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March 8, 2014
Table of Contents
1 Introduction
Yongzheng Emperor


Qing_namebox |
image_name=Image:Yongzheng.jpg|250px|birth=13 December, 1678|death=8 October, 1735|clan_name=Aixin-Jueluo (愛新覺羅)
Aisin-Gioro|begin_era=5 February, 1723|end_era=11 February, 1736|posthumous_name_short=Emperor Xian (憲皇帝)
Emperor Temgetulehe|
|posthumous_name_full=Emperor Jingtian Changyun Jianzhong Biaozheng Wenwu Yingming Kuanren Xinyi Ruisheng Daxiao Zhicheng Xian

begin_reign=27 December, 1722|
end_reign=8 October, 1735|
dynasty=Qing (清)
given_name=Yinzhen (胤禛)
In Jen|
temple_name=Shizong (世宗)
era_name=Yongzheng (雍正 ; Yung-cheng)
Hūwaliyasun Tob|
notes=General note: Names given in Chinese language|Chinese, then in Manchu language|Manchu (full posthumous name in Chinese only).
Dates given here are in the Gregorian calendar.

The Yongzheng Emperor (born Yinzhen 胤禛) (December 13, 1678 - October 8, 1735) was the fourth Emperor of China|emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty, and the third Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1722 to 1735.

He was a tough and hard-working ruler bent on effective government at minimum expense. Like his father, the Kangxi Emperor, Yongzheng used military force to preserve the dynasty's position. His reign was despotic, efficient, and vigorous, albeit much shorter than the famous reigns of both his father the Kangxi Emperor and his son the Qianlong Emperor.

Yinzhen was the fourth son of Kangxi to survive into adulthood, and the eldest son by Empress Xiaogong (孝恭皇后), a lady of the Manchu Uya clan. Kangxi knew it would be a mistake to raise his children inside the deep palaces alone, and therefore exposed his sons, including Yinzhen, to the outside world, and gave a strict system of education for them. Yinzhen went with Kangxi on several inspection trips around the Beijing area, as well as one trip further south. He was the honorary leader of the Plain Red Banner during Kangxi's second battle against Mongol Khan Gordhun. Yinzhen was made a beile (貝勒, "lord") in 1698 and then successively raised to the position of third-class prince in 1689. In 1704, the Yangtze River|Yangtze and Yellow Rivers saw an unprecedented rush of flooding. The economy and livelihood of people around these areas were severely harmed. Yonzheng was sent out as a envoy of the Emperor with the 13th Imperial Prince Yinxiang to deal with relief efforts in southern China. These efforts ensured that funds were distributed properly and people would not starve. He was given the peerage title of a first-class Prince, the Prince Yong (雍親王) in 1709.

Please refer to the article on the Kangxi Emperor#Twice Removing the Crown Prince|Kangxi Emperor for details.

In 1712 the Kangxi Emperor removed his second son, Yinreng, as successor to the throne and did not designate another one. This led to division in Court, which was split among supporters of Yinzhi, Yinzhen, Yinsi, and Yinti, the 3rd, 4th, 8th and 14th Imperial Princes, respectively. By the time of the old Emperor's death in December 1722, the field of contenders had been reduced down to three Princes after Yinsi pledged his support to Yinti, Yinzhi, Yinti, and Yinzhen.

At the time of the Kangxi Emperor's death, Yinti, as Border Pacification General-in-chief (撫遠大將軍), was away on the warfront in the northwest. Some historians say this was to train the next Emperor in military affairs; others maintain that it was to ensure a peaceful succession for Yinzhen. The official record states that on December 20 1722, the ailing Kangxi Emperor called to his bedside seven of his sons and the General Commandant of the Peking Gendarmerie, Longkodo, who read out the will and declared that Yinzhen succeed him on the imperial throne. Some evidence have suggested that Yinzhen had made contact with Longkodo months before the will was read in preparation for succession by military means. Folklore has is that Yinzhen changed Kangxi's will by adding strokes and modifying characters. The most famous one said Yinzhen changed fourteen (??) to "to four" (??), others say it was fourteen to fourth (??). Whilst this folklore had been widely circulated, there was little evidence to support the view, especially considering that the character "?" wasn't widely used during the Qing Dynasty, i.e. on official documents, "?" is used. Secondly, Qing tradition insists that the will be done in both Manchu and Chinese, and Manchu writing is much harder, and in this case impossible to modify. Much doubt, however, still arises when the Manchu version of the will was lost somewhere along the way, and the existing will in Chinese that is preserved in the Chinese Historical Museum was only issued two days after Kangxi' death. Some historians gave the theory that Yinzhen did not change the will, but rather forged a new one.

As the first official act as Emperor, Yinzhen released his long-time ally, Yinxiang, from prison. An able military leader, some sources indicate that Yinxiang assembled a group of special task Beijing soldiers from Fengtai to seize immediate control of the Forbidden City and surrounding areas, to prevent any disruption of the succsesion. Yinzhen's personal account stated that he was emotionally unstable and deeply saddened over his father's death, and knew it would be a burden "much too heavy" for himself if he were to succeed the throne. In addition, after the will was read, Yinzhen wrote that the officials and Yinzhi, the Prince Cheng, led the other Princes in the ceremonial Three-kneels and Nine-Salutes to the Emperor. On the next day, Yinzhen gave out an edict summoning Yinti back from Qinghai. Subsequently, he gave his mother the title of Holy Mother Empress Dowager.

In the first major comprehensive biography of the Yongzheng Emperor by Feng Erkang, the author put the Yongzheng succession in perspective. Feng wrote that there were some suspicious signs from the lost wills and the dates released, but the majority of evidence points to Yinzhen succeeding the throne legitimately, albeit with some political and military manoeuvering deemed necessary by the situation. Furthermore, Feng suggested "although we are not yet altogether certain on what happened with the succession, and which side is correct, it is reasonable to think that Yinzhen's political enemies manipulated all suspicion behind the will in an attempt to put a dark image on Yonzheng; Imperial Chinese tradition had led certain schools of thought in believing that Yongzheng's whole reign can be discredited simply because his succession of the throne did not come as a will of his father, the Emperor and ultimate decision maker in China." He further suggested that Kangxi had made a grave mistake by letting his sons become major players in politics, especially under the condition that the position of Crown Prince was empty, and that a bloody battle of succession, including a possible usurpation, is the inevitable result of the Imperial Chinese institution and history. Therefore it would be an even bigger mistake to judge a ruler solely on the way he came to power.

In December 1722, after succeeding to the throne, Yinzhen took the era name of Yongzheng (雍正), effective 1723, from his peerage title Yong, meaning "harmonious"; and zheng, a term for "just" or "correct". I.e. the era of Harmonious Justice. Immediately after succeeding the throne, Yongzheng chose his new governing council. It consisted of Yinsi, Yinxiang, Ma Qi, and Longkodo. Yinsi was given the title of Prince Lian, and Yinxiang was given the title of Prince Yi, both holding the high positions.

Continued battle against Princes

As the nature of his succession is deeply clouded, Yongzheng saw a challenge in all his surviving brothers. Yinzhi, the eldest, continued in house arrest. Yinreng, the former Crown Prince, died two years into his reign. The biggest challenge was to separate Yinsi's party and isolate Yinti to cut their dominance. Yinsi, who had on the surface held the position of President of the Feudatory Affairs Office, and the title Prince Lian, was held under close watch by Yongzheng. Yintang was sent to Qinghai under the pretext of military requirement, but in reality fell within Yongzheng's trusted protoge Nian Gengyao's territory. Yin'e, the 10th Prince, was rid of all his titles in May 1724, and sent north to the Shunyi area. Yinti, the 14th Prince and his brother born to the same mother, was placed under house arrest at the Imperial Tombs, under the pretext of watching over their parents' tombs.

The first few years of Yongzheng's reign saw an increase in partisan politics. Yinsi had wanted to use his position to manipulate Yongzheng in making wrong decisions, while appearing supportive. Yinsi, Yintang, both supporters of Yinti for the throne, had all of their titles rid, languished in prison and died in 1727.

The case of Nian and Long

Nian Gengyao was a supporter of Yongzheng long before he succeeded the throne. In 1722, when he was summoning back his brother Yinti from the northeast, he appointed Nian to fill in the position. Longkodo was commander of Beijing's armies at the time of Yongzheng's succession. He fell to disgrace in 1728 and died while under house arrest.

After he became Emperor, Yongzheng censored the record of his accession and also suppressed other writings he deemed inimical to his regime, particuarly those with an anti-Manchu bias. Foremost among these was the case of Zeng Jing, a failed degree candidate heavily influenced by the seventeenth-century scholar L? Liuliang. In October 1728, he attempted to incite Yue Zhongqi, Governor-general of Shaanxi-Sichuan, to rebellion. He gave a long list of accusations against Yongzheng, including the murder of the Kangxi Emperor and the killing of his brothers. Highly concerned with the implications of the case, Yongzheng had Zeng Jing brought to Beijing for trial.

He is also known for establishing strict autocratic rule in the time period. He disliked corruption and punished officials severely when they were found guilty of the offence. During his reign, the Manchu Empire became a great power and a peaceful country, and he furthered strengthened the Kangqian Period of Harmony (康乾盛世). He created a sophisticated procedure for selecting successor in response to his father's tragedy.

Yongzheng was known for his trust in Mandarin Chinese officials. Li Wei and Tian Wenjing were both used to govern China's southern areas. Ertai also served Yongzheng's in governing the southern areas.

He was also known for removing the power of the princes over the other five banners and uniting
the eight banners under a central authority - himself, through the "Act of the Union of the Eight Princes" or "八王依正".

Like his father, Yongzheng used military force to preserve the dynasty's position in Outer Mongolia, and when Tibet was torn by civil war during 1717-28, he intervened militarily, leaving a Qing resident backed up by a military garrison to pursue the dynasty's interests.
It is however important to note that Yongzheng revamped the tax system at the time so as to not favour only the rich and imposed new land taxes on actual land owners.
His private life was a sad one. He had nine children but only 3 survived. One of them was Prince Hong Li.

The Yongzheng Emperor ruled the Qing Empire for only thirteen years. He died suddenly at the age of 58 in 1735. Legends hold that he was actually assassinated by Lu Siniang, daughter of L? Liuliang whose entire family was believed to have been executed for literacy crimes against the Manchu Regime. More realistically, he might have died due to an overdose of medication he was consuming at the time due to his ardent belief that it would prolong his life. To prevent the succession crises faced by himself thirteen years ago, he ordered that his third son, Hongshi, who had been an ally of Yinsi, to commit suicide. He was succeeded by his son, Hongli, the Prince Bao, who became the fifth emperor of the Qing dynasty under the era name of Qianlong Emperor of China|Qianlong.

He was interred in the Western Qing Tombs (清西陵), 120 kilometers/75 miles southwest of Beijing, in the Tailing (泰陵) mausoleum complex (known in Manchu language|Manchu as the Elhe Munggan).

  • Father: The Kangxi Emperor (of whom he was the 4th son)

  • Mother: concubine from the (Manchu) Uya clan (1660-1723), who was made Empress Dowager Renshou (仁壽皇太后) when her son became emperor, and is known posthumously as Empress Xiaogong Ren (Chinese language|Chinese: 孝恭仁皇后; Manchu language|Manchu: Hiyoošungga Gungnecuke Gosin Hūwanghu)

  • Consorts:

#Empress Xiaojing Xian (? -1731) of the Nala Clan (Chinese: ?????; Manchu: Hiyoo?ungga Ginggun Temgetulehe Huwanghu)
#Empress Xiaosheng Xian (1692-1777) of the Niohuru Clan (Chinese: ?????; Manchu: Hiyoo?ungga Enduringge Temgetulehe Huwanghu), mother of Hongli (Emperor Qianlong)
#Nian Guifei (???), sister of Nian Gengyao, bore three sons and a daughter
#Qi Fei (??) of Li, mother of Hongshi
#Yi Guifei (???) of Geng, mother of Hongzhou
#Qian Fei (??) of Liu, bore Yongzheng's youngest son
#The Lady Song, bore three daughters
#The Lady Wu

  • Children:

  • *10 sons (4 survived), 3rd Hongshi, 4th Qianlong Emperor|Hongli, 5th Hongzhou

  • *4 daughters (1 survived)

  • Feng, Erkang. "Yongzheng Biography" (?????), China Publishing Group, People's Publishing House. Beijing: 2004. ISBN 7-01-004192-X

start box
succession box|title=Emperor of China
(Qing Dynasty)|before=Kangxi Emperor|after=Qianlong Emperor|years=1722–1735
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Category:1678 births
Category:1735 deaths
Category:Qing Dynasty
Category:Qing Dynasty emperors


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Yongzheng Emperor".

Last Modified:   2005-11-10

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