Emperor Daizhong (代宗) - Jingtai (景泰) Reign Period of the Ming Dynasty (1450 - 1457 AD)
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This page was last updated on: May 23, 2017
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Life 1427 - 1464 AD
Reign 1436 - 1449 AD , Reign Period ZhengTong
Zhu QiZhen , Name as Emperor YingZong
Life 1428 - 1457 AD
Reign 1450 - 1456 AD , Reign Period Jingtai (景泰)
Zhu QiYu (朱祁鈺) , Name as Emperor Daizhong (代宗)  / Prince: GongReng Kangding
Zhu Qiyu has gone down in history as an unlawful Emperor, even though his initial crowning was legal under the circumstances. Zhu Qiyu was the half brother of the Emperor YingZong, who usurped the Throne during the 6 year imprisonment of the YingZong Emperor by the Wala Tribe(s) of the North.
On Sptember the first of 1449 (other sources say: June 1, 1448) when the Yingzong Emperor was captured by the Mongolian Wala Tribes in the so called "Tumubao Incident"  (also: Tumu Crisis ; Chinese: 土木之变), his half-brother Zhu Qiyu, who had been the assigned the task of staying behind and defending the Imperial Capital against further advances by the Wala and allied tribes, was crowned as replacement Emperor in a hastily staged ceremony.
While the Emperor was captured, and likely not to return any time soon, the Empire, for various reasons could not do without an Emperor. If only to go by the ancient mystical theories supporting the legitimacy of the Dragon Throne, the Empire could only be balanced when the Emperor stood in the center of all things. In traditional Chinese thoughts the Empire could not be harmonized without an Emperor at its center mediating between Heaven above and Earth below. Furthermore, there was the more practical necessity of maintaining control of the various groups at Court, and naturally the military needed its Commander in Chief. Hence, an apparently ambitious Prince Zhu Qiyu, as the military commander of the Capital Beijing finding himself in an extraordinarily strong position, was bound to be selected as the replacement Emperor. No one knew if the Yingzhong Emperor would survive his ordeal. And what might the Wala attempt to extort in return for his safe passage home? And that was not all: while the Emperor was captured and his army destroyed, the Wa;a were greatly encouraged to increase and expand their attacks in the North, threatening to break through the outer ring of defenses of the Great Wall of China. It was a considerable military threat that had to be dealt with.

The Imperial Court knew very well about the nomads wishes for "international" trade, the granting of which mich well have kept them away from Chinese Territories. But by principle the Chinese had long denied the wishes of the "Barbarians".  There could only be "Tribute" but never trade. Highly influenced by Confucian doctrines in which agriculture was the core activity that kept the people living simply but happily (and "harmoniously"), during much of the Ming Dynasty arts were seen as redundant products and altogether, trade was deemed a morally subversive activity, which although necessary at some points in society (in the distribution of grain, produced tools or imported goods for instance) was to be highly discouraged. Thus, it was unlikely any such wish would be granted in return for the Life of the Yingzhong Emperor. In fact, he was as good as dead unless a virtual miracle occurred. Or so it must have seemed to the courtiers in Beijing and the new Emperor Daizong.

Thus, to make a long story short: Zhu Qiyu was legally selected by the Empress-Dowager to be the Regent to the empty Throne not long after the capture of the Emperor. However, already in September of that year - with the urgency of the advancing Wala Army at hand - the new Regent and his supporting clique felt strong enough to launch his full claim to the Throne, in fact enacting a Coup D'Etat. Having usurped the Throne, Zhu Qiyu ended political chaos and thereafter reigned as Emperor declaring his Reign Title Daizhong and the reign period of Jingtai.

In 1455 AD when the rightful Emperor Yingzhong returned Daizhong refused to give up his Throne, instead manipulating the re-emerged Yingzhong Emperor into a meaningless role as "Overlord" and seeing him off to further house arrest.
Altogether zhu Qiyu reigned as Emperor Daizhong for about 8 and a half years before meeting his demise through the "incident of breaking the gate" (1457 AD) and succumbing to illness.
Successor - Subsequent Reign Period -
Life 1427 - 1464 AD
Reign 1457 - 1464 AD , Reign Period TianShun
Zhu QiZhen , Name as Emperor YingZong (Return of the Emperor)
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Great Wall of China, were unable to reach the heavily defended city of Beijing and instead were forced to start for peace negotiations and the settling of a deal. Although most Chinese sources never mention exactly what the Wala got out of the deal, the Emperor was eventually returned to his homeland and a peace treaty signed with the Wala tribes.
Needless to say: the miraculous victory over the Wala had a serious downside for the acting Daizhong Emperor.

Upon the return of Yingzhong to his Capital in 1455 AD, the Daizhong Emperor invented a meaningless Title for his half brother and had him placed under house arrest at the "Southern Palace" which lay outside the Forbidden City and was heavily guarded so as to prevent unwanted visitors of stopping by.
One night in the first lunar month of the year 1457 AD however, the Daizhong Emperor - who had fallen gravely ill just previously heard the sounds of Chimes and Bells sounding from the Districts outside of his Palace the Forbidden City. A eunuch was sent outside the walls to investigate what was occurring. Then
the ill Daizhong Emperor thus learned that the Yingzhong Emperor had been broken out of his golden cage by several rebellious Ministers and their following, he is reported to have been so baffled (and likely mortally frightened) that all he could answer to his courtiers was the sentence of "Good ! Good ! Good!.
The very next morning the illegal and disrespected Daizhong Emperor was placed under house arrest, to die but a few days later.

Death & Succession : Death came fast to this Emperor, leaving him dead at the relatively young Age of 30. According to legend, the Daizhong Emperor, already of ill health at the moment of the counter coup by his courtiers, was placed under house arrest and soon after either fell ill and died. Some historic sources and also folk tales say that the Daizhong Emperor did not die from his illness but instead was tortured to death on orders from a revengeful YingZhong Emperor.
Which ever is the truth, after the return of the Yingzong Emperor, the end of Zhu QiYu came rather quickly. The lavish tomb which had been under construction at the Ming Tombs Valley(Shi San Ling ; 13 Tombs) complex near Changping in Changping District of north Beijing was destroyed on orders of the returned Yingzhong Emperor. Instead of receiving a Royal Burial befitting an Emperor, the Daizhong Emperor was not buried at the Ming Tomb Valley but received a small and uneventful burial fit for someone with the rank of Prince and the posthumous name of Jingdi (景帝). Zhu Qiyu lies buried with several of his many concubines. His grave lies somewhere in the Western Hills (Mentougou District) in the outer suburbs of current day Beijing.
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Ruling the most powerful nation in the world at its time, seated in the most populous city in the World.
On the eve of the Tumu Crisis in 1448, the city had 960,000 residents with another 2.19 million living in the surrounding region. It is believed that Beijing was the largest city in the world from 1425 to 1650 and from 1710 to 1825. In the year 1550 AD, during the Jingtai Reign Period Beijing came under siege from invading Mongol Tribes led by Altan Khan, but was ultimatley succesfully defended. In the aftermath the suburbs were left pillaged but the city continued to thrive.

The Jingtai Reign of the Ming Dynasty is really an interlude period in the reign of Zhu Qizhen Emperor YingZong.
After an unfortunate northern frontier clash between the annoying Wala tribe and Ming troops, among whom Zhu Qizhen Emperor YingZong. In this even known as the "Tumubao Incident" the Chinese Emperor was captured and taken hostage. Following the "Tumubao Incident" a temporary ruler, -the Regent Prince- , had to be appointed. The Empress Dowagers' choice for the job was Zhu Qiyu, the half brother of the hostaged Emperor. This turned out to be a rather unfortunate choice, as in the following period Zhu QiYu usurped the Dragon Throne and named himself Emperor Daizhong.

Surviving a large scale invasion of north China by the Mongolian Wala Tribes.
After the usurpation of the Dragon Throne Emperor Daizhong made Yu Qian his Minister of War. It seems to have been an excellent choice as under the new high command of Yu Qian the Ming Armies gradually built up their strength, training and capabilities. While Emperor Yingzong remained a hostage, the Ming Troops repelled several serious attempts by the Wala to launch an offensive towards the Capital of Beijing. In 1450 AD they succeeded laying siege to the city and burning and looting the outer suburbs of the Imperial Capital.
Eventually, the Mongolians, having exhausted themselves in breaking through the well defended outer layers of the
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