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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 Hongxi Emperor (approx. 1425–1425)
Yisi Year (approx. 1425)
Hongxi Reign, 1st Year
On the eleventh day, the deathly-ill newly enthroned emperor orders Grand Secretary Yang Shiqi (1366-1444) to draft posthumous orders. On the following day, he dies in the Hall of Imperial Peace (Qin’an dian) at the imperial palace at the age of forty-eight (in sui). According to his final wishes, the heir apparent succeeds to the throne. The following year is designated as the first year of the Xuande reign.
Zhu Zhanji, the heir apparent, ascends the throne on the twelfth day.
On the second day, the late Hongxi emperor receives his posthumous title, and the late honored consort, née Guo, is given her posthumous title Gongsu (lit. “Reverent and Solemn”). Lady Wang, the late Consort Shu (Shu fei, lit. “Pure Consort”), is given the posthumous title Zhenhui (lit. “Chaste and Gracious”). Lady Wang, the late Consort Li (Li fei, lit. Elegant Consort”) is given the posthumous title Huian (lit. “Gracious and Peaceful”). Lady Tan, the late Consort Shun (Shun fei, lit. “Complaisant Consort”), is given the posthumous title Gongshe (“Reverent and Generous”). Lady Huang, the late Consort Chong (Chong fei, lit. “Consort of Fulfillment”), is given the posthumous title Gongjing (lit. “Reverent and Tranquil”). On the eighth day, the emperor elevates Lady Zhang as the empress dowager, establishes Lady Hu as the empress, and designates Lady Sun, Lady Liu, and Lady He as the honored consort (Gui fei), Consort Shu (Shu fei, lit. “Pure Consort”), and Consort Hui (Hui fei, lit. “Gracious Consort”), respectively.
The late Hongxi Emperor is buried in the Xian Tomb (or Xianling)
Translated and edited by Li Yang, Zhuang Ying, Adam J. Ensign, et al.
The Hongxi Emperor (r. 1425-1425)
The Hongxi Emperor (temple name Emperor Renzong) was the eldest son of the Yongle Emperor (r. 1403-1424) and his chief consort née Xu, the daughter of Xu Da (1332-1385), one of the generals who aided in founding the dynasty. He was born Zhu Gaochi, in Fengyang, Anhui province on the twenty-third day of the seventh lunar month in the eleventh year of the Hongwu reign (1378). During his boyhood, he received a standard education in Confucian studies, while showing little flair for the military. Even during the reign of his grandfather the Hongwu Emperor, his literary and administrative talent already impressed the emperor, who showed marked affection towards this grandson. In 1395, the twenty-eighth year of the Hongwu reign, he was designated “Heir of Yan” (Yan shizi). In 1404, the second year of his father, the Yongle Emperor’s reign, he was installed as heir apparent to the throne. From the seventh year of the Yongle reign (1409), when the northern expedition and the plan to relocate the capital kept the emperor in Beijing, he started to carry out administrative duties on behalf of the emperor until the nineteenth year of the Yongle reign (1421), when the dynasty’s capital was formally moved to Beijing. When Zhu Gaochi served as administrator in Nanjing, he was incessantly challenged by his father’s suspicions and by his two brothers Zhu Gaoxu (the Prince of Han) and Zhu Gaosui (the Prince of Zhao) plotting against him. His weak physique and bad health also contrasted dramatically with the martial spirit of Zhu Gaoxu, to whom the Yongle Emperor gave much credit for the success of the rebellion against the Jianwen Emperor (1399-1402). The fact that Zhu Di postponed a decision on heir apparent until 1404 suggests that he was wavering. However, with the assistance of advisors like Yang Shiqi (1365-1444), Zhu Gaochi was able to handle complex situations. He successfully defended Beijing during Zhu Di’s rebellion against the court, kept administrative affairs running smoothly, maintained harmonious relations between the throne and officials, and among family members. Later the two princes’ ambition was discovered, and the Yongle Emperor exiled,them. At the same time, Zhu Di’s fondness for Zhu Gaochi’s consort née Zhang and grandson Zhu Zhanji consolidated Zhu Gaochi’s position as heir apparent. His ten-year’s administrative experience acquainted him with existing social problems and matters of state, preparing him well for the throne.
In the seventh lunar month of the twenty-seventh year of the Yongle reign (1424), the Yongle Emperor died on the way back from his last Mongolian campaign. Zhu Gaochi succeeded to the throne under the assistance of Grand Academicians Yang Shiqi, Yang Rong (1371-1440), and Ministers Jian Yi (1364-1435) and Xia Yuanji (1366-1430). In the following year, he promulgated his own calendar, calling 1425 “the first year of the Hongxi reign”. The Hongxi reign witnessed a series of policies aimed at internal reform. He redressed mishandled cases, restored officials imprisoned for their protest against the Yongle Emperor’s Mongolian expeditions or for taking Zhu Gaochi’s side when he was in disagreement with his father, and reinstated them to their respective ranks. He announced a comprehensive amnesty for left-over officials and family members of officials executed in 1402 for their loyalty to the Jianwen Emperor and abolished Zheng He’s scheduled maritime expedition to lighten the burden on the common people. He restructured the Grand Secretariat (neige) and gave it more power, making the office a major decision-making body to assist the Emperor. A benevolent ruler, the Hongxi Emperor also dismantled many oppressive policies implemented by his predecessor. He was both modest and open-minded towards the officials and exhorted them to speak up without fear of reprisal. This is considered a remarkable achievement of the Hongxi Emperor.
Empress Chengxiao of the Hongxi Emperor (r. 1425-1425)