The Longqing Emperor (simplified Chinese: 隆庆帝; traditional Chinese: 隆慶帝; pinyin: Lóngqìng Dì; 4 March 1537 – 5 July 1572), also known by his temple name as the Emperor Muzong of Ming (明穆宗), personal name Zhu Zaiji (朱載()),[4][a] art name Shunzhai (舜齋),[5] was the 12th emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1567 to 1572. He was initially known as the Prince of Yu (裕王) from 1539 to 1567 before he became the emperor. He succeeded his father, the Jiajing Emperor. "Longqing", the era name of his reign, means "great celebration".

Longqing Emperor
Palace portrait on a hanging scroll, kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Reign4 February 1567 – 5 July 1572
Enthronement4 February 1567
PredecessorJiajing Emperor
SuccessorWanli Emperor
Prince of Yu
TenureMarch 1539 – 23 January 1567
Born4 March 1537[1]
Jiajing 16, 23rd day of the 1st month
Died5 July 1572(1572-07-05) (aged 35)[2][3]
Longqing 6, 26th day of the 5th month
(m. 1553; died 1558)
(m. 1558)
(m. 1560)
Wanli Emperor
Zhu Zaiji (朱載坖)
Era name and dates
Longqing (隆慶): 9 February 1567 – 1 February 1573
Posthumous name
Emperor Qitian Longdao Yuanyi Kuanren Xianwen Guangwu Chunde Hongxiao Zhuang (契天隆道淵懿寬仁顯文光武純德弘孝莊皇帝)
Temple name
Muzong[1] (穆宗)
FatherJiajing Emperor
MotherEmpress Xiaoke

After the death of the Jiajing Emperor, the new Longqing Emperor inherited a country in turmoil due to years of mismanagement and corruption. Recognizing the extent of the chaos caused during his father's lengthy reign, the emperor worked to restore order in the state administration. He reinstated talented officials who had been previously exiled and dismissed corrupt officials and Taoist priests who had surrounded Jiajing. Additionally, he lifted the ban on foreign trade, boosting the empire's economy, and reorganized the border troops to strengthen security on the inland and coastal borders. The seaports of Zhejiang and Fujian were fortified to defend against coastal pirates, who had been a constant nuisance during the previous government. The emperor also successfully repelled Altan Khan's Mongol army, which had breached the Great Wall and reached Beijing. A peace treaty was signed shortly after, allowing for the resumption of the exchange of horses for silk.

During the reign of the Longqing Emperor, like many previous Ming emperors, there was a heavy reliance on court eunuchs. One particular eunuch, Meng Cong (孟沖), who was supported by Grand Secretary Gao Gong, gained control over the inner court towards the end of the emperor's reign. Despite a promising start, the Longqing Emperor quickly neglected his duties as a ruler and instead focused on personal pleasures, much to the disappointment of his reform-minded advisors. The emperor also made contradictory decisions by re-employing Taoist priests, whom he had previously banned at the beginning of his reign.

Early life edit

Zhu Zaiji was born on 4 March 1537, to the Jiajing Emperor and a concubine surnamed Du. He was the emperor's third son; the eldest son had died in infancy before Zhu Zaiji's birth, and his second son, Zhu Zairui, was six months older than him. A month after Zhu Zaiji's birth, the emperor's fourth son, Zhu Zaizhen, was born.[1]

In February 1539, the Jiaqing Emperor created Zhu Zairui the crown prince. On the same day, Zhu Zaiji was granted the title of Prince of Yu, and the fourth son of Zhu Zaizhen was given the title of Prince of Jing. In 1549, Crown Prince Zhu Zairui died.[1] His death caused Jiajing to feel immense sorrow and regret, as he believed he had not listened to the supposed advice of his Taoist priest Tao Zhongwen, who had warned him that "two dragons should not face each other". This may have been the reason why he refused to create another crown prince,[1] and also avoided seeing Zhu Zaiji. Another version suggests that the emperor held a grudge against Zhu Zaiji for not observing sexual abstinence during the mourning period (this version was fueled by the fact that Zhu Zaiji had a son in October 1555, only 18 months after his mother's death).[6]

In September 1552, Zhu Zaiji and his younger brother began receiving education together. Two months later, their wives were chosen and they were married in February 1553.[1] After that, Zhu Zaiji moved from the Forbidden City to his princely palace. For thirteen years, he lived outside the Forbidden City, gaining experience of conditions beyond the Imperial Palace and developing an understanding of the country's issues. The Jiajing Emperor ensured that he and the officials treated the third and fourth sons equally, sparking speculation at court about who would be the new successor. This speculation was further fueled by the Jiajing Emperor's fondness for the mother of the younger Zhu Zaizhen, with whom he spent a lot of time. In contrast, when Zhu Zaiji's mother died in February 1554, the funeral arrangements had to be revised twice, as the Jiajing Emperor suppressed any insinuation that she held a higher status than just the mother of the presumptive successor.[1]

In March 1560, the Jiaqing Emperor received a memorandum suggesting that Zhu Zaiji be appointed as his successor. In response, the emperor was outraged and ordered the execution of the writer. However, later that year, he changed his mind and ordered Zhu Zaizhen to go to his seat in Anlu, Huguang Province. This decision strengthened Zhu Zaiji's position, although he continued to be excluded from the emperor's entourage and neglected. Unlike the deceased Zhu Zairui, the emperor did not like him.[1] Despite being 29 years old at the time of his accession to the throne and having a Confucian education,[7] Zhu Zaiji lacked deep knowledge in statesmanship and was not adequately prepared to govern an empire.[6][7]

Beginning of reign edit

Portrait of the Longqing Emperor

The Jiajing Emperor died on 23 January 1567, and twelve days later, Zhu Zaiji became the new emperor.[8]

The reign of the Longqing Emperor began with the implementation of the Jiajing Emperor's "dying orders", which aimed to bring about reform and political change. Senior Grand Secretary Xu Jie, in collaboration with Zhang Juzheng, drafted the "final edict" of the Jiajing Emperor and the first edicts of the Longqing Emperor's reign, which were approved by Longqing himself.[9] These edicts, with the goal of "removing the bad" and "introducing the new", revoked the unpopular policies of the Jiajing Emperor and introduced long-awaited reforms. The Taoist priests who had held significant influence during the previous era were imprisoned and their rituals were banned. The orders to gather ingredients for their rituals were also cancelled.[6] The area in West Park, which was built by the Jiajing Emperor and modeled after the Taoist Immortal Lands, was dismantled. Officials who had been punished for opposing the policies of the Jiaqing Emperor were pardoned and released from prison. Those who were still alive were reinstated to their positions, and those who had died were given posthumous honors.[10] These reforms were generally well received.[11]

In the long term, the most noteworthy event during the early days of the Longqing Emperor's reign was the selection of Zhang Juzheng as Grand Secretary. Zhang had been the emperor's tutor since 1563, and the emperor saw him as a man with exceptional abilities. Throughout the Longqing Emperor's reign, Zhang's power and influence increased, and after the emperor's died, he swiftly rose to the position of Senior Grand Secretary. He became the most influential politician in the Ming government for a decade and was considered the most competent administrator of the late Ming dynasty.[11][6]

In the years that followed, the reforms persisted,[12] with the Longqing Emperor approving changes proposed by experienced statesmen such as Gao Gong, Chen Yiqin, and Zhang Juzheng. An evaluation was conducted on the government officials, including those from the princely households. Competent officials were promoted, while inadequate ones were removed from their positions. Taxes for those affected by natural disasters were lowered, and land surveys and tax records were updated. Restrictions were placed on certain expenses for the imperial household.[9]

However, Xu Jie, Senior Grand Secretary at the beginning of the Longqing Emperor's reign, had already rejected the cooperation of Grand Secretaries Gao Gong and Guo Pu when writing the Jiajing Emperor's "final edict". Instead, he invited Zhang Juzheng, who was then the director of the Hanlin Academy. This caused a conflict with his colleagues in the secretariat.[8] A contemporary commentator sadly remarked on this, noting that such capable men were unable to work together for the good of the empire and instead became mortal enemies. In the summer of 1567, Gao Gong was dismissed from the Grand Secretariat, followed by Xu Jie the following year. When Gao Gong returned to office in the early 1570s, he and his followers sought revenge against Xu and his sons.[6]

Character edit

The information available about the Longqing Emperor is vague and contradictory. While official history praises his thrift and humanity, it seems that this is simply the usual rhetoric.[7] It is noted that he was not naturally strong or ambitious, in contrast to his father.[6] He was known for being friendly and kind, and during his reign, there were fewer severe punishments for high officials compared to previous years. However, he lacked his father's drive for power, as well as his temper and cruelty.[6] Additionally, he did not possess the same strength of faith in Taoism as his father, the Jiajing Emperor.[8] The Longqing Emperor also suffered from a speech defect,[11] which caused him to only speak to his eunuchs.[8] In public, he was always silent and even during formal events, his grand secretaries would deliver his lines for him.[7]

He was perceived to have average intelligence at best, but he was determined to be taken seriously. He implemented reforms and policy changes during his reign, particularly in relation to Jiajing. He was successful in strengthening his government by aligning himself with capable politicians, a rarity during the Ming dynasty.[11] While his minimal involvement in state affairs did not have a negative impact, as competent ministers and grand secretaries were responsible for handling them, it did lead to a power struggle within the Grand Secretariat. The winner of this struggle would have the authority to make final decisions on state matters.[7] Gao Gong, who had been one of Longqing's closest mentors during his youth,[10] was able to consolidate power as the head of the Grand Secretariat (and also held the title of Minister of Personnel) more than any of his predecessors.[13]

Within months of ascending to the throne, he became disinterested in matters of state[6] and instead devoted much of his time to extravagant parties with his consorts, indulging in opulence and living extravagantly.[14] It is rumored that he sought entertainment and luxury as a means of compensating for years of neglect and deprivation.[6] Concerned officials began to voice their objections, citing his declining health and exhaustion, both physically and mentally.[14]

Trade edit

During the Longqing era, the government adopted a more open approach to trade compared to the previous Jiajing regime. In 1567, the grand coordinator of Fujian proposed to abolish the Haijin policy, which was approved by the government and the emperor. This led to the restoration of maritime inspection offices and the legalization of foreign trade, primarily in Yuegang (Moon Port) in Fujian. However, trade with Japan remained prohibited.[15][16] The relaxation of legal restrictions resulted in a significant increase in trade.

In addition to the southeast coast, the northern borders were also opened as part of a new reconciliation policy, allowing for trade with the Mongols.

Financial policy edit

(Bronze) coins, also known as coppers, were primarily used along the Grand Canal in the mid-16th century, causing a shortage in other areas and hindering trade.[17] In 1567, Minister of Revenue, Ge Shouli, suggested resuming production of these coins due to their importance in the daily lives of urban citizens. He believed that losing control over the currency would also mean losing control over the entire economy, as silver and those who profited from it would dominate.[18] However, the Ministry of Works rejected the proposal, citing the high cost of casting the coins, which was twice their value.[18] Opponents of the minister argued that the existing coins were sufficient for the limited regions where they were in circulation.[18]

Later, in the years 1569–1570, the emperor was convinced by Minister of War Tan Lun and Investigating Censor Jin Xueyan to reopen the mints. They argued that it was necessary to increase the money supply during a silver shortage, as this would lead to a decrease in the price of silver and an increase in the value of goods. They also believed that a medium of exchange was needed to prevent the wealthy from hoarding silver and causing a shortage, and that using silver for payments was disadvantageous for smaller payers. However, their proposal was met with opposition from Gao Gong, who argued that having two currencies would lead to the state manipulating their exchange rate and causing mistrust among the population. Despite this, the mints were only open for a short period of time, until the death of the Longqing Emperor.[19]

Military and foreign policy edit

In foreign affairs, the Longqing era was a period of peace. Apart from Guangdong, the pirate raids, so devastating in the Jiajing era, subsided.[6]

The grand military parade held in the autumn of 1569 was a momentous occasion. (The previous parade had taken place in 1429 and the next one would not occur until 1581.)[20] As part of the parade, incompetent officers were dismissed and the units underwent rigorous training. Despite the high cost, it greatly boosted the morale of both the soldiers and the onlookers.[14] The vibrant spectacle, with the emperor at its center, was meticulously planned by Zhang Juzheng, who was dedicated to fortifying border defenses and revitalizing the military. Apart from uplifting the spirits of the troops, the parade also provided a refreshing break from the monotonous palace life for the monarch.[20]

Immediately after the parade, the Mongol army led by Altan Khan breached the Great Wall and ravaged the northern border regions. Prior to this, there had been fighting in the winter of 1567/68, during which Ming troops not only defended their territory but also made several forays into the Mongolian steppes.[21] However, in the early 1570s, the Ming dynasty's long-term policy towards the Mongols changed. Gao Gong and Zhang Juzheng, in addition to strengthening the border troops, pursued a policy of appeasement and negotiated peace with Altan Khan in 1571.[20] As part of the agreement, the Ming dynasty opened border markets[22] where the Mongols could trade their horses and other surplus goods for Chinese goods. Altan Khan was also granted the title of Prince of Shunyi ("The prince who conforms to righteousness") by the Longqing Emperor.[22]

Death edit

Tomb of the Longqing Emperor

The emperor died on 5 July 1572[b] at the age of thirty-five.[2][3] Prior to his death, he entrusted ministers Gao Gong, Zhang Juzheng, and Gao Yi (高儀) with the responsibility of managing state affairs and serving as loyal advisors to his ten-year-old son, the Wanli Emperor.

The Longqing Emperor was buried in Zhaoling (昭陵), one of the Ming tombs located near Beijing. He was given the posthumous name Emperor Zhuang (莊帝) and the temple name Muzong (穆宗).[1]

Family edit

The Longqing Emperor had four sons and seven daughters. His first son, Zhu Yiyi (October 1555 – May 1559, posthumous name "Xianhuai"), was born to his first wife. Unfortunately, his second son died as an infant. The third son, Zhu Yijun, inherited the throne. The fourth son, Zhu Yiliu (1568–1614, posthumous name "Jian"), held the title of Prince of Lu and resided in Weihui, Henan. Both Zhu Yijun and Zhu Yiliu were born to one of the Longqing Emperor's concubines, surnamed Li. Out of the seven daughters, only four survived into adulthood.[20]

Consorts and Issue:

  • Empress Xiaoyizhuang, of the Li clan (孝懿莊皇后 李氏; d. 1558)
    • Zhu Yiyi, Crown Prince Xianhuai (憲懷皇太子 朱翊釴; 15 October 1555 – 11 May 1559), first son
    • Zhu Yiling, Prince Dao of Jing (靖悼王 朱翊鈴), second son
    • Princess Penglai (蓬萊公主; 1557), first daughter
  • Empress Xiao'an, of the Chen clan (孝安皇后 陳氏; d. 1596)
    • Princess Taihe (太和公主; d. 1560), second daughter
  • Empress Dowager Xiaoding, of the Li clan (孝定皇太后 李氏; 1545 – 18 March 1614)
    • Zhu Yijun, the Wanli Emperor (萬曆帝 朱翊鈞; 4 September 1563 – 18 August 1620), third son
    • Princess Shouyang (壽陽公主; 1565–1590), personal name Yao’e (堯娥), third daughter
      • Married Hou Gongchen (侯拱辰) in 1581
    • Princess Yongning (永寧公主; 11 March 1567 – 22 July 1594), personal name Yaoying (堯媖), fourth daughter
      • Married Liang Bangrui (梁邦瑞; d. 9 May 1582) in 1582
    • Zhu Yiliu, Prince Jian of Lu (潞簡王 朱翊鏐; 3 March 1568 – 4 July 1614), fourth son
    • Princess Rui'an (瑞安公主; 1569–1629), personal name Yaoyuan (堯媛), fifth daughter
      • Married Wan Wei (萬煒; d. 1644) in 1585, and had issue (one son)
  • Consort Duanjingshu, of the Qin clan (端靜淑妃 秦氏)
    • Princess Qixia (棲霞公主; 1571–1572), personal name Yaolu (堯𡞱), seventh daughter
  • Consort Gonghuizhuang, of the Liu clan (恭惠莊妃 劉氏; d. 1582)
  • Consort Zhuangxirong, of the Wang clan (莊僖榮妃 王氏; d. 1580)
  • Consort De, of the Li clan (李德妃 李氏; d. 1632)
  • Consort Duan, of the Dong clan (端妃 董氏)
  • Consort Hui, of the Ma clan (惠妃 馬氏)
  • Consort He, of the Zhao clan (和妃 趙氏; d. 1581)
  • Consort An, of the Yang clan (安妃 楊氏; d. 1576)
  • Consort Rong, of the Han clan (容妃 韓氏; d. 11 September 1630)
  • Consort Jing, of the Zhuang clan (敬妃 莊氏; d. 1580)
  • Consort Zhaoronggong, of the Li clan (昭榮恭妃 李氏)
  • Consort Yi, of the Yu clan (懿妃 於氏)
  • Consort Qi, of the Ye clan (奇妃 葉氏; d. 1621)
  • Consort Xian, of the Jiang clan (賢妃 江氏)
  • Consort Gong, of the Wu clan (恭妃 吳氏)
  • Consort Jing, of the Qi clan (敬妃 齊氏)
  • Consort Ying, of the Xu clan (英妃 許氏)
  • Consort An, of the Qian clan (安妃 錢氏)
  • Unknown
    • Princess Yanqing (延慶公主; b. 1570), personal name Yaoji (堯姬), sixth daughter
      • Married Wang Bing (王昺) in 1587

Ancestry edit

Emperor Yingzong of Ming (1427–1464)
Chenghua Emperor (1447–1487)
Empress Xiaosu (1430–1504)
Zhu Youyuan (1476–1519)
Shao Lin
Empress Xiaohui (d. 1522)
Lady Yang
Jiajing Emperor (1507–1567)
Jiang Xing
Jiang Xiao
Empress Cixiaoxian (d. 1538)
Lady Wu
Longqing Emperor (1537–1572)
Du Lin
Empress Xiaoke (d. 1554)

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ The Longqing Emperor's personal name was mistakenly recorded as 朱載() (The name is pronounced like Zhu Zaiji, but that name is written with the character 坖 for .) by Wu Weizi during the Wanli era, and as 朱載(hòu) (Zhu Zaihou) by Zhu Guozhen and others during the Chongzhen era. This has caused confusion in the records of the emperor's name in Qing dynasty, Vietnamese, and Korean documents.
  2. ^ Sometimes it is stated as 4 July 1572, for example in Dardess, John W.: Ming China, 1368–1644: A Concise History of a Resilient Empire.[12]

References edit

Citations edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Goodrich & Fang (1976), p. 365.
  2. ^ a b Miller (2009), p. 28.
  3. ^ a b Goodrich & Fang (1976), p. vii.
  4. ^ 《明世宗實錄》卷二百:上命皇第三子名載坖,第四子名載圳。上親告太廟。
  5. ^ (Ming) Shen Defu (沈德符). Compilation of Wanli era catastrophes (萬曆野獲編), Volume 1: "又云世宗號堯齋,其後穆宗號舜齋。"
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Goodrich & Fang (1976), p. 366.
  7. ^ a b c d e Huang (1998), pp. 512–514.
  8. ^ a b c d Dardess (2013), p. 168.
  9. ^ a b Mote (2003), p. 724.
  10. ^ a b Dardess (2013), p. 170.
  11. ^ a b c d Mote (2003), p. 725.
  12. ^ a b Dardess (2012), pp. 52–53.
  13. ^ Dardess (2013), p. 191.
  14. ^ a b c Mote (2003), p. 727.
  15. ^ Lim, Ivy Maria (July 2013). From Haijin to Kaihai: The Jiajing Court’s Search for a Modus Operandi along the South-eastern Coast (1522-1567). Journal of the British Association for Chinese Studies. p. 20. ISSN 2048-0601.
  16. ^ Geiss (1998), p. 504.
  17. ^ Glahn (1996), p. 111.
  18. ^ a b c Glahn (1996), p. 112.
  19. ^ Glahn (1996), pp. 143–145.
  20. ^ a b c d Goodrich & Fang (1976), p. 367.
  21. ^ Dardess (2013), pp. 176–178.
  22. ^ a b Theobald, Ulrich (11 May 2011). "Ming Muzong 明穆宗, the Longqing Emperor 隆慶". Retrieved 8 July 2017.

Works cited edit

Further reading edit

  • Li, Kangying (2010). The Ming Maritime Policy in Transition, 1367 to 1568. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-06172-8.

External links edit

Longqing Emperor
Born: 4 March 1537 Died: 5 July 1572
Chinese royalty
New title Prince of Yu
1539 – 1567
Merged into the Crown
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of the Ming dynasty
Emperor of China

Succeeded by