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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 Zhengde Emperor (approx. 1506–1521)
Bingyin Year (approx. 1506)
Zhengde Reign, 1st Year
Liu Jin, a eunuch of the Directorate of Palace Eunuchs, is charged to administrate the Twelve Integrated Divisions, the capital’s military organization.
Lady Xia is named empress.
The empress, née Wang, of the late interim Jingtai Emperor, dies and is buried in the Western Hills near her late husband.
Dingmao Year (approx. 1507)
Zhengde Reign, 2nd Year
Having won the favor of the young emperor, the eunuch Liu Jin controls the court. He forges imperial orders to prosecute fifty-six leading officials as traitors, including the grand secretaries Liu Jian and Xie Qian, and has their names shamefully posted in public. Those officials not charged are investigated by the Ministry of Personnel. Once crimes are determined, they will be forced to resign from their posts. Liu Jin also issues false orders giving all eunuchs serving as grand defenders in the northern regions special privileges.
A separate residential palace called the Leopard Quarter (Bao fang) is built inside the Gate of Western Peace (Xi’an men, no longer extant), the west gate of the imperial city.
Wuchen Year (approx. 1508)
Zhengde Reign, 3rd Year
On the twenty-sixth day, as the imperial procession withdraws from the midday court audience, an anonymous memorandum of accusation detailing Liu Jin's crimes is found on the imperial walkway.
Gengwu Year (approx. 1510)
Zhengde Reign, 5th Year
As a devout Buddhist, the emperor names himself the Great Buddha of the Western Paradise of the Path of Enlightenment with Unrestrained Introspective Meditation and Wisdom and orders the casting of a seal bearing this title.
Liu Jin’s treachery is exposed; he is promptly executed.
Jiaxu Year (approx. 1514)
Zhengde Reign, 9th Year
An accident involving lanterns causes a fire in the Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing gong).
Dingchou Year (approx. 1517)
Zhengde Reign, 12th Year
The emperor leaves the Forbidden City for a tour and stays in a temporary residence built in Xuanfu (present-day Xuanhua, Hebei Province) on the northern line of defense. His retinue includes beautiful women, leopards, and curios. On the nineteenth day, the imperial procession stops at Yanghe (modern-day Yanggao in northeastern Shanxi Province), where the emperor grants himself the military title the Great Valiant General (Weiyong da jiangjun).
Wuyin Year (approx. 1518)
Zhengde Reign, 13th Year
The grand empress dowager dies on the tenth day.
The grand empress dowager is buried at the Mao Tomb, the tomb of the Chenghua Emperor.
The emperor tours northern regions on the pretext of an alleged imminent crisis. He acts as the Great Valiant General Zhu Shou in leading the inspection.
Jimao Year (approx. 1519)
Zhengde Reign, 14th Year
Zhu Chenhao, the Prince of Ning, leads a rebellion.
Acting as the Great Valiant General Zhu Shou, the emperor personally leads the border troops in a campaign to suppress Zhu Chenhao’s uprising.
Censor-in-chief Wang Shouren (1472-1529) escorts the rebellion's shackled leader, Zhu Chenhao, to Hangzhou.
Gengchen Year (approx. 1520)
Zhengde Reign, 15th Year
8th Month (Intercalary):
The emperor orders the Presentation of Captives (xianfu) ritual to celebrate his supposed single-handed arrest of Zhu Chenhao.
On the fifth day, the emperor forces Zhu Chenhao to commit suicide.
Xinsi Year (approx. 1521)
Zhengde Reign, 16th Year
On the thirteenth day, the emperor is critically ill. He dies on the following day in the Leopard Quarter. On the eighteenth day, the empress dowager orders the arrest and imprisonment of the late emperor’s favorite military companion Jiang Bin and his accomplices.
The late Zhengde Emperor has no male heir. On the twenty-second day, it is decided that Zhu Houcong, the heir of the Prince Xian of Xing, will come to the capital and succeed the throne. The following year is designated as the first year of the Jiajing reign.
On the eighth day, the late Zhengde Emperor is given his posthumous title.
The late Zhengde Emperor is buried in the Kang Tomb.
Translated and edited by Li Yang, Zhuang Ying, Adam J. Ensign, et al.
Lady Xia, Empress Xiaojing of the Zhengde Emperor (r. 1506-1521)