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The Reign of the Jiaqing Emperor (approx. 1796-1820)
Bingchen Year (approx. 1796)
Jiaqing Reign, 1st Year
The emperor receives his imperial appointment to the throne in regal ceremony. The newly enthroned Yongyan honorably attends to rites for the emperor emeritus (the Qianlong Emperor) and salutes his predecessor in the imperial shamanic shrine (tangse) and in the Hall for Ancestral Worship (Fengxian dian) and Hall of Imperial Longevity (Shouhuang dian). The emperor emeritus bestows imperial seals to his successor at the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihe dian). Yongyan is granted his place on the throne, and the emperor emeritus instructs him in matters concerning imperial rule. Lady Sitara, the first wife of Yongyan, is named as the new sovereign's empress. Lady Niohuru, the daughter of Minister Gong-a-la of the Ministry of Rites and consort of Yongyan, is named as an honored consort. Lady Liu-jia, the daughter of Liu-fu-ming (whose official title is baitangga in Manchu), is named as Consort-in-ordinary Xian (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei). Lady Hou, the daughter of Chief Minister Tao-zhu of the Palace Stud administration, is named as Concubine Ying (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin). Lady Dong, the daughter of Deputy Storehouse Chief Shi-tai, is named as a worthy lady. A banquet is held for elderly princes, ministers, and officials in the Palace of Tranquil Longevity (Ningshou gong).
The White Lotus Society revolts in Hubei Province.
The Jiaqing Emperor conducts the Ploughing Ceremony (Gengji li, also known as the First Furrow Ceremony). The empress presides over the rites regarding the Goddess of Silkworms (Xiancan li).
Lady Niohuru—the daughter of the first-rank (of an inheritable title) Minister Bu-yan-da of the Ministry of Revenue—is named as the first wife of the second imperial son Mianning.
Dingsi Year (approx. 1797)
Jiaqing Reign, 2nd Year
The Miao of Guizhou rise in another revolt.
The empress, née Sitara, dies. She is given the posthumous honorary name Xiaoshu (lit. "Filial and Virtuous").
The emperor accompanies the emperor emeritus to the Jehol, where they reside at the summer mountain villa. By edict, the emperor emeritus states, "Honored Consort Niohuru shall succeed to the seat of empress (called zhonggong, from the Han dynasty on, a common unofficial reference to the residence, hence indirectly to the person, of the Empress ). Meanwhile, she must first be appointed as an imperial honored consort."
Wuwu Year (approx. 1798)
Jiaqing Reign, 3rd Year
The emperor visits the Confucian Temple and lectures at the Imperial Academy (Piyong).
Jiwei Year (approx. 1799)
Jiaqing Reign, 4th Year
The emperor emeritus, the Qianlong Emperor, dies. The Jiaqing Emperor assumes all responsibilities for the personal rule of his empire. Grand Secretary Hošen and Minister Fucangga are charged with crimes and imprisoned. Per imperial orders, Hošen's life is ended in prison. Fucangga is beheaded. Liu Quan in Hošen's household is reinvestigated and charged for crimes, and the late Censor Cao Xibao who has been deprived of official title due to bold accusation of Liu Quan’s wrongdoing is posthumously re-granted the official post and rewarded with honors.
Yongxuan, the Commandery Prince of Yi (junwang, prince of the blood of the second degree), is named as the Prince of Yi (qinwang, prince of the blood of the first degree). Yonglin, a prince (beile, prince of the blood of the third degree), is named as the Commandery Prince of Qing (junwang, a prince of the blood of the second degree). Mianyi is named as the Commandery Prince of Lü. Yiguan and Yishen study in the Imperial Study (a palace education system for imperial sons, called Shang shufang, lit. "Premier Study").
Per imperial edict, the emperor instructs, "As officials throughout the empire submit memorials to Our throne, their reports (fufeng) shall not be delivered to the Council of State."
Yin Zhuangtu, who has been criticized by the late Qianlong Emperor and has been punished for uncovering bureaucratic corruption, is summoned to the capital to wait for new designation by imperial orders .
"Responsibilities shall be divided among the six ministers, and each shall have his own respective office. Previously there were no titled duty designations. They shall not monopolize power." This statement is used by the emperor to discharge his elder brother Yongxuan—the Prince of Yi (qinwang, prince of the blood of the first degree), the eighth imperial elder brother—from his management of duties in the Ministry of Personnel.
The opulent residence and garden complex of Hošen is confiscated. The garden complex is gifted to the eleventh imperial elder brother, Yongxing. The residence is bestowed to the seventeenth imperial younger brother, Yonglin.
The late emeritus emperor, the Qianlong Emperor, is given the posthumous title of Chun (lit. "Pure"). His temple name is Gaozong.
Heeding the imperial family practice of secretly selecting the heir apparent, the emperor personally writes the name of the imperial grandson Mianning and hides it in the designated box.
Hong Liangji of the Hanlin Academy writes a memorial to the throne and brings accusations of governmental corruption. He is charged with crimes and banished to the Yili Garrison.
The late Qianlong Emperor is laid to rest at the Yu Tomb (lit. "Tomb of Abundance") among the Eastern Qing Tombs. The emperor orders for a stele—called Stele of Sacred Virtue and Divine Merit (Shengde shengong bei)—to be inscribed with the calligraphy of Yongxing and erected in commemoration of his father, the previous emperor.
The Prince of Cheng, Yongxing, is relieved of his duties in the Grand Council of State.
Gengshen Year (approx. 1800)
Jiaqing Reign, 5th Year
The emperor visits the Western Tombs.
The emperor visits the Eastern Tombs.
Xinyou Year (approx. 1801)
Jiaqing Reign, 6th Year
Lady Niohuru, the imperial honored consort, is appointed as empress. Concubine Ying (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin), née Hou, is named as Consort-in-ordinary Hua (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei). Worthy Lady Dong is named Concubine Chun (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin). Worthy Lady Chun—née Wang, the daughter of Provincial Graduate Yi-li-bu—is named Concubine Ji (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin).
Renxu Year (approx. 1802)ele
Jiaqing Reign, 7th Year
The Jiaqing Emperor conducts his first autumn hunt at Mulan.
Most of the White Lotus Society revolts in Sichuan and Hubei are successfully vanquished.
Guihai Year (approx. 1803)
Jiaqing Reign, 8th Year
2nd Month (Intercalary):
Entering through the Gate of Steadfast Loyalty (Zhenshun men), the Jiaqing Emperor returns to the palace from the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanming yuan). Various men associated with Chen De attempt to assassinate the emperor. Their attempt is foiled. The assailants are imprisoned. Chen De and his two sons are executed. Strict directives regarding palace gates are enforced.
Empress Xiaoshu is buried among the imperial mountain mausoleums.
Jiazi Year (approx. 1804)
Jiaqing Reign, 9th Year
The emperor visits the Eastern Tombs.
The emperor visits the Ming mausoleums and offers a libation at the Chang Tomb.
After a prolonged nine-year campaign, the Qing authorities completely suppress all remnants of the White Lotus Society revolt. The total calculation for the cost of the suppression is two hundred million taels of silver.
Cai Qian initiates his maritime insurrection.
Yichou Year (approx. 1805)
Jiaqing Reign, 10th Year
The grand minister of the Imperial Household Department is commanded to exercise control over the eunuchs. They are to receive thorough inspections upon entering and leaving the palace premises.
Westerners are forbidden from publishing religious materials and proselytizing.
Worthy Lady Ru, the daughter of Secretary Shan-qing, is named Concubine Ru (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin).
The emperor orders the grand minister of the Imperial Household Department to enforce imperial rule over churches (called Xiyang tang, lit. "Halls of the Western Ocean"). Being unable to enact more severe inspection tactics and having issued the proscription against proselytizing, the authorities consider various punishments. Christian books are confiscated and destroyed. Tong-lan, a pupil of the Western missionaries, is punished.
The emperor visits the imperial mausoleums in Mukden (present-day Shenyang).
Bingyin Year (approx. 1806)
Jiaqing Reign, 11th Year
The emperor visits the Eastern Qing Tombs.
The emperor leads the fall imperial hunt at the Mulan hunting grounds.
Counterfeits of official seals are discovered in Zhili (approximately the territory of present-day Hebei Province). Collusion among private financial institutions is uncovered.
Dingmao Year (approx. 1807)
Jiaqing Reign, 12th Year
The emperor visits the Eastern Qing Tombs.
The emperor leads a hunt at the South Gardens and later visits the Western Tombs.
The emperor leads the fall imperial hunt at the Mulan hunting grounds.
Wuchen Year (approx. 1808)
Jiaqing Reign, 13th Year
Concubine Xian (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary Xian (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei). Concubine Ji (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary Qing (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei). Worthy Lady Xin is promoted as Concubine Xin (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin). Having passed the age of sixty, the Prince of Yi, Yongxuan, is exempted from personally making reports to the throne during the winter.
The emperor visits the Eastern Tombs and then conducts an inspection of the long dike at Tianjin. Mianning, the second imperial son, is ordered to make offerings to Confucius.
British naval vessels moor off the coast of Xiangshan County (the location of present-day Zhongshan, Guangdong Province). Under the pretext of defending against French interference of maritime trade, the British post a garrison atop the Fortaleza da Guia (Chinese, Dong wangyang paotai) in Macau.
The second imperial son, Mianning, is ordered to offer prayers for snow at the Grand Hall of the Supreme Profundity (Da gaoxuan dian).
The hand of Lady Donggiya, the daughter of Shu-ming-a, is given to Mianning in marriage after the death of his previous wife.
Jisi Year (approx. 1809)
Jiaqing Reign, 14th Year
Cai Qian is trapped off the coast of Yushan, Zhejiang Province by Provincial Military Commander Wang Delu of the Fujian Naval Forces. The rebel drowns as his vessel is destroyed.
The Qing court handles scandalous events involving false claims and deception by clerks of the Ministry of Works and the misappropriation of funds from the Ministry of Personnel and Imperial Household Department.
Gengwu Year (approx. 1810)
Jiaqing Reign, 15th Year
Due to the harm caused by opium, the court issues an edict to order governors-general to sever the supply chain.
Concubine Ru (an imperial concubine of the fourth rank, pin) is promoted as Consort-in-ordinary Ru (an imperial concubine of the third rank, fei).
Xinwei Year (approx. 1811)
Jiaqing Reign, 16th Year
The emperor visits the Western Qing Tombs and conducts an inspection tour of Mount Wutai.
Westerners are prohibited from surreptitiously residing in inland China. The people are forbidden from receiving instruction in Catholicism.
Renshen Year (approx. 1812)
Jiaqing Reign, 17th Year
The second imperial son, Mianning, is ordered to fulfill rites at the Imperial Ancestral Temple (Tai miao).
Dispersed imperial clansmen and their families are relocated to reside in Mukden (present-day Shenyang). They are provided with housing, farmland, and monetary resources.
Guiyou Year (approx. 1813)
Jiaqing Reign, 18th Year
Laws prohibiting the sale and transportation of opium are strictly enforced. Opium smokoers are charged with criminal behavior.
The Heavenly Principle sect (Tianli jiao, related to the White Lotus Society) revolts. Lin Qing, the leader of the insurrection, contacts eunuchs in the palace and gains entry to the palace. Followers of the sect storm the Forbidden City through the East and West Prosperity Gates (Donghua men and Xihua men). The palace guards intercept and slaughter the entire force of insurgents. The emperor issues the public statement to take the blame personally. (zuiji zhao). The second imperial son, Mianning, shows courage during the insurgent attack and is subsequently honored with the meritorious noble title Prince of Zhi (lit. "Prince of Wisdom").
This year, sons of the imperial Gioro clan are prohibited from marrying Han women.
Starting in the bingzi year (the twenty-first year of the Jiaqing reign), the sons of garrison forces are permitted to attend the regular civil and military recruitment examinations.
Jiaxu Year (approx. 1814)
Jiaqing Reign, 19th Year
The emperor conducts a military examination at the Jianrui Camp (located in the Fragrant Hills in the northwest of present-day Beijing).
The eleventh imperial elder brother, Yongxing, produces various calligraphic works. He is instructed to select various pieces to be engraved in stone. Rubbings of these works are collated into The Yijin Studio (Yijin zhai, named after one of Yongxing's style names, Yijin, lit. "Promulgating Ascension"), for which the emperor personally inscribes a prologue.
Uncultivated lands are plowed for agricultural use in Yili (or Ili, in present-day Xinjiang) and Jilin (in northeast China).
Jiang Youxian, the governor-general of Guangdong and Guangxi, is authorized to strictly bar commoners from being employed by Westerners. Western companies are banned from privately constructing foreign-style buildings and inspecting commercial debts.
Yihai Year (approx. 1815)
Jiaqing Reign, 20th Year
The Prince of Zhi, Mianning, is ordered to fulfill rites at the Imperial Ancestral Temple.
Jiang Youxian, the governor-general of Guangdong and Guangxi, reports to the Qing court regarding inspections related to the prohibitions on opium. He receives the following imperial response, "Western vessels shall moor at Macau. Each vessel shall be inspected. The source of the supply must be severed. Officials and commoners involved in this illicit trade shall be punished according to their respective positions."
Zhao-lian, the Prince of Li, is stripped of his noble title and placed under arrest.
Bingzi Year (approx. 1816)
Jiaqing Reign, 21st Year
During a banquet in the Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing gong), Bulwark Duke Mianmin arrives late. Yishao commands him to be seated and casts his bowl upon the ground. Yonglin, the Prince of Qing, calls upon a eunuch to report the matter to the emperor in a memorial. The emperor commands the princes (qinwang, prince of the blood of the first degree) and commandery princes (junwang, prince of the blood of the second degree) to avoid reporting memorials via eunuchs. Yonglin's monetary allocation is withheld as punishment.
The British envoy arrives in the capital. Due to disagreements over ceremony, the envoy does not attend an audience with the Jiaqing Emperor. Additionally, the British seek a new trading port in Tianjin. He-shi-tai and the various ministers leading the British emissaries are demoted in rank.
This year, the imperial court orders a strengthening of the community self-defense system (called baojia, lit. "security groups and tithings"), the basic unit of which consists of ten families (called a pai). Any persons causing suspicion are to be noted in the first report.
Dingchou Year (approx. 1817)
Jiaqing Reign, 22nd Year
A regional commander is appointed to oversee the two Tianjin naval commands.
In a memorial to the throne, Song Yun requests for the emperor to stop visiting the ancestral mausoleums from the following year. The official is harshly reprimanded and stripped of his title as a grand secretary and demoted to serve as the commander-in-chief of the Chahar Banner.
Wuyin Year (approx. 1818)
Jiaqing Reign, 23rd Year
Per edict, the emperor declares, "The maternal families of past empresses—such as Gao-bin, Yun-bu, and others—have already been granted with the Manchu Bannermanship. Each has been granted Manchu names. Only the clan name of the maternal family of Empress Xiaoyichun shall be written as one word. The Court of the Imperial Clan (Zongren fu) shall write the name of the Empress Xiaoyichun's maternal family as Weigiya in the Jade Genealogy."
During revisions to the Comprehensive Mirror of the Ming Dynasty (Ming jian), the editors include laudatory references to the establishment of the former dynasty during the Wanli and Tianqi reigns of the Ming dynasty. The Jiaqing Emperor deems these additions inappropriate. He orders the demotion of the editors and further revisions to be made to the official record.
The emperor conducts an eastern tour to Mukden (present-day Shenyang).
Upon the emperor's return journey, he visits the Eastern Qing Tombs. His birthday celebration is held at the Xinglong Temple where he receives congratulations.
Jimao Year (approx. 1819)
Jiaqing Reign, 24th Year
On the occasion of the emperor's upcoming sixtieth birthday, a grand banquet is held for the court officials. The third imperial son, Miankai, is named as the Prince of Dun. Mianxi, the fourth imperial son, is named as the Prince of Duan.
Due to erroneous behavior during sacrificial rites, Yongxing, the Prince of Cheng, is dismissed from his official duties and denied his monetary allotment.
Yongxuan, the Prince of Yi, pries into imperial matters. He is dismissed from his duties and merely permitted to serve a minor role.
Gengchen Year (approx. 1820)
Jiaqing Reign, 25th Year
The emperor visits the Eastern Qing Tombs.
Yonglin, the Prince of Qing, dies. The Jiaqing Emperor visits his residence to pay his respects and make funerary sacrifices.
The Jiaqing Emperor goes to the Mulan hunting grounds for his autumn excursion. He dies at the imperial summer villa. He is temporarily laid to rest in the Hall of Humble Reverence (Danbo jingcheng dian). Grand Minister Sai-chong-a, Grand Minster of State Tuo-jin, and Grand Minister Supervisor of the Imperial Household Xi-en open the secret edict regarding the heir apparent. They declare that the Jiaqing Emperor, in the fourth year of his reign, personally wrote the secret edict to name his second imperial son, Mianning, as his heir apparent. The heir apparent then returns to the capital in grand ceremony with his father's casket and honors his mother, Lady Niohuru, as empress dowager.
The late Jiaqing Emperor is posthumously named Renzong (lit. "Benevolent Ancestor"). He is given the temple name of Rui (lit. "Perspicacious"). To avoid the taboo use of characters in the imperial name, the writing of the emperor's given name—Mianning—is changed to Minning. Minning ascends the throne in the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihe dian). An edict is proclaimed throughout the empire to declare the following year as the first year of the Daoguang reign.
The mausoleum of the Jiaqing Emperor (Renzong) is called the Chang Tomb.
Due to errors during the implementation of the emperor's posthumous edict, Grand Ministers of State Tuo-jin and Dai Junyuan are dismissed from their official duties. Lady Niohuru is retroactively appointed as empress.
Jahangir Khoja, the grandson of Buranidun, leads a revolt in the western frontier.
The empress dowager is granted residence in the Palace of Longevity and Health (Shoukang gong).
Heeding the empress dowager's decree, the emperor appoints Lady Donggiya as his empress.
Translator: Adam J. Ensign
Editor: Li Yang
The Jiaqing Emperor (r. 1796-1820)
The Jiaqing Emperor, Aisin Gioro Yongyan, was born in the Qing imperial resort the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanming yuan) on the sixth day of the tenth lunar month of 1760, the twenty-fifth year (the gengchen year) of the Qianlong reign (1736-1795). He was the fifteenth son of his father; his mother was Lady Weijiya, the Honored Consort of the Qianlong Emperor. Yongyan was secretly chosen as the imperial successor in 1773 (the thirty-eighth year of the Qianlong reign), and in 1789 (the fifty-fourth year of the Qianlong reign) was granted “Jia the First-class Prince” and officially made “Heir Apparent” in 1795 (the sixtieth year of the Qianlong reign).
In early years of the Jiaqing reign, the Qianlong Emperor Emeritus still wielded influence in court politics, residing and working in the virtual political center – the Hall of Mental Cultivation (Yangxin dian), whereas Yongyan had to temporarily live in the Palace for Nurturing Joy (Yuqing gong). Only in the fourth year of the Jiaqing reign (1799), after the Qianlong Emperor Emeritus died, was Yongyan able to take authority personally. The Emperor initiated the “overall reform” campaign, rectifying domestic bureaucratic order and tightening discipline. The most urgent task confronting the Jiaqing Emperor at his father's death in 1799 was to rid his administration of the influence of the powerful minister He Shen. The Emperor proceeded with dispatch. Within a month after his father's death, He Shen was executed, and his factions were eliminated by executing, impeaching, and imprisoning.
The Jiaqing Emperor called for open criticism of administrative problems. He reaffirmed his confidence in those officials who retained integrity against He Shen during the Qianlong reign, and gradually demoted and replaced a number of He Shen’s powerful followers in the provincial administration.
A second feature of the reforms of the Jiaqing reign was a highly publicized effort to reduce spending by curbing waste and conspicuous consumption at court. He commanded that provincial officials should report to him the local people’s problems and conditions frankly and in minute detail. Deception, whitewash, and indolence were strictly avoided.
Nonetheless, the Emperor’s reforms were in the upper levels of the administration. They could not heal the deep-seated malaise in the nineteenth-century bureaucracy.During the Jiaqing reign, domestic hierarchical conflicts were acute. Peasant rebellions broke out repeatedly like raging fire. The Jiaqing Emperor made great efforts to round up and put down peasant uprisings in Sichuan, Hubei, and Shaanxi provinces. Incompetent military leaders were replaced and punished for their failure in the suppression. A “carrot and stick” strategy was carried out so as to disintegrate the rebellion troops. The Qing imperial troops cut the link between the rebels and the people by adopting the strategy of “drilling the local militia, fortifying defense works, and hiding provisions and livestock”. By the tenth year of the Jiaqing period (1805), although the peasant rebel forces in Sichuan, Hubei, and Shaanxi provinces had been contained, the Qing imperial authority was crippled. Shortly afterwards, in 1810, an uprising led by Cai Qian in the southeastern coastal areas was put down. In 1813, the “Heavenly Principle Society” (Tianli jiao) raised a fierce revolt in north China. A contingent, with the aid of eunuchs in the imperial palace, penetrated the Forbidden City, that “was unprecedented in the Han (206 BCE-220 CE), Tang (618-907), Song (960-1279), and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties.” [An arrow shaft that is a remnant of the conflict is still lodged in the sign board inside the Gate of Thriving Imperial Clan (Longzong men)] Aisin Gioro Yongyan issued a decree to take the blame and commanded that all those who breached the imperial palace be killed without mercy. He also ordered the capture and execution of the rebellion leader Lin Qing. The “Heavenly Principle Society” revolt was crushed.
Regarding foreign affairs, the Jiaqing Emperor ordered strict prohibition of opium and was highly alert to the British harassment of China’s coastal area. Sensing dark intentions of the British, he flatly refused their offers to help the Qing government to suppress rebellions or to aid the Portuguese in Macau against France. In 1816 (the twenty-first year of the Jiaqing reign), the Emperor refused the British requests to establish diplomatic relations, open trade ports, and ceding offshore islands near Zhejiang. Following the convention of cutting off the empire from the outside world, the Emperor blindly rejected all things foreign. For his part, he struggled to maintain the stability of the Qing sovereignty under chaotic circumstances of frequent domestic uprisings and growing foreign aggression. However, the tide of history could not be reversed. In the late years of the Jiaqing reign, an overall deterioration became apparent. The Qing empire declined progressively thereafter.
The Jiaqing Emperor died at the age of sixty-one at the Qing imperial resort Mountain Villa to Escape the Heat (Bishu shanzhuang) on the twenty-fifth day of the seventh lunar month of 1820,. His temple name is “Renzong” (Benevolent Ancestor). He was buried in the Flourishing (chang) Tomb of the Western Qing Tombs, Yixian county, Hebei province. Decades later, out of respect, the Xianfeng Emperor (r. 1860-1870) upon his succession to the throne added two more glorious characters to his grandfather’s posthumous title.
Lady Niuhuru, Empress Xiaohe