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Wanli Emperor

From Academic Kids

Template:Chinese Emperor 7 The Wanli Emperor (1563 - 1620) was emperor of China (Ming dynasty) between 1572 and 1620. Born Zhu Yijun, he was the Longqing Emperor's son. His rule of 48 years would be the longest in the Ming dynasty and it witnessed the steady decline of the dynasty. Wanli also saw the arrival of the first Jesuit missionary in Beijing, Matteo Ricci.

Wanli ascended the throne when he was 9 and for the first ten years the young emperor was aided by a notable statesman Zhang Juzheng (張居正). Zhang Juzheng directed the path of the country and exercised his skills and power as an able administrator. However after he died in 1582, rather than following in Zhang's footsteps, Wanli felt that he was free of supervision and reversed many of Zhang's administrative improvements. Wanli seldom attended to state affairs and for years at a time would refuse to receive his ministers or read any reports being sent to him. Wanli also extorted money from the government, and ultimately his own people, for his personal enjoyment. One example was that he paid close attention to the construction of his own tomb which took decades to complete.

During the closing years of his reign, the later Jin or Qing dynasty was threatening the empire with border raids as well as direct attacks against the Ming. Emperor Wanli's died in 1620 and was buried in Dingling (定陵) located on the outskirts of Beijing. His tomb is one of the biggest compared to others adjacent to it and is the only one of two opened to public.



"The Wanli Emperor then became so disenchanted with the moralistic attacks and counterattacks of officials that he was thoroughly alienated from his imperial role. He finally resorted to vengeful tactics of blocking or ignoring the conduct of administration. For years on end he refused to see his ministers or act upon memorials. He refused to make necessary appointments. The whole top echelon of Ming administration became understaffed. In short, Wanli tried to forget about his imperial responsibilities while squirreling away what he could for his private purse. Considering the emperor's required role as the kingpin of the state, this personal rebellion against the bureaucracy was not only bankruptcy but treason." Fairbanks, John King, and Merle Goldman. China A New History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.


Wanli Emperor

The Wanli emperors reign is representative of the decline of the Ming. He was an unmotivated and avaricious ruler who allowed his country to fall apart under his rule. He seldom met with his Inner Court or filled vacant offices. His reign was plagued with fiscal woes, military pressures, and angry bureaucrats. He also had sent eunuch supervisors to provinces to oversee mining operations which actually became covers for extortion. Discontent with the lack of morals during this time, a group of scholars and political activists loyal to Zhu Xi and against Wang Yangming, created the Donglin Movement, a political group who believed in upright morals and tried to affect the government.



Preceded by:
Longqing Emperor
Emperor of China
(Ming Dynasty)
1572–1620
Succeeded by:
Taichang Emperor

Template:End boxde:Wanli fr:Wanli ja:万暦帝 zh:明神宗

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