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Timeline of the Ming & Qing Palace Events

Introductory Matters
In this imperial chronology, each year is listed according to the Chinese lunar calendar with traditional notations for each year (e.g., jiashen) followed by the internationally recognized Gregorian calendar year (e.g., 1644) that approximately corresponds to the given lunar year. Information on the imperial reign is listed with each calendar year. Specific events are listed after a title denoting the lunar month (e.g., 1st Month) in which they occurred.
  Ages of historical figures are given as traditionally calculated by the Chinese lunar calendar. This traditional way of counting a person's age uses the word sui (year of age). The word conveys how many lunar years—even if only for a few days or months—an individual has experienced in life. 
  Chinese names are shown in the conventional Chinese order with the surname (family name) followed by the given name. When possible, Manchu names are rendered according to the Möllendorff system of transliteration (Romanization). If the original Manchu name is unknown, the name is shown with a hyphenated version of the transliterated Chinese name. Some Jurchen and Manchu figures are more commonly known by their Chinese names; in those cases, the Chinese name is used. Official titles and imperial institutions are rendered according to Charles O. Hucker's A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China (Stanford, 1985) when possible.

The Reign of the Daoguang Emperor (approx. 1821-1850)

Xinsi Year (approx. 1821)
Daoguang Reign, 1st Year

3rd Month:
The emperor accompanies the empress dowager to inter the late Jiaqing Emperor at the Chang Tomb in Yi County. Mianke—the Prince of Zhuang—and others remain in the capital for administrative duties.

7th Month:
Lady Niohuru—daughter of Yiling, a second-rank imperial guardsman—is initiated into the palace with the title Concubine Quan (lit. "Complete"; an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin).

8th Month:
The British seek to purchase horses in the far western regions of Qing territory (present-day Xinjiang) as part of a trade agreement. The agreement is denied.

Renwu Year (approx. 1822)
Daoguang Reign, 2nd Year

11th Month:
A consort-in-ordinary (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei), née Donggiya, is officially appointed as empress. Princely Lady Nara (ce fujin) is named Concubine He (lit. "Harmonious"; an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin). Lady Fuca is named Concubine Tian (lit. "Tranquil"; an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin).

This year, authorities in Guangdong are ordered to strictly prevent foreign vessels from evading tariffs. Opium cargoes are seized.

Guiwei Year (approx. 1823)
Daoguang Reign, 3rd Year

1st Month:
The emperor holds a banquet for the ministers and officials of the Hanlin Academy at the Palace of Many Splendors (Chonghua gong). He temporarily resides at the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanming yuan).

3rd Month:
The emperor fulfills his ritual duty in conducting the Ploughing Ceremony (Gengji li, also known as the First Furrow Ceremony).
The Prince of Cheng, Yongxing, dies.
The princess-consort (fujin) of Miankai—the Prince of Ke, the third imperial younger brother—enters the Forbidden City through the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwu men, the north gate of the imperial palace) upon a palanquin. Miankai's monetary allotment is withheld as punishment for his infraction.

11th Month:
Lady Donggiya—a consort-in-ordinary (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei)—becomes the empress. Concubine Quan (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary Quan (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei). Concubine He (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary He (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei). Worthy Lady Niohuru is promoted as Concubine Xiang (lit. "Auspicious"; an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin).

This year, Regulations on the Neglect of Supervisory Duties Regarding Opium (Shicha yapianyan tiaoli) is issued. The content of these regulations includes proscriptions against cultivating poppies and running opium shops.
Due to several years of severe drought in Zhili (approximately the area of present-day Hebei), peasants are permitted to travel north of the Shanhai Pass (i.e., the Great Wall) and seek viable livelihoods.

Jiashen Year (approx. 1824)
Daoguang Reign, 4th Year

1st Month:
Per imperial order, the autumn hunt at Mulan is cancelled this year. (It is never resumed.)

2nd Month:
The emperor conducts a hunt at the South Gardens.

This year, per imperial order, uncultivated lands in Jilin Province are to be used for agriculture. Idle inhabitants of the capital are to be relocated to the region and manage the new farmland.

Yiyou Year (approx. 1825)
Daoguang Reign, 5th Year

2nd Month:
The emperor visits the Eastern Qing Tombs. In the Baohua Valley (lit. "Valley of the Splendor of Treasures"), he inspects his future burial site (called Wannian jidi, lit. "auspicious land of ten-thousand years").

4th Month:
Worthy Lady Hešeri is officially appointed as Concubine Zhen (lit. "Precious"; an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin).

5th Month:
The eunuch Ma Jinxi receives the death sentence from the Ministry of Justice for falsely claiming to be heeding imperial orders and offer incense. The emperor instructs the governors-general and governors of each province, "In all cases of encountering eunuchs wanted for crimes, [provincial authorities] must seriously [seek to] apprehend them. Those falsely claiming to be sent on imperial errands must be promptly reported."

8th Month:
Consort-in-ordinary Quan (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei) is promoted as Honored Consort Quan. Concubine Xiang (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary Xiang (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei). Concubine Zhen (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary Zhen (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei).

Bingxu Year (approx. 1826)
Daoguang Reign, 6th Year

2nd Month:
The emperor visits the Western Qing Tombs.

4th Month:
Worthy Lady Jing (lit. "Still"), née Borjigit—daughter of Hualanga of the Ministry of Justice—is promoted as Concubine Jing (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin).

This year, Governor of Jiangsu Province Tao Shu and Provincial Administration Commissioner He Changling successfully direct a maritime transport of grain to the capital.

Dinghai Year (approx. 1827)
Daoguang Reign, 7th Year

4th Month:
Concubine Jing (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary Jing (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei).

9th Month:
The late Empress Xiaomucheng is laid to rest in Baohua Valley.

10th Month:
Miankai, the third imperial younger brother, is demoted to the rank of commandery prince due to his inappropriate interactions with the eunuch Zhang Mingde.
The South Mansion (Nan fu) is named the Court Theatrical Office (Shengping shu) to administrate the palace's theatre and music.

Wuzi Year (approx. 1828)
Daoguang Reign, 8th Year

5th Month:
Jahanghir Khoja is defeated near Kashgar and presented as a prisoner of war at the Meridian Gate (Wu men).

9th Month:
The emperor visits the Eastern Qing Tombs. Due to the mismanagement of his mausoleum construction project at Baohua Valley, the emperor strips Grand Ministers Yinghe and Dai Junyuan of their official titles. Grand Minister Yinghe's estate is seized, and he is imprisoned.
The emperor visits the Western Qing Tombs.

Jichou Year (approx. 1829)
Daoguang Reign, 9th Year

4th Month:
The emperor and the empress dowager inspect the archery and horse riding prowess of the imperial sons and guardsmen at the Hall of Encompassed Splendor (Hanhui lou) in the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanming yuan).

8th Month:
The emperor accompanies the empress dowager to visit the ancestral mausoleums at Mukden (present-day Shenyang).

This year, the authorities in Guangdong are ordered to end the illegal exchange of currency by foreign merchants.
Censor Jiang Mei describes in a report to the throne how low-level functionaries and laborers remain in the capital after their service is fulfilled, collude with disreputable characters, and engage in corrupt activities. He calls for a reiteration of the command for laborers to return to their places of origin after their service is fulfilled.

Gengyin Year (approx. 1830)
Daoguang Reign, 10th Year

3rd Month:
The emperor visits the Western Qing Tombs. He conducts a hunt in the South Gardens.

This year, corruption involving the Salt Administration in the Two Huais (Lianghuai, the areas north and south of the Huai River) worsens as officials seek private gain. This Salt Administration is disbanded and placed under the aegis of the governor general.
The imperial authorities issue Rules Regarding the Inspection and Prohibition of Opium in the Inland (Chajin neidi yapianyan zhangcheng).

Xinmao Year (approx. 1831)
Daoguang Reign, 11th Year

2nd Month:
A proscription against growing poppies and selling opium is announced throughout the empire.
The emperor visits the Western Qing Tombs and inspects his future burial site. He names it Longquan Valley (lit. "Valley of the Dragon Spring").

6th Month:
The fourth imperial son, Yizhu (the future Xianfeng Emperor), is born to Honored Consort Quan, née Niohuru.

8th Month:
The emperor receives congratulations at the Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing gong) for his birthday celebrations (Wanshou jie, lit. "Myriad Longevities Festival"). The practice of holding a banquet is ended.

This year, Tao Shu—Governor of Jiangsu Province and Governor-general of Jiangnan and Jiangxi—travels to the region of the Two Huais to inspect the Salt Administration and handle the corruption scandal. He leads in the establishment of a voucher system (called Piaoyan fa, lit. "Ticket Salt Law") for the sale and transport of salt.

Renchen Year (approx. 1832)
Daoguang Reign, 12th Year

2nd Month:
The emperor visits the Eastern Qing Tombs.

11th Month:
Worthy Lady Tong (lit. "Vermillion"), née Sumuru—daughter of Director Yuzhang Sumuru—is officially appointed as Concubine Tong (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin).

This year, having previously only been permitted to trade at Guangzhou, British vessels arrive off the coasts of Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Shandong hoping to establish trade at additional ports.

Guisi Year (approx. 1833)
Daoguang Reign, 13th Year

4th Month:
The empress, née Donggiya, dies.

7th Month:
The late empress is given the posthumous title Xiaoshen (lit. "Filial and Heedful").

8th Month:
Honored Consort Quan is promoted as the imperial honored consort and charged to oversee affairs within the Six Palaces.

9th Month:
The casket of the late Empress Xiaoshen is temporarily relocated to Tiancun, a the village in western suburb of the capital

Jiawu Year (approx. 1834)
Daoguang Reign, 14th Year

3rd Month:
The emperor visits the Western Qing Tombs.

4th Month:
A year after his consort's death, the emperor fulfills sacrificial rites before the casket of the late Empress Xiaoshen in the village where she is temporarily situated.

6th Month:
William John Napier, Britain's first trade envoy in China, arrives at Guangzhou. After his request to directly negotiate trade with the governor-general of Guangdong and Guangxi is refused, he commands the British Navy to attack Bocca Tigris (Humen, lit. "Tiger's Mouth") with cannon fire.

11th Month:
The imperial honored consort, née Niohuru, is appointed as the empress. Consort-in-ordinary Jing (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei) is promoted as Honored Consort Jing. Concubine Tong (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary Tong (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei).

This year, bookstores are prohibited from selling erotic publications.

Yiwei Year (approx. 1835)
Daoguang Reign, 15th Year

4th Month:
Lu Kun—the governor-general of Guangdong and Guangxi—and the provincial naval commander Guan Tianpei request permission from the imperial court to improve the defenses at Guangzhou with additional cannon. The authorities in Guangdong issue Regulations on the Prevention of Foreign Trade (Fangfan yangren maoyi zhangcheng).

12th Month:
Due to water in the tomb at Baohua Valley, the coffins of the late Empress Xiaomu and Empress Xiaoshen—who was temporarily situated in a village—are moved to Longquan Valley among the Western Qing Tombs.

Bingshen Year (approx. 1836)
Daoguang Reign, 16th Year

9th Month:ai
Kiyeng (also known as Qiying, his Chinese name) is charged with providing favors for a eunuch and, therefore, stripped of his official positions as minister, commander-in-chief, and grand minister of the Imperial Household Department. He is demoted to the position of vice minister.

12th Month:
Concubine Tong (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Honored Consort Tong. Worthy Lady Jia is promoted as Concubine Jia (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin).
The governor-general of Guangzhou grants permission for Charles Elliot—the chief superintendent of the trade of British subjects in China—to land at Guangzhou.

Dingyou Year (approx. 1837)
Daoguang Reign, 17th Year

3rd Month:
The emperor offers a libation at the mausoleums of the Ming dynasty emperors.

Wuxu Year (approx. 1838)
Daoguang Reign, 18th Year

4th Month:
Huang Juezi—the chief minister of the Court of State Ceremonial—reports to the emperor about the severity of the injury caused by opium and advocates for a proscription on the drug.

8th Month:
After receiving their report on their successful apprehension of opium dealers and confiscation of opium paraphernalia, the emperor instructs for Lin Zexu and his associates to be honored.

9th Month:
Yi, the Prince of Zhuang, and other nobility are expelled from office due to opium abuse. Vice Minister Xu Naiji of the Court of Imperial Sacrifices (Taichang si) requests the emperor to ease the prohibition against opium and legalize the opium trade. The emperor orders him to be relieved of his office.

11th Month:
Lin Zexu is sent as an imperially commissioned grand minister to inspect the seaports in Guangdong. He exercises authority over the province's naval commander.

This year, a prohibition is issued against daughters of Bannermen receiving the Han custom of foot binding.

Jihai Year (approx. 1839)
Daoguang Reign, 19th Year

4th Month:
Lin Zexu denounces Britain and other nations for their trade in opium at Bocca Tigris (Humen), Guangdong. Lin presides over the destruction of opium at Bocca Tigris.

5th Month:
British sailors are charged with killing a villager named Lin Weixi. The British superintendent Elliot refuses to hand over the sailors to regional authorities and is charged with violating Qing imperial sovereignty.

7th Month:
Lady Uya—a palace woman (changzai) and daughter of Lingshou, a clerk—is promoted as Worthy Lady Lin (lit. "Gem").

9th Month:
The British superintendent Elliot positions ships in a blockade at Chuanbi (also known as Chuenpi or Chuenpee). The Qing naval commander Guan Tianpei leads naval forces in opposition of the blockade.

12th Month:
The emperor ceases trade with the British. Lin Zexu is appointed as the governor-general of Guangdong and Guangxi.

Gengzi Year (approx. 1840)
Daoguang Reign, 20th Year

1st Month:
The empress, née Niohuru, dies. She is honored with the posthumous name Xiaoquan. Her son Yizhu is entrusted to the care of Honored Consort Jing.

5th Month:
British naval forces gather off the coast of Guangdong. The First Opium War erupts. Lin Zexu defends against the British.

6th Month:
With violent slaughter, the British invade and occupy Dinghai in Zhejiang Province.

7th Month:
The British arrive at Tianjin. Governor-general Kišan (Chinese name Qishan) of Zhili and the British superintendent Elliot hold negotiations at Dagu. Kišan compromises. Facing impositions by the British, the Daoguang Emperor calls Lin Zexu and Deng Tingzhen before the Council of State for severe interrogations and punishment.

9th Month:
Lin Zexu and Deng Tingzhen are dismissed from office. Kišan is posted as the governor-general of Guangdong and Guangxi.

11th Month:
The late Empress Xiaoquan is interred in the tomb at Longquan Valley.

12th Month:
Honored Consort Jing is promoted as an imperial honored consort. Worthy Lady Lin is promoted as Concubine Lin (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin). Kišan presumes to personally sign the Convention of Chuanbi (Chuanbi caoyue) and privately cede Hong Kong to the British, open the port of Guangzhou, and make reparations for lost opium revenue.

Xinchou Year (approx. 1841)
Daoguang Reign, 21st Year

1st Month:
British attack the fort at Humen. The Daoguang Emperor declares war with the British. Yishan is sent as General of Pacifying Opposition (Jingni jiangjun) to lead the Qing army in Guangdong.

2nd Month:
The British invade Humen and incite a naval battle. Guan Tianpei dies in battle.
Due to the concessions he made for the British, Kišan is arrested and interrogated. He is stripped of his title of grand secretary, and his assets are seized.

5th Month:
The Treaty of Guangzhou is signed. The people of Guangzhou are filled with indignation. The villagers at Sanyuanli rise up in opposition to the British.

Renyin Year (approx. 1842)
Daoguang Reign, 22nd Year

5th Month:
Concubine Lin (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary Lin (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei).
The British attacks and destroys the Wusong Fort on the Yangtze River. Chen Huacheng, the provincial military commander of Jiangnan, dies in battle. Shanghai is lost to the invading force.

7th Month:
The British continue their invasion upriver to Nanjing. The emperor dispatches Kiyeng to hold negotiations with Henry Pottinger—the British administrator of Hong Kong—on a British vessel at Nanjing. Kiyeng (Chinese name Qiying) agrees to the terms offered by the British. The Daoguang Emperor approves the Treaty of Nanjing (Nanjing tiaoyue, also known as Jiangning tiaoyue) in Chinese and English. The treaty's terms included the ceding of lands, paying of reparations, and opening a total of five ports for trade.

10th Month:
The emperor inspects troops of the Eight Banners at the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanming yuan).

Guimao Year (approx. 1843)
Daoguang Reign, 23rd Year

3rd Month:
Queen Victoria of Britain issues the Hong Kong Letters Patent and appoints Henry Pottinger as the first governor of the British colony of Hong Kong.

8th Month:
Kiyeng (Qiying) and Pottinger sign General Regulations for Trade at the Five Ports Open for Trade (Wukou tongshang zhangcheng) at Humen (Bocca Tigris).

9th Month:
The port at Shanghai is opened for trade.

Jiachen Year (approx. 1844)
Daoguang Reign, 24th Year

5th Month:
Kiyeng (Qiying) and the American representative Caleb Cushing sign the unequal Treaty of Wangxia (Zhong Mei Wangxia tiaoyue).

9th Month:
Kiyeng (Qiying) and the French envoy sign the unequal Treaty of Huangpu (Zhong Fa Huangpu tiaoyue).

This year, the Qing court issues an extensive inspection and ban of certain types of literature.

Yisi Year (approx. 1845)
Daoguang Reign, 25th Year

Kiyeng (Qiying) receives the Belgian envoy Lannoy and permits Belgium to trade at the five treaty ports.

11th Month:
Gong Mujiu, the circuit intendant of Shanghai, issues documentation to establish a British concession.

12th Month:
Thousands of people in Guangzhou resist the attempt by the British to settle in that city by charging the regional government offices.

Bingwu Year (approx. 1846)
Daoguang Reign, 26th Year

11th Month:
Rong Hong (or Yung Wing) and other students of the Morrison Education Society School travel to America with Samuel Robbins Brown for study.

12th Month:
Worthy Lady Cheng, née Niohuru, is officially promoted as Concubine Cheng (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin). Consort-in-ordinary Lin (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei) is promoted as Honored Consort Lin.
Yicong, the fifth imperial son, is named the Prince of Ke after Miankai, the third son of the Jiaqing Emperor.

Dingwei Year (approx. 1847)
Daoguang Reign, 27th Year

2nd Month:
Kiyeng (Qiying) and the envoys of Sweden and Norway sign treaties for their use of the five open trade ports.
The emperor arranges the betrothal of his fourth son, Yizhu (the future Xianfeng Emperor), to Lady Sakda—the daughter of Chief Minister Futai of the Court of the Imperial Stud.

10th Month:
Officials in the capital and throughout the empire are commanded to conduct an inspection of community administrations (baojia).

Wushen Year (approx. 1848)
Daoguang Reign, 28th Year

1st Month:
The imperial authorities reiterate the prohibition on French missionaries proselytizing throughout inland China without obtaining permission.

2nd Month:
Lady Sakda is officially listed as the primary wife of Yizhu, the fourth imperial son.
Without obtaining permission, Walter Medhurst, William Lockhart, and William Muirhead of the London Missionary Society proselytize in Qingpu. Due to a conflict with the missionaries, a riot involving sailors erupts. (This case is known to historians as the Qingpu Religious Incident (Qingpu jiaoan).]

5th Month:
Russians are barred from conducting trade in the far west of Qing territory (present-day Xinjiang region).

12th Month:
Rutherford Alcock of the British consulate in Shanghai writes to Governor Samuel George Bonham in Hong Kong suggesting further military action against the Qing to promote British interests in Asia.

Jiyou Year (approx. 1849)
Daoguang Reign, 29th Year

2nd Month:
The Portuguese governor of Macau, João Maria Ferreira do Amaral, illegally declares the harbor of Macau as a free harbor. He stops the collection of tariffs and orders the closure of the customhouse Yamen (i.e., headquarters).

12th Month:
The empress dowager dies in the Palace of Compassion and Tranquility (Cining gong). She is placed in the Hall of Encompassed Splendor (Hanhui dian) in the Garden of Brilliant Spring (Qichun yuan) within the greater Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanming yuan) complex.

Gengxu Year (approx. 1850)
Daoguang Reign, 30th Year

1st Month:
The late empress dowager is given the honorable posthumous title Xiaohe (lit. "Filial and Harmonious").
The Daoguang Emperor is seriously ill. He summons Director Zaiquan of the Court of the Imperial Clan (Zongren fu); Grand Ministers Zaiyuan, Duanhua, Sengge Rinchen; Grand Ministers of State Mujangga, Saišangga; and Grand Minister of the Imperial Household Department Wenqing to serve as witnesses as he opens the chest containing the secret edict of succession. By imperial edict, the fourth imperial son is appointed as the heir apparent, and the sixth imperial son, Yixin, is appointed as the Prince of Gong.
The Daoguang Emperor dies.
Yizhu, the heir apparent, ascends the imperial throne. The next year is to be known as the first year of the Xianfeng reign. The principal wife of Yizhu is posthumously promoted as empress with the honorable title Xiaode (lit. "Filial and Virtuous").

2nd Month:
Censor Baijun and Grand Minister Jipu of the Imperial Household Department are commissioned to construct the Western Chang Tomb for Empress Xiaoherui.

4th Month:
The late Daoguang Emperor is given the posthumous title of Cheng (lit. "Complete") and the temple name Xuanzong. His mausoleum is known as the Mu Tomb (lit. "Admiration Tomb").
Russians are permitted to conduct trade in the western frontier (the present-day Xinjiang region).

7th Month:
Czarist Russian forces seize Miaojie at the mouth of the Heilong River (Amur River) and change the name to Nikolayevsk.

9th Month:
The late emperor is temporarily interred in the Hall of Prosperous Favor (Longen dian) at the Mu Tomb.

10th Month:
Empress Xiaode is temporarily placed at at Tiancun.
The Qing court commands the governor-general of Guangdong and Guangxi to train soldiers.

11th Month:
The nine regulations regarding the Grand Council of State and stipulated by Qi Junzao and others are approved.

12th Month:
Hong Renkun (Hong Xiuquan) rises in revolt at Jintian in Guangxi as the leader of the Heavenly Kingdom of Taiping (lit. "Highest Peace").

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Translator: Adam J. Ensign
Editor: Li Yang

The Daoguang Emperor  

The Daoguang Emperor (r. 1821-1850), Aisin Gioro Minning, was born by Lady Hitala (the Empress Xiaoshu) on the tenth day of the eighth lunar month of 1782, the forty-seventh year (the renyin year) of the Qianlong reign. Minning was the second son of the Jiaqing Emperor (r. 1796-1820). He was secretly designated as the heir apparent in 1799, and was given the title “Zhi the First-rank Prince” in 1813 (the eighteenth year of the Jiaqing reign). His reign is known as “Daoguang”. 

  The Daoguang Emperor adopted a variety of measures in attempts to abolish malpractice and reverse decline. He reformed the administration of grain transport and salt monopoly over which the central government had direct control. To cope with the crisis of the grain transport system and lower the cost on each grain shipment, he approved proposals to supersede the inland Grand Canal with sea route. The issue of paid license to sell salt in designated areas not only increased the tax revenues of the central government but also cracked down on salt smuggling and illegal sale of salt on both banks of the Huai River. He lifted the ban on mine quarrying, advocating that “the world should benefit from its natural resources”. He rectified bureaucratic administration to curb extravagance, and declared a war against opium and other drugs nationwide. From the beginning of his reign, he issued edicts to prohibit poppy cultivation and the import, sale, and taking of opium. However, due to the wanton aggression of foreign powers and the corruption of the Qing government, the injunctions were but scraps of paper. The flood of opium continued to cause considerable suffering in China. 

In 1838 (the eighteenth year of the Daoguang reign), the Emperor adopted the policy of “strictly prohibiting opium” proposed by the “pro-prohibition” body instead of the policy to “legalize opium” led by Xu Naiji. The Emperor ordered a nationwide suppression of opium addiction and drug trafficking. He invited Lin Zexu (1785-1850), the General-governor of Hu-guang, to the capital to devise a strategy for prohibiting opium. In the eleventh month of that year, Lin was named the Imperial Commissioner for Frontier Defense. Soon, the appointment arrived at Guangdong to initiate the prohibition campaign. With the support of the Daoguang Emperor, Lin destroyed a large quantity of opium that had been handed over in Guangzhou before the public. The opium, weighing more than two-million jin (equal to a thousand tons), was dissolved in seawater ponds filled with lime. 

  In the fifth lunar month of 1839, the Daoguang Emperor approved “Thirty Rules on Opium Eradication”, which was the harshest and most thorough opium eradication law ever issued by the Qing government. The British, in the meantime, in order to maintain the unscrupulous but profitable opium trade and to break open the trade blockade of China, declared war with the Qing empire known as “The Opium War”. 

  The Daoguang Emperor, ignorant of the tide of the world, failed to prepare mentally and materially for a war of invasion. Throughout the opium war from 1839 to 1842, the Qing government failed to work out a fighting strategy nor ways feasibly to deploy troops. At the beginning of the war, he wished to terrify the foreign aggressors at one stroke with the sheer prestige of the “Celestial Empire”. Although twice he mobilized the troops in person to deploy massive resistance, his dream was shattered once the Western gunboats and cannons appeared along China’s coast. Consequently, he wavered and ultimately yielded to the aggression.  

  In 1842 (the twenty-second year of the Daoguang reign), forced by the British fleet and the threatened siege of Nanjing, envoys of the Qing government signed the ignominious Nanjing Treaty with Great Britain. The treaty was the first one in China’s modern history. The Treaty of Wangxia (Wangxia tiaoyue) and the Treaty of Whampoa (Huangpu tiaoyiue) were signed respectively with the United State and France shortly after.   

  The Daoguang reign witnessed the precipitation of internal hierarchical conflict. Despite cruel suppression by the Qing government, peasant revolts developed with the force of a prairie fire. The Manchu Qing’s rule was severely damaged and challenged. The Daoguang Emperor died on the eleventh day of the first lunar month of 1850 in the Qing imperial resort the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanming yuan). His temple name is “Xuanzong” (Informative Ancestor). He was buried in the Mu Mausoleum, the Western Qing Tombs, Yixian country, Hebei province. 

Lady Borjigit, Empress Xiaojing

Introduction: Empress Xiaojing, mother of Prince Gong, raised the Xianfeng Emperor from the age of nine years. The conflict over her title and posthumous title reveals the importance of title for Chinese people in the past.

When lady Borjigit (1812-1855) entered the palace, she was given the title of Honored Person Jing. The court continuously elevated her to Companion, Consort, and Honored Consort. In 1840, the Daoguang Emperor (r. 1821-1850) conferred on her the title Imperial Honored Consort. She was the biological mother of Yixin, the future Prince Gong.

  After the death of the empress Xiaoquan, the Daoguang Emperor ordered Borjigit to look after the nine-year-old Yizhu, the future Xianfeng Emperor. When Yizhu succeeded to the throne, Borjigit was granted the title “Consort Dowager” rather than “Empress Dowager” as she expected. This was bitterly resented by her son Yixin (the half-brother of the Xianfeng Emperor), who had long held a grudge after losing the competition for crown prince designate. Finally the Xianfeng Emperor was compelled to give Borjigit the title of “Empress Dowager”, but when she died at forty-three years of age, she was given a posthumous title without the specific heading “Cheng” that empresses normally inherited from their husband. It was not until 1862, when Prince Gong became a powerful regent of the Tongzhi Emperor (r. 1862-1874), that Borjigit finally received the title, giving her the same high status as other empresses of the Daoguang Emperor.

  Like Empress Donggo (? -1660) of the Shunzhi Emperor (r. 1644-1661), Lady Borjigit was neither an empress during her lifetime, nor the biological mother of an emperor, yet was still posthumously given the title of Empress. 

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