Shunzhi Emperor

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The Shunzhi Emperor (March 15, 1638February 5, 1661?) was the second emperor of the Manchu Qing dynasty, and the first Qing emperor to rule over China proper from 1644 to 1661.

Life of Shunzhi

He ascended to the throne aged five (six according to traditional Chinese count) in 1643 upon the death of his father, Hong Taiji, but actual power during the early part of his reign lay in the hands of the appointed regents, Princes Dorgon and Jirgalang. With the Qing pacification of the former Ming provinces almost complete, he died still a young man, although in circumstances that have lent themselves to rumour and speculation.

In the midst of much upheaval, the Manchus seized control of Beijing in June 1644, and in October of the same year the Shunzhi emperor's uncle, the chief regent Prince, proclaimed the Qing dynasty to be the legitimate successor to the Ming dynasty. Therefore, although the Shunzhi emperor was not the founder of the Qing dynasty, he was the first Qing emperor of China.

His mother was the Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang who was an excellent politician during the period. The young emperor disliked his uncle, the chief regent Prince Dorgon, and after Dorgon's death in 1650 the emperor stripped both him and Dorgon's brother, Dodo, of their titles, although he was only 12 years old at the time.

During his short reign, the Shunzhi emperor encouraged the Han Chinese to participate in government activities. He was a scholar and employed Han Chinese to teach his children.

The emperor married his mother's niece, but demoted the empress several years later. Four months after his favourite concubine passed away, he died of smallpox. Before he passed away, he appointed four regents govern for his child son, Hiowan Yei: Oboi, Sonin, Suksaha, and Ebilun.

According to official sources, the Shunzhi Emperor died in 1661 of smallpox. It was also believed by some that the young emperor did not pass away but left the palace to become a monk.

He was interred in the Eastern Qing Tombs (清東陵), 125 kilometers/75 miles east of Beijing, in the Xiaoling (孝陵) mausoleum complex (known in Manchu as the Hiyoošungga Munggan).

Family

  • Father: Huang Taiji, emperor of Manchuria (of whom he was the 9th son)
  • Consorts:
  1. The Demoted Empress (廢后), from the Borjigin clan, demoted in 1653
  2. Empress Xiaohui Zhang (Chinese: 孝惠章皇后; Manchu: Hiyoošungga Fulehun Eldembuhe Hūwanghu) (d. 1718) from the Borjigin clan, made empress in 1654
  3. 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).
  4. Concubine from the Donggo clan (d. 1660), the concubine with whom Shunzhi was madly in love, posthumously raised to Empress Xiaoxian Duanjing (孝獻端敬皇后).


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