Zhu Qizhen (Chinese: 朱祁鎮; 29 November 1427 – 23 February 1464) was the sixth and eighth emperor of the Ming dynasty. He ascended the throne as the Zhengtong Emperor (Chinese: 正統; pinyin: Zhèngtǒng; literally: "right governance") in 1435, but was forced to abdicate in 1449, in favour of his younger brother the Jingtai Emperor, after being captured by the Mongols during the Tumu Crisis. In 1457, he deposed Jingtai and ruled again as the Tianshun Emperor (Chinese: 天順; pinyin: Tiānshùn; literally: "obedience to Heaven") until his death in 1464. His temple name is Yingzong (英宗).
Zhu Qizhen was the son of the Xuande Emperor and his second wife, Empress Sun. At the beginning of the Zhengtong reign, the Ming dynasty was prosperous and at the height of its power as a result of the Xuande Emperor's able administration. The Zhengtong Emperor's accession at the age of eight made him the first child emperor of the dynasty – hence the Zhengtong Emperor was easily influenced by others, especially the eunuch Wang Zhen. At first, Wang Chen was kept under control by Grand Mother Empress Zhang, Zhengtong's grandmother and the unofficial regent, who collaborated closely with three ministers, all with the surname Yang (hence the common name "Three Yangs"), thus the good administration continued. In 1442 though, Empress Zhang died, and the three Yangs also died or retired around that time.
The emperor began to completely rely on Wang Zhen for advice and guidance.
At the age of 21, in 1449, the Zhengtong Emperor, advised by Wang Zhen, personally directed and lost the Battle of Tumu Fortress against the Mongols under Esen Taishi (d.1455). In one of the most humiliating battles in Chinese history, the Ming army, half million strong, led by Zhengtong, was crushed by Esen's forces, estimated to be 20,000 cavalry. His capture by the enemy force shook the empire to its core, and the ensuing crisis almost caused the dynasty to collapse had it not been for the capable governing of a prominent minister named Yu Qian.
Although the Zhengtong Emperor was a prisoner of the Mongols, he became a good friend to both Tayisung Khan Toghtoa Bukha (1416–1453) and his grand preceptor (taishi) Esen. Meanwhile, to calm the crisis at home, his younger brother Zhu Qiyu was installed as the Jingtai Emperor. This reduced the Zhengtong Emperor's imperial status and he was granted the title of Tàishàng Huángdi (emperor emeritus).
The Zhengtong Emperor was released one year later in 1450, but when he returned to China, he was immediately put under house arrest by his brother for almost seven years. He resided in the southern palace of the Forbidden City, and all outside contacts were severely curtailed by the Jingtai Emperor. His son, who later became the Chenghua Emperor, was stripped of the title of crown prince and replaced by the Jingtai Emperor's own son. This act greatly upset and devastated the former Zhengtong Emperor, but the heir apparent died shortly thereafter. Overcome with grief, the Jingtai Emperor fell ill, and the former Zhengtong Emperor decided to depose his brother by a palace coup. The emperor emeritus was successful in seizing the throne from the Jingtai Emperor, after which he changed his regnal name to "Tianshun" (lit. "obedience to Heaven") and went on to rule for another seven years.
On 6 August 1461, the Tianshun Emperor issued an edict warning his subjects to be loyal to the throne and not to violate the laws. This was a veiled threat aimed at the general Cao Qin (d. 1461), who had become embroiled in a controversy when he had one of his retainers kill a man whom Ming authorities were attempting to interrogate (to find out about Cao's illegal foreign business transactions). On 7 August 1461, Cao Qin and his cohorts of Mongol descent attempted a coup against the Tianshun Emperor. However, during the first hours of the morning of 7 August, prominent Ming generals Wu Jin and Wu Cong, who were alerted of the coup, immediately relayed a warning to the emperor. Although alarmed, the Tianshun Emperor and his court made preparations for a conflict and barred the gates of the palace. During the ensuing onslaught in the capital later that morning, the Minister of Works and the Commander of the Imperial Guard were killed, while the rebels set the gates of the Forbidden City on fire. The eastern and western gates of the imperial city were only saved when pouring rains came and extinguished the fires. The fight lasted for nearly the entire day within the city; during which three of Cao Qin's brothers were killed, and Cao himself received wounds to both arms. With the failure of the coup, in order to escape being executed, Cao fled to his residence and committed suicide by jumping down a well within the walled compound of his home.
The Tianshun Emperor died at the age of 36 in 1464 and was buried in the Yuling (裕陵) mausoleum of the Ming Dynasty Tombs. Before he died, he had given an order, which was rated highly as an act of imperial magnanimity, that ended the practice of burying alive concubines and palace maids (so that they could follow emperors to the next world).
|The Chenghua Emperor||9 December 1447||9 September 1487||Empress Xiaosu||Empress Wu
Zhu Youji, Crown Prince Daogong
Zhu Youcheng, Hongzhi Emperor
Zhu Youyuan, Prince Xian of Xing
Zhu Youlun, Prince Hui of Qi
Zhu Youbin, Prince Duan of Yi
Zhu Youhui, Prince Gong of Heng
Zhu Youyun, Prince Jing of Yong
Zhu Youqi, Prince Ding of Shou
Zhu Youheng, Prince An of Ru
Zhu Youshun, Prince Jian of Jing
Zhu Youshu, Prince Zhuang of Rong
Zhu Youkai, Prince Yi of Shen
|Prince Zhuang of De
|7 May 1448||7 September 1517||Consort Jingzhuang'anmuchen||Zhu Yourong, Prince Yi of De||Initially created Prince of Rong (榮王) on 21 May 1452;
Title changed to Prince of De (德王) on 30 March 1457
|2 August 1449||30 August 1451||Consort Jingzhuang'anmuchen||none||none|
|Prince Dao of Xu
|3 April 1450||3 January 1453||Consort Duanjing'anhehui||none||none||Created Prince of Xu on 20 May 1452|
|Prince Huai of Xiu
|12 March 1452||13 October 1472||Consort Zhuangjing'anrongshu||Lady Wang (王氏)
(daughter of Wang Yu (王昱))
|none||Created Prince of Xiu (秀王) on 30 March 1457|
|Prince Jian of Chong
|2 May 1455||27 August 1505||Empress Xiaosu||Zhu Youmi, Prince Jing of Chong||Created Prince of Chong (崇王) in 1457|
|Prince Jian of Ji
|11 July 1456||16 August 1527||Consort Jingzhuang'anmuchen||Zhu Youfu, Prince Dao of Ji||Created Prince of Ji (吉王) on 30 March 1466|
|Prince Mu of Xin
|18 March 1458||2 April 1472||Consort Jingzhuang'anmuchen||none||none||Created Prince of Xin (忻王) on 21 September 1466|
|Prince Zhuang of Hui
|2 March 1462||13 June 1505||Consort Gongduanzhuanghuide||none||Zhu Youtai, Prince Jian of Hui||Created Prince of Hui (徽王) in 1466|
|Consort Jingzhuang'anmuchen||Personal name Zhu Yanxiang (朱延祥)|
|9||unnamed||none||none||none||Consort Gongduanzhuanghuide||Died young|
|10||unnamed||none||none||none||Consort Gonghe'anjingshun||Died young|
Emperor Yingzong of MingBorn: 29 November 1427 Died: 23 February 1464
|Emperor of China (Zhengtong reign)
|Emperor of China (Tianshun reign)