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The Yongle Emperor (pronounced ; 2 May 1360 – 12 August 1424) — personal name Zhu Di, or Chu Ti in
Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken lang ...
romanization — was the third Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigning from 1402 to 1424. Zhu Di was the fourth son of the
Hongwu Emperor The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 ...
, the founder of the
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
. He was originally
enfeoffed In the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, similarly to the Post-classical, Post-classical period of global history. It began with the fal ...
as the
Prince of Yan Prince or King of Yan () was a Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world' ...
() in May 1370,Chan Hok-lam.
Legitimating Usurpation: Historical Revisions under the Ming Yongle Emperor (r. 14021424)
. ''The Legitimation of New Orders: Case Studies in World History''. Chinese University Press, 2007. . Accessed 12 Oct 2012.
with the capital of his princedom at Beiping (modern
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
). Amid the continuing struggle against the
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to the Inner Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, Mongolia an ...

Mongols
of the
Northern Yuan The Northern Yuan () was a dynastic regime ruled by the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; ) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia Mongolia (, Mongolian language, Mongolian: , Mongolian ...

Northern Yuan
, Zhu Di consolidated his own power and eliminated rivals such as the general Lan Yu. He initially accepted his father's appointment of his eldest brother
Zhu Biao Zhu Biao (; 10 October 1355 17 May 1392) was the Hongwu Emperor The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty#REDIRECT Ming dynasty {{Redirect categ ...
and then Zhu Biao's son
Zhu Yunwen The Jianwen Emperor (; born 5 December 1377, disappeared from 13 July 1402) was the second List of emperors of the Ming dynasty, Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1398 to 1402. His personal name was Zhu Yunwen (). The Chinese era name, ...

Zhu Yunwen
as
crown prince A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when i ...
, but when Zhu Yunwen ascended the throne as the Jianwen Emperor and began executing and demoting his powerful uncles, Zhu Di found pretext for rising in rebellion against his nephew. Assisted in large part by
eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot ...

eunuch
s mistreated by the Hongwu and Jianwen Emperors, who both favored the Confucian
scholar-bureaucrat 220px, A 15th-century portrait of the Ming official egrets on his chest are a "mandarin square">Egret_(bird).html" ;"title="Jiang Shunfu. The decoration of two Egret (bird)">egrets on his chest are a "mandarin square", indicating that he was a c ...
s,Crawford, Robert B.
Eunuch Power in the Ming Dynasty
. ''T'oung Pao'', 2d Series, Vol. 49, Livr. 3 (1961), pp. 115–148. Accessed 9 Oct 2012.
Zhu Di survived the initial attacks on his princedom and drove south to launch the Jingnan campaign against the Jianwen Emperor in
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
. In 1402, he successfully overthrew his nephew and occupied the imperial capital,
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
, after which he was proclaimed emperor and adopted the
era name A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin word ''super ...
Yongle, which means "perpetual happiness". Eager to establish his own legitimacy, Zhu Di voided the Jianwen Emperor's reign and established a wide-ranging effort to destroy or falsify records concerning his childhood and rebellion. This included a massive purge of the Confucian scholars in Nanjing and grants of extraordinary extralegal authority to the eunuch secret police. One favorite was
Zheng He Zheng He (; 1371 – 1433 or 1435) was a Chinese mariner A sailor, seaman, mariner, or seafarer is a person who works aboard a watercraft as part of its crew, and may work in any one of a number of different fields that are related to ...

Zheng He
, who employed his authority to launch major voyages of exploration into the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. The difficulties in Nanjing also led the Yongle Emperor to re-establish Beiping (present-day Beijing) as the new imperial capital. He repaired and reopened the
Grand CanalGrand Canal can refer to multiple waterways: * Grand Canal (China) in eastern China * Grand Canal (Ireland), between the River Shannon and Dublin in Ireland * Grand Canal (Venice) in Venice, Italy * Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France *Grand Cana ...
and, between 1406 and 1420, directed the construction of the
Forbidden City The Forbidden City () is a palace A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence, or the home of a or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a or . The word is derived from the name palātium, for in Rome which housed ...

Forbidden City
. He was also responsible for the , considered one of the wonders of the world before its destruction by the Taiping rebels in 1856. As part of his continuing attempt to control the Confucian scholar-bureaucrats, the Yongle Emperor also greatly expanded the
imperial examination system Chinese imperial examinations, or ''keju'' (lit. "subject recommendation"), were a civil service examination system in History of China#Imperial era, Imperial China for selecting candidates for the state Civil service#China, bureaucracy. The co ...
in place of his father's use of personal recommendation and appointment. These scholars completed the monumental ''
Yongle Encyclopedia The ''Yongle Encyclopedia'' or ''Yongle Dadian'' () is a largely-lost Chinese ''leishu The ''leishu'' () is a genre of reference books historically compiled in China and other East Asian countries. The term is generally translated as "encyclo ...

Yongle Encyclopedia
'' during his reign. The Yongle Emperor died while personally leading a military campaign against the Mongols. He was buried in the Changling Mausoleum, the central and largest mausoleum of the
Ming tombs The Ming tombs are a collection of mausoleums built by the emperors of the Ming dynasty of China. The first Ming emperor's tomb is located near his capital Nanjing. However, the majority of the Ming tombs are located in a cluster near Beijing and ...

Ming tombs
located north of Beijing.


Youth

The Yongle Emperor was born Zhu Di () on 2 May 1360, the fourth son of the new leader of the central Red Turbans,
Zhu Yuanzhang The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 ...

Zhu Yuanzhang
. Zhu Yuanzhang would later rise to become the
Hongwu Emperor The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 ...
, the first emperor of the Ming dynasty. According to surviving Ming historical records, Zhu Di's mother was the Hongwu Emperor's primary consort, Empress Ma, the view Zhu Di himself maintained. Some contemporaries maintained, however, that Zhu Di's mother was one of his father's concubines, who might be of Korean origin, and that the official records were changed during his reign to list him as a son of the Empress Ma in order to sanction his succession on the "death" of the
Jianwen Emperor The Jianwen Emperor (5 December 1377 – 13 July 1402) was the second Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1398 to 1402. His personal name was Zhu Yunwen (). The era name A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign Sovereign ...

Jianwen Emperor
. Zhu Di grew up as a prince in a loving, caring environment. His father supplied nothing but the best education and, trusting them alone, reestablished the old feudal principalities for his many sons. Zhu Di was created
Prince of Yan Prince or King of Yan () was a Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world' ...
, a location important for being both the former capital of the
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
and the frontline of battle against
Northern Yuan The Northern Yuan () was a dynastic regime ruled by the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; ) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia Mongolia (, Mongolian language, Mongolian: , Mongolian ...

Northern Yuan
, a successor state to the Yuan dynasty. When Zhu Di moved to
Beiping "Beijing" is the atonal pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is often used to teach ...
, the former
Khanbaliq Khanbaliq or Dadu of Yuan () was the winter capital Some countries have multiple capitals. In some cases, one city is the capital for some purposes, and one or more others are capital for other purposes, without any being considered an offi ...
of Yuan, he found a city that had been devastated by famine and disease, but he worked with his father's general
Xu Da Xu Da (1332–1385), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere The East A ...

Xu Da
who was also his own father-in-law to continue the pacification of the region. The official Ming histories portray a Zhu Di who impressed his father with his energy, daring, and leadership amid numerous successes; nonetheless, the Ming dynasty suffered numerous reverses during his tenure and the great victory at
Buir Lake Buir Lake ( mn, Буйр нуур; ) is a freshwater Fresh water (or freshwater) is any naturally occurring water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color o ...
was won not by Zhu Di but by his brother's partisan Lan Yu. Similarly, when the Hongwu Emperor sent large forces to the north, they were not placed under Zhu Di's command.


Rise to power

The
Hongwu Emperor The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 ...
was long-lived and survived his first heir,
Zhu Biao Zhu Biao (; 10 October 1355 17 May 1392) was the Hongwu Emperor The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty#REDIRECT Ming dynasty {{Redirect categ ...
, Crown Prince Yiwen. He worried about his succession and issued a series of dynastic instructions for his family, the '' Huang Ming Zu Xun''. These instructions made it clear that the rule would pass only to children from the emperor's primary consort, excluding the Prince of Yan in favour of Zhu Yunwen, Zhu Biao's son. When the Hongwu Emperor died on 24 June 1398, Zhu Yunwen succeeded his grandfather as the
Jianwen Emperor The Jianwen Emperor (5 December 1377 – 13 July 1402) was the second Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1398 to 1402. His personal name was Zhu Yunwen (). The era name A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign Sovereign ...

Jianwen Emperor
. In direct violation of the dynastic instructions, the Prince of Yan attempted to mourn his father in Nanjing, bringing a large armed guard with him. The imperial army was able to block him at
Huai'an Huai'an (), formerly called Huaiyin () until 2001, is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu province of East China, Eastern China. Huai'an is situated almost directly south of Lianyungang, southeast of Suqian, northwest of Yancheng, almos ...
and, given that three of his sons were serving as hostages in the capital, the prince withdrew in disgrace. The Jianwen Emperor's harsh campaign against his weaker uncles (dubbed , lit. "Weakening the Marcher Lords") made accommodation much more difficult, however: Zhu Di's full brother, Zhu Su, Prince of Zhou, was arrested and exiled to Yunnan;
Zhu Gui Zhu Gui is a fictional character in ''Water Margin'', one of the Four Great Classical Novels in Chinese literature. Nicknamed "Dry Land Alligator", he ranks 92nd among the 108 Stars of Destiny and 56th among the 72 Earthly Fiends. Background The ...
, Prince of Dai was reduced to a commoner; Zhu Bai, Prince of Xiang committed suicide under duress; Zhu Fu, Prince of Qi and Zhu Pian, Prince of Min were demoted all within the later half of 1398 and the first half of 1399. Faced with certain hostility, Zhu Di pretended to fall ill and then "went mad" for a number of months before achieving his aim of freeing his sons from captivity to visit him in the north in June 1399. On 5 August, Zhu Di declared that the Jianwen Emperor had fallen victim to "evil counselors" () and that the Hongwu Emperor's dynastic instructions obliged him to rise in arms to remove them, a conflict known as the Jingnan campaign. In the first year, Zhu Di survived the initial assaults by superior forces under Geng Bingwen and Li Jinglong thanks to superior tactics and capable Mongol auxiliaries. He also issued numerous justifications for his rebellion, including questionable claims to have been the son of Empress Ma and bold-faced lies that his father had attempted to name him as the rightful heir, only to be thwarted by bureaucrats scheming to empower Zhu Biao's son. Whether because of this propaganda or for personal motives, Zhu Di began to receive a steady stream of turncoat eunuchs and generals who provided him with invaluable intelligence allowing a hit-and-run campaign against the imperial supply depots along the
Grand CanalGrand Canal can refer to multiple waterways: * Grand Canal (China) in eastern China * Grand Canal (Ireland), between the River Shannon and Dublin in Ireland * Grand Canal (Venice) in Venice, Italy * Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France *Grand Cana ...
. By 1402, he knew enough to be able to avoid the main hosts of the imperial army while sacking
Xuzhou Xuzhou (徐州), also known as Pengcheng (彭城) in ancient times, is a major city in northwestern Jiangsu province, China. The city, with a recorded population of 8,577,225 at the 2010 census (2,623,066 of which lived in the built-up area), ...
,
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; , Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and c ...

Suzhou
, and
Yangzhou Yangzhou, Postal Map Romanization, postal romanization Yangchow, is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu Province (Suzhong), East China. Sitting on the north bank of the Yangtze, it borders the provincial capital Nanjing to the southwest, H ...

Yangzhou
. The betrayal of gave him the imperial army's Yangtze River fleet; the betrayal of Li Jinglong and the prince's half-brother Zhu Hui, Prince of Gu opened the gates of Nanjing on 13 July. Amid the disorder, the imperial palace quickly caught fire: Zhu Di enabled his own succession by claiming three bodies charred beyond recognition as the Jianwen Emperor, his consort, and their son but rumours circulated for decades that the Jianwen Emperor had escaped in disguise as a Buddhist monk. Having captured the capital, Zhu Di now left aside his former arguments about rescuing his nephew from evil counsel and voided the Jianwen Emperor's entire reign, taking 1402 as the 35th year of the Hongwu era. His own brother Zhu Biao, whom the Jianwen Emperor had posthumously elevated to emperor, was now posthumously demoted; Zhu Biao's surviving two sons were demoted to commoners and placed under house arrest; and the Jianwen Emperor's surviving younger son was imprisoned and hidden for the next 55 years. After a brief show of humility where he repeatedly refused offers to take the throne, Zhu Di accepted and proclaimed that the next year would be the first year of the Yongle era. On 17 July 1402, after a brief visit to his father's tomb, Zhu Di was crowned emperor of the Ming dynasty at the age of 42. He would spend most of his early years suppressing rumours and outlaws.


Becoming the emperor

With many
scholar-bureaucrat 220px, A 15th-century portrait of the Ming official egrets on his chest are a "mandarin square">Egret_(bird).html" ;"title="Jiang Shunfu. The decoration of two Egret (bird)">egrets on his chest are a "mandarin square", indicating that he was a c ...
s in Nanjing refusing to recognise the legitimacy of his claim to the throne, the Yongle Emperor began a thorough purge of them and their families, including women and children. Other supporters of the Jianwen Emperor's regime were extirpated throughout the country, while a reign of terror was seen due to eunuchs settling scores with the two prior administrations. Chinese law had long allowed for the execution of families along with principals: The ''
Classic of History The ''Book of Documents'' (''Shūjīng'', earlier ''Shu King'') or ''Classic of History'', also known as the ''Shangshu'' ("Esteemed Documents"), is one of the Five Classics The Four Books and Five Classics () are the authoritative books of ...
'' records insubordinate officers being threatened with it as far back as the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From ...

Shang dynasty
. The
Hongwu Emperor The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 ...
had fully restored the practice, punishing rebels and traitors with death by a thousand cuts as well as the death of their grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts, siblings by birth or by bond, children, nephews and nieces, grandchildren, and all cohabitants of whatever family, although children were sometimes spared and women were sometimes permitted to choose slavery instead. Four of the purged scholars became known as the Four Martyrs, the most famous of whom was Fang Xiaoru, the former tutor to the Jianwen Emperor: threatened with execution of all nine degrees of his kinship, he fatuously replied "Never mind nine! Go with ten!" and alone in Chinese history he was sentenced to execution of 10 degrees of kinship: along with his entire family, every former student or peer of Fang Xiaoru that the Yongle Emperor's agents could find was also killed. It was said that as he died, cut in half at the waist, Fang used his own blood to write the character ("usurper") on the floor and that 872 other people were executed in the ordeal. The Yongle Emperor followed traditional rituals closely and held many popular beliefs. He did not overindulge in the luxuries of palace life, but still used
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
and Buddhist festivals to help calm civil unrest. He stopped the warring between the various Chinese tribes and reorganised the provinces to best provide peace within the Ming Empire. The Yongle Emperor was said to be an "ardent Buddhist" by Ernst Faber. Due to the stress and overwhelming amount of thinking involved in running a post-rebellion empire, the Yongle Emperor searched for scholars to serve in his government. He had many of the best scholars chosen as candidates and took great care in choosing them, even creating terms by which he hired people. He was also concerned about the degeneration of Buddhism in China.


Reign


Relations with Tibet

In 1403, the Yongle Emperor sent messages, gifts, and envoys to Tibet inviting
Deshin Shekpa Image:Karmapa5.jpg, 260px Deshin Shekpa () (1384–1415), also Deshin Shegpa, Dezhin Shekpa and Dezhin Shegpa, was the fifth Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu, a subschool of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. Deshin Shekpa was born in N ...
, the fifth
Gyalwa Karmapa Image:Flagkarmapa.svg, Karmapa's flag The Karmapa (honorific title ''His Holiness the Gyalwa'' ྒྱལ་བ་, Victorious One''Karmapa'', more formally as ''Gyalwang'' ྒྱལ་དབང་ཀརྨ་པ་, King of Victorious O ...
of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, to visit the imperial capital – apparently after having a vision of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. After a long journey, Deshin Shekpa arrived in
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
on 10 April 1407 riding on an elephant towards the imperial palace, where tens of thousands of monks greeted him. Deshin Shekpa convinced the Yongle Emperor that there were different religions for different people, which does not mean that one is better than the others. The Karmapa was very well received during his visit and a number of miraculous occurrences were reported. He also performed ceremonies for the imperial family. The emperor presented him with 700 measures of silver objects and bestowed the title of 'Precious Religious King, Great Loving One of the West, Mighty Buddha of Peace'. A khatvanga in the British Museum was one of the objects given to the Karmapa by the Yongle Emperor. Aside from the religious matter, the Yongle Emperor wished to establish an alliance with the Karmapa similar to the one the 13th- and 14th-century Yuan khans had established with the Sakyapa. He apparently offered to send armies to unify Tibet under the Karmapa but Deshin Shekpa demurred, as parts of Tibet were still firmly controlled by partisans of the former Yuan dynasty. Deshin Shekpa left Nanjing on 17 May 1408. In 1410, he returned to
Tsurphu Tsurphu Monastery ( or Tölung Tsurphu (, "Tsurphu of Doilungdêqên District, Tölong") is a gompa which serves as the traditional seat of the Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located in Gurum in Doilungdêq ...
where he had his monastery rebuilt following severe damage from an earthquake.


Selecting an heir

When it was time for him to choose an heir, the Yongle Emperor wanted to choose his second son,
Zhu Gaoxu Zhu Gaoxu (; 30 December 1380 – 6 October 1426), the Prince of Gaoyang (高陽王, created 1395), later the Prince of Han (漢王, created 1404), was the second son of the Yongle Emperor and Empress Renxiaowen. Gaoxu fought with his elder broth ...
, Prince of Han. Zhu Gaoxu had an athletic-warrior personality which contrasted sharply with his elder brother's intellectual and humanitarian nature. Despite much counsel from his advisers, the Yongle Emperor chose his older son, Zhu Gaozhi (the future
Hongxi Emperor The Hongxi Emperor (16 August 1378 – 29 May 1425), personal name Zhu Gaochi (朱高熾), was the fourth Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1424 to 1425. He succeeded his father, the Yongle Emperor The Yongle Emperor (pronounced , ...

Hongxi Emperor
), as his heir apparent mainly due to advice from
Xie Jin Xie Jin (; 21 November 1923 – 18 October 2008) was a Chinese film director. He rose to prominence in 1957, directing the film ''Woman Basketball Player No. 5'', and is considered one of the Third Generation directors of China. Most recently he ...
. As a result, Zhu Gaoxu became infuriated and refused to give up jockeying for his father's favour and refusing to move to
Yunnan Province Yunnan () is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivi ...

Yunnan Province
, where his princedom was located. He even went so far as to undermine Xie Jin's counsel and eventually killed him.


National economy and construction projects

After the Yongle Emperor's overthrow of the
Jianwen Emperor The Jianwen Emperor (5 December 1377 – 13 July 1402) was the second Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1398 to 1402. His personal name was Zhu Yunwen (). The era name A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign Sovereign ...

Jianwen Emperor
, China's countryside was devastated. The fragile new economy had to deal with low production and depopulation. The Yongle Emperor laid out a long and extensive plan to strengthen and stabilise the new economy, but first he had to silence dissension. He created an elaborate system of censors to remove corrupt officials from office that spread such rumors. The emperor dispatched some of his most trusted officers to reveal or destroy secret societies, bandits, and loyalists to his other relatives. To strengthen the economy, he fought population decline, using the most he could from the existing labour force, and maximising textile and agricultural production. The Yongle Emperor also worked to reclaim production rich regions such as the Lower
Yangtze Delta The Yangtze Delta or Yangtze River Delta (YRD, or simply ) is a triangle-shaped megalopolis generally comprising the Wu Chinese-speaking areas of Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of th ...

Yangtze Delta
and called for a massive reconstruction of the
Grand CanalGrand Canal can refer to multiple waterways: * Grand Canal (China) in eastern China * Grand Canal (Ireland), between the River Shannon and Dublin in Ireland * Grand Canal (Venice) in Venice, Italy * Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France *Grand Cana ...
. During his reign, the Grand Canal was almost completely rebuilt and was eventually moving imported goods from all over the world. The Yongle Emperor's short-term goal was to revitalise northern urban centres, especially his new capital at Beijing. Before the Grand Canal was rebuilt, grain was transferred to Beijing in two ways; one route was simply via the
East China Sea The East China Sea is an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% o ...

East China Sea
, from the port of
LiujiagangLiuhe (; (Liuho) lit. "Liu Creek") is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of ...
(near
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; , Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and c ...

Suzhou
); the other was a far more laborious process of transferring the grain from large to small shallow barges (after passing the
Huai River The Huai River (), formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken ...
and having to cross southwestern
Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subn ...

Shandong
), then transferred back to large river barges on the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
before finally reaching Beijing.Brook, 46–47. With the necessary tribute grain shipments of four million ''shi'' (one ''shi'' equal to 107
liter The litre (British English spelling) or liter (American English spelling) (SI symbols L and l, other symbol used: ℓ) is a metric units, metric unit of volume. It is equal to 1 cubic decimetre (dm3), 1000 cubic centimetres (cm3) or 0.001 cub ...
s) to the north each year, both processes became incredibly inefficient. It was a magistrate of
Jining, Shandong Jining () is a prefecture-level city A prefectural-level municipality (), prefectural-level city or prefectural city is an administrative division of the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of Chi ...
who sent a memorandum to the Yongle Emperor protesting the current method of grain shipment, a request that the emperor ultimately granted. The Yongle Emperor ambitiously planned to move his capital to Beijing. According to a popular legend, the capital was moved when the emperor's advisers brought the emperor to the hills surrounding Nanjing and pointed out the emperor's palace showing the vulnerability of the palace to artillery attack. The emperor planned to build a massive network of structures in Beijing in which government offices, officials, and the imperial family resided. After a painfully long construction time (1407–1420), the
Forbidden City The Forbidden City () is a palace A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence, or the home of a or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a or . The word is derived from the name palātium, for in Rome which housed ...

Forbidden City
was finally completed and became the imperial capital for the next 500 years. The Yongle Emperor finalised the architectural ensemble of his father's Xiaoling Mausoleum in Nanjing by erecting a monumental "Square Pavilion" (Sifangcheng) with an eight-metre-tall tortoise-borne stele, extolling the merits and virtues of the Hongwu Emperor. In fact, the Yongle Emperor's original idea for the memorial was to erect an unprecedented stele 73 metres tall. However, due to the impossibility of moving or erecting the giant parts of that monuments, they have been left unfinished in
Yangshan Quarry The Yangshan Quarry () is an ancient stone quarry near Nanjing Nanjing ( ), Postal Map Romanization, formerly romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu province of the China, People's Republic of China and the List of cities in China by ...
, where they remain to this day. Even though the Hongwu Emperor may have meant for his descendants to be buried near his own Xiaoling Mausoleum (this was how the Hongwu Emperor's heir apparent,
Zhu Biao Zhu Biao (; 10 October 1355 17 May 1392) was the Hongwu Emperor The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty#REDIRECT Ming dynasty {{Redirect categ ...
was buried), the Yongle Emperor's relocation of the capital to Beijing necessitated the creation of a new imperial burial ground. On the advice of
fengshui Feng shui, also known as Chinese geomancy, is an ancient China, ancient Chinese traditional practice which claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. The term ''feng shui'' means, literally, "win ...

fengshui
experts, the Yongle Emperor chose a site north of Beijing, where he and his successors were to be buried. Over the next two centuries, thirteen emperors in total were laid to rest in the
Ming tombs The Ming tombs are a collection of mausoleums built by the emperors of the Ming dynasty of China. The first Ming emperor's tomb is located near his capital Nanjing. However, the majority of the Ming tombs are located in a cluster near Beijing and ...

Ming tombs
.


Religion and philosophy

The Yongle Emperor was a Chinese traditionalist. He promoted
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
, retained traditional ritual ceremonies, and respected the classical culture, overhauled
Mount Wudang The Wudang Mountains () consist of a small mountain range in the northwestern part of Hubei, China, just south of Shiyan. They are home to a famous complex of Taoism, Taoist temples and monastery, monasteries associated with the god Xuanwu (god) ...
. During his reign, many Buddhist and Taoist temples were build. The Yongle Emperor sought to eradicate Mongol culture from China; the use of popular Mongol names, habits, language, and clothing were forbidden. The Yongle Emperor sponsored a mosque each in
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
and
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals ...
; both survive. Repairs to mosques were encouraged and conversion to other uses was forbidden. He commissioned
Grand Secretary The Grand Secretariat (; Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and C ...
Xie Jin Xie Jin (; 21 November 1923 – 18 October 2008) was a Chinese film director. He rose to prominence in 1957, directing the film ''Woman Basketball Player No. 5'', and is considered one of the Third Generation directors of China. Most recently he ...
to write the ''
Yongle Encyclopedia The ''Yongle Encyclopedia'' or ''Yongle Dadian'' () is a largely-lost Chinese ''leishu The ''leishu'' () is a genre of reference books historically compiled in China and other East Asian countries. The term is generally translated as "encyclo ...

Yongle Encyclopedia
'', a compilation of Chinese civilization. It was completed in 1408 '' Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.'' and was the world's largest general encyclopedia until being surpassed by
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free content Free content, libre content, or free information is any kind of functional work, work of art A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creati ...

Wikipedia
in late 2007.


Military campaigns


Wars against the Mongols

Mongol invaders were still causing many problems for the Ming Empire. The Yongle Emperor prepared to eliminate this threat. He mounted five military expeditions into the Mongol steppes and crushed the remnants of the
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
that had fled north after being defeated by the Hongwu Emperor. He repaired the northern defences and forged buffer alliances to keep the Mongols at bay in order to build an army. His strategy was to force the Mongols into economic dependence on the Chinese and to launch periodic initiatives into Mongolia to cripple their offensive power. He attempted to compel Mongolia to become a Chinese tributary, with all the tribes submitting and proclaiming themselves vassals of the Ming Empire, and wanted to contain and isolate the Mongols. Through fighting, the Yongle Emperor learned to appreciate the importance of cavalry in battle and eventually began spending much of his resources to keep horses in good supply. The emperor spent his entire life fighting the Mongols. Failures and successes came and went, but after the emperor's second personal campaign against the Mongols, the Ming Empire was at peace for over seven years.


Conquest of Vietnam

Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
was a significant source of difficulties during the Yongle Emperor's reign. In 1406, the emperor responded to several formal petitions from members of the
Trần dynasty The Trần dynasty, also known as the House of Trần, was a Vietnamese dynasty that ruled over the Kingdom of Đại Việt Đại Việt (, ; literally Great Việt), often known as Annam, was a Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * ...
, however on arrival to Vietnam, both the Trần prince and the accompanying Chinese ambassador were ambushed and killed. In response to this insult, the Yongle Emperor sent two armies led by
Zhang Fu Zhang Fu (; vi, Trương Phụ; 1375–1449), courtesy name Wenbi (), was a Chinese military general of the Ming dynasty. He was the eldest son of general Zhang Yu (general), Zhang Yu, one of Zhu Di's (later Yongle Emperor) finest generals. Zhang ...
and
Mu Sheng Mu Sheng (; vi, Mộc Thạnh; 1368–1439), courtesy name Jingmao (), was a Chinese military general and politician during the Ming dynasty. Mu Sheng was the second son of Mu Ying, the first Marquis of Xiping (). He was a solemn man of few ...
to conquer Vietnam. As the Trần royal family were all executed,Maspero, G., 2002, The Champa Kingdom, Bangkok: White Lotus Co., Ltd., Vietnam was integrated as a province of China, just as it had been up until 939. With the Ho monarch defeated in 1407, the Chinese began a serious and sustained effort to sinicise the population. Various ancient sites such as pagoda Bao Minh were looted and destroyed. On 2 December 1407, the Yongle Emperor gave orders to Zhang Fu that innocent Vietnamese were not to be harmed, ordering family members of rebels to be spared such as young males if they themselves were not involved in rebellion. In early 1418,
Lê Lợi Lê Lợi (, Chữ Hán: 黎利; c. 10 September 1384 – 5 September 1433), temple name Thái Tổ, title Bình Định vương (平定王; "Prince of Pacification") was a Vietnamese people, Vietnamese rebel leader who founded the Later Lê dynas ...

Lê Lợi
, who founded the
Lê dynastyLe is a romanization of several rare East Asian surnames and a common Vietnamese surname. It is a fairly common surname in the United States, ranked 975th during the 1990 US Census, 1990 census and 368th during the year 2000 US Census, 2000 one. In ...
, started a major rebellion against Ming rule. By the time the Yongle Emperor died in 1424, the Vietnamese rebels under Lê Lợi's leadership had captured nearly the entire province. By 1427, the
Xuande Emperor Ming Emperor Xuande playing Golf The Xuande Emperor (; 16 March 1399 31 January 1435), personal name Zhu Zhanji (朱瞻基), was the fifth Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1425 to 1435. His era name "Xuande" means "Proclamation of Vi ...

Xuande Emperor
gave up the effort started by his grandfather and formally acknowledged Vietnam's independence on condition they accept vassal status.


Diplomatic missions and exploration of the world

As part of his desire to expand Chinese influence throughout the known world, the Yongle Emperor sponsored the massive and long term
treasure voyages The Ming treasure voyages were the seven maritime expeditions undertaken by Ming China The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse ...
led by admiral
Zheng He Zheng He (; 1371 – 1433 or 1435) was a Chinese mariner A sailor, seaman, mariner, or seafarer is a person who works aboard a watercraft as part of its crew, and may work in any one of a number of different fields that are related to ...

Zheng He
. While Chinese ships continued travelling to Japan,
Ryukyu The , also known as the or the , are a chain of Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an in . It is situated in the northwest , and is bordered on the west by the , while extending from the in the north toward the and ...

Ryukyu
, and many locations in Southeast Asia before and after the Yongle Emperor's reign, Zheng He's expeditions were China's only major sea-going explorations of the world (although the Chinese may have been sailing to
Arabia The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...

Arabia
,
East Africa East Africa, Eastern Africa, or East of Africa is the eastern sub-region A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subr ...
, and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
since the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
or earlier). The first expedition was launched in 1405 (18 years before
Henry the Navigator Dom Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Viseu (4 March 1394 – 13 November 1460), better known as Prince Henry the Navigator ( pt, Infante Dom Henrique, o Navegador), was a central figure in the early days of the Portuguese Empire The Portuguese E ...

Henry the Navigator
began Portugal's voyages of discovery). The expeditions were under the command of Zheng He and his associates ( Wang Jinghong,
Hong Bao Hong Bao (; ''floruit, fl.'' ''ca.'' 1412–1433) was a Chinese eunuch sent on Treasure voyages, overseas diplomatic missions during the reigns of the Yongle Emperor and Xuande Emperor in the Ming dynasty. He is best known as the commander of one ...
, etc.). Seven expeditions were launched between 1405 and 1433, reaching major trade centres of Asia (as far as Tenavarai (
Dondra Head Dondra (, ) is a settlement on the extreme southernmost tip of Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known a ...
), and
Aden Aden ( , ; ar, عدن ' Yemeni Arabic, Yemeni: ) is a city, and since 2015, the temporary capital of Yemen, near the eastern approach to the Red Sea (the Gulf of Aden), some east of the strait Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately ...

Aden
) and northeastern Africa (
Malindi Malindi (known as Melinde in antiquity) is a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River The Athi-Galana-Sabaki River is the second longest river in Kenya (after the Tana River (Kenya), Tana River). It has a total length of , and drain ...

Malindi
). Some of the ships used were apparently the largest sail-powered wooden ships in human history. The Chinese expeditions were a remarkable technical and logistical achievement. The Yongle Emperor's successors, the
Hongxi The Hongxi Emperor (洪熙 ; 16 August 1378 – 29 May 1425), personal name Zhu Gaochi (朱高熾), was the fourth List of emperors of the Ming dynasty, Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1424 to 1425. He succeeded his father, the Yongle Em ...

Hongxi
and Emperors, felt that the costly expeditions were harmful to the Ming Empire. The Hongxi Emperor ended further expeditions and the descendants of the Xuande Emperor suppressed much of the information about Zheng He's treasure voyages. On 30 January 1406, the Yongle Emperor expressed horror when the
Ryukyuans The , also Lewchewan or Loochooan, are an East Asian ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set ...
castrated some of their own children to become eunuchs to serve in the Ming imperial palace. The emperor said that the boys who were castrated were innocent and did not deserve castration, and he returned the boys to Ryukyu and instructed them not to send eunuchs again. In 1411, a smaller fleet, built in
Jilin Jilin (; alternately romanized as Kirin or Chilin) is one of the three provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrat ...

Jilin
and commanded by another eunuch
Yishiha Yishiha (; also Išiqa or Isiha Jurchen: ) ( fl. 1409–1451) was a Jurchen eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man who has been castration, castrated. Throughout history, castration often served a specific social function. The earliest records for int ...

Yishiha
, who was a
JurchenJurchen may refer to: * Jurchen people, Tungusic people who inhabited the region of Manchuria until the 17th century ** Haixi Jurchens, a grouping of the Jurchens as identified by the Chinese of the Ming Dynasty ** Jianzhou Jurchens, a grouping of t ...
, sailed down the
Sungari The Songhua River (also Haixi or Xingal, russian: Сунгари ''Sungari'') is one of the primary rivers of China, and the longest tributary A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or paren ...

Sungari
and
Amur River The Amur (russian: река́ Аму́р, ), or Heilong Jiang (, "Black Dragon A dragon is a large, serpent Serpent or The Serpent may refer to: * Snake Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpen ...

Amur River
s. The expedition established a
Nurgan Regional Military Commission The Nurgan Regional Military Commission () was a Chinese administrative seat established in Manchuria during the Ming dynasty, located on the banks of the Amur River, about 100 km from the sea, at Nurgan city (modern Tyr, Russia), Nurgan () in J ...
in the region, headquartered at the place the Chinese called Telin (特林; now the village of
Tyr, Russia Tyr (russian: Тыр) is a types of inhabited localities in Russia, settlement in Ulchsky District of Khabarovsk Krai, Russia, located on the right bank of the Amur River, near the mouth of the Amgun River, about upstream from Nikolayevsk-on- ...
). The local or Tungusic chiefs were granted ranks in the imperial administration. Yishiha's expeditions returned to the lower Amur several more times during the reigns of the Yongle and Emperors, the last one visiting the region in the 1430s.L. Carrington Godrich, Chaoying Fang (editors), "Dictionary of Ming Biography, 1368–1644". Volume I (A-L). Columbia University Press, 1976. . (Article on ''Ishiha'', pp. 685–686)Tsai (2002), pp. 158–159. After the death of
Timur Timur ; chg, ''Aqsaq Temür'', 'Timur the Lame') or as ''Sahib-i-Qiran'' ( 'Lord of the Auspicious Conjunction'), his epithet. ( chg, ''Temür'', 'Iron'; 9 April 133617–19 February 1405), later Timūr Gurkānī ( chg, ''Temür Kür ...

Timur
, who intended to invade China, relations between the Ming Empire and Shakhrukh's state in Persia and Transoxania state considerably improved, and the states exchanged large official delegations on a number of occasions. Both the Ming Empire's envoy to
Samarkand fa, سمرقند , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , image_alt = , image_caption = Clockwise from the top: The Reg ...

Samarkand
and
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
,
Chen Cheng Chen Cheng (; ; January 4, 1897 – March 5, 1965) was a Chinese political and military leader, and one of the main commanders of the National Revolutionary Army The National Revolutionary Army (NRA; ), sometimes shortened to Revolution ...
, and his counterpart, Ghiyasu'd-Din Naqqah, recorded detailed accounts of their visits to each other's states. One of the Yongle Emperor's consorts was a
JurchenJurchen may refer to: * Jurchen people, Tungusic people who inhabited the region of Manchuria until the 17th century ** Haixi Jurchens, a grouping of the Jurchens as identified by the Chinese of the Ming Dynasty ** Jianzhou Jurchens, a grouping of t ...
princess, which resulted in many of the eunuchs serving him being of Jurchen origin, notably
Yishiha Yishiha (; also Išiqa or Isiha Jurchen: ) ( fl. 1409–1451) was a Jurchen eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man who has been castration, castrated. Throughout history, castration often served a specific social function. The earliest records for int ...

Yishiha
. The Yongle Emperor instituted a Ming governor on Luzon during
Zheng He Zheng He (; 1371 – 1433 or 1435) was a Chinese mariner A sailor, seaman, mariner, or seafarer is a person who works aboard a watercraft as part of its crew, and may work in any one of a number of different fields that are related to ...

Zheng He
's voyages and appointed Ko-ch'a-lao (許柴佬; Xu Chailao) to that position in 1405. China also had vassals among the leaders in the archipelago. China attained ascendancy in trade with the area in the Yongle Emperor's reign. The local rulers on Luzon were "confirmed" by the governor or "high officer" appointed by the Yongle Emperor. States in Luzon, Sulu (under
King King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
Paduka Pahala Paduka Pahala (died 1417) was an List of sultans of Sulu, East King of Sulu, most famous for being the first king from the area of the modern day Philippines to be buried in China. He ruled one of the three Kingdoms on Sulu during his time. Journe ...
), Sumatra, and Brunei all established diplomatic relations with the Ming Empire and exchanged envoys and sent tribute to the Yongle Emperor. The Yongle Emperor exchanged ambassadors with
Shahrukh Mirza Shah Rukh ( fa, شاهرخ ''Šāhrokh'') (20 August 1377 – 13 March 1447) was the ruler of the Timurid Empire The Timurid Empire ( fa, ), self-designated as Gurkani ( fa, ), was a PersianateB.F. Manz, ''"Tīmūr Lang"'', in Encyclopa ...
, sending
Chen Cheng Chen Cheng (; ; January 4, 1897 – March 5, 1965) was a Chinese political and military leader, and one of the main commanders of the National Revolutionary Army The National Revolutionary Army (NRA; ), sometimes shortened to Revolution ...
to Samarkand and Herat, and Shahrukh sent
Ghiyāth al-dīn Naqqāsh Mawlānā Ghiyāth al-dīn Naqqāsh (غیاث الدین نقاش) (floruit, fl. 1419-22) was an envoy of the Timurid Dynasty, Timurid ruler of Persia and Transoxania, Shah Rukh (Timurid dynasty), Mirza Shahrukh (r. 1404–1447), to the court of ...
to Beijing.


Death

On 1 April 1424, the Yongle Emperor launched a large campaign into the
Gobi Desert The Gobi Desert () is a large desert upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab Emirates">Rub'_al_Khali.html" ;"title="Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali">Sand dunes in the Rub' al ...

Gobi Desert
to chase an army of fleeing
Oirats Oirats ( mn, Ойрад, ''Oirad'', or , Oird; ; xal-RU, Өөрд; in the past, also Eleuths) are the westernmost group of the Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East ...
. Frustrated at his inability to catch up with his swift opponents, Yongle fell into a deep depression and then into illness, possibly owing to a series of minor strokes. On 12 August 1424, the Yongle Emperor died. He was entombed in Changling (), a location northwest of Beijing.


Legacy

The Yongle Emperor is generally regarded to have had a lifelong pursuit of glory, power, and wealth. He respected and worked hard to preserve
Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse and varying, with customs and traditions varying grea ...
by designing monuments such as the , while undermining and expelling from Chinese society people from foreign cultures. He deeply admired and wished to save his father's accomplishments and spent a lot of time proving his claim to the throne. His reign was a mixed blessing for the Chinese populace. The Yongle Emperor's economic, educational, and military reforms provided unprecedented benefits for the people, but his
despotic Despotism ( el, Δεσποτισμός, ''despotismós'') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, go ...
style of government set up a spy agency. Despite these negatives, he is considered an architect and keeper of Chinese culture, history, and statecraft and an influential ruler in Chinese history. He is remembered very much for his cruelty, just like his father. He killed most of the Jianwen Emperor's palace servants, tortured many of his nephew's loyalists to death, killed or by other means badly treated their relatives. He ordered 2,800 concubines, servant girls and eunuchs who guarded them put to death as the Yongle Emperor tried to suppress a sex scandal which threatened to humiliate him. His successor freed most of the survivors.


Family

Parents: * Zhu Yuanzhang, the
Hongwu Emperor The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 ...
() * Empress Xiaocigao, of the Ma clan () Consorts and Issue: * Empress Renxiaowen, of the Xu clan (; 1362–1407), personal name Yihua () ** Princess Yong'an (; 1377–1417), personal name Yuying (), first daughter *** Married Yuan Rong, Marquis Guangping () in 1395, and had issue (one son, three daughters) ** Zhu Gaochi, the
Hongxi Emperor The Hongxi Emperor (16 August 1378 – 29 May 1425), personal name Zhu Gaochi (朱高熾), was the fourth Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1424 to 1425. He succeeded his father, the Yongle Emperor The Yongle Emperor (pronounced , ...

Hongxi Emperor
(; 16 August 1378 – 29 May 1425), first son ** Princess Yongping (; 1379 – 22 April 1444), second daughter *** Married Li Rang, Marquis Fuyang () in 1395, and had issue (one son) **
Zhu Gaoxu Zhu Gaoxu (; 30 December 1380 – 6 October 1426), the Prince of Gaoyang (高陽王, created 1395), later the Prince of Han (漢王, created 1404), was the second son of the Yongle Emperor and Empress Renxiaowen. Gaoxu fought with his elder broth ...
, Prince of Han (; 30 December 1380 – 6 October 1426), second son ** Zhu Gaosui, Prince Jian of Zhao (; 19 January 1383 – 5 October 1431), third son ** Princess Ancheng (; 1384 – 16 September 1443), third daughter *** Married Song Hu, Marquis Xining () in 1402, and had issue (one son) ** Princess Xianning (; 1385 – 27 July 1440), fourth daughter *** Married Song Ying, Marquis Xining (; d. 1449) in 1403, and had issue (one son) * Noble Consort Zhaoxian, of the Wang clan (; d. 1420) * Noble Consort Zhaoyi, of the Zhang clan () * Consort Gongxianxian, of the Korean Andong Kwon clan (; 1391–1410) * Consort Zhongjingzhaoshunxian, of the Yu clan (; d. 1421) * Consort Kangmuyigonghui, of the Wu clan () ** ''Zhu Gaoxi'' (; 18 January 1392 – January/February 1392), fourth son * Consort Gongshunrongmuli, of the Chen clan (; d. 1424) * Consort Duanjinggonghuishu, of the Yang clan () * Consort Gongherongshunxian, of the Wang clan () * Consort Zhaosujinghuixian, of the Wang clan () * Consort Zhaohuigongyishun, of the Wang clan () * Consort Huimuzhaojingshun, of the Qian clan () * Consort Kanghuizhuangshuli, of the Korean Cheongju Han clan (; d. 12 August 1424) * Consort Kangjingzhuanghehui, of the Korean Choi clan (; 1395–1424) * Consort Anshunhui, of the Long clan () * Consort Zhaoshunde, of the Liu clan () * Consort Kangyishun, of the Li clan () * Consort Huimushun, of the Guo clan () * Consort Zhenjingshun, of the Zhang clan () * Consort Shun, of the Korean Im clan ( 1392–1421) * Consort Hwang, of the Korean Hwang clan (; d. 1421) * '' Lady of Bright Deportment'', of the Korean Yi clan ( 1392–1421) * '' Lady of Handsome Fairness'', of the Korean Yeo clan (; 1393–1413) * Beauty Gongrong, of the Wang clan () * Beauty Jinghui, of the Lu clan () * Beauty Zhuanghui () * Unknown ** Princess Changning (; 1387 – 5 April 1408), fifth daughter *** Married Mu Xin (; 1386–1453), the fourth son of
Mu Ying Mu Ying (1345-1392) was a Chinese general during the Ming Dynasty#REDIRECT Ming dynasty {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ..., and an adopted son of its founder, the Hongwu Emperor (aka Zhu Yuanzhang). Mu ...
, on 20 June 1403, and had issue (one son)


Ancestry


See also

*
Chinese emperors family tree (late) This is a family tree of Chinese emperors from the Yuan dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last History of China#Imperial China, imperial Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty of ...
*
Yongle Tongbao The Yongle Tongbao (Traditional Chinese: 永樂通寳; Simplified Chinese: 永乐通宝; Hanyu Pinyin: ''yǒnglè tōng bǎo''; Japanese language, Japanese: ''Eiraku Tsūhō''; Vietnamese language, Vietnamese: ''Vĩnh Lạc Thông Bảo'') was a Mi ...


References


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * Brook, Timothy. (1998). '' The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China''. Berkeley: University of California Press. *Brown, Mick. (2004). ''The Dance of 17 Lives: The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa'', p. 34. Bloomsbury Publishing, New York and London. . * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Sperling, Elliot. "The 5th Karma-pa and some aspects of the relationship between Tibet and the early
Ming The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming
." In: ''Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson''. Edited by Michael Aris and
Aung San Suu Kyi Aung San Suu Kyi (; ; born 19 June 1945) is a Burmese politician, diplomat, author, and a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) ar ...

Aung San Suu Kyi
, pp. 283–284. (1979). Vikas Publishing house, New Delhi. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Tsai, Shih-Shan Henry, ''Perpetual Happiness: The Ming Emperor Yongle'', University of Washington Press, 2002.
Partial text
on Google Books. * Louise Levathes, ''When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405–1433'', Oxford University Press, 1997, trade paperback,
《明實錄太宗實錄》
in the '' Veritable Records of the Ming'' {{DEFAULTSORT:Yongle Emperor 1360 births 1424 deaths Ming dynasty emperors 15th-century Chinese monarchs Ming dynasty Buddhists Chinese Buddhist monarchs Ming dynasty generals Encyclopedists Generals from Jiangsu Usurpers