Xianfeng Emperor

Last updated
Xianfeng Emperor
咸豐帝
<<Xian Feng Huang Di Zhao Fu Xiang >> .jpg
Emperor of the Qing dynasty
Reign9 March 1850 – 22 August 1861
Predecessor Daoguang Emperor
Successor Tongzhi Emperor
BornAisin Gioro Yizhu
(愛新覺羅 奕詝)
(1831-07-17)17 July 1831
(道光十一年 六月 九日)
Chengjing Studio, Old Summer Palace
Died22 August 1861(1861-08-22) (aged 30)
(咸豐十一年 七月 十七日)
Yanbozhishuang Hall, Chengde Mountain Resort
Burial
Ding Mausoleum, Eastern Qing tombs
Empress
(m. 1848;died 1850)

Lady Niohuru, Empress Xiao Zhen Xian
Issue Tongzhi Emperor
Princess Rong'an of the First Rank
Names
Aisin Gioro Yizhu
(愛新覺羅 奕詝)
Manchu: I ju (ᡳ ᠵᡠ)
Era dates
Xianfeng
(咸豐; 1 February 1851 – 29 January 1862)
Manchu: Gubci elgiyengge (ᡤᡠᠪᠴᡳ ᡝᠯᡤᡳᠶᡝᠩᡤᡝ)
Mongolian: Түгээмэл Элбэгт (ᠲᠦᠭᠡᠮᠡᠯ ᠡᠯᠪᠡᠭᠲᠦ)
Posthumous name
Emperor Xietian Yiyun Zhizhong Chuimo Maode Zhenwu Shengxiao Yuangong Duanren Kuanmin Zhuangjian Xian
(協天翊運執中垂謨懋德振武聖孝淵恭端仁寬敏莊儉顯皇帝
协天翊运执中垂谟懋德振武圣孝渊恭端仁宽敏庄俭显皇帝)
Manchu: Iletu hūwangdi (ᡳᠯᡝᡨᡠ
ᡥᡡᠸᠠᠩᡩᡳ
)
Temple name
Wenzong
(文宗)
Manchu: Wendzung (ᠸᡝᠨᡯᡠᠩ)
House Aisin Gioro
Father Daoguang Emperor
Mother Empress Xiao Quan Cheng
Xianfeng Emperor
Traditional Chinese 咸豐帝
Simplified Chinese 咸丰帝
Literal meaning“Universal Prosperity” Emperor

The Xianfeng Emperor (17 July 1831 – 22 August 1861), or by temple name Emperor Wenzong of Qing (清文宗), given name Yizhu (奕詝), was the eighth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the seventh Qing emperor to rule over China proper, reigned from 1850 to 1861. During his reign the Qing dynasty experienced several wars and rebellions including the Taiping Rebellion, Nian Rebellion, and Second Opium War (Arrow War). He was the last Chinese emperor to have total executive ruling power. After his death, the Qing dynasty was controlled by Empress Dowager Cixi.

Contents

Family and early life

Yizhu was born in 1831 at the Old Summer Palace, eight kilometres northwest of Beijing. He was from the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan, and was the fourth son of the Daoguang Emperor. His mother was the Noble Consort Quan, of the Manchu Niohuru clan, who was made Empress in 1834, and is known posthumously as Empress Xiaoquancheng. Yizhu was reputed to have an ability in literature and administration which surpassed most of his brothers, which impressed his father, who therefore decided to make him his successor.

Early reign

Yizhu succeeded the throne in 1850, at age 19, and was a relatively young emperor. He inherited a dynasty that faced not only internal but also foreign challenges. Yizhu's reign title, Xianfeng, which means "Universal Prosperity", did not reflect the situation. In 1850, the first of a series of popular rebellions began that would nearly destroy the Qing dynasty. The Taiping Rebellion began in December 1850, when Hong Xiuquan, a Hakka leader of a syncretic Christian sect, defeated local forces sent to disperse his followers. Hong then proclaimed the establishment of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and the rebellion spread to several provinces with amazing speed. The following year, the Nian Rebellion started in North China. Unlike the Christian-influenced Taiping rebels, the Nian movement lacked a clear political program, but they became a serious threat to the Qing capital, Beijing, with the mobility of their cavalry-based armies. The Qing imperial forces suffered repeated defeats at the hands of both rebel movements.

Rebellions and wars

In 1853, the Taiping rebels captured Nanjing and for a while it seemed that Beijing would fall next; but the Taiping northern expedition was defeated and the situation stabilized. The Xianfeng Emperor dispatched several prominent mandarins, such as Zeng Guofan and the Mongol general Sengge Rinchen, to crush the rebellions, but they only obtained limited success. The biggest revolt of the Miao people against Chinese rule in history started in 1854, and ravaged the region until finally put down in 1873. In 1856, an attempt to regain Nanjing was defeated and the Panthay Rebellion broke out in Yunnan.

Portrait of the Xianfeng Emperor in his gardens <<Xian Feng Huang Di Bian Zhuang Xiang >> .jpg
Portrait of the Xianfeng Emperor in his gardens

Meanwhile, an initially minor incident on the coasts triggered the Second Opium War. Anglo-French forces, after inciting a few battles (not all victories for them) on the coast near Tianjin, attempted "negotiation" with the Qing government. The Xianfeng Emperor believed in Chinese superiority and would not agree to any colonial demands. He delegated Prince Gong for several negotiations but relations broke down completely when a British diplomat, Sir Harry Parkes, was arrested during negotiations on 18 September.

The Anglo-French invasion clashed with Sengge Rinchen's Mongol cavalry on 18 September near Zhangjiawan before proceeding toward the outskirts of Beijing for a decisive battle in Tongzhou District, Beijing. On 21 September, at the Battle of Palikao, Sengge Rinchen's 10,000 troops, including his elite Mongol cavalry, were completely annihilated after several doomed frontal charges against the concentrated firepower of the Anglo-French forces, which entered Beijing on 6 October.

On 18 October 1860, the British and French forces went on to loot and burn the Old Summer Palace and Summer Palace. Upon learning about this news, the Xianfeng Emperor's health quickly deteriorated.

During the Xianfeng Emperor's reign, China lost part of Manchuria to the Russian Empire. In 1858, according to the Treaty of Aigun, the territory between Stanovoy Mountains and Amur River was ceded to Russia, and in 1860, according to the Treaty of Beijing, the same thing happened also to the area east of Ussuri River. After that treaty, the Russians founded the city of Vladivostok in the area they had annexed.

While negotiations with the European powers were being held, the Xianfeng Emperor and his imperial entourage fled to Jehol province in the name of conducting the annual imperial hunting expedition. As his health worsened, the emperor's ability to govern also deteriorated, and competing ideologies in court led to the formation of two distinct factions — one led by the senior official Sushun and the princes Zaiyuan and Duanhua, and the other led by Noble Consort Yi, who was supported by the general Ronglu and the Bannermen of the Yehe Nara clan.

Death

The Xianfeng Emperor died on 22 August 1861, from a short life of overindulgence, at the Chengde Mountain Resort, 230 kilometres northeast of Beijing. His successor was his surviving six-year-old son, Zaichun. A day before his death, the Xianfeng Emperor had summoned Sushun and his supporters to his bedside and gave them an imperial edict that dictated the power structure during his son's minority. The edict appointed eight men – Zaiyuan, Duanhua, Jingshou, Sushun, Muyin, Kuangyuan, Du Han and Jiao Youying – as an eight-member regency council to aid Zaichun, who was later enthroned as the Tongzhi Emperor. [1] Xianfeng gave the eight men the power of regency, but their edicts would have to be endorsed by Noble Consort Yi and Empress Consort Zhen. By tradition, after the death of an emperor, the emperor's body was to be accompanied to the capital by the regents. Noble Consort Yi and Empress Consort Zhen, who were now known as Empress Dowagers Cixi and Ci'an travelled ahead to Beijing and planned a coup with Prince Gong that ousted the eight regents. Empress Dowager Cixi then effectively ruled China over the subsequent 47 years as a regent.

The Xianfeng Emperor was interred in the Eastern Qing Tombs, 125 kilometres/75 miles east of Beijing, in the Ding (定; lit. "Quietude") mausoleum complex.

Legacy

Yanbozhishuang Hall, where the Xianfeng Emperor died on 22 August 1861 Yanbozhishuang hall.JPG
Yanbozhishuang Hall, where the Xianfeng Emperor died on 22 August 1861

The Qing dynasty continued to decline during the reign of the Xianfeng Emperor. Rebellions in the country, which began the first year of his reign, would not be quelled until well into the reign of the Tongzhi Emperor and resulted in millions of deaths. The Xianfeng Emperor also had to deal with the British and French and their ever-growing appetite to expand trade further into China. The Xianfeng Emperor, like his father, the Daoguang Emperor, understood very little about Europeans and their mindset. He viewed non-Chinese as inferior and regarded the repeated requests by the Europeans for the establishment of diplomatic relations as an offence. When the Europeans introduced the long-held concept of an exchanged consular relationship, the Xianfeng Emperor quickly rebuffed the idea. At the time of his death, he had not met with any foreign dignitary.

Despite his tumultuous decade of reign, the Xianfeng Emperor was commonly seen as the last Qing emperor to have held paramount authority, ruling in his own right. The reigns of his son and subsequent successors were overseen by regents, a trend present until the fall of the Qing dynasty.

Family

Parents

Father- Mianning, the Daoguang Emperor (道光帝) of the Aisin Gioro clan (愛新覺羅)

Mother- Empress Xiaoquancheng (孝全成皇后) of the Niohuru clan (鈕祜祿)

Consorts and Issue

Empress


Imperial Noble Consort


Noble Consort


Consort


Concubine


First Class Female Attendant

Ancestry

Yongzheng Emperor (1678–1735)
Qianlong Emperor (1711–1799)
Empress Xiaoshengxian (1692–1777)
Jiaqing Emperor (1760–1820)
Qingtai
Empress Xiaoyichun (1727–1775)
Lady Yanggiya
Daoguang Emperor (1782–1850)
Chang'an
He'erjing'e
Lady Ligiya
Empress Xiaoshurui (1760–1797)
Lady Wanggiya
Xianfeng Emperor (1831–1861)
Chengde (1728–1804)
Mukedengbu (d. 1803)
Yiling
Empress Xiaoquancheng (1808–1840)
Lady Uya

See also

Related Research Articles

Kangxi Emperor 3rd Emperor of the Qing dynasty

The Kangxi emperor, personal name Xuanye, was the third Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper.

Guangxu Emperor 11th Emperor of Qing-dynasty China (1875-1908)

The Guangxu Emperor, personal name Zaitian, was the tenth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, without Empress Dowager Cixi's influence, only from 1889 to 1898. He initiated the Hundred Days' Reform, but was abruptly stopped when the empress dowager launched a coup in 1898, after which he became powerless and was held under house arrest until his death. His era name, "Guangxu", means "glorious succession".

Tongzhi Emperor 10th Emperor of the Qing dynasty

The Tongzhi Emperor, born Zaichun of the Aisin Gioro clan, was the ninth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the eighth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. His reign, from 1861 to 1875, which effectively lasted through his adolescence, was largely overshadowed by the rule of his mother, Empress Dowager Cixi. Although he had little influence over state affairs, the events of his reign gave rise to what historians call the "Tongzhi Restoration", an unsuccessful modernization program.

Daoguang Emperor 6th Emperor of Qing-dynasty China (r. 1820-50)

The Daoguang Emperor was the seventh Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the sixth Qing emperor to rule over China proper, reigning from 1820 to 1850. His reign was marked by "external disaster and internal rebellion," that is, by the First Opium War, and the beginning of the Taiping Rebellion which nearly brought down the dynasty. The historian Jonathan Spence characterizes the Daoguang Emperor as a "well meaning but ineffective man" who promoted officials who "presented a purist view even if they had nothing to say about the domestic and foreign problems surrounding the dynasty."

Jiaqing Emperor Prince Jia of the First Rank

The Jiaqing Emperor, personal name Yongyan, was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the fifth Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1796 to 1820. He was the 15th son of the Qianlong Emperor. During his reign, he prosecuted Heshen, the corrupt favorite of his father, and attempted to restore order within the Qing Empire while curbing the smuggling of opium into China.

Prince Gong Prince Gong of the First Rank

Yixin, better known in English as Prince Kung or Gong, was an imperial prince of the Aisin Gioro clan and an important statesman of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty in China. He was a regent of the empire from 1861 to 1865 and wielded great influence at other times as well.

Yixuan, Prince Chun

Yixuan, formally known as Prince Chun, was an imperial prince of the House of Aisin-Gioro and a statesman of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty in China. He was the father of the Guangxu Emperor, and the paternal grandfather of Puyi through his fifth son Zaifeng.

Empress Xiaoquancheng

Empress Xiaoquancheng, of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Niohuru clan, was a posthumous name bestowed to the wife and second empress consort of Mianning, the Daoguang Emperor. She was Empress consort of Qing from 1834 until her death in 1840.

Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangjing, of the Manchu Plain Red Banner Tatara clan, was a consort of the Xianfeng Emperor. She was six years his junior.

Empress Xiaozheyi

Empress Xiaozheyi, of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Arute clan, was a posthumous name bestowed to the wife and empress consort of Zaichun, the Tongzhi Emperor. She was Empress consort of Qing from 1872 until her husband's death in 1875, after which she was honoured as Empress Jiashun.

Empress Xiaojingcheng, of the Manchu Plain Yellow Banner Borjigit clan, was a posthumous name bestowed to a consort of Mianning, the Daoguang Emperor. She was honoured as Empress Dowager Kangci during the reign of her step-son, Yizhu, the Xianfeng Emperor. She was the only Qing empress dowager who was neither her husband's empress consort nor emperor's mother.

Empress Nara

Empress of the Nara clan was the wife and second empress consort of Hongli, the Qianlong Emperor. She was Empress consort of Qing from 1750 until her death in 1766.

Jirgalang or Jirhalang was a Manchu noble, regent, and political and military leader of the early Qing dynasty. Born in the Aisin Gioro clan, he was the sixth son of Šurhaci, a younger brother of Nurhaci, the founder of the Qing dynasty. From 1638 to 1643, he took part in many military campaigns that helped bring down the fall of the Ming dynasty. After the death of Huangtaiji in September 1643, Jirgalang became one of the young Shunzhi Emperor's two co-regents, but he soon yielded most political power to co-regent Dorgon in October 1644. Dorgon eventually purged him of his regent title in 1647. After Dorgon died in 1650, Jirgalang led an effort to clean the government of Dorgon's supporters. Jirgalang was one of ten "princes of the first rank" (和碩親王) whose descendants were made "iron-cap" princes (鐵帽子王), who had the right to transmit their princely titles to their direct male descendants perpetually.

Imperial Noble Consort Xianzhe, of the Manchu Bordered Blue Banner Hešeri clan, was a consort of the Tongzhi Emperor.

Imperial Noble Consort Gongsu, of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Arute (阿鲁特) clan, was a consort of the Tongzhi Emperor. She was one year his junior.

Consort Lu, of the Manchu Yehe Nara clan belonging to Plain White Banner, was a consort of Xianfeng Emperor.

Consort Qing, of the Han Chinese Zhang clan, was a consort of Xianfeng Emperor.

Puyi, the last emperor of China, came from a long noble ancestry. During the course of his three terms as emperor, and during post war life, he had five wives and numerous consorts.

The Xianfeng Emperor had eighteen consorts, including three empresses, two imperial noble consorts, two noble consorts, four consorts, four concubines and three first attendants. The consorts are classified according to their posthumous titles.

Aisin Gioro Mianyu was Qing dynasty imperial prince as the fifth son of the Jiaqing Emperor and the first holder of the Prince Hui of the first rank title. As Prince Hui of the First Rank peerage was not granted iron-cap status, each successive bearer of the title would hold diminished rank vis-a-vis his predecessor.

References

Citations

  1. Wakeman, Frederic. The fall of Imperial China .

Sources

Books about Empress Dowager Cixi
Xianfeng Emperor
Born: 17 July 1831 Died: 22 August 1861
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Daoguang Emperor
Emperor of the Qing dynasty
Emperor of China

1850–1861
Succeeded by
Tongzhi Emperor