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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 Tiancong-Chongde Emperor (Hong Taiji) (approx. 1627-1643)
 
Dingmao Year (approx. 1627)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 1st Year 
Ming Dynasty: Tianqi Reign, 7th Year
 
1st Month: 
Hong Taiji sends troops to Korea and sends an embassy to Regional Commander Yuan Chonghuan of the Ming army at Ningyuan to negotiate peace.
 
5th Month:
Hong Taiji personally commands his troops in an attack against the Ming army. He is defeated at Jinzhou and retreats.
 
Wuchen Year (approx. 1628)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 2nd Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 1st Year
 
Hong Taiji returns victoriously from the invasion of Korea, raises banners, and worships Heaven. This establishes the practice of making offerings and raising banners upon victorious returns from battle. Dorgon and Dodo both receive honorary titles for their efforts in securing victory in battle. Dorgon receives the title Sagacious Commander (Manchu mergen daicing), and Dodo is named Bold General (Manchu erke cuhur).
 
Jisi Year (approx. 1629)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 3rd Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 2nd Year
 
2nd Month:
The late Empress Xiaoci is relocated and reinterred with Nurhaci at the Fu Tomb (lit. "Blessed Tomb") near Shengjing (present-day Shenyang). The late Lady Fuca is also buried.
 
4th Month:
In order to manifest the legitimate rule of the new dynasty, scribal offices are established for the translation of legal documents of previous dynasties. This organization provides a basis to analyze the success and failure of previous emperors and record state affairs.
 
10th Month:
Hong Taiji personally leads troops on a circuitous route through Inner Mongolia to invade territory south of the Great Wall. He attacks the Ming defense, sows dissension among his enemies, and eliminates the Ming commander Yuan Chonghuan—who had been a grave affliction on the Latter Jin. 
 
12th Month:
Leading his troops on their return east to Latter Jin territory, Hong Taiji conquers four cities, including Yongping, inside Ming territory.
 
Gengwu Year (approx. 1630)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 4th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 3rd Year
 
6th Month:
Under the direction of Amin—one of the original Four Great Princes, along with Hong Taiji, under Nurhaci—the four cities are lost and return to Ming control. Hong Taiji's court brings sixteen criminal charges against the failed Amin and sentences him to death. Hong Taiji issues a pardon, and the punishment is mitigated to imprisonment.
 
Xinwei Year (approx. 1631)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 5th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 4th Year
 
3rd Month:
Daišan and Manggūltai—two of the original Four Great Princes, along with Hong Taiji and Amin—as well as the other princes and ministers are requested to present their honest assessment of affairs.
 
6th Month:
The practice of inheriting official posts is established.
 
7th Month:
The Six Ministries (Liu bu) are inaugurated.
 
10th Month:
Manggūltai aggressively brandishes his blade and condemns the Hong Taiji court. He is stripped of his title as one of the Four Great Princes, and he is relieved of his command of five banner companies (Manchu niru). He is relegated to an ordinary prince (beile). 
 
11th Month (Intercalary):
Ordinances are decreed for boys under the age of fifteen and at least eight years old to receive compulsory education.
 
12th Month:
Ning Wanwo appoints speaking officials (yanguan) with specific accoutrements and uniforms; Hong Taiji approves. According to Li Bolong, the vice minister of the Ministry of Rites, the configuration of salutes at the new year audience for paying homage is reformed.
 
Renshen Year (approx. 1632)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 6th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 5th Year
 
1st Month:
The old practice of Hong Taiji being seated with the three other Great Princes is abolished, and the ruler sits alone to the south flanked by the other princes.
 
2nd Month:
Hong Taiji's ceremonial entourage is established. He visits the mausoleum of his father, Nurhaci, paying homage and offering sacrifices.
 
3rd Month:
Rules for accusing and bringing charges against noble princes and standards for determining the accuracy of reports and the severity of crimes are established. Younger boys and men are not permitted to accuse their fathers and elder brothers, nor wives their husbands. Burial rites for princes and ministers are instituted.
 
4th Month:
Hong Taiji personally leads the invasion of Mongolia.
 
12th Month:
The designs for court robes and ordinary dress are established. Manggūltai, the third Great Prince, dies.
 
Guiyou Year (approx. 1633)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 7th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 6th Year
 
6th Month:
Hong Taiji's court decrees all officials and the populace to adhere to the ordained dress code.
 
10th Month:
Hong Taiji leads the princes in overseeing and exhorting the army during marching and drills, thus initiating the practice of grand military inspection parades.
 
Jiaxu Year (approx. 1634)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 8th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 7th Year
 
1st Month:
Hong Taiji decrees the six generations of the Rising Progenitor's (Xingzu, Nurhaci's great-grandfather) offspring are to be free from corvee. 
 
10th Month:
The main hall of Nurhaci's mausoleum is built. Pine trees are planted around the grounds, and stone sculptures of beasts are sited in ritual array.
 
12th Month:
Company Commander Liu Xuecheng suggests the building of temples (jiao miao, for sacrifices to Heaven, Earth, and ancestors) in the outskirts of the city. Hong Taiji, unsure about the will of Heaven, does not dare to act and dismisses the proposal.
This year, ceremonial and musical rites for shamanic sacrifices (in the tangse, Chinese tangzi, or traditional space for shamanic worship) to Heaven upon beginning military campaigns are established. Musical rites for the new year homage audience. Hong Taiji takes Hai-lan-zhu—another daughter of Zhai-sang the Khorchin-Borjigin Mongol prince (beile)—as his wife. She is later named as a chamber consort (chenfei).
 
Yihai Year (approx. 1635)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 9th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 8th Year
 
1st Month:
Hong Taiji declares the sons of his secondary consorts as imperial princes (Manchu age), while the sons of the six progenitors are to be known as Gioro and designated by the fastening of a red string.
 ze
5th Month:
Chahar Mongol Ligdan Khan's wife and sons surrender and offer the Yuan dynasty's Heirloom Seal of the Realm (Chuanguo yuxi) as tribute. The tribe is annihilated.
 
8th Month:
Illustrations for the Manchu Veritable Records (Manzhou shilu) are prepared.
 
9th Month:
Hong Taiji takes Ligdan Khan's wives and concubines for his own harem, including the Mongol leader's pure consort (shufei) and honored consort (guifei). Great Prince Daišan is punished for crimes.
 
12th Month:
Leng-seng-ji, the servant of Princess Manggūji of the Hada tribe, brings charges against Manggūltai and his younger sister Manggūji and brother De-ge-lei for conspiracy, secretly casting imperial seals, and unlawful collaboration. In punishment, they are stripped of their noble titles and identity as imperial clan members. Manggūji is also executed for her involvement. After hearing of the matter, Manggūji's daughter is killed by her husband Hooge, Hong Taiji's eldest son.
This year, Vice Commander-in-chief (meile zhangjing) Zhang Cunren presents the following memorial to the khanate, "According to the great rites, musical comedy and jocular entertainment are not suitable for presentation before the throne on the lunar new year audience for paying homage. The feasts of the Eight Banners should feature elegant music exclusively."
 
Bingzi Year (approx. 1636)
Latter Jin Dynasty: Tiancong Reign, 10th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 9th Year
 
3rd Month: 
The Civil Office (Wen guan) is reorganized as the Three Palace Academies (Nei sanyuan), namely, the Palace Historiographic Academy (Nei guoshi yuan), Palace Secretariat Academy (Nei mishu yuan), and Palace Academy for the Advancement of Literature (Nei hongwen yuan).
 
Bingzi Year (approx. 1636)
Latter Jin Dynasty (Qing Dynasty): Chongde Reign, 1st Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 9th Year
 
4th Month:
Hong Taiji declares himself emperor, with the title Tolerant, Amicable, Compassionate, Virtuous Emperor of the Great Qing. He proclaims the first year of his Chongde reign. The Round Mound Altar and Square-Moated Terrace are constructed for sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, respectively. The Imperial Ancestral Temple (Tai miao) is built for offerings to ancestors. The founding progenitor of the family line, Hong Taiji's great-great-great-grandfather, is named the Beneficent King (Ze wang). His great-great-grandfather is honored as the Venerated King (Qing wang). His great-grandfather is honored as the Flourishing King (Chang wang), and his grandfather, Taksi, is named the Blessed King (Fu wang). Nurhaci is given the posthumous title Wu (lit. "Martial") and the temple name Taizu (lit. "High Progenitor" or, more commonly, "Great Ancestor"). His mausoleum is called the Fu Tomb (lit. "Blessed Tomb"). The noble titles of all ministers are adjusted to the imperial system with associated privileges. 
Imperial nephews are given the titles of princes (qinwang, prince of the blood of the first degree) and commandery princes (junwang, prince of the blood of the second degree). Mongol princes (beile, prince of the blood of the third degree) are given the titles of named princes (qinwang) and commandery princes (junwang). Dorgon is named as thePrince of Rui, Dodo as the Prince of Xiang, Ajige as the Commandery Prince of Ying, and Hooge as the Prince of Su. The ceremonial protocol for audiences is established. The standards of formal attire for princes and other officials is approved. 
Protocols for the submission of memorials to the throne at the lunar new year and other festival celebrations are established. Titles are given to all palace halls.
 
7th Month:
The Five Palace system is instituted with the central palace, called the Palace of Pure Tranquility (Qingning gong), for the empress, née Borjigit; the primary eastern palace, called the Palace of Osprey Calls (Guanju gong), for the chamber consort (chenfei); the secondary eastern palace, called the Palace of the Qilin Toe (Linzhi gong, the qilin is a mythical animal with cloven hooves), for the honored consort (guifei); the primary western palace, called the Palace of Expansive Festivity (Yanqing gong), for the pure consort (shufei); and the secondary western palace, called the Palace of Eternal Blessing (Yongfu gong), for the sedate consort (zhuangfei). The four main consorts lead the princesses, princess-consorts, and court ladies to bow before the emperor and empress.
 
8th Month:
Yoto—Prince of Cheng, Daišan's son—and Hooge, the Prince of Su are demoted in rank (to beile, prince of the blood of the third degree) as punishment for crimes.
 
11th Month:
The court commissions a revision of the Veritable Records of Taizu (Taizu shilu, regarding Nurhaci's reign). Rites for the worship of Heaven at the shrine for shamanic worship (Manchu tangse, Chinese tangzi) are established. Other rites established include the offerings to Heaven at the lunar new year and celebrations upon triumphant returns from battle in which the emperor is required to personally bow during the ceremony.
 
12th Month:
Hong Taiji personally leads a military campaign into Joseon Korea.
 
Dingchou Year (approx. 1637)
Latter Jin Dynasty (Qing Dynasty): Chongde Reign, 2nd Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 10th Year
 
1st Month:
Sacrifices at the Imperial Ancestral Shrine are instituted. Other rites instituted include honorific ceremonies for ancestors and sacrifices during the first month of each season (simeng). The quantity of instruments and members of the imperial retinue are determined.
 
4th Month:
Hong Taiji instructs all the princes (beile, prince of the blood of the third degree), saying, "The former Jin dynasty emperor Xizong and the Prince of Hailing discarded the ancestral garb for Han attire. Our state's livelihood is derived from horseback riding. If we carelessly adhere to Han customs and neglect our bows and arrows, how shall we prepare for military engagement? Sons and grandsons, later generations, do not casually change the practice of our ancestors!"
 
11th Month:
Sacrifices are held at the Round Mound Altar.
 
Wuyin Year (approx. 1638)
Latter Jin Dynasty (Qing Dynasty): Chongde Reign, 3rd Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 11th Year
 
1st Month:
The ninth imperial son, Fulin, is born to Sedate Consort Borjigit at the Palace of Eternal Blessing (Yongfu gong).
 
2nd Month:
Hong Taiji personally leads the army against the Khalka Mongols, and Daišan, the Prince of Li; Jirgalang, the Prince of Zheng; and Dorgon, the Prince of Rui keep watch over the capital.
 
5th Month:
Daišan, the Prince of Li, is accused of crimes by his subordinates. Jirgalang, the Prince of Zheng, requests his execution and that he be stripped of noble titles. Hong Taiji arbitrarily pardons him.
 
6th Month:
The Court of Colonial Affairs (Lifan yuan) is inaugurated to specifically handle affairs with Mongolians and other outlying peoples.
 
7th Month:
Administrative organizations for officials in the Six Ministries (liu bu), Court of Colonial Affairs (Lifan yuan), Censurate (Ducha yuan), and five other bureaucratic bodies are established.
 
Jimao Year (approx. 1639)
Latter Jin Dynasty (Qing Dynasty): Chongde Reign, 4th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 12th Year
 
2nd Month:
The martial Prince of Ying, Ajige, is ordered to lead the army beyond the Great Wall and attack Ming forces. Hong Taiji commands his army and follows Ajige and his troops. 
 
5th Month:
Dodo, the Prince of Yu, is demoted in rank due to his failures during the battle with the Ming army. Dorgon, the Prince of Rui, does not receive a personal dispatch when he leaves for battle. He is demoted in princely rank (to beile).
 
7th Month:
An envoy is sent to the Ming emperor with an offer of peace.
 
Gengchen Year (approx. 1640)
Latter Jin Dynasty (Qing Dynasty): Chongde Reign, 5th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 13th Year
 
4th Month:
Festivities for the new year and the Festival of Ten Thousand Longevities (Wanshou jie, a celebration of an emperor's birthday) are suspended, and all the princes present gifts to the emperor instead.
 
Xinsi Year (approx. 1641)
Latter Jin Dynasty (Qing Dynasty): Chongde Reign, 6th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 14th Year
 
2nd Month:
Princes and chief ministers are commanded to instruct their sons in horseback riding and archery.
 
10th Month:
Chamber Consort Hai-lan-zhu of the Palace of Osprey Calls (Guanju gong) dies. She is posthumously honored as Hong Taiji's principal wife (yuanfei) with the honorary titles Intelligent, Meritorious, Modest, and Mild.
 
Renwu Year (approx. 1642)
Latter Jin Dynasty (Qing Dynasty): Chongde Reign, 7th  Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 15th Year
 
8th Month:
The eleventh imperial son, Babuhai, is stripped of his noble title and membership in the imperial clan for voicing hateful complaints. 
This year, the Dalai Lama sends ambassadors from Tibet to Shengjing where Hong Taiji welcomes them with a feast.
 
Guiwei Year (approx. 1643)
Latter Jin Dynasty (Qing Dynasty): Chongde Reign, 8th Year 
Ming Dynasty: Chongzhen Reign, 16th Year
 
1st Month:
Hong Taiji falls ill and commands high nobles and officials—ranging from regional princes (namely, the highest ranked imperial sons) to vice commanders-in-chief of the Eight Banners—to sacrifice at the shamanic shrine.
 
8th Month:
Hong Taiji dies free of disease on his bed in the Palace of Pure Tranquility (Qingning gong). Daišan, the Prince of Li along with the host of princes and civil and martial officials convene and decide to crown the ninth imperial son, Fulin, as his successor. With Jirgalang, the Prince of Zheng and Dorgon, the Prince of Rui assisting with court affairs, the next year is established as the first year of the Shunzhi reign. Fulin ascends the throne as the Shunzhi Emperor in the Hall of Eminent Authority (Dazheng dian).
 
9th Month:
Hong Taiji is buried at the Zhao Tomb in Shengjing (present-day Shenyang). 
 
10th Month:
Hong Taiji is given his honorific posthumous titles and his temple name, Taizong (lit. "Great Ancestor").
 

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Translator: Adam J. Ensign

Editor: Li Yang

The Tiancong-Chongde Emperor (r. 1627-1643)

Hong Taiji of the Aisin Gioro Clan was the Taizong Emperor of Qing dynasty. He was born in Hetuala (west to today's old city of Xinbin county, Liaoning province) on the twenty-fifth day of the tenth lunar month in the twentieth year of the Wanli reign, Ming dynasty (1592, the renchen year). He was the eighth son of Nurhaci. His mother was of the Yehenara clan. In the first year of the Tianming reign (1616) Huang Taiji was conferred the title of “Heshuo beile” (prince), ranking fourth in age among the four beiles. On the first day of the ninth month of the eleventh lunar year of the Tianming reign (1626), Hong Taiji was elected by the other three beiles to succeed to the throne of Khan. He named his reign Tiancong.

    After succeeding to the throne, Hong Taiji accelerated the feudalization of the Jurchen Later Jin regime, which proved to be a move that conformed to the direction of history's evolution. He sent out surveyors to measure the land, confiscated "surplus land everywhere" to distribute to civilian households, and prohibited nobles and banner leaders to enclose new estates or farmlands. He reduced the size of estates from thirteen "able-bodied Chinese men" to eight. "All other Han people were enrolled separately as civilian households." He also ordered screenings of "able-bodied Han men" in estates and liberated some from slavery into civilian households. Such measures curbed the privileges of Manchu nobles to the benefit of agricultural development. He put much effort in learning from the Han culture, ordering Confucian scholars to translate classics from Chinese into the Manchu language.

    In 1632, the first month of the sixth year of Tiancong reign, Hung Taiji abolished the old rule that the dynasty's political affairs should be collectively decided by the Khan and the three beiles who "all faced south [the prestigious direction] when sitting in the court with the Khan". His new rule stipulated that the affairs should be solely decided by the Khan who "would sit southward in the court alone", indicating the supreme power of the Khan. Soon he took opportunities and consolidated his power by eliminating the political force of the three beiles. He modeled the government's structure after the Ming by setting up three cabinet courts and six ministries, "preventing the princes and the beiles from supervising the operation of courts and ministries" so that all decision-making came from the Khan alone. He also established Court of Censorate and Court of Colonial Affairs to complement the government structure. Khan's authority was successfully strengthened and the autocratic monarchy was fortified.  

    To expand the source of troops Hung Taiji set up the Eight Banners for organizing Han Chinese and Mongolian soldiers. He also ordered scholars to add punctuation to the Old Manchu Script and reshaped it into the New Manchu Script. He supported and promoted Lamaism positively to tighten the dynasty's connection with Mongolia and Tibet.  

    Hong Taiji was determined to continue his father's cause to replace the Ming dynasty's reign throughout China. During the early years of his enthronement when "both the nation and the Khan family were still unstable”, he initiated peace negotiations with the Ming court, but at the same time launched multiple intrusions across the Great Wall to pillage manpower, livestock and wealth from Han territories. 

    To avoid fighting a war on two fronts, he dispatched invasion forces twice into Korea and unified Mongolia and the Amur River Basin. After his governance was fortified and threats from Korea and Mongolia were rooted out, Hong Taiji ascended the throne in 1636 (the fifth lunar month of the tenth year of Tiancong reign) as the Emperor of the "Great Qing" dynasty. He changed the reign name to Chongde and changed the name Jurchen to Manchu. From then on he concentrated his forces in the war against the Ming. In 1640 (the fifth year of the Chongde reign), Hong Taiji's army crushed Ming troops in the battles of Songshan and Jinzhou, annihilating more than 50,000 Ming soldiers. After this major victory, Qing forces seized all cities outside the Great Wall from the Ming except Ningyuan. In 1642, the seventh year of Chongde reign, Hong Taiji sent another army to breach the Great Wall and captured more than eighty cities, some of which were as far away as Shandong province. 

    On the ninth day of the eighth lunar month of the eighth year of the Chongde reign (1643), Hong Taiji died abruptly in the palace in Shenyang. He was fifty-two sui. Posthumously he was given a long and glorious title which may be translated “Emperor Responding to Heaven’s Mandate, Flourishing the State, Vastly Virtuous, Conspicuously Martial, Tolerant and Mild, Benevolent and Sage, Filial, and Civilized” (Yingtian xingguo hongde zhangwu kuanwen rensheng ruixiao wen huangdi). Later the title was expanded still further to add “Respectful Wisdom, Carrier of Peace Cause, Promoter of Principle, and Apparent Achievement." He was given the temple name Grand Ancestor (Taizong) and buried in the Zhao Tomb in Shenyang. 

Lady Borjigit, Empress Xiaozhuang 

Introduction: An avid reader of history, Empress Xiaozhuang was a woman of wisdom and determination. Just as the Manchus were establishing their sovereignty in China and throughout her life, she assisted her son the Shunzhi Emperor (r. 1644-1661) and her grandson the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662-1722) in ruling the country. Her political ability won her a high reputation in the Qing dynasty. 

Lady Bumbutai Borjigit (1613-1687) was the daughter of prince Zhaisang of the Khorchin Mongol. In 1625 at the age of twelve she was given to the thirty-three-year-old Hong Taiji, the prince of Jurchen, as his fourth wife. At the time, their marriage was the product of a political alliance between the Jurchens and Mongols. Three of Hong Taiji’s wives were Mongolian, including Borjigit and her aunt. After he founded the Qing regime, five Mongolian ladies were granted the title of Consort. Among them, Borjigit was named Consort Zhuang. 

  A woman of wisdom and fortitude, Borjigit was interested in history. Although she was not the most favored consort of the emperor, because she gave birth to his ninth son Fulin who later became the Shunzhi Emperor (r. 1644-1661), she was given the title of Empress Dowager after Fulin’s ascension to the throne. 

  In 1643 at the critical moment when the Manchu troops were close to defeating Ming dynasty troops and were about to enter China proper, Hong Taiji suddenly died. The Manchu court was thrown into turmoil. Borjigit formed an alliance with her brother-in-law, Prince Dorgon, to appoint her five-year-old son Fulin as the successor. In 1644 the little boy became the Shunzhi Emperor with Dorgon and Prince Zheng collaborating as regents. 

  In 1661 the Shunzhi Emperor died of smallpox. Rejecting the idea of having adult princes succeed, Borjigit chose her grandson, the six-year-old Xuanye who had survived a deadly smallpox epidemic in infancy. He reigned as the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662-1722). Eight years later when Oboi, one of the four assisting ministers, posed a threat to the Kangxi Emperor’s rule, she helped the young emperor get rid of him. 

  Borjigit died in 1687. Rather than be interred with her husband the emperor Hong Taiji in Shenyang, she was buried east of Beijing at the Eastern Qing Tombs, just to the southwest of the tomb of her son the Shunzhi Emperor. 

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