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Emperor Yingzong of Ming

Emperor Yingzong of Ming
6th Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Reign 7 February 1435 – 1 September 1449
Coronation 7 February 1435
Predecessor Xuande Emperor
Successor Jingtai Emperor
Retired Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Reign 1 September 1449 – 11 February 1457
8th Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Reign 11 February 1457 – 23 February 1464
Predecessor Jingtai Emperor
Successor Chenghua Emperor
Born (1427-11-29)29 November 1427
Died 23 February 1464(1464-02-23) (aged 36)
Burial Yuling, Ming tombs, Beijing
Full name
Surname: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Qizhen (祁鎮)
Era dates
Zhengtong (正統): 18 January 1436 – 13 January 1450
Tianshun[1] (天順): 15 February 1457 – 26 January 1465
Posthumous name
Emperor Fatian Lidao Renming Chengjing Zhaowen Xianwu Zhide Guangxiao Rui
Temple name
Ming Yingzong
House House of Zhu
Father Xuande Emperor
Mother Empress Xiaogongzhang
Stele commemorating rebuilding of the Temple of Yan Hui in Qufu in 1441 (6th year of the Zhengtong era)

Zhu Qizhen (Chinese: 朱祁鎮; 29 November 1427 – 23 February 1464) was the sixth and eighth emperor of the Ming dynasty. He ascended the throne as the Zhengtong Emperor (Chinese: 正統; pinyin: Zhèngtǒng; literally: "right governance") in 1435, but was forced to abdicate in 1449, in favour of his younger brother the Jingtai Emperor, after being captured by the Mongols during the Tumu Crisis. In 1457, he deposed Jingtai and ruled again as the Tianshun Emperor (Chinese: 天順; pinyin: Tiānshùn; literally: "obedience to Heaven") until his death in 1464.[2] His temple name is Yingzong (英宗).

First reign

Emperor Yingzong of Ming

Zhu Qizhen was the son of the Xuande Emperor and his second wife, Empress Sun. At the beginning of the Zhengtong reign, the Ming dynasty was prosperous and at the height of its power as a result of the Xuande Emperor's able administration. The Zhengtong Emperor's accession at the age of eight made him the first child emperor of the dynasty – hence the Zhengtong Emperor was easily influenced by others, especially the eunuch Wang Zhen. At first, Wang Chen was kept under control by Grand Mother Empress Zhang, Zhengtong's grandmother and the unofficial regent, who collaborated closely with three ministers, all with the surname Yang (hence the common name "Three Yangs"), thus the good administration continued. In 1442 though, Empress Zhang died, and the three Yangs also died or retired around that time.[3]

Empress Chengxiao

The emperor began to completely rely on Wang Zhen for advice and guidance.

Imprisonment by the Mongols

At the age of 21, in 1449, the Zhengtong Emperor, advised by Wang Zhen, personally directed and lost the Battle of Tumu Fortress against the Mongols under Esen Taishi (d.1455). In one of the most humiliating battles in Chinese history, the Ming army, half million strong, led by Zhengtong, was crushed by Esen's forces, estimated to be 20,000 cavalry.[4][5] His capture by the enemy force shook the empire to its core, and the ensuing crisis almost caused the dynasty to collapse had it not been for the capable governing of a prominent minister named Yu Qian.

Although the Zhengtong Emperor was a prisoner of the Mongols, he became a good friend to both Tayisung Khan Toghtoa Bukha (1416–1453) and his grand preceptor (taishi) Esen. Meanwhile, to calm the crisis at home, his younger brother Zhu Qiyu was installed as the Jingtai Emperor. This reduced the Zhengtong Emperor's imperial status and he was granted the title of Tàishàng Huángdi (emperor emeritus).

House arrest and second reign

The Zhengtong Emperor was released one year later in 1450, but when he returned to China, he was immediately put under house arrest by his brother for almost seven years. He resided in the southern palace of the Forbidden City, and all outside contacts were severely curtailed by the Jingtai Emperor. His son, who later became the Chenghua Emperor, was stripped of the title of crown prince and replaced by the Jingtai Emperor's own son. This act greatly upset and devastated the former Zhengtong Emperor, but the heir apparent died shortly thereafter. Overcome with grief, the Jingtai Emperor fell ill, and the former Zhengtong Emperor decided to depose his brother by a palace coup. The emperor emeritus was successful in seizing the throne from the Jingtai Emperor when the latter was ill, after which he changed his regnal name to "Tianshun" (lit. "obedience to Heaven") and went on to rule for another seven years. Jingtai Emperor was demoted to Prince of Cheng and put under house arrest and soon died, probably murdered.

On 6 August 1461, the Tianshun Emperor issued an edict warning his subjects to be loyal to the throne and not to violate the laws.[6] This was a veiled threat aimed at the general Cao Qin (d. 1461), who had become embroiled in a controversy when he had one of his retainers kill a man whom Ming authorities were attempting to interrogate (to find out about Cao's illegal foreign business transactions).[6] On 7 August 1461, Cao Qin and his cohorts of Mongol descent attempted a coup against the Tianshun Emperor.[7] However, during the first hours of the morning of 7 August, prominent Ming generals Wu Jin and Wu Cong, who were alerted of the coup, immediately relayed a warning to the emperor.[8] Although alarmed, the Tianshun Emperor and his court made preparations for a conflict and barred the gates of the palace.[9] During the ensuing onslaught in the capital later that morning, the Minister of Works and the Commander of the Imperial Guard were killed, while the rebels set the gates of the Forbidden City on fire.[7] The eastern and western gates of the imperial city were only saved when pouring rains came and extinguished the fires.[10] The fight lasted for nearly the entire day within the city; during which three of Cao Qin's brothers were killed, and Cao himself received wounds to both arms. With the failure of the coup, in order to escape being executed, Cao fled to his residence and committed suicide by jumping down a well within the walled compound of his home.[11]

The Tianshun Emperor died at the age of 36 in 1464 and was buried in the Yuling (裕陵) mausoleum of the Ming Dynasty Tombs. Before he died, he had given an order, which was rated highly as an act of imperial magnanimity, that ended the practice of burying alive concubines and palace maids (so that they could follow emperors to the next world).[12]




Title Name Born Died Father Mother Issue Notes
Empress Xiaozhuang Rui
Qian Jinluan
1426 1468 Qian Gui
unknown none Became Empress in 1442
Deposed in 1449
Restored in 1457
Became Empress Dowager Ciyi (慈懿皇太后) in 1464
Empress Xiaosu
Lady Zhou
1430 1504 Zhou Neng, Duke Rongjing of Ning
Lady Zhen, Madame of Ning
2. Princess of Chongqing
1. Xianzong
6. Prince Jian of Chong
Became Noble Consort (贵妃) in 1457
Became Empress Dowager Shengci (圣慈皇太后) in 1464
Became Grand Empress Dowager (太皇太后) in 1487


Title Name Born Died Father Mother Issue Notes
Imperial Consort Jingzhuang
Lady Wan
1431 1467 Wan Ju
unknown 2. Prince Zhuang of De
3. Jianshi
Princess of Chun'an
Princess of Guangde
7. Prince Jian of Ji
8. Prince Mu of Xin
Entered the imperial court in 1433
Became Imperial Consort in 1457
Gracious Consort Duanjing
Lady Wang
1429 1485 Wang Bin
Lady Fan
Princess of Jiashan
4. Prince Dao of Xu
Yingzong's concubine
Became Gracious Consort in 1457
Peaceful Consort Zhuangxi
Lady Yang
18 Jul 1414 2 Nov 1487 Yang Boyan
Lady Zhang
Princess of Chongde Entered the imperial court as palace maid in 1428
Became Peaceful Consort in 1457
Pure Consort Zhuangjing
Lady Gao
1429 1511 unknown unknown 5. Prince Huai of Xiu
11. Princess of Longqing
Entered the imperial court as palace maid in 1431
Became Pure Consort in 1457
Virtuous Consort Gongduan
Lady Wei
1426 1469 Wei Zhong
Lady Zhang
Princess of Yixing
9. Prince Zhuang of Hui
Entered the imperial court in 1442
Became Virtuous Consort in 1457
Favourable Consort Gonghe
Lady Fan
1414 1470 Fan Li
unknown daughter Entered Yingzong's harem in 1427
Became Favourable Consort in 1457
Elegant Consort Anhe
Lady Liu
1426 1512 Liu Lin
Lady Chen
none Entered Yingzong's harem in 1432
Became Elegant Consort in 1457
Able Consort Zhaosu
Lady Wang
1430 1474 Wang Zheng
Lady Li
none Entered the imperial court in 1432
Became Able Consort in 1457
Bright Consort Duanzhuang
Lady Wu
1431 1467 Wu Kuan
unknown none Entered the imperial court in 1433
Became Bright Consort in 1457
Gentle Consort Gong'an
Lady Gong
1430 1467 Gong Chun
unknown none Entered the imperial court in 1434
Became Gentle Consort in 1457
Chaste Consort Rongjing
Lady Wang
1427 1507 Wang Yueqing
unknown none Became Chaste Consort in 1457
Solemn Consort Gongjing
Lady Zhao
1446 1514 Zhao Zhi
Lady Wu
none Entered Yingzong's harem and became Solemn Consort in 1460
Venerational Consort Zhenshun
Lady Liu
unknown 1463 unknown unknown none
Respectful Consort Zhaojing
Lady Liu
unknown 1500 unknown unknown none
Able Consort Zhaoyi
Lady Li
unknown unknown unknown unknown none
Accomplished Consort Gongxi
Lady Zhang
unknown 1504 unknown unknown none
Complete Consort Xike
Lady Yu
unknown 1503 unknown unknown none
Elegant Consort Huihe
Lady Chen
unknown 1500 unknown unknown none



# Title Name Born Died Mother Notes
1 Xianzong
Jianjun, Jianshen
见浚, 见深
9 Dec 1447 9 Sep 1487 Empress Xiaosu Became Crown Prince (太子) in 1449
Deposed in 1452
Restored in 1452
Became Emperor (皇帝) in 1464
2 Prince Zhuang of De
Jianqing, Jianlin
见清, 见潾
7 May 1448 7 Sep 1517 Imperial Consort Jingzhuang Became Prince of Rong (荣王) in 1452
Title changed to Prince of De in 1457
3 Jianshi
2 Aug 1449 30 Aug 1451 Died young
4 Prince Dao of Xu
3 Apr 1450 3 Jan 1453 Gracious Consort Duanjing Became Prince of Xu in 1452
Died young
5 Prince Huai of Xiu
12 Mar 1452 13 Oct 1472 Pure Consort Zhuangjing Became Prince of Xiu in 1457
6 Prince Jian of Chong
2 May 1455 27 Aug 1505 Empress Xiaosu Became Prince of Chong in 1457
7 Prince Jian of Ji
11 Jul 1456 16 Aug 1527 Imperial Consort Jingzhuang Became Prince of Ji in 1466
8 Prince Mu of Xin
18 Mar 1458 2 Apr 1472 Became Prince of Xin in 1466
9 Prince Zhuang of Hui
2 Mar 1462 13 Jun 1505 Virtuous Consort Gongduan Became Prince of Hui in 1466


# Title Name Born Died Mother Spouses Issue Notes
2 Princess of Chongqing
unknown 1446 1499 Empress Xiaosu 1461: Zhou Jing (周景) Zhou Xian (周贤)
unknown Princess of Jiashan
unknown c.1451 1499 Gracious Consort Duanjing 1466: Wang Zeng (王增) Lady Wang (王氏)
Lady Wang (王氏)
unknown Princess of Chun'an
unknown c.1451 unknown Imperial Consort Jingzhuang 1466: Cai Zhen (蔡震) Cai Yu (蔡遇)
Cai Zun (蔡遵)
Cai Kui (蔡逵)
Cai Qian (蔡迁)
Lady Cai (蔡氏)
Lady Cai (蔡氏)
unknown Princess of Chongde
unknown c.1451 1489 Peaceful Consort Zhuangxi 1466: Yang Wei (杨伟) Yang Xi (杨玺)
unknown Princess of Guangde
1454 1484 Imperial Consort Jingzhuang 1472: Fan Kai (樊凯) Fan Qi (樊琦)
Fan Yao (樊瑶)
Fan Cong (樊琮)
Fan Xuan (樊瑄)
Lady Fan, Madame of Qian (黔国夫人樊氏)
Lady Fan (樊氏)
unknown Princess of Yixing
unknown c.1454 1514 Virtuous Consort Gongduan 1473: Ma Cheng (马诚)
unknown c.1455 unknown Virtuous Consort Gongduan none none Died young
unknown c.1455 unknown Favourable Consort Gonghe none none Died young
11 Princess of Longqing
unknown 1455 1480 Pure Consort Zhuangjing 1473: You Tai (游泰) You Zhi (游芝)
12 Princess of Jiaxiang
unknown c. 1459 1483 Lady Liu, Consort
1477: Huang Yong (黄镛)


Popular culture

  • Portrayed by Kwon Bin in the 2016 KBS1 TV series Jang Yeong-sil. In Europa universalis 4 he is the emperor of Ming dynasty at the start of 1444.

See also


  1. ^ Tianshun (天順) was also the name of a reign era in the Yuan dynasty.
  2. ^ Leo K. Shin (2006), The Making of the Chinese State: Ethnicity and Expansion on the Ming Borderlands, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-85354-5 
  3. ^ 刘, 金泽 (1998). 政鉴. 经济日报出版社. p. 828. ISBN 9787801275103. 
  4. ^ Haskew, Michael E. (2008). Fighting Techniques of the Oriental World AD 1200-1860: Equipment, Combat Skills And Tactics, Christer Jørgensen. Amber Books. p. 12. ISBN 9781905704965. 
  5. ^ Wen chao yue kan, Volume 5. 北京 :: 全国图书馆文献缩微复制中心. 2005. p. 128. 
  6. ^ a b Robinson, 97.
  7. ^ a b Robinson, 79.
  8. ^ Robinson, 101–102.
  9. ^ Robinson, 102.
  10. ^ Robinson, 105.
  11. ^ Robinson, 107–108.
  12. ^ Zhonghua quan guo fu nü lian he hui (1984). Women of China. Foreign Language Press. 


  • Robinson, David M. "Politics, Force and Ethnicity in Ming China: Mongols and the Abortive Coup of 1461," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Volume 59: Number 1, June 1999): 79–123.
Emperor Yingzong of Ming
Born: 29 November 1427 Died: 23 February 1464
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Xuande Emperor
Emperor of China (Zhengtong reign)
Succeeded by
Jingtai Emperor
Preceded by
Jingtai Emperor
Emperor of China (Tianshun reign)
Succeeded by
Chenghua Emperor