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Kangxi Emperor of China

Emperor Kangxi (Wade-Giles: K'ang Hsi) (1654 - 1722) was the third emperor of the Qing Dynasty from 1662 to 1722. He was the fourth ruler of the Qing Empire, and the second emperor who ruled the whole mainland China (hence the second emperor of Qing), and the first emperor who really controlled the whole China (including Taiwan and the three feudatories). He is known as one of the greatest 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 and began to take the reins by himself.

In the sping of 1662, Kangxi ordered the Great Clearance in southern China, in order to fight the anti-Qing movement.

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. He crushed the latter within two months and incorporated the Chakhar into the Eight Banners. In 1681 he eventually pacified South China and overcame the crisis. After the surrender of the Zheng family, the Qing Dynasty annexed Taiwan in 1684.

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 Tösheetü Khan led another dispute between the Khalkha and the Jüün Ghar about Tibetan Buddhism. In 1688 Galdan, Jüün Ghar 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 Jüün Ghar 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 Jüün Ghar. The West Branch of the Qing army crushed Galdan's army in the Battle of Juun Modu and Galdan died in the next year.

Cultural achievements

He commanded the most complete dictionary of Chinese characters ever put together at the time, The Kangxi Dictionary.

Race for successor

After Kangxi's first Empress gave birth to his second son Yinreng, who was immediately named Crown Prince of the Great Qing Emprire, many rivalries had began to eventually isolate Yinreng. Those in slight favor towards him, the Fourth Imperial Prince Yinzhen and the Thirteenth Imperial Prince Yinxiang (胤祥) had managed to keep his status afloat. Even though Kangxi liked Yinreng and had always wanted the best out of him, Yinreng did not cooperate. 40 some years into Kangxi's reign he had developed a tempor and was known to put his personal pleasures above important matters of the Empire.

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. 46 years into Kangxi's reign (Kangxi-46, See Chinese Calendar), he could take no more of Yinreng's increasingly absurd actions, and decided to abolish Yinreng's position as Crown Prince.

Soon after this action a sea of discussion started regarding who should be the new Crown Prince. The Eighth Imperial Prince, Yinsi (胤禩), seemed to have the most support among feudal officials within the court, but Kangxi disapproved anyone being Crown Prince.

Despite Kangxi's attempts to quiet rumours and speculations of who the new Crown Prince is, the court's daily businesses were strongly affected by the abolition of the Crown Prince. In the Third Month of Kangxi-48, with the support of the Fourth and Thirteenth Imperial Princes, Kangxi brought Yinreng back as Crown Prince to avoid further fabrications, rumours and disruption of the imperial court.

During Kangxi's last visit southward to the Yangtze region, Yinreng grew hungry for supreme power as he ruled as regent in Beijing; he had decided with bad influence from many of his supporters to give a try at forcing Kangxi to abdicate when he returns to Beijing. However this failed after Kangxi heard of the news.

When Kangxi returned to Beijing he once again abolished the Crown Prince post once and for all. Yinreng was sent to prison.

From this emerged a huge political battle, but Kangxi stated that he would not leave a Crown Prince post in his reign, and that he would place his Imperial Will inside a box only to be opened after his death, thus no one knew Kangxi's real intentions.

On the political side of things, Thirteenth Imperial Prince Yinxiang was also placed under house arrest for "cooperating" with Yinreng; soon thereafter emerged two powerful forces, one being that of Yinsi, whom most imperial officials supported, and Yinzhen, who was hard on corrupt officials (which is almost all of them and therefore did not receive much support). A third emerging force, Fourteenth Imperial Prince Yinti, who after his increasing apprehensions among his trusted brother Yinsi, was away from the scene in Beijing because he was fighting a war in the Xinjiang region.

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. But once the box containing Kangxi's will arrived, Kangxi himself had died. Therefore never confirming that the decision for Yinzhen to be Emperor was Kangxi's will.

Personal information
Given Name Hiowan Yei in Manchu
Xuan Ye (玄燁 xuan2 ye4) in Chinese
Era name Elhe Taifin in Manchu
Kangxi (康熙 kang1 xi1) in Chinese
father third son of Shunzhi Emperor of China
mother Empress Xiao Kang (Hiyoošungga Nesuken Eldembuhe Hūwanghu) from the Tunggiya clan
wife 1) Empress Xiao Cheng (Hiyoošungga Unenggi Gosin Hūwanghu) (d. 1674)
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) and 20 daughters (8 survived)
tomb Ambalinggū Munggan in Manchu
Jingling (景陵) in Chinese, Eastern Tombs (东陵) at Zunhua County (遵化县), Hebei
Temple name Šengdzu in Manchu
Sheng Zu (聖祖 sheng4 zu3) in Chinese (lit. meaning: sacred progenitor)
Zi Guohui (國諱)
Posthumous name Emperor Hetian-hongyuan-wenhuruizhe-hongjiankuan-yuxiaojing-chengxin-gongderen (合天弘運文武睿哲恭儉寬裕孝敬誠信功德大成仁皇帝)
Posthumous name (short) Gosin Hūwangdi in Manchu
Emperor Ren (仁皇帝 ren2 huang2 di4) in Chinese

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