The Yongzheng Emperor
|5th Emperor of the Qing Dynasty|
|Reign||27 December 1722 – 8 October 1735|
|Coronation||27 December 1722|
13 December 1678|
Yonghe Temple, Beijing, Qing dynasty, China
8 October 1735 56) (aged|
Beijing, Qing dynasty, China
|Burial||Tailing, Western Qing Tombs, Yi County, Baoding, Hebei Province, China|
"Yongzheng" in regular Chinese characters
|Personal name: Yinzhen|
|Mongolian||Найралт төв хаан|
|Romanization||hūwaliyasun tob hūwangdi|
The Yongzheng Emperor (13 December 1678 – 8 October 1735), born Yinzhen, was the fifth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the third Qing emperor to rule over China proper. He reigned from 1723 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 Yongzheng'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. His reign saw the formation of the Grand Council, an institution which had an enormous impact on the future of the Qing dynasty.
Birth and early life
Yinzhen was the eleventh recorded son of the Kangxi Emperor, and the fourth prince to survive into adulthood. His mother, 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 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. 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, and became known as defei or "Virtuous Consort". The Kangxi Emperor did not raise his children only inside the palace. He also 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 along with several brothers 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; Manchu: hošoi hūwaliyasun cin wang). 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.
Yinzhen (胤禛: 13 December 1678 – 8 October 1735) had the highest honor to orchestrate the imperial ceremonies and rituals during the reign of the Kangxi emperor, which illustrated that Yinzhen was well acquainted with the Confucianism traditions and customs. In the imperial court, Yinzhen was also deeply immersed in the state's affairs and heavily engaged in the political debates where he acquired diplomatic skills. As the Yongzheng Emperor (雍正: r. 1723–1735 CE) of Qing China, Yinzhen was indubitably a very diplomatically inclined ruler who created an institution of a "moral government" based on the Confucian principles. Yinzhen sought four distinctive qualities: loyalty—忠, fairness—公, sincerity—誠, and capability—能, from his subjects in order to run an effective court and to achieve stability. Li Wei (李衛 : February 2, 1687 – December 3, 1738) was a renown recruit among the Qing officials to possess the desired virtues, and was regarded highly by Yongzheng.
A notable quote from Yinzhen captured during his reign as the Yongzheng Emperor in the 1720s expresses his imperial will:
If it is a trivial matter, do not just simply neglect the issue because it seems insignificant. If it is a complex matter, do not just simply conceal away the issue because it could become a challenge. To have good governance and dissuade seditionists, is all in the ruler's wish. If the civilians see a judicious court that is loyal and wholeheartedly for the country, and see that the court embraces its people; and the civilians feel the virtue in their court marshalls, then the people would not perceive the court as a threat. Thus, there would be no reason to have seditionaries.
In short, after several years of political chaos, Yongzheng earnestly strives to restore a functional court with "good government", immediately after he ascends the throne in 1723 CE, to stabilize Qing into a unified and harmonious empire. In 1733 CE, Yongzheng successfully institutionalized the Grand Council, which allows Qing to relay communication effectively and efficiently from region to region, thereby enable the implementation of his domestic reform policy.
With the establishment of his Grand Council, Yongzheng was not only able to discourage corruption, but he was in a position to launch several domestic reforms beneficial to the empire and its people. Canals and irrigation systems were reconstructed to support agriculture and maintain farmlands. During famines, he provides relief to the affected regions by distributing resources. In reparation to the people, who are the backbone of the country, he issued an imperial decree to emancipate slavery under his reign. One of the several tax reform policy Yongzheng introduces, is to shift the head taxation to the property taxation on landowners, and that greatly reduces the tax burden on the civilians. Additionally, Yongzheng was indeed in full support with the construction of orphanages to shelter the orphans, in building elementary schools to educate the children, and poorhouses to house the paupers. Perhaps the Yongzheng era (雍正: r. 1723–1735 CE) may have been overshadowed by his predecessor's accomplishments, the Kangxi emperor, and his achievements may not have been as glorious as his successor, the Qianlong emperor; however, the Yongzheng era did serve as a remediation to the people, and resentments began to gradually decrease. Hence the Yongzheng era was a peaceful and prosperous reign of Qing China.
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.
At the time of the Kangxi Emperor's death, Yinti, who held the appointment of Border-Pacification General-in-Chief (Chinese: 撫遠大將軍), was leading a military campaign in northwestern China. Some historians 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, 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.
Disputes over succession
There are two versions of the legend, both of which involves the Chinese character "十" (pinyin: shí; literally: "ten"), and by extension, Yunti, Prince Xun. One version involves changing the "十" in the phrase "transfer the throne to the Fourteenth Prince" (Chinese: 傳位十四皇子) to "于" (pinyin: yú), which changed the phrase to "pass the throne on to the Fourth Prince" Chinese: 傳位于四皇子). Another version states the character "十" was changed to "第" (dì), which denotes a sequence, thus changing the phrase to "transfer the throne to the Fourth Prince" (Chinese: 傳位第四皇子).
Researchers at Academia Sinica have disproved the theory, as official Qing documents, when mentioning sons of the Emperor, always list the son's title, as well as the son's rank amongst the emperor's sons and the son's name. In this case, the will mentions "Prince Yong, Emperor's Fourth Son, Yinzhen" (Chinese: 雍親王皇四子胤禛), as well as Kangxi Emperor's high regards for Yinzhen, and his belief that Yinzhen can succeed on the throne. In this case, changing the will becomes impossible without leaving obvious signs of alteration, since Yinti, if referenced in the will, would show up as the Emperor's fourteenth son (Chinese: 皇十四子), which contains four Chinese characters instead of three for Yinzhen, as the Emperor's fourth son (Chinese: 皇四子).
In addition, the will is written in Traditional Chinese, Manchu, and Mongolian. The alteration theory is noted to be based solely on altering the will's Chinese version, as the will, as written in Manchu and Mongolian, is impossible to alter due to different language characteristics.
After ascending the throne in December 1722, Yinzhen adopted the era name "Yongzheng" (Chinese: 雍正 lit. "Harmonious Justice") in 1723 from his peerage title "yong" (Chinese: 雍 lit. "harmonious") and "zheng" (Chinese: 正 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
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.
Descendants of the Ming dynasty's imperial family
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
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 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. 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, 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" (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.
Cultural and economic achievements
Farming and land tax
During the massive population growth in the Qing dynasty and increasing demand from peasant and military populations for grain, the Yongzheng emperor launched a grain campaign in which he incentivized officials in local and provincial governments to compete in buying land meant specifically for farming. The Yongzheng emperor offered officials 5-10 year tax holidays in which they were free from paying taxes. This campaign led to more than one million new acres of farmable land. While these campaigns led to more food and land for the population to use for farming, it also led to officials lying about the amount of farmable land they were contributing in order to win the tax holidays. These tax holidays also pushed the burden of paying the taxes elsewhere.
Ethnicity in Qing China could vary depending on where one was from even locally in China. This ethnic separation along with the booming population led to reduced access to the Civil Service Examinations based on ethnicity and locality. The Yongzheng emperor, in an attempt to allow for as many people to take the Civil Service Examination as possible, set up special exams for people in rural China. These special exams were called Miao exams and were located in Yunnan. In the 1730s, landholding shed people such as the Hakka were still not allowed to take the exams, Yongzheng made it legal for these people to take the exams in an attempt to dispel anger at being excluded from the exams.
A growing number of orphaned children or poor families came with the massive Qing population growth. The Yongzheng emperor sought to remedy this by mandating that orphanages (also called poor houses) be built in every county. These were funded not by local, provincial or high level government but privately funded and maintained. These orphanages existed less to help the local population get out of poverty and more to model how wealthy officials should act towards the impoverished populations.
The Kangxi Emperor mandated that scholars that had passed the Civil Service Examination at any level were able to bypass punishments from the legal system depending on which level of the exams they had passed. Instead of legal repercussions for crimes, criminal officials were instead recommended to the county education commissioner for counseling. This led to corruption among officials who were no longer bound by law. In an attempt to stop this the Yongzheng emperor made it illegal to offer privileges to officials going through the legal system. This did not last long as the Qianlong Emperor reinstated legal privileges for officials that had passed the Civil Service Examination shortly after becoming emperor after Yongzheng.
In the mid 1720s Qing empire, complex levels of tax hierarchies put in place by the Kangxi emperor existed to separate the population into different tax brackets. Households with government officials were in privileged tax brackets that brought with it tax exemptions for not only the immediate family in the household but also extended family members. The Yongzheng emperor removed these privileged tax brackets as he saw the local gentry as competition to the throne. Just like the legal privileges that passing the Civil Service Examination offered, soon after the end of the Yongzheng emperor's reign, the Qianlong emperor quickly reinstated the privileged tax brackets.
Growing distrust of Jesuit missionaries by the Kangxi emperor and later Yongzheng in the early 1720s led to prohibition and action against the Christian presence in China. The Kangxi emperor had banned foreign missions (outside of Beijing and Guangzhou), and Yongzheng took this one step further by removing all foreign priests from China. All Christian churches were shut down and repurposed as local public offices.
Chinese merchant houses belonging to Canton station were grouped together under a larger organization by Yongzheng called Cohong in 1725. This group was responsible for policing all trade within the Canton system.
Meltage fees and silver
As silver became more widely used as a currency in Qing china, the validity and purity of the currency being exchanged had to be verified. Silver taels were sent to official appraisers to do the job of verification. During the appraisal some silver was lost in the process, this lost silver must be covered by the payer. This extra charge on the lost silver became known as a meltage fee. These meltage fees were a very important source of income for local governments. It became practice to bribe appraisers to avoid meltage fees. Yongzheng attempted to ban all bribing to avoid these fees and also officially mandated meltage fees as a source of local income. These mandates helped silver become a major part of the Qing economy.
Expansion in the northwest
Like his father, the Yongzheng Emperor used military force in order to preserve the Qing Empire's position in Outer Mongolia. When Tibet was torn by civil war in 1727–1728, he intervened. After withdrawing, he left a Qing Resident (the amban) and a military garrison to safeguard the dynasty's interests.
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
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.
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". 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. 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. 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.
The Yongzheng Emperor spoke out against the claim by anti-Qing rebels that the Qing were only rulers of Manchus and not China, saying "The seditious rebels claim that we are the rulers of Manchus and only later penetrated central China to become its rulers. Their prejudices concerning the division of their and our country have caused many vitriolic falsehoods. What these rebels have not understood is the fact that it is for the Manchus the same as the birthplace is for the people of the central plain. Shun belonged to the Eastern Yi, and King Wen to the Western Yi. Does this fact diminish their virtues?" 在逆賊等之意，徒謂本朝以滿洲之君入為中國之主，妄生此疆彼界之私，遂故為訕謗詆譏之說耳，不知本朝之為滿洲，猶中國之有籍貫，舜為東夷之人，文王為西夷之人，曾何損於聖德乎。
Commoners throughout Qing China was extremely diversed and multi-ethnic because not every region underwent sinification under the Manchu's suzerain. In accordance to the Book of Rites, Manchus of Qing chose to respect the local's cultural heritage and decided not to force their subject to acculturate and sinicize. Manchus of Qing acknowledged that each region has the prerogative to perserve their identity, heritage, and cultural tradition and their religious faith. Hence, each regions were allowed to keep their belief and way of worshipping the heavens. On the other hand, since the commoners perserved their ways, Qing, Yongzheng in particular, highly encourages that Manchu elites should also perserve their ethnic identity and their distinctive ways of worshipping the heaven as well. 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." Evidently, the Qing state practiced various religions, which was similar to the previous dynasty, the Ming. During the Ming, in the mid 1580's an Italian Jesuit, Matteo Ricci not only studied the Chinese language to understand the people and the Chinese culture, he also delved into the Confuscian classics and adopted the scholar's official-literati robe during his stay near the Canton trading province. Introducing China to his religious faith was in Matteo Ricci's mission, and he successfully built a church in 1601 at Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City. Johann Adam Schall von Bell, who was a German Jesuit, sent to China in 1619, learned the Chinese language in 1623 in Macau, and was later appointed into the Imperial Astronomical Bureau in 1630 by the Ming, even after the fall of Ming to the rise of Qing, Johann's presence was welcomed by the Manchu of Qing and was appointed as the head of the Imperial Astronomical Bureau. The accounts of Matteo establishing the institution of his Church during the Ming dynasty and Jesuits such as Johann who was able to acquire a bureacratic position in the Qing's court was evident that China at one point did welcome things beyond its borders, such as religious faith that was brought by the missionaries, for instance. Even though the Catholic churches condemned the practice of the Chinese rites in 1645 throughout China, Catholic missionaries continued their practice until the Rites Controversy was concluded in 1742 CE.
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.
In 1724, the Yongzheng Emperor issued a decree proscribing Catholicism. This was followed by the persecution of Chinese Christians that steadily increased during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor's son, the Qianlong Emperor.
Ancestral worship was understood as the Chinese customary tradition rather than a religious ritual. However, since the Catholic Churches condemns the Chinese rites and the decision by the "Church to ban the acceptance of the Chinese rites by the Jesuits" in Qing China, because the Church deemed the practice to be incompatible with the Catholic faith, led to the missionary banishment by Qianlong in 1742 CE as a response to the Catholic Churches decision.
Death and succession
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, and it is likely that his death was the result elixir poisoning from an overdose of the elixir of immortality he was consuming in the belief that it would prolong his life.
To prevent a succession crisis like he 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.
The Yongzheng Emperor was interred in the Western Qing tombs 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Beijing, in the Tailing (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 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.
In fiction and popular culture
- 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 committed the murder 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 about 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).
|Year||Region||Title||Type||Yongzheng Emperor actor||Notes|
|1975||Hong Kong||The Flying Guillotine|
|Film||Chiang Yang||Produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio|
|Television series||Alex Man||57 episodes|
|1988||Hong Kong||The Rise and Fall of Qing Dynasty Season 2|
|Television series||Wai Lit||50 episodes|
|1994||Mainland China||The Book and the Sword|
|Television series||Liu Dagang||32 episodes|
|1995||Hong Kong||Secret Battle of the Majesty|
|Television series||Kwong Wa||40 episodes|
|1996||Taiwan||雍正大帝||Television series||Tou Chung-hua|
|1997||Taiwan||Legend of YungChing|
|Television series||Adam Cheng||58 / 59 episodes|
|1997||Hong Kong||The Hitman Chronicles|
|Television series||Eddie Cheung||35 episodes|
|1999||Mainland China||Yongzheng Dynasty|
|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|
|Television series||Liu Xinyi||31 episodes|
|2002||Mainland China||Li Wei the Magistrate|
|Television series||Tang Guoqiang||30 episodes; also known as Li Wei Becomes an Official|
|2002||Hong Kong||Doomed to Oblivion|
|Television series||Savio Tsang||30 episodes|
|2002||Mainland China||Jiangshan Weizhong|
|Television series||Liu Guanxiong||31 episodes; alternative Chinese title 大清帝国|
|2003||Mainland China||Palace Painter Master Castiglione|
|Television series||Kenny Bee||24 episodes|
|2003||Hong Kong||The King of Yesterday and Tomorrow|
|Television series||Kwong Wa||20 episodes|
|2004||Mainland China||36th Chamber of Southern Shaolin|
|Television series||Zhang Tielin||32 episodes|
|2004||Mainland China||Huang Taizi Mishi|
|Television series||Zhao Hongfei||32 episodes|
|2004||Mainland China||Li Wei the Magistrate II|
|Television series||Tang Guoqiang||32 episodes|
|2005||Mainland China||Shang Shu Fang|
|Television series||Kou Zhenhai||52 episodes|
|2005||Mainland China||The Juvenile Qianlong Emperor|
|Television series||Zhang Guoli||40 episodes|
|2008||Mainland China||The Book and the Sword|
|Television series||Shen Baoping||40 episodes|
|Television series||Mickey He||35 episodes|
|Mainland China||Scarlet Heart|
|Television series||Nicky Wu||35 episodes|
|Mainland China||Empresses in the Palace|
|Television series||Chen Jianbin||76 episodes|
|2012||Mainland China||Palace II|
|Television series||Mickey He||35 episodes|
|2013||Mainland China||The Palace
|Film||Lu Yi||Produced and written by Yu Zheng|
|2014||Hong Kong||Gilded Chopsticks|
|Television series||Ben Wong||25 episodes|
|2015||Mainland China||Time to Love
|Film||Tony Yang||Realized by Song Di|
|2018||Mainland China||Story of Yanxi Palace
|Television series||Wang Huichun|
|Mainland China||Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace
|Television series||Zhang Fengyi|
- Consorts and Issue:
- Empress Ula-Nara Rouze (孝敬憲皇后 烏拉那拉柔則; 1679 – 1731)
- Honghui (端親王 弘暉; 1697 – 1704)
- Empress dowager Niohuru (孝聖憲皇后 鈕祜祿氏; 1693 – 1777)
- Hongli (高宗 弘曆; 1711 – 1799)
- Second rank consort Nian (敦肅皇貴妃 年氏; c. 1697 – 1725)
- Unnamed daughter (1715 – 1717)
- Fuyi (福宜; 1720 – 1721)
- Fuhui (懷親王 福惠; 1721 – 1728)
- Fupei (福沛; 1723)
- Second rank consort Geng (純愨皇貴妃 耿氏; 1689 – 1784)
- Fourth rank consort Li (齊妃 李氏; c. 1677 – 1737)
- Princess Huaike (和碩懷恪公主; 1695 – 1717)
- Hongfen (弘昐; 1697 – 1699)
- Hongyun (弘昀; 1700 – 1710)
- Hongshi (弘時; 1704 – 1727)
- Fourth rank consort Wu (寧妃 武氏; d. 1734)
- Fourth rank consort Liu (謙妃 劉氏; 1714 – 1768)
- Hongyan, Prince Guo (果恭郡王 弘曕; 1733 – 1765)
- Fifth rank consort Song (懋嬪 宋氏; c. 1676 – 1729)
- Unnamed daughter (1694)
- Unnamed daughter (1706)
- Schirokauer, Conrad; Brown, Miranda (2006). A Brief History of Chinese Civilization. Belmont, California: Thomson Higher Education. ISBN 0-534-64305-1.
- Perdue, Peter C. (2005). China marches west: the Qing conquest of Central Eurasia. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 239, 473, 475. ISBN 9780674016842. OCLC 432663642.
- Qin, Han Tang; 秦漢唐. (2012). A different Yongzheng from the work of fiction: 不同於戲裡說的雍正皇帝 (Chu ban ed.). Taibei Shi: 广 大文事業有限公司. pp. 190–196, Preface. ISBN 9789577135032. OCLC 819654973.
- Rowe, William T. (2009). China's last empire: the great Qing. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 68, 40–41. ISBN 9780674066243. OCLC 316327256.
- Paludan, Ann (1998). Chronicle of the Chinese emperors: the reign-by-reign record of the rulers of Imperial China. New York: Thames and Hudson. p. 195. ISBN 9780500050903. OCLC 40407732.
- Feng, Erkang. A Biography of Yongzheng (Chinese: 雍正传) China Publishing Group, People's Publishing House, Beijing: 2004. ISBN 7-01-004192-X
- "The best-known inheritance dispute in china". China Daily. 9 July 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- "康熙遺詔曝光 揭傳位雍正真相" [Kangxi's final will revealed, casting a light on the truth behind passing the throne to Yongzheng]. Liaoshen Evening News (via Apple Daily) (in Traditional Chinese). Hong Kong. 31 August 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- "「康熙遺詔」現身！破解四爺篡改遺詔之謎？" [Kangxi's Final Will revealed! Does it solve the mysteries surrounding the Fourth Lord's changing of the will?]. ETToday (in Traditional Chinese). Taiwan. 4 September 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- Lan, Wenli. "雍正繼統之謎" [The mystery surrounding Yongzhen's succession of the throne]. Academia Sinica (in Traditional Chinese). Taiwan. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- "Kangxi Emperor's final will". Academia Sinica (in Traditional Chinese). Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- Dikötter, F., Laaman, L. & Xun, Z. (2004). Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers p.34
- T., Rowe, William (2009). China's last empire : the great Qing. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674066243. OCLC 316327256.
- Jonathan,, Porter,. Imperial China, 1350-1900. Lanham. ISBN 9781442222922. OCLC 920818520.
- Zhao 2006, p. 11.
- Zhao 2006, p. 7.
- Zhao 2006, pp. 8-9.
- Zhao 2006, p. 12.
- Zhao 2006, p. 9.
- 大義覺迷錄 [Record of how great righteousness awakens the misguided], 近代中國史料叢刊 [Collectanea of materials on modern Chinese history] (Taipei: 文海出版社, 1966), vol. 36, 351–2, 1: 2b–3a
- Rowe, William (2009). China's last empire : the great Qing. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 76. ISBN 9780674066243. OCLC 316327256.
- Elliott, Mark T. (2001). The Manchu way : the eight banners and ethnic identity in late imperial China. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. p. 240. ISBN 0804746842. OCLC 44818294.
- 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.
- Porter, Johnathan. Imperial China, 1350–1900. Lanham. p. 90. ISBN 9781442222922. OCLC 920818520.
- Porter, Johnathan. Imperial China, 1350-1900. Lanham. p. 91. ISBN 9781442222922. OCLC 920818520.
- 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
- Thomas H. Reilly (2004), The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom: Rebellion and the Blasphemy of Empire, Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, pp. 43ff, 14ff, 150ff, ISBN 0295984309, see , accessed 18 April 2015.
- 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.
- Porter, Johnathan. Imperial China, 1350-1900. Lanham. p. 91. ISBN 9781442222922. OCLC 920818520.
- Yongzheng, chinaculture.org
- Noble Consort Tong was the Kangxi Emperor's cousin. She was 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.
- 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.
- Zhao, Gang (January 2006). "Reinventing China Imperial Qing Ideology and the Rise of Modern Chinese National Identity in the Early Twentieth Century". 32 (Number 1). Sage Publications. doi:10.1177/0097700405282349. JSTOR 20062627. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-03-25. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
- Bartlett, Beatrice S. (1991). Monarchs and Ministers: The Grand Council in Mid-Ch'ing China, 1723–1820. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520065913.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yongzheng Emperor.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Yongzheng Emperor|
- A younger Yongzheng Emperor portrait painting
- The Economist The Yongzheng Emperor and his times audio slideshow on YouTube
- Harmony and Integrity: The Yongzheng Emperor and His Times, National Palace Museum, Taibei Includes sections on The Life and Times of the Yongzheng Emperor, Art and Culture, and extensive photos and well researched essays.
Yongzheng EmperorBorn: 13 December 1678 Died: 8 October 1735
The Kangxi Emperor
| Emperor of China
The Qianlong Emperor