Hongwu Emperor

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Hongwu Emperor
洪武帝
A Seated Portrait of Ming Emperor Taizu.jpg
A Seated Portrait of Ming Emperor Taizu, c.1377 [1] by an unknown artist from the Ming dynasty. Now located in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan.
1st Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Reign23 January 1368 [n 1] – 24 June 1398
Enthronement23 January 1368
Successor Jianwen Emperor
Emperor of China
Reign1368–1398
Predecessor Ukhaghatu Khan Toghon Temür (Yuan dynasty)
Successor Jianwen Emperor (Ming dynasty)
BornZhu Chongba [n 2]
(朱重八)
21 October 1328
天曆元年 九月 十八日
(Tianli 1, 18th day of the 9th month)
Zhongli County, Hao Prefecture, Henan Jiangbei Province, Yuan dynasty (present-day Xiaoxihe Town, Fengyang County, Anhui Province) [2] [3] [4]
Died24 June 1398(1398-06-24) (aged 69)
洪武三十一年 閏五月 初十日
(Hongwu 31, 10th day of the 5th leap month)
Jingshi, Ming dynasty (present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu Province)
Burial30 June 1398
Consorts
(m. 1352;died 1382)
Issue
  • Zhu Biao, Crown Prince Yiwen
  • Zhu Shuang, Prince Min of Qin
  • Zhu Gang, Prince Gong of Jin
  • Yongle Emperor
  • Zhu Su, Prince Ding of Zhou
  • Zhu Zhen, Prince Zhao of Chu
  • Zhu Fu, Prince Gong of Qi
  • Zhu Zi, Prince of Tan
  • Zhu Qi, Prince of Zhao
  • Zhu Tan, Prince Huang of Lu
  • Zhu Chun, Prince Xian of Shu
  • Zhu Bai, Prince Xian of Xiang
  • Zhu Gui, Prince Jian of Dai
  • Zhu Ying, Prince Zhuang of Su
  • Zhu Zhi, Prince Jian of Liao
  • Zhu Zhan, Prince Jing of Qing
  • Zhu Quan, Prince Xian of Ning
  • Zhu Pian, Prince Zhuang of Min
  • Zhu Hui, Prince of Gu
  • Zhu Song, Prince Xian of Han
  • Zhu Mo, Prince Jian of Shen
  • Zhu Ying, Prince Hui of An
  • Zhu Jing, Prince Ding of Tang
  • Zhu Dong, Prince Jing of Ying
  • Zhu Yi, Prince Li of Yi
  • Zhu Nan
  • Princess Lin'an
  • Princess Ningguo
  • Princess Chongning
  • Princess Anqing
  • Princess Runing
  • Princess Huaiqing
  • Princess Daming
  • Princess Fuqing
  • Princess Shouchun
  • Tenth daughter
  • Princess Nankang
  • Princess Zhenyi of Yongjia
  • Thirteenth daughter
  • Princess Hanshan
  • Princess Ruyang
  • Princess Baoqing
Names
Zhu Xingzong
(朱興宗), later
Zhu Yuanzhang [n 3]
(朱元璋)
Era name and dates
Hongwu (洪武): 23 January 1368 – 5 February 1399 (restored, 30 July 1402 – 22 January 1403) [n 4]
Posthumous name
1398–1403:
  • Emperor Qinming Qiyun Junde Chenggong Tongtian Daxiao Gāo [n 5]
    (欽明啟運俊德成功統天大孝高皇帝) →

1403–1538:

  • Emperor Shengshen Wenwu Qinming Qiyun Junde Chenggong Tongtian Daxiao Gāo [n 6]
    (聖神文武欽明啟運俊德成功統天大孝高皇帝) →

After 1538:

  • Emperor Kaitian Xingdao Zhaoji Liji Dasheng Zhishen Renwen Yiwu Junde Chenggong Gāo [n 7]
    (開天行道肇紀立極大聖至神仁文義武俊德成功高皇帝)
Temple name
Taizu
(太祖)
House House of Zhu
Dynasty Ming dynasty
Father Zhu Shizhen
MotherEmpress Chun
Religion Buddhism
Signature Hongwu Emperor signature (Kao).jpg

Under Hongwu's rule, Mongol and other foreign bureaucrats who had dominated the government during the Yuan dynasty along with Northern Chinese officials were replaced by Han Chinese officials. The emperor re-instituted, then abolished, then restored, the Confucian civil service imperial examination system, from which most state officials were selected based on their knowledge of literature and philosophy. The Ming examination curriculum followed that set by the Yuan in 1313: a focus on the Four Books over the Five Classics and the commentaries of Zhu Xi. [48] The Confucian scholar-bureaucrats who had been previously marginalized during the Yuan dynasty were reinstated to their predominant roles in the government.

"Barbarian" (i.e. Mongol-related) elements, including garments and names, were made illegal. There was no clear definition on what was "barbarian", and individual clothing styles and names were banned at the emperor’s will. [49] There were also attacks on palaces and administrative buildings previously used by the rulers of the Yuan dynasty. [50] But many of Taizu's government institutions were actually modeled on those of the Yuan dynasty: community schools required for primary education in every village. [51]

Ming's legal system established by Hongwu contains various methods of execution including flaying, and slow slicing. [15] [16] [17] One of his generals, Chang Yuchun, carried out massacres in Shandong and Hunan provinces to take revenge against people who resisted his army. [18] Over time, Hongwu became increasingly fearful of rebellions and coups, and also ordered the execution of those of his advisors who criticized him. [19] Manicheanism and the White Lotus Sect, which played significant roles during the revolts against the Yuan, were outlawed. [52] He was also said to have ordered the massacre of several thousand people living in Nanjing after having heard one talked about him without respect. [53] [54] [55] In the Hu Weiyong case alone, tens of thousands of officials and their families were executed over sedition, treason, corruption and other charges. [56] [57] [58] According to an anecdote noted by Ming dynasty writers, in 1380, after much killing, a lightning bolt struck his palace and he stopped the massacres for some time, as he was afraid divine forces would punish him. [59] In the 1390s, however, tens of thousands more people were executed due to their association with an alleged plot of rebellion by general Lan Yu. [60]

When the Ming dynasty emerged, Hongwu's military officers were given noble titles. These privileged the holder with a stipend, but in all other aspects was merely symbolic. [61] Mu Ying's family was among them. [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] Special rules against abuse of power were implemented on the nobles. [67]

Land reforms

As Hongwu came from a peasant family, he was aware of how peasants used to suffer under the oppression of the scholar-bureaucrats, and the wealthy. Many of the latter, relying on their connections with government officials, encroached unscrupulously on peasants' lands and bribed the officials to transfer the burden of taxation to the poor. To prevent such abuse, he instituted two systems: Yellow Records and Fish Scale Records. They served both to secure the government's income from land taxes and to affirm that peasants would not lose their lands.

However, the reforms did not eliminate the threat of the bureaucrats to peasants. Instead, the expansion of the bureaucrats and their growing prestige translated into more wealth, and tax exemption for those in the government service. The bureaucrats gained new privileges, and some became illegal money-lenders and managers of gambling rings. Using their power, the bureaucrats expanded their estates at the expense of peasants' lands through outright purchase of those lands, and foreclosure on their mortgages whenever they wanted the lands. The peasants often became either tenants, or workers, or sought employment elsewhere. [68]

Since the beginning of the Ming dynasty in 1357, great care was taken by Hongwu to distribute land to peasants. One way was by forced migration to less-dense areas. [69] Hongtong County, for example, was the source of many of those migrants due to its particularly dense population. The migrants were gathered under a pagoda tree (洪洞大槐樹) and escorted to neighboring provinces. "The great pagoda tree in Hongtong, Shanxi" became a common idiom when referring to one's ancestral home in certain areas of Henan and Hebei. [70] Public works projects, such as the construction of irrigation systems, and dikes, were undertaken in an attempt to help farmers. In addition, Hongwu also reduced the demands for forced labor on the peasantry.

In 1370, Hongwu ordered that some lands in Hunan and Anhui should be given to young farmers who had reached adulthood. The order was intended to prevent landlords from seizing the land, as it also decreed that the titles to the lands were not transferable. During the middle part of his reign, he passed an edict, stating that those who brought fallow land under cultivation could keep it as their property without being taxed. The policy was well received by the people and in 1393, cultivated land rose to 8,804,623 qing and 68 mu, something not achieved during any other Chinese dynasty.[ citation needed ] Hongwu also instigated the planting of 50 million trees in the vicinity of Nanjing, reconstructing canals, irrigation, and repopulation of the North. [71]

Social policy

Under the Hongwu reign, rural China was reorganized into li (), communities of 110 households. The position of community chief rotates among the ten most populous households, while the rest were further divided into tithings (jia, 甲). Together, the system was known as lijia. The communities were responsible for collecting tax and drafting labor for the local government. Village elders were also obliged to keep surveillance on the community, report criminal activities, and ensure that the residents are fully committed to agricultural work. [72] [73]

The Yuan dynasty Zhuse Huji (諸色戶計) system was continued and the households were categorized into different types. The most basic types, namely civilian households (民戶), military households (軍戶), craftsmen households (匠戶) and salt worker households (鹽灶戶), defined the family's form of corvée labor. Military households, for example, accounted for around one-sixth of the total population at the beginning of the Yongle era, and each was required to provide an adult man as soldier, and at least one more person to work in support roles in the military. The military, craftsmen and salt worker households were hereditary, and converting into civilian households was impossible except in a few very rare situations. [74] [75] A family may simultaneously belong in one of the minor categories, e.g. physician households and scholar households, according to their occupation. In addition to the aforementioned "good" households, discriminatory types also existed, such as entertainer households (樂戶). [76]

Travelers were required to carry a luyin (路引), a permit issued by the local government, and their neighbors were required to have knowledge of their itinerary. Unauthorized domestic migration was banned, and offenders were exiled. The policy was strictly enforced during the Hongwu era. [77]

Zhu Yuanzhang passed a law on mandatory hairstyle on 24 September 1392, mandating that all males grow their hair long and making it illegal for them to shave part of their foreheads while leaving strands of hair which was the Mongol hairstyle. The penalty for both the barber and the person who was shaved and his sons was castration if they cut their hair and their families were to be sent to the borders for exile. This helped eradicated partially shaved Mongol hairstyles and enforced long Han hairstyle. [78]

Military

View of the Great Wall at Juyong Pass, reconstructed by the Ming dynasty. Juyongguan Wall 20090714-2.JPG
View of the Great Wall at Juyong Pass, reconstructed by the Ming dynasty.

The Hongwu Emperor realized that the Northern Yuan still posed a threat to the Ming dynasty, even though they had been driven away after the collapse of the Yuan dynasty. He decided to reassess the orthodox Confucian view that the military class was inferior to that of the scholar bureaucracy. He kept a powerful army, which in 1384 he reorganized using a model known as the weisuo system (simplified Chinese :卫所制; traditional Chinese :衞所制; lit. 'guard battalion'). Each military unit consisted of 5,600 men divided into five battalions and ten companies. [79] By 1393 the total number of weisuo troops had reached 1,200,000. Soldiers were also assigned land on which to grow crops whilst their positions were made hereditary. This type of system can be traced back to the fubing system (Chinese :府兵制) of the Sui and Tang dynasties.

Training was conducted within local military districts. In times of war, troops were mobilized from all over the empire on the orders of the Ministry of War, and commanders were appointed to lead them to battle. After the war, the army was disbanded into smaller groups and sent back to their respective districts, while the commanders had to return their authority to the state. This system helped to prevent military leaders from having too much power. The military was under the control of a civilian official for large campaigns, instead of a military general.[ citation needed ]

Bureaucratic reforms and consolidation of power

Hongwu attempted, and largely succeeded in, the consolidation of control over all aspects of government, so that no other group could gain enough power to overthrow him. He also buttressed the country's defense against the Mongols. He increasingly concentrated power in his own hands. He abolished the Chancellor's post, which had been head of the main central administrative body under past dynasties, by suppressing a plot for which he had blamed his chancellor Hu Weiyong. Many argue that Hongwu, because of his wish to concentrate absolute authority in his own hands, removed the only insurance against incompetent emperors.[ citation needed ]

However, Hongwu could not govern the sprawling Ming Empire all by himself and had to create the new institution of the "Grand Secretary". This cabinet-like organisation progressively took on the powers of the abolished prime minister, becoming just as powerful in time. Ray Huang argued that Grand-Secretaries, outwardly powerless, could exercise considerable positive influence from behind the throne.[ citation needed ] Because of their prestige and the public trust which they enjoyed, they could act as intermediaries between the emperor and the ministerial officials, and thus provide a stabilising force in the court.

In Hongwu's elimination of the traditional offices of grand councilor, the primary impetus was Hu Weiyong's alleged attempt to usurp the throne. Hu was the Senior Grand Councilor and a capable administrator; however over the years, the magnitude of his powers, as well as involvement in several political scandals eroded the paranoid emperor's trust in him. Finally, in 1380, Hongwu had Hu and his entire family arrested and executed on charges of treason. Using this as an opportunity to purge his government, the emperor also ordered the execution of countless other officials, as well as their families, for associating with Hu. The purge lasted over a decade and resulted in more than 30,000 executions. In 1390, even Li Shanchang, one of the closest old friends of the emperor, who was rewarded as the biggest contributor to the founding of the Ming Empire, was executed along with over 70 members of his extended family. A year after his death, a deputy in the Board of Works made a submission to the emperor appealing Li's innocence, arguing that since Li was already at the apex of honour, wealth and power, the accusation that he wanted to help someone else usurp the throne was clearly ridiculous. Hongwu was unable to refute the accusations and finally ended the purge shortly afterwards.

Hongwu also noted the destructive role of court eunuchs under the previous dynasties. He drastically reduced their numbers, forbidding them to handle documents, insisting that they remain illiterate, and executing those who commented on state affairs. The emperor had a strong aversion to the eunuchs, epitomized by a tablet in his palace stipulating: "Eunuchs must have nothing to do with the administration". This aversion to eunuchs did not long continue among his successors, as the Hongwu and Jianwen emperors' harsh treatment of eunuchs allowed the Yongle Emperor to employ them as a power base during his coup. [9] In addition to Hongwu's aversion to eunuchs, he never consented to any of his consort kin becoming court officials. This policy was fairly well-maintained by later emperors, and no serious trouble was caused by the empresses or their families.

The Embroidered Uniform Guard or Jinyiwei was transformed into a secret police organization during the Hongwu era. It was given the authority to overrule judicial proceedings in prosecutions with full autonomy in arresting, interrogating and punishing anyone, including nobles and the emperor's relatives. In 1393, Jiang Huan (蔣瓛), the chief of Jinyiwei, accused general Lan Yu of plotting rebellion. 15,000 people was executed in familial extermination during the subsequent purges, according to Hongwu. [80]

Through the repeated purges and the elimination of the historical posts, Hongwu fundamentally altered the centuries-old government structure of China, greatly increasing the emperor's absolutism.

The legal code drawn up in the time of Hongwu was considered one of the great achievements of the era. The History of Ming mentioned that as early as 1364, the monarchy had started to draft a code of laws. This code was known as Da Ming Lü (大明律, "Code of the Great Ming" or "Laws of the Great Ming"). The emperor devoted much time to the project and instructed his ministers that the code should be comprehensive and intelligible, so as not to allow any official to exploit loopholes in the code by deliberately misinterpreting it. The Ming code laid much emphasis on family relations. The code was a great improvement on the code of the Tang dynasty in regards to the treatment of slaves. Under the Tang code, slaves were treated as a species of domestic animal; if they were killed by a free citizen, the law imposed no sanction on the killer. Under the Ming dynasty, the law protected both slaves and free citizens.[ citation needed ]

Later during his reign, however, the Code of the Great Ming was set aside in favor of the far harsher legal system documented in Da Gao (大誥, "Great Announcements"). Compared to the Da Ming Lü, the penalties for almost all crimes were drastically increased, with more than 1,000 crimes eligible for capital punishment. [81] [82] Much of the Da Gao was dedicated to the government and officials, particularly for anti-corruption. Officials who embezzled more than the equivalent of 60 liang (one liang was around 30 grams) of silver were to be beheaded and then flayed, the skin publicly exhibited. Zhu Yuanzhang granted all people the right to capture officials suspected of crimes and directly send them to the capital, a first in Chinese history. [81] Apart from regulating the government, Da Gao aimed to set limits to various social groups. For example, "idle men" (逸夫) who did not change their lifestyles after the new law came into effect would be executed and their neighbors exiled. Da Gao also included extensive sumptuary laws, down to details such as banning ornaments in heating rooms in the houses of commoners. [82]

Economic policy

Supported by the scholar-bureaucrats, he accepted the Confucian viewpoint that merchants were solely parasitic. He felt that agriculture should be the country's source of wealth and that trade was ignoble. As a result, the Ming economic system emphasized agriculture, unlike the economic system of the Song dynasty, which had preceded the Yuan dynasty and relied on traders and merchants for revenues. Hongwu also supported the creation of self-supporting agricultural communities.

However, his prejudice against merchants did not diminish the numbers of traders. On the contrary, commerce increased significantly during the Hongwu era because of the growth of industry throughout the empire. This growth in trade was due in part to poor soil conditions and the overpopulation of certain areas, which forced many people to leave their homes and seek their fortunes in trade. A book titled Tu Pien Hsin Shu,[ citation needed ] written during the Ming dynasty, gave a detailed description of the activities of merchants at that time.

Although the Hongwu era saw the reintroduction of paper currency, its development was stifled from the beginning. Not understanding inflation, Hongwu gave out so much paper money as rewards that by 1425, the state was forced to restore copper coins because the paper currency had sunk to only 1/70 of its original value.

Education policy

Zong Bing Tie .jpg
Manuscript of Zhu Yuanzhang, Collection of the Wuxi Museum.jpg
The Hongwu Emperor's calligraphy

Hongwu tried to remove Mencius from the Temple of Confucius as certain parts of his work were deemed harmful. These include "the people are the most important element in a nation; the spirits of the land and grain are the next; the sovereign is the lightest" (Mengzi, Jin Xin II), as well as, "when the prince regards the ministers as the ground or as grass, they regard him as a robber and an enemy" (Mengzi, Li Lou II). The effort failed due to the objection from important officials, particularly Qian Tang (錢唐), Minister of Justice. [83] Eventually, the emperor organized the compilation of the Mencius Abridged (孟子節文) in which 85 lines were deleted. Apart from those mentioned above, the omitted sentences also included those describing rules of governance, promoting benevolence, and those critical of King Zhou of Shang. [84]

At the Guozijian, law, math, calligraphy, equestrianism, and archery were emphasized by Hongwu in addition to Confucian classics and also required in the Imperial Examinations. [85] [86] [87] [88] [89] Archery and equestrianism were added to the exam by Hongwu in 1370, similarly to how archery and equestrianism were required for non-military officials at the College of War (武舉) in 1162 by Emperor Xiaozong of Song. [90] The area around the Meridian Gate of Nanjing was used for archery by guards and generals under Hongwu. [91] A cavalry based army modeled on the Yuan military was implemented by the Hongwu and Yongle Emperors. [92] Hongwu's army and officialdom incorporated Mongols. [93]

Equestrianism and archery were favorite pastimes of He Suonan who served in the Yuan and Ming militaries under Hongwu. [94] Archery towers were built by Zhengtong Emperor at the Forbidden City and archery towers were built on the city walls of Xi'an which had been erected by Hongwu. [95] [96]

Hongwu wrote essays which were posted in every village throughout China warning the people to behave or else face horrifying consequences. [71] The 1380s writings of Hongwu includes the "Great warnings" or "Grand Pronouncements", [97] and the "Ancestral Injunctions". [98] [99] He wrote the Six Maxims (六諭, [100] 聖諭六言 [101] [102] [103] [104] [105] ) which inspired the Sacred Edict of the Kangxi Emperor. [106] [107] [108]

Around 1384, Hongwu ordered the Chinese translation and compilation of Islamic astronomical tables, a task that was carried out by the scholars Mashayihei, a Muslim astronomer, and Wu Bozong, a Chinese scholar-official. These tables came to be known as the Huihui Lifa (Muslim System of Calendrical Astronomy), which was published in China a number of times until the early 18th century, [109]

Religious policy

The Jinjue Mosque in Nanjing was constructed by the decree of Hongwu. Hall of JingJue Mosque,Nanjing.jpg
The Jinjue Mosque in Nanjing was constructed by the decree of Hongwu.

Mongol and Central Asian Semu Muslim women and men were required by the Code of the Great Ming to marry Han Chinese after the first Ming emperor Hongwu passed the law in Article 122. [110] [111] [112]

Hongwu ordered the construction of several mosques in Nanjing, Yunnan, Guangdong and Fujian provinces, [113] [114] and had inscriptions praising the Islamic prophet Muhammad placed in them. He rebuilt the Jinjue Mosque (literally meaning: Pure Enlightenment Mosque) in Nanjing and large numbers of Hui people moved to the city during his rule. [115]

Foreign policy

The country without conquest (Bu Zheng Zhi Guo 
) from the Huang-Ming Zuxun. Huang Ming Zu Xun Bu Zheng Zhi Guo .JPG
The country without conquest (不征之国) from the Huang-Ming Zuxun.

Hongwu designated the "country without conquest" (不征之国). He listed 15 countries that Ming would not attempt to conquest, such as Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Vietnam

Hongwu was a non-interventionist, refusing to intervene in a Vietnamese invasion of Champa to help the Chams, only rebuking the Vietnamese for their invasion, being opposed to military action abroad. [116] He specifically warned future emperors only to defend against foreign barbarians, and not engage in military campaigns for glory and conquest. [117] In his 1395 ancestral injunctions, the emperor specifically wrote that China should not attack Champa, Cambodia or Annam (Vietnam). [118] [119] With the exception of his turn against aggressive expansion, much of Hongwu's foreign policy and his diplomatic institutions were based on Yuan practice. [120]

"Japanese" pirates

Hongwu sent a message to the Japanese that his army would "capture and exterminate your bandits, head straight for your country, and put your king in bonds". [121] In fact, many of the "dwarf pirates" and "eastern barbarians" raiding his coasts were Chinese, [122] [123] and Hongwu's response was almost entirely passive. The Ashikaga shōgun replied "Your great empire may be able to invade Japan, but our small state is not short of a strategy to defend ourselves." [124] The necessity of protecting his state against the Northern Yuan remnants [125] meant that the most Hongwu was able to accomplish against Japan was a series of "sea ban" measures. Private foreign trade was made punishable by death, with the trader's family and neighbors exiled; [126] ships, docks, and shipyards were destroyed, and ports were sabotaged. [127] [124] The plan was at odds with Chinese tradition and was counterproductive as it tied up resources. 74 coastal garrisons had to be established from Guangzhou to Shandong, though they were often manned by local gangs. [127] Hongwu's measures limited tax receipts, impoverished and provoked both coastal Chinese and Japanese against the Hongwu regime, [124] and actually increased piracy- [123] offering too little as a reward for good behavior and enticement for Japanese authorities to root out their own smugglers and pirates. [124] Regardless of the policy, piracy had dropped to negligible levels by the time of its abolition in 1568. [123]

Nonetheless, the sea ban was added by Hongwu to his Ancestral Injunctions [127] and so continued to be broadly enforced through most of the rest of his dynasty: for the next two centuries, the rich farmland of the south and the military theaters of the north were linked only by the Jinghang Canal. [128]

Despite the deep distrust, in Hongwu's Ancestral Injunctions, he listed Japan along with 14 other countries as "countries against which campaigns shall not be launched", and advised his descendants to maintain peace with them. This policy was violated by his son Yongle Emperor who ordered multiple interventions in Annam (present-day northern Vietnam), but remained influential for several centuries afterwards. [129]

Byzantine Empire

The History of Ming , compiled during the early Qing dynasty, describes how Hongwu met with an alleged merchant of Fulin (拂菻; the Byzantine Empire) named "Nieh-ku-lun" (捏古倫). In September 1371, he had the man sent back to his native country with a letter announcing the founding of the Ming dynasty to his ruler (i.e. John V Palaiologos). [130] [131] [132] It is speculated that the merchant was actually a former bishop of Khanbaliq (Beijing) called Nicolaus de Bentra, sent by Pope John XXII to replace Archbishop John of Montecorvino in 1333. [130] [133] The History of Ming goes on to explain that contacts between China and Fu lin ceased after this point, and diplomats of the great western sea (the Mediterranean Sea) did not appear in China again until the 16th century, with the Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci. [130]

Death

A stele carried by a giant stone tortoise at the Hongwu Emperor's Mausoleum. Stone Sifangcheng.jpg
A stele carried by a giant stone tortoise at the Hongwu Emperor's Mausoleum.

After a 30-year reign, Hongwu died on 24 June 1398, at the age of 69. After his death, his physicians were penalized. He was buried at Xiaoling Mausoleum on the Purple Mountain, in the east of Nanjing. The mass sacrifice of concubines after the emperor's death, a practice long disappeared among Chinese dynasties, was revived by Zhu Yuanzhang, probably to clear potential obstacles to the reign of his chosen successor. At least 38 concubines were killed as part of Hongwu's funeral human sacrifice. [134] [135]

Assessment

Historians consider Hongwu as one of the most significant emperors of China. As Patricia Buckley Ebrey puts it, "Seldom has the course of Chinese history been influenced by a single personality as much as it was by the founder of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang." [136] His rise to power was fast despite his having a poor and humble origin. In 11 years, he went from being a penniless monk to the most powerful warlord in China. Five years later, he became emperor of China. Simon Leys described him this way:

'an adventurer from peasant stock, poorly educated, a man of action, a bold and shrewd tactician, a visionary mind, in many respects a creative genius; naturally coarse, cynical, and ruthless, he eventually showed symptoms of paranoia, bordering on psychopathy.' [137]

Family

Zhu Yuanzhang had many Korean and Mongolian women among his concubines along with his Empress Ma and had 16 daughters and 26 sons with all of them. [138]


Consorts and Issue: [139] [140]

Ancestry

Hongwu Emperor
Chinese 洪武帝
Literal meaningvastly martial emperor
Zhu Bailiu
Zhu Sijiu
Empress Xuan
Zhu Chuyi
Empress Heng
Zhu Shizhen (1281–1344)
Empress Yu
Hongwu Emperor (1328–1398)
Lord Chen (1235–1334)
Empress Chun (1286–1344)
Novels
Television series

See also

Notes

  1. Zhu Yuanzhang was already in control of Nanjing since 1356 and was conferred the title of "Duke of Wu" (吳國公) by the rebel leader Han Lin'er (韓林兒) in 1361. He started autonomous rule as the self-proclaimed "Prince of Wu" (吳王) on 4 February 1364. He was proclaimed emperor on 23 January 1368 and established the Ming dynasty on that same day.
  2. Name given by his parents at birth and used only inside the family and friends. This birth name, which means "double eight", was allegedly given to him because the combined age of his parents when he was born was 88 years.
  3. He was known as "Zhu Xingzong" when he reached adulthood and renamed himself "Zhu Yuanzhang" in 1352 when he started to become famous among the rebel leaders.
  4. Upon his successful usurpation in 1402, the Yongle Emperor voided the Jianwen era of Jianwen Emperor and continued the Hongwu era posthumously until the beginning of Chinese New Year Guǐ-Wèi (Yin Water Goat) in 1403, when his own new era Yongle came into effect. This dating continued for a few of his successors until the Jianwen era was reëstablished in the late 16th century.
  5. The name was conferred by the Jianwen Emperor.
  6. The name was conferred by the Yongle Emperor.
  7. The name was changed by the Jiajing Emperor.

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The Jiajing Emperor was the 12th Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigning from 1521 to 1567. Born Zhu Houcong, he was the former Zhengde Emperor's cousin. His father, Zhu Youyuan (1476–1519), Prince of Xing, was the fourth son of the Chenghua Emperor and the eldest son of three sons born to the emperor's concubine, Lady Shao. The Jiajing Emperor's regnal name, "Jiajing", means "admirable tranquility".

Wanli Emperor 14th Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1572 to 1620

The Wanli Emperor, personal name Zhu Yijun, was the 14th Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1572 to 1620. "Wanli", the era name of his reign, literally means "ten thousand calendars". He was the third son of the Longqing Emperor. His reign of 48 years (1572–1620) was the longest among all the Ming dynasty emperors and it witnessed several successes in his early and middle reign, followed by the decline of the dynasty as the emperor withdrew from his active role in government around 1600.

Chongzhen Emperor Ming dynastys last emperor, reigned from 1627 to 1644

The Chongzhen Emperor, personal name Zhu Youjian, courtesy name Deyue (德約), was the 17th and last Emperor of the Ming dynasty. He reigned from 1627 to 1644. "Chongzhen," the era name of his reign, means "honorable and auspicious."

Emperor Yingzong of Ming Emperor of Ming-dynasty China from 1435 to 1449 and 1457 to 1464

Zhu Qizhen was the sixth and eighth Emperor of the Ming dynasty. He ascended the throne as the Zhengtong Emperor in 1435, but was forced to abdicate in 1449, in favour of his younger brother the Jingtai Emperor, after being captured by the Northern Yuan dynasty during the Tumu Crisis. In 1457, he deposed the Jingtai Emperor and ruled again as the Tianshun Emperor until his death in 1464. His temple name was Yingzong (英宗).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zhu Biao</span> Crown Prince of the Ming dynasty

Zhu Biao was the Hongwu Emperor's eldest son and crown prince of the Ming dynasty. His early death created a crisis in the dynasty's first succession that was resolved by the successful usurpation of his brother Zhu Di as the Yongle Emperor, an act with far-reaching consequences for the future of China.

The Yongli Emperor, personal name Zhu Youlang, was the fourth and last emperor of the Southern Ming, reigning in turbulent times when the former Ming dynasty was overthrown and the Manchu-led Qing dynasty progressively conquered the entire China proper. He led the remnants of the Ming loyalists with the assistance of peasant armies to resist the Qing forces in southwestern China, but he was then forced to exile to Burma and eventually captured and executed by Wu Sangui in 1662. His era title "Yongli" means "perpetual calendar".

Zhu Yujian Emperor of the Southern Ming (1602–1646)

Zhu Yujian, nickname Changshou (長壽), originally the Prince of Tang, later reigned as the Longwu Emperor of the Southern Ming from 18 August 1645, when he was enthroned in Fuzhou, to 6 October 1646, when he was captured and executed by a contingent of the Qing army. He was an eighth generation descendant of Zhu Jing, Prince Ding of Tang, who was the 23rd son of Ming founder Zhu Yuanzhang.

The Hongguang Emperor, personal name Zhu Yousong, milk name Fuba (福八), was the first emperor of the Southern Ming. He reigned briefly in southern China from 1644 to 1645. His era name, Hongguang, means "great light".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Xu Da</span>

Xu Da (1332–1385), courtesy name Tiande, was a Chinese military general and politician who lived in the late Yuan dynasty and early Ming dynasty. He was a friend of the Hongwu Emperor, the founder and first ruler of the Ming dynasty, and assisted him in overthrowing the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty and establishing the Ming dynasty. He was also the father of Empress Xu, who married the third Ming ruler, the Yongle Emperor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Empress Xu (Ming dynasty)</span> Empress consort of the Ming dynasty

Empress Renxiaowen, known before as Xu Yihua (徐儀華), was the empress consort to the Yongle Emperor and the third empress of China's Ming dynasty. She was well educated, compiling bibliographies of virtuous women, an activity connected with court politics.

Zhu Shuang was an imperial prince of the Chinese Ming dynasty. He was the second son of the Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming. In May 1370, the Hongwu Emperor granted the title of Prince of Qin to him, with a princely fiefdom in Xi'an.

Empress Xiaominrang, of the Ma clan, was the empress consort to the Jianwen Emperor and the second empress consort of China's Ming dynasty.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Empress Zhang (Hongxi)</span> Grand empress dowager of the Ming dynasty

Empress Chengxiaozhao, of the Zhang clan, was a Chinese empress consort of the Ming dynasty, married to the fourth Ming ruler, the Hongxi Emperor. He only ruled for one year, so she then served as Empress dowager after the accession of her son the Xuande Emperor. She later served as the Regent of China during the minority of the reign of her grandson, Emperor Yingzong of Ming, from 1435 until 1442.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Empress Ma (Hongwu)</span> Ming Dynasty empress (1332–1382)

Empress Xiaocigao, commonly known as Empress Ma, was a Chinese empress consort of the Ming dynasty, married to the Hongwu Emperor and acting as his political adviser, exerting a large amount of influence during his reign.

Noble Consort Zheng (1565–1630), was a Ming dynasty concubine of the Wanli Emperor. She is known for having been his most beloved consort and, in an attempt to please her, he tried to make her son his heir apparent. This act caused over a decade of conflict and factionalism in the imperial court.

Zhu Shangbing, formally known as Prince of Qin (秦王), was a chinese prince of the Ming Dynasty. He was the son of Zhu Shuang and the grandson of Hongwu Emperor.

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    Further reading

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    Hongwu Emperor
    Born: 21 October 1328 Died: 24 June 1398
    Regnal titles
    New title
    Ming dynasty was established in 1368.
    Emperor of the Ming dynasty
    1368–1398
    Succeeded by
    Preceded by
    Yuan dynasty: Ukhaghatu Khan Toghon Temür
    Emperor of China
    1368–1398
    Chinese royalty
    Unknown Prince of Wu
    1364–1368
    Merged into the Crown