Zhu Biao (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhū Biāo; 10 October 1355 – 17 May 1392) was the Hongwu Emperor's first son and crown prince of the Ming dynasty. His early death created a crisis in the dynasty's first succession that was resolved by the successful usurpation of his brother Zhu Di as the Yongle Emperor, an act with far-reaching consequences for the future of China.

Zhu Biao
Zhu Biao and Empress Ma.jpg
Painting of Zhu Biao and his mother
Crown Prince of the Ming Dynasty
(as Grand Imperial Son)
SuccessorZhu Yunwen
as Grand Imperial Grandson
Born10 October 1355
Anhui, Yuan Empire
Died17 May 1392(1392-05-17) (aged 36)
Dongling (東陵), Purple Mountain, Nanjing, Ming Empire
Empress Xiaokang
(m. 1371; died 1378)

Lady Lü (before 1392)
IssueJianwen Emperor
Zhu Yuntong
Zhu Yunjian
Zhu Yunxi
Princess Jiangdu
Princess Yilun
Princess Nanping
Full name
Family name: Zhu ()
Given name: Biao ()
Posthumous name
  • Crown Prince Yiwen (懿文太子)
  • Emperor Xiaokang (孝康皇帝)
Temple name
Ming Xingzong (明兴宗)
HouseHouse of Zhu
FatherHongwu Emperor
MotherEmpress Xiaocigao

While his father completed his rebellion against the Yuan Dynasty, Zhu Biao was generally kept away from the front lines and provided with the most esteemed Confucian scholars of his time as tutors. Particularly by comparison with his father or brother, Zhu Biao is remembered as being soft-hearted. The official History of Ming records him once questioning his father why so many of the ministers and generals who had aided him in forming the Ming Empire were being rewarded with death or banishment. His father replied that they were like thorns on a vine; not trusting Zhu Biao to do it himself, the Hongwu Emperor was kindly removing them before passing it on to his son.

Like his son, the Jianwen Emperor, Zhu Biao had a deep appreciation for traditional Chinese culture: he was involved in a survey of Xi'an and Luoyang as potential capitals for the dynasty when he fell ill and died in 1392 at the age of 36. He was posthumously honored with the title Crown Prince Yiwen (懿文太子) by his father and Xingzong (明兴宗), Emperor Kang (康皇帝, lit. "Emperor of Health") by his son.

After his younger brother Zhu Di usurped the throne, he was posthumously demoted back to Crown Prince Yiwen. During Southern Ming, he was again posthumously restored as Xingzong and Emperor Kang.

Generation PoemEdit

After his first son, Zhu Xiongying, Zhu Biao followed the practice of including a generation name into the personal names of his other children. The names followed a generation poem:[1]




This poem would've governed the first character of the personal names of the next 20 emperors of China, but only the first two were officially ever used. After the usurpation of the Prince of Yan Zhu Di, the Jianwen Emperor was said to have died in a fire and his surviving children were killed or kept in isolation to prevent rivals from the throne, and the younger sons of Zhu Biao were also kept under house arrest or killed. But during Republic of China, the politician Wang Pixu (王丕煦) wrote a county chronicle for Laiyang, in which it was recorded that Zhu Yuntong had many descendants there through his son Zhu Wenkun (朱文坤).


  • Parents:
    • Zhu Yuanzhang, the Hongwu Emperor (高皇帝 朱元璋; 21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398)
    • Empress Xiaocigao, of the Ma clan (孝慈高皇后 馬氏; 1332–1382), personal name Xiuying (秀英)
  • Consorts and Issue:
    • Empress Xiaokang, of the Chang clan (孝康皇后 常氏; 1355–1378)
      • Zhu Xiongying, Prince Yuhuai (虞懷王 朱雄英; 1 December 1374 – 12 June 1382), first son
      • Zhu Yuntong, Prince Wudao (吳悼王 朱允熥; 29 November 1378 – 1 September 1417), third son
    • Crown Princess consort Yiwen, of the Lü clan (懿文皇太子妃 呂氏; 1359–1412)
      • Zhu Yunwen, the Jianwen Emperor (惠宗 朱允炆; b. 5 December 1377), second son
      • Zhu Yunjian, Prince Hengmin (衡愍王 朱允熞; 27 July 1385 – 1402), fourth son
      • Zhu Yunxi, Prince Xujian (徐簡王 朱允熙; 13 July 1391 – 3 February 1407), fifth son
    • Unknown
      • Princess Jiangdu (江都郡主), first daughter
        • Married Geng Xuan (耿璿), the first son of Geng Bingwen, in 1394
      • Princess Yilun (宜倫郡主)
        • Married Yu Li (於禮) in 1417
      • Princess Nanping (南平郡主; d. 1412), fourth daughter


  1. ^ "Generation Names of the Ming Imperial Clan" ("明宗室世系命名"). (in Chinese)