Consort Wan

Wan Guifei, or Imperial Noble Consort Wan (traditional Chinese: 萬皇貴妃; simplified Chinese: 万皇贵妃) (1428-1487), born Wan Zhen'er (Chinese: 萬貞兒; pinyin: Wàn Zhēn'ér), known formally as Imperial Noble Consort Gongsuduanshunrongjing (恭肅端順榮靖皇貴妃) was an imperial consort during the Ming Dynasty. She is sometimes known as Consort Wan or Lady Wan and was the favorite consort of the Chenghua Emperor.[1] She was approximately fifteen to seventeen years older than the emperor.[1]

Wan Zhen'er
Born1428 (1428)
Died1487 (aged 58–59)
SpouseChenghua Emperor
Issue1st son of Chenghua Emperor (1466-1466)
Posthumous name
Gong Su Duan Shun Rongjing
FatherWan Gui

BiographyEdit

Wan Zhen'er's father, Wan Gui, was a county official. During the Xuande period, he was sent to Bazhou in Shuntian Prefecture for breaking the law. Therefore, when Wan Zhen'er was four years old, she was selected to serve as the maid of one of the Xuande Emperor's grandsons of the Ming Dynasty. In 1449, Emperor Yingzong of Ming was captured after his army lost the Battle of Tumu Fortress against the Mongols. 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.

In the emperor's absence, the Empress Dowager and court officials supported Yingzong’s younger brother Zhu Qiyu's ascension to the throne as the Jingtai Emperor. At the time, Yingzong's two-year-old son Zhu Jianshen was still crown prince. In order to prevent an enemy from being close to Zhu Jianshen, the Empress Dowager appointed Wan Zhener to be the prince's personal nanny. In 1452, the Jingtai Emperor revoked his nephew's title of crown prince removed and installed his own son, Zhu Jianji, as heir. Zhu Jianshen was forced into confinement, and became close to Wan Zhener, one of his only companions during this time.[1]

In 1457, Yingzong regained the throne as the Tianshun Emperor, and Zhu Jianshen was reinstated as crown prince. When the Emperor learned about Zhu Jianshen and Wan Zhen'ers' relationship, he believed that the older palace maid had seduced the young prince and had her beaten with boards.[2]

After Zhu Jianshen ascended to the throne as the Chenghua Emperor in 1464, the emperor made Wan his consort and she quickly became his favorite after giving birth to a boy in 1466. As the mother of his son, Emperor regularly gave Consort Wan many presents and awarded her the new title of Imperial Noble Consort. These signs of affection caused a lot of jealousy from other consorts who began spreading rumors about Consort Wan's evil doings. After Wan's son died at age of ten months old, she jealously employed eunuchs to oversee the Emperor's harem and report back to her if any concubines became pregnant. For several decades, Lady Wan would use tactics including forced abortions and even murders of members of the harem to eliminate her rivals, resulting in the Chenghua Emperor lamenting that by the age of thirty one that he still lacked a male heir.

It was only then revealed to the Emperor that a male heir, the Zhu Youcheng was secretly saved and raised in a secure location outside the palace for five years. After reuniting with the young prince, Zhu Youcheng was granted the title of crown prince and would become the future Hongzhi Emperor, notable for being the only Ming Emperor to never take any concubines.

Lady Wan died in 1487 and shortly after the Chenghua Emperor died in 1487, after 23 years on the throne. He was buried in the Maoling (茂陵) mausoleum of the Ming Dynasty Tombs.[1]

In fictionEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Weatherford, Jack (2010). The secret history of the Mongol queens : how the daughters of Genghis Khan rescued his empire (1st ed.). New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 169–170. ISBN 9780307407153. OCLC 354817523.
  2. ^ Book of Ming Dynasty, edited by Fu Weilin at the Hongwen Academy in the early Qing Dynasty, Fan 171 volumes.