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Yongzheng Emperor

Yongzheng Emperor
5th Qing Emperor of China
Reign 27 December 1722 – 8 October 1735
Predecessor Kangxi Emperor
Successor Qianlong Emperor
Born (1678-12-13)13 December 1678
Beijing, China
Died 8 October 1735(1735-10-08) (aged 56)
Beijing, China
Burial Tailing, Western Qing Tombs, China
Spouse Empress Xiaojingxian
Empress Xiaoshengxian
Consort Qi
Issue Honghui
Full name
Chinese: Aixin-Jueluo Yinzhen 愛新覺羅胤禛
Manchu: Aisin-Gioro hala-i In-Jen
Posthumous name
Emperor Jingtian Changyun Jianzhong Biaozheng Wenwu Yingming Kuanren Xinyi Ruisheng Daxiao Zhicheng Xian
Temple name
Qing Shizong
House House of Aisin-Gioro
Father Kangxi Emperor
Mother Empress Xiaogongren
Yongzheng Emperor
Chinese name
Chinese 雍正帝
Mongolian name
Mongolian Nairalt Töv Khaan
Manchu name
Manchu script ᡥᡡᠸᠠᠯᡳᠶᠠᠰᡠᠨ ᡨᠣᠪ
Romanization Hūwaliyasun Tob hūwangdi
Personal name: Yinzhen
Chinese name
Chinese 胤禛
Manchu name
Manchu script ᡳᠨ ᠵᡝᠨ
Romanization in jen

The Yongzheng Emperor (Chinese: 雍正帝) (13 December 1678 – 8 October 1735), born Yinzhen (胤禛), was the fifth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the third Qing emperor to rule over China proper. He reigned from 1722 to 1735. A hard-working ruler, Yongzheng's main goal was to create an effective government at minimal expense. Like his father, the Kangxi Emperor, Yongzheng used military force to preserve the dynasty's position. His reign was known for being despotic, efficient, and vigorous.

Although Yongzheng's reign was much shorter than that of both his father (the Kangxi Emperor) and his son (the Qianlong Emperor), Yongzheng continued an era of peace and prosperity. He cracked down on corruption and reformed the financial administration.[1] His reign saw the formulation of the Grand Council, an institution which had an enormous impact on the future of the Qing dynasty.


  • Prince Yong 1
  • Disputed succession 2
  • Reign 3
    • Continued battle against princes 3.1
    • Relationship with the West 3.2
    • Descendants of the Ming dynasty's imperial family 3.3
    • Nian Gengyao and Longkodo 3.4
  • Expansion in the northwest 4
  • Identification of Qing with China 5
  • Religion 6
  • Death and succession 7
  • Family 8
    • Consorts 8.1
    • Sons 8.2
    • Daughters 8.3
  • Ancestry 9
  • In fiction and popular culture 10
  • See also 11
  • Notes and references 12
  • Further reading 13
  • External links 14

Prince Yong

Yinzhen was the fourth son of the Kangxi Emperor to survive into adulthood. His mother, who is historically known as Empress Xiaogongren, was originally a court attendant from the Manchu Uya clan. Around the time when Yinzhen was born, his mother was of a low status and did not have the right to raise her own children. For most of his childhood, Yinzhen was raised by Noble Consort Tong, the daughter of Tong Guowei, the Kangxi Emperor's maternal uncle and an eminent official in the early part of Kangxi's reign.[1] After the birth of more children, Yinzhen's mother was promoted to a pin and then to a fei,[2] and became known as defei or "Virtuous Consort." Kangxi did not raise his children inside the palace alone. He exposed his sons (including Yinzhen) to the outside world and gave them a rigorous education. Yinzhen accompanied his father on several inspection trips around the Beijing area, as well as one further south. He became the honorary leader of the Plain Red Banner during the Battle of Jao Modo between the Qing Empire and the Mongol Dzungar Khanate led by Galdan Khan. Yinzhen was made a beile (Chinese: 貝勒; Prince of the Third Rank) in 1689 and rose to the position of a junwang (Chinese: 郡王; Prince of the Second Rank) in 1698.

In 1709, the Kangxi Emperor stripped his second son Yinreng of his position as crown prince. Yinreng had been the crown prince for his whole life; his removal left the position of heir open to competition among the Emperor's remaining sons (Kangxi had 24 sons who reached adulthood). In the same year, Kangxi bestowed the title "Prince Yong (of the First Rank)" (雍亲王) on Yinzhen. Yinzhen maintained a low profile during the initial stages of the succession struggle. To appoint a new heir, Kangxi decreed that officials in his imperial court would nominate a new crown prince. Kangxi's eighth son, Yinsi, was the candidate preferred by the majority of the court as well as many of Kangxi's other sons. Kangxi, however, opted not to appoint Yinsi as his heir apparent largely due to apprehension that Yinsi's political clout at court was beginning to overshadow that of himself. Thereafter, Yinzhen sensed that his father was in favour of re-instating Yinreng as heir apparent, thus he supported Yinreng and earned the trust of his father.

Disputed succession

In 1712, the Kangxi Emperor deposed Yinreng again, and chose not to designate an heir apparent for the remaining years of his reign. This resulted in stiff competition among his sons for the position of crown prince. Those considered 'frontrunners' were Yinzhi, Yinsi, and Yinti (the third, eighth and 14th princes, respectively). Of these, Yinsi received the most support from the Mandarins, but not from his father. Yinzhen had supported Yinreng as heir, and did not build a large political base for himself until the final years of Kangxi's reign. Unlike Yinsi's high-profile cultivation of a partisan base of support, Yinzhen did so largely away from the limelight. When the Kangxi Emperor died in December 1722, the field of contenders shrank to three princes after Yinsi pledged his support to the 14th prince, Yinti.[2]

At the time of the Kangxi Emperor's death, Yinti, who held the appointment of Border-Pacification General-in-Chief (Chinese: 撫遠大將軍), was leading a military campaign in northwestern China. Some historians believe that Yinti's appointment implied that Kangxi favoured Yinti and was grooming him for succession by sending him on a campaign to train him in military affairs. Others, however, maintain that Kangxi intended to keep Yinti away from the capital to ensure a peaceful succession for Yinzhen. It was Yinzhen who nominated Yinti for the post, not Yinsi, with whom Yinti was closely affiliated.

Official court records state that on 20 December 1722 the ailing Kangxi Emperor called seven of his sons and the general commandant of the Beijing gendarmerie, Longkodo, to his bedside. Longkodo read the will and declared that Yinzhen would be the Kangxi Emperor's successor. Some evidence has suggested that Yinzhen contacted Longkodo months before the will was read in preparation for his succession through military means, although in their official capacities frequent encounters were expected. There is a widely circulated legend that Yinzhen modified Kangxi's will by changing key Chinese characters specifying the heir to the throne. The best-known rumour was that Yinzhen modified the phrase "transfer the throne to the Fourteenth Prince" (Chinese: 傳位十四子shísì) to "transfer the throne to the Fourth Prince" (Chinese: 傳位于四子yúsì) by changing the character shi (十) to yu (于); others say it was modifying "fourteen" (十四) to "fourth" (Chinese: 第四 dìsì).[3] Historians remain divided on whether or not Yinzhen 'usurped' the throne, even though the scholar Feng Erkang believed that Yinzhen's succession was legitimate. Some events have been cited by historians as supporting the "legitimate succession" theory. For example, in January 1721, when the Kangxi Emperor celebrated the 60th anniversary of his enthronement, he sent Yinzhen, Yintao (the 12th prince) and Hongsheng (a son of the third prince Yinzhi) to oversee the veneration ritual at the imperial tombs. None of the princes who supported Yinti (namely, the third, eighth, ninth and tenth princes) was sent to attend the ritual.[3]

In 2013, an exhibit in Liaoning's Archive Bureau unveiled the Kangxi Emperor's succession will for the first time, and the exhibit finally disproved any notion that Yinzhen changed his father's will.[4]

Painting of Chinese man, in Western clothes, attacking a tiger with a pitchfork-like staff
18th-century Chinese painting of the Yongzheng Emperor wearing a European wig and dress, preparing to strike a tiger with a trident

Painting of people on a path in a large courtyard, flanked by soldiers, viewed from a distance
The Yongzheng Emperor offering sacrifices at the altar of the God of Agriculture, Shennong

Painting of the Yongzheng Emperor sitting on the ground near a waterfall
18th-century painting of the Yongzheng Emperor in costume

Yinzhen chose an era name similar to his given name; 1723 was to be the first year of the Yongzheng era. For his first official act as emperor, Yinzhen released his long-time ally, the 13th prince Yinxiang, who had been imprisoned by the Kangxi Emperor around the same time as the deposed crown prince, Yinreng. Some sources indicate that Yinxiang, the most militant of the princes, then assembled a group of special soldiers from the Fengtai command to seize immediate control of the Forbidden City and surrounding areas to prevent usurpation by Yinsi's subordinates. 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 Zhang Tingyu and Longkodo, along with the princes Yinzhi (Prince Zhi)) and Yinzhi (Prince Cheng) led the other princes in the ceremonial "Three-Kneels and Nine-Salutes" to the deceased emperor. The following day, Yinzhen issued an edict summoning Yinti back from Qinghai, bestowing on their mother the title "Holy Mother Empress Dowager" the day Yinti arrived at the funeral.

In the first major comprehensive biography of the Yongzheng Emperor by Feng Erkang, the author puts the succession in perspective. Feng writes 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 (although with political and military maneuvering deemed necessary by the situation).[2] Yinsi, the eighth prince, had been bribing officials for support throughout his life, and his influence penetrated the Fengtai command. Furthermore, Feng suggests that "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 rivals manipulated all suspicion behind the will in an attempt to put a dark image on the emperor; 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 suggests that Kangxi made a grave mistake by allowing his sons to become major political players (especially since the position of crown prince was empty), and a bloody battle of succession (including a possible usurpation) was the inevitable result of imperial Chinese institutions. Therefore, it would be an even bigger mistake to judge a ruler solely on the way he came to power. Certainly, the Yongzheng Emperor ensured his successor would have a smooth transition when the time came.


After ascending the throne in December 1722, Yinzhen adopted the era name "Yongzheng" (Chinese: 雍正 lit. "Harmonious Justice") in 1723 from his peerage title "yong" (Chinese: lit. "harmonious") and "zheng" (Chinese: lit. "just, correct, upright"). It has been suggested that the second character of his era name was an attempt to cover up his illegal claim to the throne by calling himself "justified". Immediately after succeeding to the throne, Yongzheng chose his new governing council. It consisted of the eighth prince Yinsi, 13th prince Yinxiang, Zhang Tingyu, Ma Qi, and Longkodo. Yinsi was given the title "Prince Lian" while Yinxiang was given the title "Prince Yi", and these two held the highest positions in the land.

Continued battle against princes

The nature of his succession remained a subject of controversy and overshadowed Yongzheng's reign. As many of his surviving brothers did not see his succession as legitimate, Yongzheng became increasingly paranoid that they would plot to overthrow him. The earlier players in the battle for succession, Yinzhi, the eldest, and Yinreng, the former crown prince, continued to live under house arrest. Yinreng died two years after Yongzheng's reign began.

Yongzheng continued to perceive Yinsi and his party, consisting of the princes Yintang, Yin'e, Yinti, and their associates, as his greatest political challenge in the early years of his reign. To diffuse their political clout, Yongzheng undertook a 'divide and conquer' strategy. Immediately after ascending the throne, Yongzheng bestowed on Yinsi the title "Prince Lian", nominally of the highest noble rank. Yinsi was also then appointed as the Minister of the Lifan Yuan (Feudatory Affairs Office) and the top-ranking member of the imperial council assisting Yongzheng; some historians believe his position at the time was essentially that of a "Chancellor or Prime Minister". By ostensibly elevating Yinsi to a more prominent political role, Yongzheng held Yinsi under close watch and kept him busy with affairs of state, reducing the chance of him conducting behind-the-scenes political maneuvers. Yinsi's allies received notably different treatment. Yintang was sent to Qinghai under the pretext of military service, but in reality was watched over by Yongzheng's trusted protégé, Nian Gengyao. Yin'e, the tenth prince, was told to leave the capital to send off a departing Mongol prince, but since he refused to complete this trip as the emperor commanded, Yongzheng stripped him of all his titles in May 1724 and sent him north to Shunyi to languish in solitude.

The 14th prince, Yinti, born to the same mother as Yongzheng, was recalled to Beijing from his military post. Yongzheng selected Nian Gengyao to replaced Yinti as the commander of the northwestern expeditionary force. Yinti, who expected to be placed on the throne himself, was reluctant to recognise Yongzheng's succession as legitimate. Yinti was accused of violating imperial decorum at the funeral proceedings of the late emperor, and placed under house arrest by Yongzheng at the imperial tombs in western Beijing. Historians believe that their mother, Empress Dowager Renshou, favoured Yinti partly because she raised him herself, while she did not raise Yongzheng. Nonetheless the increasingly sharp conflict between her two surviving sons caused their mother great sorrow. She died less than six months after the Kangxi Emperor.

By forcibly dispatching Yinsi's party to separate locations geographically, Yongzheng made it extremely inconvenient for his rivals to link up and conspire against him. While some of Yinsi's subordinates were appointed to high office, others were demoted or banished, making it difficult for Yinsi's party to maintain the same set of partisan interests. Yongzheng publicly reprimanded Yinsi in 1724 for mishandling an assignment, eventually removing him from office and then sending him into house arrest. Yinsi was forced to rename himself "Acina", a derogatory slur in the Manchu language. Yongzheng also confiscated the assets of Yintang and Yin'e.

Relationship with the West

In 1724, the Yongzheng Emperor issued a decree proscribing Catholicism.[5] This was followed by the persecution of Chinese Christians that steadily increased during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor's son, the Qianlong Emperor.[6]

Descendants of the Ming dynasty's imperial family

In 1725, the Yongzheng Emperor bestowed a hereditary marquis title on Zhu Zhiliang, a descendant of the imperial family of the Ming dynasty. Zhu was also paid by the Qing government to perform rituals at the Ming tombs and induct the Chinese Plain White Banner into the Eight Banners. Later in 1750, during the reign of Yongzheng's successor, the Qianlong Emperor, Zhu Zhiliang was posthumously honoured as "Marquis of Extended Grace". The marquis title was passed on to Zhu's descendants for 12 generations until the end of the Qing dynasty in the early 20th century.

Nian Gengyao and Longkodo

Nian Gengyao was a supporter of the Yongzheng Emperor long before the latter ascended the throne. In 1722, when he was recalling his brother Yinti from the northwest border in Xinjiang, Yongzheng appointed Nian as the commander of the Qing army in Xinjiang. The situation in Xinjiang at the time was volatile, and a strong general was needed in the area. After several military conquests, however, Nian's stature and power grew. Some said he began seeing himself as equal to the emperor. Seeing Nian as no longer within his control, Yongzheng issued an imperial edict demoting Nian to the position of a general of the Hangzhou Command. As Nian continued to remain unrepentant, he was eventually given an ultimatum and forced to commit suicide by consuming poison in 1726.

Longkodo was the commander of the militias stationed at the capital at the time of Yongzheng's succession. He fell in disgrace in 1728 and died while under house arrest.

After becoming the emperor, Yongzheng suppressed writings he deemed unfavorable to his court, particularly those with an anti-Manchu bias.[1] Foremost among these were those of Zeng Jing, an unsuccessful degree candidate heavily influenced by the 17th-century scholar Lü Liuliang. Zeng had been so affected by what he read that he attempted to incite the governor-general of Shaanxi-Sichuan, Yue Zhongqi (a descendant of anti-Jurchen General Yue Fei), to rebel against the Qing government. Yue Zhongqi promptly turned him in, and in 1730 news of the case reached the Yongzheng Emperor. Highly concerned with the implications of the case, Yongzheng had Zeng Jing brought to Beijing for trial. The emperor's verdict seemed to demonstrate a Confucian sovereign's benevolence: He ascribed Zeng's actions to the gullibility and naïveté of a youth taken in by Lü Liuliang's abusive and overdrawn rhetoric. In addition, the emperor suggested that Lü Liuliang's original attack on the Manchus was misplaced, since they had been transformed by their long-term exposure to the civilising force of Confucianism.

Yongzheng is also known for establishing a strict autocratic-style rule during his reign. He detested corruption, and punished officials severely when they were found guilty of an offense. In 1729, he issued an edict prohibiting the smoking of madak, a blend of tobacco and opium. Yongzheng's reign saw the Qing dynasty further establish itself as a powerful empire in Asia. He was instrumental in extending what became known as a "Kangqian Period of Harmony" (Chinese: 康乾盛世; cf. Pax Romana). In response to the tragedy of the succession struggle during his father's reign, Yongzheng created a sophisticated procedure for choosing a successor. He was known for his trust in Mandarin officials. Li Wei and Tian Wenjing governed China's southern areas with the assistance of Ortai.

"The Yongzheng Emperor Offering Sacrifice at the Xiannong Altar" in Beijing, Qing dynasty painting

Expansion in the northwest

1734 map of China
French map of "China and Chinese Tartary" from the Yongzheng era (1734)

Like his father, Yongzheng used military force in order to preserve the Qing Empire's position in Outer Mongolia.[1] When Tibet was torn by civil war in 1727–1728, he intervened. After withdrawing, he left a Qing citizen (the amban) and a military garrison to safeguard the dynasty's interests.[1]

For the Tibetan campaign, Yongzheng sent an army of 230,000 led by Nian Gengyao against the Dzungars and their army of 80,000. Due to geography, the Qing army (although superior in numbers) was at first unable to engage their more mobile enemy. Eventually, they engaged the Dzungars and defeated them. This campaign cost the treasury at least eight million silver taels. Later in Yongzheng's reign, he sent a small army of 10,000 to fight the Dzungars again. However, that army was annihilated and the Qing Empire faced the danger of losing control of Mongolia. A Khalkha ally of the Qing Empire would later defeat the Dzungars.

Following the reforms of 1729, the treasury's income increased from 32,622,421 taels in 1721 to about 60 million taels in 1730, surpassing the record set during the Kangxi Emperor's reign; but the pacification of the Qinghai area and the defence of border areas were heavy burdens on the treasury. Safeguarding the country's borders cost 100,000 taels per year. The total military budget came up to about 10 million taels a year. By the end of 1735, military spending had depleted half the treasury, leaving 33.95 million taels. It was because of the cost of war that the Yongzheng Emperor considered making peace with the Dzungars.

Identification of Qing with China

Since our dynasty began to rule China, the Mongols and other tribes living in extremely remote regions have been integrated into our territory. This is the expansion of China's territory (Zhongguo zhi jiangtu kaituo guangyuan).

Yongzheng's Dayi juemilu (A Record of Rightness to Dispel Confusion) (Yongzheng emperor, 1983: 5), as translated by Mark Elliott in The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China. (2001) p. 347, modified by Gang Zhao.[7]

Since the Shunzhi Emperor's time, the Qing emperors had identified China and the Qing Empire as the same, and in treaties and diplomatic papers the Qing Empire called itself "China".[8] During Kangxi and Yongzheng's reigns, "China" (Dulimbai Gurun in Manchu) was used as the name of the Qing Empire in official Manchu language documents, identifying the Qing Empire and China as the same entity, with "Dulimbai Gurun" appearing in 160 official diplomatic papers between the Qing Empire and the Russian Empire.[9] The term "China" was redefined by the Qing emperors to be a multi-ethnic entity which included non-Han Chinese ethnic groups and their territories.[10] China and Qing were noticeably and increasingly equated with each other during the Qianlong Emperor's reign, with Qianlong and the Qing government writing poems and documents using both the Chinese name Zhongguo and the Manchu name Dulimbai Gurun. Compared to the reigns of previous Qing emperors such as Yongzheng and Kangxi, the use of China to refer to the Qing Empire appears most during Qianlong's reign, according to scholars who examined documents on Sino-Russian relations.[11]


The Yongzheng Emperor was firmly against Christian converts among the Manchus. He warned them that the Manchus must follow only the Manchu way of worshipping Heaven since different peoples worshipped Heaven differently.[12] Yongzheng stated: "The Lord of Heaven is Heaven itself. . . . In the empire we have a temple for honouring Heaven and sacrificing to Him. We Manchus have Tiao Tchin. The first day of every year we burn incense and paper to honor Heaven. We Manchus have our own particular rites for honouring Heaven; the Mongols, Chinese, Russians, and Europeans also have their own particular rites for honouring Heaven. I have never said that he [Urcen, a son of Sunu] could not honour heaven but that everyone has his way of doing it. As a Manchu, Urcen should do it like us."[13]

Death and succession

The Yongzheng Emperor ruled the Qing Empire for 13 years before dying suddenly in 1735 at the age of 56. Legend holds that he was assassinated by Lü Siniang, a daughter or granddaughter of Lü Liuliang, whose family was executed for literary crimes against the Qing government. Another theory was that Lü Siniang was the Yongzheng Emperor's lover, and the real mother of the Qianlong Emperor, but he refused to let her become the empress. It is generally accepted that he died while reading court documents. It is likely that his death was the result of an overdose of the medication he was consuming which he believed would prolong his life.

To prevent the succession tragedy which he himself had faced, Yongzheng was said to have ordered his third son Hongshi (an ally of Yinsi) to commit suicide. He also devised a system for his successors to choose their heirs in secret. He wrote his chosen successor's name on two scrolls, placed one scroll in a sealed box and had the box stored behind the stele in the Qianqing Palace. He kept the other copy with him or hid it. After his death, the officials would compare the scroll in the box with the copy he had kept. If they were deemed identical, the person whose name was on the paper would be the new emperor.[14]

The Yongzheng Emperor was interred in the Western Qing tombs 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Beijing, in the Tailing (Chinese: 泰陵) mausoleum complex (known in Manchu as the Elhe Munggan). His fourth son Hongli, then still known as "Prince Bao (of the First Rank)", succeeded him as the Qianlong Emperor. Qianlong was regarded as one of the greatest emperors of the Qing dynasty, with a historical stature comparable to that of his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor. Qianlong rehabilitated many figures who had been purged during his father's reign, including restoring honours to many of his uncles who were formerly his father's rivals in the succession struggle.


The Yongzheng Emperor had 14 children with his primary wife and consorts. Of these children, only five, Hongshi, Hongli, Hongzhou, Hongyan, and the Princess Huaike, were known to have survived into adulthood.

  • Father: Kangxi Emperor (of whom he was the fourth son)
  • Mother: Concubine from the Manchu Uya clan (1660–1723), who became known as Empress Dowager Renshou (仁壽皇太后) when her son became the emperor. She is posthumously known as Empress Xiaogongren (孝恭仁皇后; Manchu: Hiyoošungga Gungnecuke Gosin Hūwanghu).


  • Empress Xiaojingxian (孝敬憲皇后; Manchu: Hiyoošungga Ginggun Temgetulehe Hūwanghu; 1681–1731) of the Ulanara clan.
  • Empress Xiaoshengxian (孝聖憲皇后; Manchu: Hiyoošungga Enduringge Temgetulehe Hūwanghu; 1693–1777) of the Niohuru clan, mother of Hongli (the Qianlong Emperor).
  • Imperial Noble Consort Dunsu (敦肅皇貴妃; d. 1725), sister of Nian Gengyao; bore three sons and a daughter, none of whom survived.
  • Imperial Noble Consort Chunque (純愨皇貴妃; 1689–1784) née Geng, mother of Hongzhou; daughter of Geng Degin (耿德金).
  • Consort Qi (齊妃; d. 1737) née Li.
  • Consort Qian (謙妃; 1714–1767) née Liu; bore Yongzheng's youngest son Hongyan. Daughter of Liu Man (劉滿).
  • Consort Ning (寧妃; d. 1734), née Wu, was the daughter of Wu Zhuguo (武柱國). Posthumously granted the title of Consort Ning in 1734.
  • Imperial Concubine Mao (懋嬪 (雍正帝); d. 1730), née Song, bore two daughters. Daughter of Jinzhu (金柱).
  • Noble Lady Guo (郭貴人; d. 1786)
  • Noble Lady Li (李貴人; d. 1760), née Li.
  • Noble Lady An (安貴人; d. 1750)
  • Noble Lady Hai (海貴人; d. 1761)
  • Noble Lady Zhang (張貴人; d. 1735)[15]


  • Honghui (弘暉; 1697–1704), posthumously granted title of Prince Duan of the First Rank (端親王) by the Qianlong Emperor
  • Hongfen (弘昐; 1697–1699)
  • Hongyun (弘昀; 1700–1710)
  • Hongshi (弘時; 1704–1726)
  • Hongli (弘曆; 1711–1799), the Qianlong Emperor
  • Hongzhou (弘晝; 1712–1770), Prince Hegong of the First Rank (和恭親王)
  • Fuyi (福宜; 1720–1721)
  • Fuhui (福惠; 1721–1728), posthumously the title of Prince Huai of the First Rank (懷親王)
  • Fupei (福沛; 1723)
  • Hongyan (弘曕; 1733–1765): Prince Guogong of the Second Rank (果恭郡王)


  • Oldest daughter (1695)
  • Heshuo Princess Huaike (和碩懷恪公主; 1695–1717)
  • Third daughter (1706)
  • Fourth daughter (1715–1717)
  • Foster daughters:
    • Heshuo Princess Shushen (和碩淑慎公主; 1708–1784), sixth daughter of Yunreng.
    • Heshuo Princess Hehui (和碩和惠公主; 1714–1731), fourth daughter of Yunxiang.
    • Heshuo Princess Duanrou (和碩端柔公主; 1714–1754), eldest daughter of Yunlu (允祿).


In fiction and popular culture

  • The Yongzheng Emperor is mentioned in the Qing dynasty writer Wenkang (文康)'s wuxia novel Ernü Yingxiong Zhuan (兒女英雄傳). It was adapted into the 1983 Hong Kong television series The Legend of the Unknowns (十三妹) and the 1986 Chinese film Lucky 13 (侠女十三妹).
  • A popular legend tells of the Yongzheng Emperor's death at the hands of a female assassin, Lü Siniang (呂四娘), a fictitious granddaughter (or daughter, in some accounts) of Lü Liuliang. She did so to avenge her grandfather (or father), who was wrongly put to death by Yongzheng. The legend was adapted into many films and television series.
  • There are two legends about the origins of the Yongzheng Emperor's son and successor, the Qianlong Emperor. The first, more widely circulated in southern China, says that Qianlong is actually the son of Chen Shiguan (陳世倌), a minister from Haining, Zhejiang. Shortly after birth, Qianlong was exchanged with one of Yongzheng's daughters, raised as Yongzheng's son, and eventually inherited the throne. The wuxia writer Louis Cha (Jin Yong) adapted this legend for his novel The Book and the Sword. The second legend on Qianlong's origins, more popular in northern China, stated that during a trip to the Mulan Hunting Ground (木蘭圍場) in Rehe Province, Yongzheng had an illegitimate affair with a palace maid and they conceived a son, who became the Qianlong Emperor.
  • The Yongzheng Emperor is featured as an important character in Tong Hua's novel Bu Bu Jing Xin and he had a romantic relationship with the protagonist, Ma'ertai Ruoxi. He is referred to as the "Fourth Prince" in the novel. Taiwanese actor Nicky Wu portrayed the Fourth Prince in Scarlet Heart, a 2011 Chinese television series adapted from the novel.
  • The Yongzheng Emperor appears in the romance fantasy novel series Meng Hui Da Qing (梦回大清) by Yaoye (妖叶).
The Yongzheng Emperor in film and television
Year Region Title Type Yongzheng Emperor actor Notes
1975 Hong Kong The Flying Guillotine
Film Chiang Yang Produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio
1980 Hong Kong Dynasty
Television series Alex Man 57 episodes
1988 Hong Kong The Rise and Fall of Qing Dynasty Season 2
Television series Wai Lit 50 episodes
1994 Mainland China The Book and the Sword
Television series Liu Dagang 32 episodes
1995 Hong Kong Secret Battle of the Majesty
Television series Kwong Wa 40 episodes
1996 Taiwan 雍正大帝 Television series Tou Chung-hua
1997 Taiwan Legend of YungChing
Television series Adam Cheng 58 / 59 episodes
1997 Hong Kong The Hitman Chronicles
Television series Eddie Cheung 35 episodes
1997 Mainland China Yongzheng Dynasty
Television series Tang Guoqiang 44 episodes
2001 Taiwan 玉指環 Television series Chin Han alternative Chinese title 才子佳人乾隆皇
2001 Mainland China Emperor Yong Zheng
Television series Liu Xinyi 31 episodes
2002 Mainland China Li Wei the Magistrate
Television series Tang Guoqiang 30 episodes; also known as Li Wei Becomes an Official
2002 Hong Kong Doomed to Oblivion
Television series Savio Tsang 30 episodes
2002 Mainland China Jiangshan Weizhong
Television series Liu Guanxiong 31 episodes; alternative Chinese title 大清帝国
2003 Mainland China Palace Painter Master Castiglione
Television series Kenny Bee 24 episodes
2003 Hong Kong The King of Yesterday and Tomorrow
Television series Kwong Wa 20 episodes
2004 Mainland China 36th Chamber of Southern Shaolin
Television series Zhang Tielin 32 episodes
2004 Mainland China Huang Taizi Mishi
Television series Zhao Hongfei 32 episodes
2004 Mainland China Li Wei the Magistrate II
Television series Tang Guoqiang 32 episodes
2005 Mainland China Shang Shu Fang
Television series Kou Zhenhai 52 episodes
2005 Mainland China The Juvenile Qianlong Emperor
Television series Zhang Guoli 40 episodes
2008 Mainland China The Book and the Sword
Television series Shen Baoping 40 episodes
2010 Mainland China The Legend of Zhen Huan
Television series Chen Jianbin 76 episodes
2011 Mainland China Scarlet Heart
Television series Nicky Wu 35 episodes
2011 Mainland China Palace
Television series Mickey He 35 episodes
2012 Mainland China Palace II
Television series Mickey He 35 episodes
2014 Hong Kong Gilded Chopsticks
Television series Ben Wong 25 episodes

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Noble Consort Tong was the Kangxi Emperor's cousin. She made a guifei ("Noble Consort") in 1677 and later promoted to huang guifei, and, after the death of Empress Xiaozhaoren, became the highest-ranked consort in the Kangxi Emperor's harem.
  2. ^ The ranks of consorts in the palace were, Empress, Noble Consort (guifei), Consort (fei), pin, guiren, and so on; fei is therefore the third highest rank of the consorts.
  3. ^ There is little supporting evidence – especially considering that the character 于 was not widely used during the Qing dynasty; on official documents, 於 () was used. Secondly, Qing tradition insisted that the will be written in both Manchu and Chinese, both of which are official languages. Manchu writing, however, is more intricate and (in this case) impossible to modify. Furthermore, the Qing princes were referred to as "the Emperor's son(s)", in the order which they were born (for example, "the Emperor's fourth son": Chinese: 皇四子)
  1. ^ a b c d Schirokauer, Conrad; Brown, Miranda (2006). A Brief History of Chinese Civilization. Belmont, California: Thomson Higher Education.  
  2. ^ a b Feng, Erkang. A Biography of Yongzheng (Chinese: 雍正传) China Publishing Group, People's Publishing House, Beijing: 2004. ISBN 7-01-004192-X
  3. ^ original words are:「康熙六十年正月,命皇四子雍親王胤禛、皇十二子貝子胤祹、世子弘晟以御極六十年,告祭永陵、福陵、昭陵。」
  4. ^ "康熙遺詔首曝光:傳位皇四子 雍正沒篡位 (Kangxi's Will Revealed For The First Time: He Actually Transferred The Throne To His Fourth Son. Yongzheng Did Not Scheme To Take The Thronw)" (in Chinese). Liaoning Evening News (Via Xinhua News Agency). 2 September 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Thomas H. Reilly, 2004, "The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom: Rebellion and the Blasphemy of Empire," Seattle, WA:University of Washington Press, p. 43ff, 14ff, 150ff, ISBN 0295984309, see [2], accessed 18 April 2015.
  6. ^ Jocelyn M. N. Marinescu (2008). Defending Christianity in China: The Jesuit Defense of Christianity in the "Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses" & "Ruijianlu" in Relation to the Yongzheng Proscription of 1724. ProQuest. p. 240.  
  7. ^ Zhao 2006, p. 11.
  8. ^ Zhao 2006, p. 7.
  9. ^ Zhao 2006, pp. 8-9.
  10. ^ Zhao 2006, p. 12.
  11. ^ Zhao 2006, p. 9.
  12. ^ Mark C. Elliott (2001). The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China. Stanford University Press. p. 240.  
  13. ^ Mark C. Elliott (2001). The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China. Stanford University Press. p. 241.  
  14. ^
  15. ^ Draft history of the Qing dynasty (Chinese: 清史稿 卷二百十四.列傳一.后妃傳)
  • Zhao, Gang (January 2006). "Reinventing China Imperial Qing Ideology and the Rise of Modern Chinese National Identity in the Early Twentieth Century" 32 (Number 1). Sage Publications.  

Further reading

Beatrice S. Bartlett. Monarchs and Ministers: The Grand Council in Mid-Ch'ing China, 1723-1820. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991). ISBN 0520065913.

External links

  • A younger Yongzheng Emperor portrait painting
  • audio slideshowThe Yongzheng Emperor and his timesThe Economist on YouTube
  • Harmony and Integrity: The Yongzheng Emperor and His Times, National Palace Museum, Taibei Includes sections on The Life and Times of the Yongzheng Emperor, Art and Culture, and extensive photos and well researched essays.
Yongzheng Emperor
Born: 13 December 1678 Died: 8 October 1735
Regnal titles
Preceded by
The Kangxi Emperor
Emperor of China
Succeeded by
The Qianlong Emperor
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