1403, Guiwei Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 1st Year
The emperor entertains the various princes with a feast at the Hall of Splendid Canopy (Huagai dian). An imperial edict is issued to designate Beiping as the northern capital.
1404, Jiashen Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 2nd Year
Monk Daoyan is designated as the junior preceptor of the heir apparent. He resumes his secular identity with his family name Yao. The emperor bestows upon him the given name Guangxiao. The Heir Zhu Gaochi is named the heir apparent. Zhu Gaoxun is named the prince of Han, while Zhu Gaosui is appointed as the prince of Zhao.
1405, Yiyou Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 3rd Year
The eunuch Zheng He (1371-1433) is sent by imperial order on his maritime expedition to Southeast and South Asia, after which he continues his historic voyages.
1406, Bingxu Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 4th Year
7th month (intercalary)
The emperor orders the construction of the imperial palace in the northern capital, Beiping, for the following year. In preparation, he sends Song Li and others to gather timber and fire bricks and commissions the Marquis of Taining Chen Guidong to manage the project.
1407, Dinghai Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 5th Year
Empress Lady Xu, the principal consort of the emperor dies. She receives the posthumous title Renxiao in the tenth month.
Zheng He returns from his voyage.
The compilation of the Great Compendium of the Yongle Reign (Yongle dadian) is completed, consisting of 22,937 volumes.
1409, Yichou Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 7th Year
The emperor is on an inspection tour in the north, leaving the heir apparent supervising state affairs. Lady Zhang is designated as the honored consort. Lady Quan is designated as Worthy Consort (Xian fei). Lady Ren is named Complaisant Consort (Shun fei). Lady Wang is promoted as the Lady of Bright Countenance (Zhaorong). Lady Li is named Lady of Bright Deportment (Zhaoyi). Another Lady Li is promoted as Lady of Handsome Fairness (Jieyu), and Lady Cui is named as a Beauty (Meiren).
The emperor selects a site north of Beiping (today's Changping in present-day Beijing) for his tomb and names the mountain where the tomb shall be constructed as Tianshou (lit. heavenly longevity).
1410, Gengyin Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 8th Year
The emperor orders his eldest grandson Zhu Zhanji to stay in the northern capital. Leading the troops in person, the emperor defeats Mongols outside the empire’s northern frontier. In the seventh month, he returns to the northern capital (present-day Beijing), and in the tenth month, he is back to the southern capital (modern day Nanjing).
1411, Xinmao Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 9th Year
Zhu Zhanji is formally designated as the imperial grandson-heir. The crowning ritual is held at the Hall of Splendid Canopy (Huagai dian).
1412, Renchen Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 10th Year
The Imperial Grandson-heir Zhu Zhanji leads a group of young soldiers to perform martial arts at Mount Fang, and the frost descends the next morning, which is considered a good omen. Officials offer their congratulations.
The eunuch Zheng He is dispatched to lead a maritime expedition to Southeastern Asian countries including Bangladesh and Java.
1413, Guisi Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 11th Year
Escorted by the Prince of Han, Zhu Gaoxun, the coffin of the emperor’s late principal consort Empress Renxiao is moved to the capital. The construction of the imperial tomb at Mount Tianshou is completed and becomes known as Changling (or the Chang Tomb).
The emperor begins his inspection tour to the north from the southern capital accompanied by
the imperial grandson-heir, Zhu Zhanji. The Empress Renxiao is buried in the Changling tomb.
1414, Jiawu Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 12th Year
The emperor leads the army and defeats Oyirat Mongols, driving them to the Tura River where the army withdraws.
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 13th Year
The Prince of Han, Zhu Gaoxun, is imprisoned for breaking the law numerous times and will be demoted to a commoner's status. The Heir Apparent Zhu Gaochi tries his best to rescue his brother from this fate. As a result, only two of Gaoxun's escort guards are reduced as punishment. The emperor relocates Zhu Gaoxun’s fief to Le’an (in today’s Shandong province). Zhu Gaoxun harbors a grudge.
1416, Bingshen Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 14th Year
The construction of the West Palace in Beiping begins.
The emperor returns to the southern capital.
Discussions regarding the construction of the imperial palace in the northern capital resume.
Admiral Zheng He again sets out as the imperial envoy for another maritime expedition to South and Southeast Asian countries.
1417, Dingyou Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 15th Year
Relying on his merit of having assisted the Prince of Yan in the civil war by opening the city gate of Jinchuan for his troops in the fourth year of the Jianwen reign, Zhu Hui, the Prince of Gu, becomes arrogant and unbridled. He appropriates peasants’ farmland, kills innocent people, and plots against the regime. Eventually he is demoted to a commoner. The emperor orders Chen Gui, the Marquis of Taining, to resume his supervision of the construction in the northern capital and appoints Liu Sheng, the Marquis of Anyuan, and Wang Tong, the Marquis of Chengshan, as aides.
The construction of the West Palace in the northern capital is completed.
The emperor moves to the northern capital, and receives an audience at the newly built West Palace.
Lady Hu is promoted as the principal consort of the imperial grandson-heir.
1418, Wuxu Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 16th Year
Yao Guangxiao (Monk Daoyan), the junior preceptor of the heir apparent, dies.
1420, Gengzi Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 18th Year
1st month (intercalary)
Yang Rong and Jin Youzi, chancellors of the Hanlin Academy, are promoted as grand secretaries of the Hall of Literary Profundity (Wenyuange daxueshi).
The Eastern Depot (Dong chang) is created in Beiping.
The construction of the imperial palace at Beiping is close to completion. The emperor sends Xia Yuanji (1366-1430), the auxiliary minister of revenue, to summon the heir apparent to move to Beiping by the end of the twelfth month. He also asks the imperial grandson-heir to accompany him. The Auxiliary Ministry of Rites receives imperial instruction calling for the northern capital to be designated as the capital of the empire from the beginning of the following year. The prefix “auxiliary” is to then no longer be used, and the Six Ministries will be established. Seals are to be transferred from government offices in the former capital to those in the new capital. New seals for the government offices in the southern capital are to be cast with two more characters “Nan Jing” (lit. southern capital) as prefix added on the seal surface.
The transfer of the capital to the northern capital Beiping (modern day Beijing) is announced.
The heir apparent and the imperial grandson-heir arrive in Beiping, in which the construction of the imperial palace is completed with a similar layout as that in Yingtian but on a more magnificent scale. The construction project had taken thirteen years to finish since it began in the sixth month of the sixth year of the Yongle reign. The emperor awards contributors of the project with grants. Among them, Cai Xin, a director of the Ministry of Works, is promoted as the right vice minister.
1421, Xinchou Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 19th Year
On the first day, the emperor issues an order to place the spirit tablets of the five late ancestors of the imperial family at the Imperial Ancestral Temple for worship. The heir apparent orders the placement of the tablets of gods of Heaven and Earth at the southern border altars just outside the city complex. The imperial grandson-heir orders the placement of tablets for the worship of the gods at the Altar of Land and Grain. The Duke of the State of Qian, Mu Cheng, orders the placement of tablets for worshiping the gods of agriculture at the Altar of the God of Agriculture. The emperor holds celebrations in the Hall of Venerating Heaven, the most sacred building of the newly built imperial palace, to receive homage by the entire court and has a feast to entertain the court officials. Zheng He is sent for another maritime expedition.
The three main halls in the imperial palace, the Hall of Venerating Heaven (Fengtian dian), the Hall of Splendid Canopy (Huagai dian), and the Hall of Scrupulous Behavior (Jinshen dian), are destroyed by fire.
1422, Renyin Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 20th Year
The emperor, against all dissuasions, decides to lead his army to battle Arughtai, a Mongolian general, in the northern frontier. He orders the heir apparent to stay in the capital and supervise the country.
The army withdraws after a huge victory and arrives at Beiping in the ninth month.
12th month (intercalary)
The Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing gong) is destroyed in a fire.
1423, Guimao Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 21st Year
The Commander of the Changshan Guard, Meng Xian, plots to poison the emperor, dethrone the heir apparent, and proclaim Zhu Gaosui, the Price of Zhao, as emperor. The conspiracy is uncovered. Meng Xian and his co-conspirators are executed. Zhu Gaosui, however, is spared the death penalty because the heir apparent asks the emperor for mercy.
Arughtai invades again. In defense, the emperor prepares to personally command the army.
1424, Jiachen Year
Ming Dynasty: Yongle Reign, 22nd Year
Zheng He is commissioned on another maritime expedition to the South and Southeastern Asian countries.
The emperor sets out from Beiping accompanied by Grand Secretaries Yang Rong and Jin Youzi. He commands troops under the regional military commissions of Shanxi, Shandong, Henan, Shaanxi, and Liaodong to congregate with another three Guards at Xuanfu (modern day Xuanhua of Hebei province) first and then to move toward the northern frontier. The heir apparent is ordered to stay to supervise the country in the capital, with Yang Shiqi as his aide.
On the seventeenth day, the army stations at Khailas-ausu (northwest of modern day Duolun County in Inner Mongolia) upon their return. Critically ill, the emperor summons the Duke of the State of Ying, Zhang Fu, to announce his deathbed edict “to pass the throne on to the imperial heir apparent”. On the following day, the emperor dies at the age of sixty-five.
The heir apparent ascends the throne, designating the following year as the first year of the Hongxi reign. He promotes Yang Rong as the minister of the Court of Imperial Sacrifices. Jin Youzi is promoted as the vice minister of Ministry of Revenue while concurrently serving as grand secretary. Yang Shiqi is promoted as left vice minister of the Ministry of Rites while continuing as the grand secretary of the Hall of Splendid Canopy. Huang Huai is promoted as the commissioner of the Office of Transmission and grand secretary of the Hall of Martial Valor.
The late emperor receives his posthumous title, and, accordingly, the late empress, too, is given a posthumous title.Lady Zhang, the principal consort of the former heir apparent, who is now the emperor, is designated as the empress. Lady Guo, Lady Li, Lady Zhao, and the two others named Lady Wang are designated as the Honored Consort (Guifei), the Worthy Consort, Gracious Consort (Huifei), Pure Consort (Shufei), and Lady of Bright Countenance (Zhaorong), respectively. The imperial grandson-heir Zhu Zhanji is designated as the heir apparent, his wife Lady Hu as his principal consort. A group of imperial kinsmen receive their titles as princes and heirs.
The late emperor is buried in the Changling tomb.