Empress Zhang (Hongxi)

Empress Zhang (1379–20 November 1442), was a Chinese Empress consort of the Ming Dynasty, married to the Hongxi Emperor. She first served as the Empress Dowager after the accession of the Xuande Emperor. She later served as the Regent of China during the minority of the reign of her grandson, Emperor Yingzong of Ming, from 1435 until 1442.

Empress Chengxiaozhao
Empress Chengxiaozhao
Empress Consort of Ming Dynasty
Reign1424 – 1425
PredecessorEmpress Renxiaowen
SuccessorEmpress Gongrangzhang
Empress Dowager of Ming Dynasty
Grand Empress Dowager of Ming Dynasty
Yongcheng, Henan
Died1442 (aged 62–63)
SpouseHongxi Emperor
IssueZhu Zhanji
Zhu Zhanyong, prince of Yuejing
Zhu Zhanshan, prince of Xiang
Princess Jiaxing
Full name
Family name: Zhang (張)
Posthumous name
Empress Chéngxiào gōngsù míngdé hóngrén shùntiān zhāoshèng zhāo
FatherZhang Qi (張麒)

Early lifeEdit

Zhang was from Northern Shanxi. She was the daughter of Zhang Qi. She became the first spouse of the future Hongxi Emperor in 1396.[1] On her marriage, her father was posthumously enfeoffed as Count of Peng.[1] In 1404, her spouse was made heir apparent and Zhang was elevated to crown princess (Chinese: 皇太子妃; pinyin: huángtàizǐ fēi). She gave birth to 3 sons and a daughter.


On 7 September 1424, her spouse ascended the throne as the Hongxi Emperor, and 29 October, she was made empress. She was described as wise, good and capable, with a great knowledge of all events both inside and outside of the palace, and was held in good confidence of the emperor, who allowed her to participate in state affairs.[2]

In 1425, her son succeeded to the throne as the Xuande Emperor. He granted his mother the title of Empress Dowager. She was a dominant presence during the reign of her son, and accompanied him on his trips around the empire.[2]


In 1435, Zhang's son was succeeded by her eight-year-old grandson, Emperor Yingzong of Ming, and she was granted the title Grand Empress Dowager. A regency was formed consisting of Zhang Fu (Duke of Yingguo), as well as three grand secretaries: Yang Shiqi, Yang Rong and Yang Pu, with Empress Zhang as the head of the regency council and regent.[2] She was never formally given the title of regent: when she was asked to, she responded that there was no ancestral precedence for such a thing in the dynasty.[2] Though she refused the title, however, she still acted as regent, and held council with her ministers, listened to their views, and reserved the final say to her.[2]

She kept her position as regent of China until her death in 1442.



  1. ^ a b Zhang (1739).
  2. ^ a b c d e Lin (2014), p. 581.

Works citedEdit

  • Lin, Yanqing (2014). "Zhang, Empress of the Hongxi Emperor, Renzong, of Ming". In Lee, Lily Xiao Hong; Wiles, Sue (eds.). Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women, Volume II: Tang Through Ming 618 - 1644. New York: M. E. Sharpe. pp. 580–581. ISBN 9780765643162.
  • Zhang Tingyu, ed. (1739). "《明史》列传第一 后妃" [History of Ming, Historical Biography 1, Wives and Consorts]. Ctext (in Chinese). Retrieved 21 April 2017.

Further readingEdit

  • Denis C.; GRIMM, Tilemann. The Cheng-t'ung, Ching-t'ai, and T'ien-shun reigns, 1436—1464. In MOTE, Frederick W; TWITCHETT, Denis C. The Cambridge History of China Volume 7: The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 1. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1988. [dále jen Twitchett, Grimm]. ISBN 0521243327.
  • DREYER, Edward L. Early Ming China: A Political History. Stanford : Stanford University Press, 1982. 315 s. ISBN 0-8047-1105-4. S. 223. (anglicky) [Dále jen Dreyer].
  • EER, Ph. de. The Care-taker Emperor : Aspects of the Imperial Institution in Fifteenth-century China as Reflected in the Political History of the Reign of Chu Chʾi-yü. Leiden : Brill, 1986. 226 s. ISBN 9004078983, 9789004078987.
Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Renxiaowen
Empress of China
Succeeded by
Empress Gongrangzhang