Chronologic Timeline of Ming Emperors 1368 AD - 1644 AD ; Descendancy of the Ming House explained.
Imperial Ming-styled Dragon Logo, symbolising the Emperor, his might, longevity of Reign and prosperity. During the early Ming Dynasty China was the most influential trade nation and most important military power in East and South-East Asia.
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Raised in secret in the Forbidden City without the knowledge of his father and outside of the control
of High Consort Lady Wan, Zhu Jianshen was only recognized as a Son of the Xianzong Emperor Zhu Youcheng at a later time. Zhu Jianshen was granted the title of Crown Prince in 1475 AD, at age 5.
He ascended to the Throne in 1487 AD one month after the death of his Father the Xianzong Emperor. In the following year the name of the reign period was chosen as Hongzhi.
Achievements: As a young baby, Zhu Jianshen had been under the constant threat of discovery and then likely murder at the hands of Lady Wan and her power clique. However, once Lady Wan's plottings at court were revealed and Zhu Jianshen had been brought out to be revealed as the only male child and thus heir to the Throne, the days of Wan Clique at Court were over. Once Zhu Jianshen had been crowned Emperor he spared no effort to clean out any remaining members of the Wan Clique and their wider network of supporters. Once, a whole basket of memorials to the deceased Xianzong Emperor sent by Wan An and concerning "revelations of sexual prowess" were found. Concluding that such a decadent Councilor could not possibly help him in running the Empire and its vast administration, dismissed Wan An from office. Furthermore, the Xiaozong Emperor than had around a 1000 people with close connections to Wan An, mostly eunuchs and Wan family members, declared guilty of various offenses and had them all exiled to remote provinces.
At the same time, the young Xiaozong Emperor appointed or re-instated officials who had been proven dilligent, and fair to the people. Among these were Qiu Jun, Lu Pu, Liu Jian, Xie Qian and Li Dongyang. The new Emperor soon proved himself much more adapt at Governing than his father and had the ability to listen to- and make use of the advice of his ministers and councilors. As an example, Chinese history has left us the fllowing tale of the reign methods of the Emperor.
In his early days as an Emperor, Emperor Xiaozong was decided upon setting up a pavilion atop the Hill known as Wansui Shan, so that he may spend leasure time there appreciating the views. However, a student of the Imperial College (Gao Ji Dian), the highest Confucian University of the Empire officially hosted by the Emperor himself sent a letter to the Court asking the Emperor not to go through with his plan. After word got out about the contents of the letter came out, everyone at court worried and wondered about what may happen to the student, one Hu Chen, since his actions were considered frivolous at best.
The court was however surpised and impressed when the Emperor publically declared to have read Hu Chen's letter and let it know that he found the reasoning of the ltter quite reasonable. Instead of finding Hu Chen guilty of a direct affront to the Emperor and having him punished accordingly, Hu Chen was complimented for contributing his views and henceforth promoted to be a District Magistrate in the far away southern Province of Yunnan. It was good honor for a student, albeit that this move also removed Hu Chen from the vicinity of the court almost forever.
Although he may have been wise at taking advice, by and large the Xiaozong Emperor is said to have nurtured a healthy distrust of Court Officials, especially Eunuchs, due to his early life experience of being persecuted by the Lady Wan and her large group of followers, all considered mortal enemies of his father.
The Xiaozong Emperor ordered the limitation of various forms of taxes, tributes and time of personal servitude to overlords, relieving some of the burdens of masses of poor peasantry throughout the nation. A relief system was set up to help victims of natural disasters in the Empire with donations of grain and other needed supplies such as agricultural tools. As a result, the Ming Empire started a recovery from an earlier period of mishaps, misgovernment and instability.
The economy picked up and by and large, during the rule of the Xiaozong Emperor, peace reigned throughout the realm and the people had more food and found increasing prosperity.
Unfortunatly, at some time during his reign period, perhaps under perceived threat, the Xiaozong Emperor became highly superstitious, and feared a plot against him from his court eunuchs. When the Emperors favorite Eunuch, Li Guang died, a search was laucnhed for a supposed "magical book" which had been kept by the eunuchs as a magical weapon against the sovreignty of the Throne. Naturally, no one knew how to find a magical book, however the searches did yield enormous amounts of documents revealing the systematic corruption, bribery and theft practiced by Li Guang and his fellow eunuchs at Court. Li was lucky to be dead already. Others followed him to the next world swiftly.
The whole incident again reminded the Emperor to be extremely careful with his choice of trusted officials, and always to seek distance from the Eunuchs, who simply could not be trusted. It was a wise lesson, which however did not lead to the expulsion of the eunuchs from court.
While the Ming in China focussed on internal strife's or just nothing at all, the old Mongolian enemies had come a long way from their defeat at the hands of the Ming. Just before the start of the reign period of the Xiaozong Emperor, in 1483 AD, the
Schematic Map of the Flow Path of the Yellow River through China.
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northern Mongolian tribes had united themselves taking the name Khalka (also: Xanx). Although these Mongolians had at first attempted to build friendly relations with the Ming, hoping for cross border trade, the Ming killed a Khalka envoy, enraging the Dayan Khan and leading to subsequent hostile invasions. In due time, the Khalka's would make the Ming pay dearly for their unfriendly if not hostile attitudes towards the nomadic tribes.
In the years after 1483 AD, the Khalka's of the Dayan Khan allied with the Monggoljins under Toloogen and Khooshai who originally originated from lands along the Ordos Desert. In the year 1500 AD near the end of the Xiaozong Reign, combined forces of Dayan Khan and Mandukhai launched a massive attack on the fertile Ningxia Plain of the Yellow River (Huang He) and conquered some lands (near current day: Ejin Horo Chi and Ordos City).
This first southward invasion which threatened to cut off the Ningxia Region and expose the Chinese heartlands caused quite a stir at the Beijing Court. The Ming Emperor was merely lucky to have an extraordinary officer posted in Yinchuan, the nearest garrison city in defense of the Border. One Yu under leadership of the Yinchuan Garrison commander Wang ambushed the Mongolians at their encampment destroying their livelihood and killing women and children. While the Mongolians were forced to retreat a strong counter-attack was launched by the
Ming, nearly capturing Dayan Khan.
Barely escaping the Ming attack, Dayan Khan relocated far northward to the Kherlen River (Kerulan), however large-scale raids all along the frontier continued through 1507 AD. A few decades later the Khalka's would launch a full scale invasion.
According to historic legacy, the Emperor is reported to have spoken; "The prince is a smart boy. But, he is too young and plays too much. I hope you will all assist him in Government Affairs so that he will be competent at his job (task). If you promise to do so, I can die at ease".
Unfortunatly Zhu Houzhao would grow up to be one of the worst ever rulers of the Ming Dynasty, indeed more interested in playing around than facing any of his duties.