Kangxi Emperor

Template:Qing namebox Template:Cleanuplite The Kangxi Emperor (May 4, 1654December 20, 1722) was the third Emperor of the Manchu Qing dynasty, and the second Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1661 to 1722. He is known as one of the greatest Chinese emperors in history.


Beginning of the Reign

Technically, the Kangxi Emperor inherited his father Fulin's throne at the age of seven. Since Kangxi certainly would not have been able to rule as the emperor, the Shunzhi Emperor left Sonin, Suksaha, Ebilun, and Oboi as assistant ministers. As a result of a fierce power struggle, Oboi seized absolute power. In 1669 the Emperor arrested Oboi with help from the Grand Empress Dowager Xiao Zhuang and began to take the reins by himself.

In the spring of 1662, Kangxi ordered the Great Clearance in southern China, in order to fight the anti-Qing movement, began by Ming Dynasty loyalists to regain Beijing.

He listed three major issues: the flood control of the Yellow River, the repairing of the Grand Canal and the Three Feudatories in South China. The Revolt of the Three Feudatories was raised in 1673 and Burni of the Chakhar Mongols also started a rebellion in 1675.

The revolt of the three feudatories proved to be hard to clear. Wu Sangui's emerging forces had overran most of southern China and began allying himself with local generals. A prominent general of this kind was Wang Fuchen.

He crushed the latter within two months and incorporated the Chakhar into the Eight Banners. After the surrender of the Zheng family, the Qing Dynasty annexed Taiwan in 1684. Soon afterwards, the coastal regions were ordered to be repopulated, and to encourage settlers, the Qing government gave a pecuniary incentive to each settling family.

Russia and the Mongols

At the same time, the Emperor was faced with the Russian advance from the north. The Qing Dynasty and the Russian Empire went into battle on the Sahaliyan ula in 1650s, which ended up with the Manchu victory. The Russians invaded the northern frontier again in 1680s. After series of battles and negotiations, the two empires signed the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689.

The Khalkha Mongols preserved their independence while they paid tribute to the Manchu Empire. A conflict between the Houses of Jasaghtu Khan and Tsheet Khan led another dispute between the Khalkha and the Dsungar (Jn Ghar) about Tibetan Buddhism. In 1688 Galdan, Dsungar chief, invaded and occupied Khalkha. The Khalkha royal families and the first Jebtsundamba Khutughtu crossed the Gobi Desert, sought help from the Qing Dynasty and, as a result, came under the empire. In 1690, the Dsungar and the Manchu Empire clashed in Ulaan Butun, Inner Mongolia, where the Qing army were severely damaged by Galdan. In 1696, the Kangxi Emperor himself led the campaign against the Dsungar. The West Branch of the Qing army crushed Galdan's army in the Battle of Dsuunmod and Galdan died in the next year. The Dsungars once more threatened Chinese tranquility in 1717, invading Tibet and swarming Lhasa with an army 6,000 strong in response to the deposition of the Dalai Lama and his replacement with Lha-bzan Khan in 1706. They removed Lha-bzan and held the city for two years, obliterating a Chinese army in 1718, until the city was retaken in 1720.

Cultural achievements

He commanded the most complete dictionary of Chinese characters ever put together at the time, The Kangxi Dictionary. He also invented a very useful and effective Chinese calendar.

Race for successor

Being one of the greatest mysteries of the Qing Dynasty, Kangxi's will for his chosen successor is until this day disputed between historians. Kangxi's Empress gave birth to his second surviving son Yinreng, who was immediately named Crown Prince of the Great Qing Emprire. Although Kangxi let several of his sons to be educated by others, he personally brought up Yinreng, intending to make him a perfect heir. Through the years, however, factions and rivalries formed. Those in slight favor towards Yinreng, the Fourth Imperial Prince Yinzhen and the Thirteenth Imperial Prince Yinxiang had managed to keep his status afloat. Even though Kangxi favoured Yinreng and had always wanted the best out of him, Yinreng did not cooperate. Forty some years into Kangxi's reign, Yinreng, supported by Songgotu, had developed a clear faction in court. The faction, among other objectives, wished to elevate Yinreng to the Dragon Throne as soon as possible, even if it means using unlawful means. Personally, Yinreng had developed a bad temper. He was known to have had sexual relations with one of Kangxi's concubines, and bought young children for his sexual pleasure from the Jiangsu region.

Kangxi's continual watch over Yinreng had introduced him to Yinreng's fatal problems that would permanently damage the Qing empire if Yinreng was to succeed. But Kangxi himself also knew that a huge battle for crown Prince would thus start if he is to abolish the Crown Prince position entirely. Forty-six years into Kangxi's reign (1707), he could take no more of Yinreng's actions, which he described in an Imperial Edict as "too embarrasing to be spoken of", and decided to abolish Yinreng's position as Crown Prince.

Soon after this action a sea of discussion began regarding the choice for a new Crown Prince. The Eighth Imperial Prince, Yinsi, seemed to have the most support among officials within the court and the Imperial Family. Yin'Chih, the Eldest, advised Kangxi that Yinreng be executed, with the Emperor taking no blame but safely having rid the court of the possibility of usurping the throne. Yin'Chih's actions enraged Kangxi. He was ordered to be tried and was put in jail.

In diplomatic language, Kangxi advised that the officials and nobles in court stop the debates regarding the Crown Prince. But despite these attempts to quiet rumours and speculations of who the new Crown Prince might be, the court's daily businesses were strongly disrupted. In the Third Month of Kangxi-48 (1709), with the support of the Fourth and Thirteenth Imperial Princes, Kangxi re-established Yinreng as Crown Prince to avoid further debate, rumours and disruption of the imperial court. Kangxi had explained Yinreng's former wrongs as a result of mental illness, and he has had the time to recover, and think straight again.

In 1712, during Kangxi's last visit south to the Yangtze region, Yinreng and his faction yet again grew hungry for supreme power. Yinreng ruled as regent in Beijing; he had decided, with bad influence from many of his supporters, to allow an attempt at forcing Kangxi to abdicate when the Emperor returns to Beijing. Through several credible sources, Kangxi had received the news, and with strategic military manoevering, saved the Empire from a coup. When Kangxi returned to Beijing in December 1712, he was enraged, and abolished the Crown Prince post once and for all. Yinreng was sent to court to be tried and placed under house arrest.

Kangxi had made it clear that he would not grant the position of Crown Prince for the remainder of his reign, and that he would place his Imperial Valedictory Will inside a box inside Qianqing Palace, only to be opened after his death, and thus no one knew Kangxi's real intentions. What was on his will is subject to intense historical debate.

Following the abolition, Kangxi made several sweeping changes in the political landscape. The Thirteenth Imperial Prince, Yinxiang, was placed under house arrest for "cooperating" with Yinreng. Yinsi, too was stripped of all imperial titles, only to have them restored years later. The Fourteenth Imperial Prince Yinti, whom many considered to have the best chance in succession, was named "Border Pacification General-in-chief" and was away from Beijing when the political debates raged on. Yinsi, along with the 9th and 10th Princes, had all pledged their support for Yinti. Yinzhen was not widely believed as formidable competition.

At what was believed to be minutes after midnight of the thirteenth day of the Eleventh Month in Kangxi-61 (1722 A.D.), Kangxi assembled all of his Imperial Princes in Beijing at the time for a word with him, thereafter allowing his trusted official Zhang Tingyu to announce the heir to the throne. Yinti happened to be in Xinjiang fighting a war, and was summoned to Beijing. He did not arrive until days after Kangxi's death. However, once the box containing Kangxi's will arrived, Kangxi himself had died, never officially confirming that the decision for Yinzhen to be Emperor was Kangxi's will.

He was entombed at the Eastern Tombs (东陵) in Zunhua County (遵化县), Hebei.

See also


  • Father: Shunzhi Emperor of China (3rd son)
  • Mother: concubine from the Tunggiya clan (1640-1663). Her family was of Jurchen origin but lived among Chinese for generations. It had Chinese family name Tong (佟) but switched to the Manchu clan name Tunggiya. She was made Empress Dowager Cihe (慈和皇太后) in 1661 when Kangxi became emperor. She is known posthumously as Empress Xiaokang Zhang (Chinese: 孝康章皇后; Manchu: Hiyoošungga Nesuken Eldembuhe Hūwanghu).
  • Consorts:
  1. Empress Xiao Cheng (Hiyoošungga Unenggi Gosin Hūwanghu) (d. 1674) from the Heseri clan
  2. Empress Xiao Zhao (Hiyoošungga Genggiyen Gosin Hūwanghu)
  3. Empress Xiao Yi (Hiyoošungga Fujurangga Gosin Hūwanghu)
  4. Empress Xiao Gong (Hiyoošungga Gungnecuke Gosin Hūwanghu)
  • Children
    • 36 sons (20 reached adulthood)
    • 20 daughters (8 survived)

Preceded by:
Shunzhi Emperor
Emperor of China
(Qing Dynasty)
Succeeded by:
Yongzheng Emperor

Template:End boxde:Kangxi fr:Kangxi ja:康熙帝 nl:Kangxi zh:康熙帝


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