Emperor Yongle

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Emperor Yongle
Emperor Yongle
Emperor Yongle

Zhu Di,the Emperor Yongle,(1360-1424, reigned 1403-24) was born in 1360. He was the fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty. His mother used to be one of the ladies-in-waiting.

At his birth, the lady-in-waiting was raised to Secondary Empress Weng. When Zhu Di reached the age of fifteen, a conspiracy was hatched between Empress Weng and several others of the Court to kill Yun Wen, Zhu Yuanzhang’s grandson and the rightful heir to the throne, and attempt to elevate Zhu Di to that position. The conspiracy leaked out, and Zhu Di was arrested and imprisoned for about seven years.

In 1390, Zhu Yuanzhang gave him joint command with Prince Kang of Jin to lead an expedition against the North. After the capture of Beijing in 1393, Zhu Yuanzhang appointed him prince of Yan (former name for Beijing), with full control of the armies of north China. In 1396, the emperor ordered him to proceed to the frontier and suppress a rising amongst the Mongols and in May 1938 appointed him to the supreme command of all civil and military affairs of North China.

kill his nephew

In June of the same year, the emperor died and was succeeded by Yun Wen under the reign title Jian Wen. The latter’s tutor, Fang Xiaoru who was then minister of state, persuaded the emperor to reduce his uncles’ power. When this movement threatened the Prince of Yan in 1399, he flaunted the banner of protecting the emperor and fought to Nanjing. The second emperor of the Ming Dynasty was lost track off completely. One legend tells that the emperor was killed in a palace fire. The second tale is that the emperor escaped from the palace tunnel and made a disguise of a monk and roamed about. After seizing the throne from his nephew in 1402, Zhu Di became the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

He adopted the reign title Yongle (eternal happiness). Having realized that the capital Nanjing was too far away from Northern frontier of China, which was unfavorable for the unity of the country, he decided to change the name Beiping (Northern Peace) to Beijing (Northern Capital)and move the capital from Nanjing to Beijing. When the reconstruction and modelling of the city, and the construction of the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven were completed, and the Grand Canal was dredged for shipping grain from the South to the North, a grand ceremony for moving the capital was held to offer sacrifice to God and Earth at the Temple of Heaven in February 1421. From then on the city of Beijing had become the political, military economic and cultural center of China.