Hongxi Emperor

The Hongxi Emperor (洪熙帝 [xʊ̌ŋɕí]; 16 August 1378 – 29 May 1425), personal name Zhu Gaochi (朱高熾), was the fourth Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1424 to 1425. He succeeded his father, the Yongle Emperor, in 1424. His era name "Hongxi" means "vastly bright".

Hongxi Emperor
4th Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Reign7 September 1424 – 29 May 1425
Coronation7 September 1424
PredecessorYongle Emperor
SuccessorXuande Emperor
Born16 August 1378
Died29 May 1425(1425-05-29) (aged 46)
Xianling, Ming Dynasty Tombs, Beijing
(m. 1396⁠–⁠1425)
IssueXuande Emperor
Zhu Zhanjun
Zhu Zhanyong
Zhu Zhanyin
Zhu Zhanshan
Zhu Zhangang
Zhu Zhan'ao
Zhu Zhankai
Zhu Zhanji
Zhu Zhanshan
Princess Jiaxing
Princess Qingdou
Princess Qinghe
Princess Zhending
Zhu Gaochi (朱高熾)
Era name and dates
Hongxi (洪熙): 20 January 1425 – 7 February 1426
Posthumous name
Emperor Jingtian Tidao Chuncheng Zhide Hongwen Qinwu Zhangsheng Daxiao Zhao
Respecter of Heaven, Embodiment of the Way, Pure in Sincerity, Perfect in Virtue, Extensive in Culture, Dominant in Militancy, Standard of Sageliness, Thorough in Filial Piety, Luminous Emperor
Temple name
HouseHouse of Zhu
FatherYongle Emperor
MotherEmpress Renxiaowen
Hongxi Emperor
Literal meaning“Vastly Bright”


Map of Ming China during the Hongxi Emperor's reign

Zhu Gaochi was born on 16 August 1378 and was educated by prominent Confucian tutors. He often acted as regent in Nanjing or Beijing during his father's northern military campaigns.

He was uninterested in military matters but had prowess in archery.[1]

Already in May 1421, during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, an order was issued for the suspension of Zheng He's maritime expeditions, apparently on account of their cost (although the order apparently did not affect the 6th voyage of Zheng He, staged around that time).[2] Zhu Gaochi, as soon as he was enthroned as the Hongxi Emperor in September 1424, cancelled Zheng He's maritime expeditions permanently, arguably burned down the fleet or left the ships to decompose, and abolished frontier trade of tea for horses as well as missions for gold and pearls to Yunnan and Vietnam.[3] He restored disgraced Confucian officials, such as the Yongle Emperor's minister of revenue Xia Yuanji (imprisoned since 1421),[3] and reorganized the administration to give high ranks to his close advisors. Hanlin academicians became grand secretaries, and they dismantled his father's unpopular militaristic policies to restore civil government. The Hongxi Emperor improved finances by canceling requisitions for lumber, gold, and silver. Taxes were remitted so that vagrant farmers could return home, especially in the overburdened Yangtze River Delta. The Hongxi Emperor appointed a commission to investigate taxes. He overruled his secretaries by ordering that grain should be sent immediately to relieve disaster areas.

The Hongxi Emperor ordered that the capital be moved back to Nanjing from Beijing (which had been made the capital by the Yongle Emperor in 1421). However he died, probably of a heart attack, a month later in May 1425. His son had been declared heir apparent and became the Xuande Emperor at age 26. Although the Hongxi Emperor had a short reign, he is credited with reforms that made lasting improvements, and his liberal policies were continued by his son.


Portrait of Ming Renzong

Consorts and Issue:

  • Empress Chengxiaozhao, of the Zhang clan (誠孝昭皇后 張氏; 1379 – 20 November 1442)
    • Zhu Zhanji, the Xuande Emperor (宣宗 朱瞻基; 16 March 1399 – 31 January 1435), first son
    • Zhu Zhanyong, Prince Jing of Yue (越靖王 朱瞻墉; 9 February 1405 – 5 August 1439), third son
    • Zhu Zhanshan, Prince Xian of Xiang (襄憲王 朱瞻墡; 4 April 1406 – 18 February 1478), fifth son
    • Princess Jiaxing (嘉興公主; 1409 – 9 March 1439), first daughter
      • Married Jing Yuan (井源; d. 1449) in 1428
  • Noble Consort Gongsu, of the Guo clan (恭肅貴妃 郭氏; 1392–1425)
    • Princess De'an Daojian (德安悼簡公主; b. 1409)
    • Zhu Zhankai, Prince Huai of Teng (滕懷王 朱瞻塏; 1409 – 26 August 1425), eighth son
    • Zhu Zhanji, Prince Zhuang of Liang (梁莊王 朱瞻垍; 7 July 1411 – 3 February 1441), ninth son
    • Zhu Zhanshan, Prince Gong of Wei (衛恭王 朱瞻埏; 9 January 1417 – 3 January 1439), tenth son
  • Consort Gongjingxian, of the Li clan (恭靜賢妃 李氏)
    • Zhu Zhanjun, Prince Jing of Zheng (鄭靖王 朱瞻埈; 27 March 1404 – 8 June 1466), second son
    • Zhu Zhanyin, Prince Xian of Qi (蘄獻王 朱瞻垠; 1406 – 7 November 1421), fourth son
    • Zhu Zhan'ao, Prince Jing of Huai (淮靖王 朱瞻墺; 28 January 1409 – 30 November 1446), seventh son
    • Princess Zhending (真定公主; d. 1450)
      • Married Wang Yi (王誼) in 1429, and had issue (one son)
  • Consort Zhenjingshun, of the Zhang clan (貞靜順妃 張氏; d. 1419)
    • Zhu Zhangang, Prince Xian of Jing (荊憲王 朱瞻堈; 4 November 1406 – 11 December 1453), sixth son
  • Consort Gongyihui, of the Zhao clan (恭懿惠妃 趙氏)
    • Princess Qingdou (慶都公主; 9 October 1409 – 12 June 1440), personal name Yuantong (圓通), second daughter
      • Married Jiao Jing (焦敬; d. 20 January 1467) in 1428
  • Consort Zhenhuishu, of the Wang clan (貞惠淑妃 王氏; d. 1425)
    • Unnamed daughter
  • Consort Hui'anli, of the Wang clan (惠安麗妃 王氏; d. 1425)
  • Consort Gongxishun, of the Tan clan (恭僖順妃 譚氏; d. 1425)
  • Consort Gongjingchong, of the Huang clan (恭靖充妃 黃氏; 1396–1425), personal name Jindi (金娣)
  • Consort Daoxili, of the Li clan (悼僖麗妃 李氏)
  • Consort Zhenjingjing, of the Zhang clan (貞靜敬妃 張氏; d. 1440)
  • Unknown
    • Princess Qinghe (清河公主; 1409–1433)
      • Married Li Ming (李銘; d. 1435) in 1429
    • Princess Yanping (延平公主), fifth daughter
    • Princess Deqing (德慶公主), sixth daughter


Zhu Chuyi
Zhu Shizhen (1281–1344)
Empress Yu
Hongwu Emperor (1328–1398)
Lord Chen (1235–1334)
Empress Chun (1286–1344)
Yongle Emperor (1360–1424)
Empress Xiaocigao (1332–1382)
Lady Zheng
Hongxi Emperor (1378–1425)
Xu Siqi
Xu Liusi
Lady Zhou
Xu Da (1332–1385)
Lady Cai
Empress Renxiaowen (1362–1407)
Xie Zaixing
Lady Xie

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Frederick W. Mote; Denis Twitchett (26 February 1988). The Cambridge History of China: Volume 7, The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644. Cambridge University Press. pp. 277–. ISBN 978-0-521-24332-2.
  2. ^ Dreyer 2006, p. 90.
  3. ^ a b Dreyer 2006, p. 137.
Hongxi Emperor
Born: August 16 1378 Died: May 29 1425
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Emperor of China

Succeeded by