Hongxi Emperor

Hongxi Emperor
4th Emperor of the Ming Empire
Reign 7 September 1424 – 29 May 1425
Predecessor Yongle Emperor
Successor Xuande Emperor
Born (1378-08-16)16 August 1378
Died 29 May 1425(1425-05-29) (aged 46)
Burial Xianling, Ming Dynasty Tombs, Beijing
Spouse Empress Chengxiaozhao
Issue Xuande Emperor
Zhanxun, Prince Jing of Zheng
Zhanyong, Prince Jing of Yue
Zhanyin, Prince Xian of Qi
Zhanshan, Prince Xian of Xiang
Zhangang, Prince Xian of Jing
Zhanyu, Prince Jing of Huai
Zhankai, Prince Huai of Teng
Zhanji, Prince Zhuang of Liang
Zhanyan, Prince Gong of Wei
Princess Jiaxing
Yuantong, Princess Qingdou
Princess Qinghe
Princess De'an
Princess Yanping
Princess Deqing
Princess Zhending
Full name
Zhu Gaochi (朱高熾)
Era name and dates
Hongxi (洪熙): 20 January 1425 – 7 February 1426
Posthumous name

Emperor Jingtian Tidao Chuncheng Zhide Hongwen Qinwu Zhangsheng Daxiao Zhao

Respecter of Heaven, Embodiment of the Way, Pure in Sincerity, Perfect in Virtue, Extensive in Culture, Dominant in Militancy, Standard of Sageliness, Thorough in Filial Piety, Luminous Emperor
Temple name
Ming Renzong
House House of Zhu
Father Yongle Emperor
Mother Empress Renxiaowen

The Hongxi Emperor (洪熙 [xʊ̌ŋɕí]; 16 August 1378 – 29 May 1425), personal name Zhu Gaochi (朱高熾), was the fourth emperor of the Ming dynasty of China. He succeeded his father, the Yongle Emperor, in 1424. His era name "Hongxi" means "vastly bright".


Zhu Gaochi was born on 16 August 1378 and was educated by prominent Confucian tutors. He often acted as regent in Nanjing or Beijing during his father's northern military campaigns.

He was disinterested in military matters but had prowess in archery.[1]

Already in May 1421, during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, an order was issued for the suspension of Zheng He's maritime expeditions, apparently on account of their cost (although the order apparently did not affect the 6th voyage of Zheng He, staged around that time).[2] Zhu Gaochi, as soon as he was enthroned as the Hongxi Emperor in September 1424, cancelled Zheng He's maritime expeditions permanently, burned down the fleet, and abolished frontier trade of tea for horses as well as missions for gold and pearls to Yunnan and Vietnam.[3] He restored disgraced Confucian officials, such as the Yongle Emperor's minister of revenue Xia Yanji (imprisoned since 1421),[3] and reorganized the administration to give high ranks to his close advisors. Hanlin academicians became grand secretaries, and they dismantled his father's unpopular militaristic policies to restore civil government. The Hongxi Emperor improved finances by canceling requisitions for lumber, gold, and silver. Taxes were remitted so that vagrant farmers could return home, especially in the overburdened Yangtze River Delta. The Hongxi Emperor appointed a commission to investigate taxes. He overruled his secretaries by ordering that grain should be sent immediately to relieve disaster areas.

The Hongxi Emperor ordered that the capital be moved back to Nanjing from Beijing (which had been made the capital by the Yongle Emperor in 1421). However he died, probably of a heart attack, a month later in May 1425. His son had been declared heir apparent and became the Xuande Emperor at age 26. Although the Hongxi Emperor had a short reign, he is credited with reforms that made lasting improvements, and his liberal policies were continued by his son.

Personal information


Formal Title Maiden Name Born Died Father Mother Issue Notes
Empress Chengxiaozhao
Family name: Zhang (張) Yongcheng, Henan 1442 Zhang Qi
Zhu Zhanji, the Xuande Emperor
Zhu Zhanyong, Prince Jing of Yue
Zhu Zhanshan, Prince Xian of Xiang
Princess Jiaxing
Was Empress Dowager during the reign of her son, the Xuande Emperor, and Grand Empress Dowager during the first reign of her grandson, the Zhengtong Emperor
Noble Consort Gongsu
Family name: Guo (郭) 1425 Zhu Zhankai, Prince Huai of Teng
Zhu Zhanji, Prince Zhuang of Liang
Zhu Zhanyan, Prince Gong of Wei
Was buried with the Hongxi Emperor after his death
Consort Zhenhuisu
Family name: Wang (王) 1425 Was buried with the Hongxi Emperor after his death
Consort Hui'anli
Family name: Wang (王) 1425 Was buried with the Hongxi Emperor after his death
Consort Gongxishun
Family name: Tan (譚) 1425 Was buried with the Hongxi Emperor after his death
Consort Gongjingchong
Family name: Huang (黃) 1425 Was buried with the Hongxi Emperor after his death
Consort Zhenjingjing
Family name: Zhang (張) Zhang Fu, Duke of Ying
Her father's younger sister was Noble Consort Zhaoyi, one of the Yongle Emperor's concubines
Consort Daoxili
Family name: Li (李)
Consort Zhenjingshun
Family name: Zhang (張)
Consort Xian
Family name: Li (李) Zhu Zhanxun, Prince Jing of Zheng
Zhu Zhanyin, Prince Xian of Qi
Zhu Zhanyu, Prince Jing of Huai
Princess Zhending
Consort Shun
Family name: Zhang (張) Zhu Zhangang, Prince Xian of Jing
Consort Hui
Family name: Zhao (趙) Zhu Yuantong, Princess Qingdou


Number Name Formal Title Born Died Mother Spouse Issue Notes
1 Zhu Zhanji
The Xuande Emperor 16 March 1399
31 January 1435 Empress Chengxiaozhao Hu Shanxiang, Empress Gongrangzhang
Lady Sun, Empress Xiaogongzhang
fourteen concubines
Zhu Qizhen, the Zhengtong Emperor
Zhu Qiyu, the Jingtai Emperor
Princess Shunde
Princess Yongqing
Princess Changde
2 Zhu Zhanxun
Prince Jing of Zheng
27 March 1404 8 June 1466 Consort Xian Zhu Qiying, Prince Jian of Zheng Was created Prince of Zheng on 1 November 1424
3 Zhu Zhanyong
Prince Jing of Yue
9 February 1405 5 August 1439 Empress Chengxiaozhao Lady Wu
(daughter of Wu Sheng (吳昇))
none Was created Prince of Yue 1 November 1424
4 Zhu Zhanyin
Prince Xian of Qi
1406 7 November 1421 Consort Xian none none Was posthumously created Prince of Qi on 10 October 1422
5 Zhu Zhanshan
Prince Xian of Xiang
4 April 1406 18 February 1478 Empress Chengxiaozhao Zhu Qiyong, Prince Ding of Xiang Was created Prince of Xiang in 1424
6 Zhu Zhangang
Prince Xian of Jing
1453 Consort Shun Zhu Qihao, Prince Jing of Jing
Zhu Qijian, Prince Huijing of Duchang
Was created Prince of Jing in 1424
7 Zhu Zhanyu
Prince Jing of Huai
28 January 1409 30 November 1446 Consort Xian Lady Xiao
(daughter of Nancheng military commander Xiao Zhong (南城兵馬指揮肖忠))
Zhu Qiquan, Prince Kang of Huai
Zhu Qibin, Prince Xi of Poyang
Zhu Qiyue, Prince Gonghe of Yongfeng
three daughters
Was created Prince of Huai on 1 November 1424
8 Zhu Zhankai
Prince Huai of Teng
November 1409 26 August 1425 Noble Consort Gongsu none none Was created Prince of Teng on 1 November 1424
9 Zhu Zhanji
Prince Zhuang of Liang
7 July 1411 3 February 1441 Noble Consort Gongsu Lady Ji
(daughter of Ji Zhan (紀詹))
Consort Wei, concubine
(daughter of Wei Heng (魏亨))
none Was created Prince of Liang 1 November 1424
10 Zhu Zhanyan
Prince Gong of Wei
9 January 1417 3 January 1439 Noble Consort Gongsu Was created Prince of Wei in 1424


Number Title Name Born Died Date Married Spouse Issue Mother Notes
1 Princess Jiaxing
Family name: Zhu (朱)
(personal name unknown)
1409 9 March 1439 1428 Jing Yuan
Empress Chengxiaozhao Created Princess Jiaxing in 1425;
Her husband died in 1449 during the Tumu Crisis.
2 Princess Qingdou
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Yuantong (圓通)
9 October 1409 12 June 1440 8 December 1428 Jiao Jing
Consort Hui Created Princess Qingdou on 24 April 1425
3 Princess Qinghe
Family name: Zhu (朱)
(personal name unknown)
1433 1429 Li Ming
4 Princess De'an
Family name: Zhu (朱)
(personal name unknown)
Died at the age of eight months
5 Princess Yanping
Family name: Zhu (朱)
(personal name unknown)
Died unmarried
6 Princess Deqing
Family name: Zhu (朱)
(personal name unknown)
Died unmarried
7 Princess Zhending
Family name: Zhu (朱)
(personal name unknown)
1450 1429 Wang Yi
Wang Ying
Consort Xian


  1. Frederick W. Mote; Denis Twitchett (26 February 1988). The Cambridge History of China: Volume 7, The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644. Cambridge University Press. pp. 277–. ISBN 978-0-521-24332-2.
  2. Dreyer 2006, p. 90.
  3. 1 2 Dreyer 2006, p. 137.


Hongxi Emperor
Born: August 16 1378 Died: May 29 1425
Regnal titles
Preceded by
The Yongle Emperor
Emperor of China
Succeeded by
The Xuande Emperor
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