 1431 – 1467)
  12. Lady Gong (恭安和妃 宮氏; 1430 – 1467)
  13. Lady Wang (榮靖貞妃 王氏; 1427 – 1507)
  14. Lady Zhao (恭靖莊妃 趙氏; 1446 – 1514)
  15. Lady Liu (貞順敬妃 劉氏; d. 1463)
  16. Lady Liu (昭靜恭妃 劉氏; d. 1500)
  17. Lady Li (昭懿賢妃 李氏)
  18. Lady Zhang (恭僖成妃 張氏; d. 1504)
  19. Lady Yu (僖恪充妃 余氏; d. 1503)
  20. Lady Chen (惠和麗妃 陳氏; d. 1500)
  21. Lady Liu (妃 劉氏)
    1. Princess Jiaxiang (嘉祥公主; c. 1459 – 1483)
  22. Unknown
    1. Unnamed daughter
    2. Unnamed daughter

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tianshun (天順) was also the name of a reign era in the Yuan dynasty.
  2. ^ Leo K. Shin (2006), The Making of the Chinese State: Ethnicity and Expansion on the Ming Borderlands, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-85354-5 
  3. ^ 刘, 金泽 (1998). 政鉴. 经济日报出版社. p. 828. ISBN 9787801275103. 
  4. ^ Haskew, Michael E. (2008). Fighting Techniques of the Oriental World AD 1200-1860: Equipment, Combat Skills And Tactics, Christer Jørgensen. Amber Books. p. 12. ISBN 9781905704965. 
  5. ^ Wen chao yue kan, Volume 5. 北京 :: 全国图书馆文献缩微复制中心. 2005. p. 128. 
  6. ^ a b Robinson, 97.
  7. ^ a b Robinson, 79.
  8. ^ Robinson, 101–102.
  9. ^ Robinson, 102.
  10. ^ Robinson, 105.
  11. ^ Robinson, 107–108.
  12. ^ Zhonghua quan guo fu nü lian he hui (1984). Women of China. Foreign Language Press. 
  • Robinson, David M. "Politics, Force and Ethnicity in Ming China: Mongols and the Abortive Coup of 1461," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Volume 59: Number 1, June 1999): 79–123.
Emperor Yingzong of Ming
Born: 29 November 1427 Died: 23 February 1464
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Xuande Emperor
Emperor of China (Zhengtong reign)
1435–1449
Succeeded by
Jingtai Emperor
Preceded by
Jingtai Emperor
Emperor of China (Tianshun reign)
1457–1464
Succeeded by
Chenghua Emperor