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House of Zhu


House of Zhu

Country Ming dynasty China
Estates Ming Palace, Forbidden City
Titles Emperor of China, Marquis of Extended Grace
Founded 1368
Founder Hongwu Emperor
Final ruler 1644: Chongzhen Emperor, Southern Ming: Yongli Emperor
Deposition 1644: Overthrown by the Shun Dynasty, 1662: Southern Ming ends, granted the title Marquis in 1725 and Marquis of Extended Grace in 1750, the title is abolished in 1912 at the fall of the Qing dynasty.
Ethnicity Han Chinese

House of Zhu, also known as House of Chu (Pinyin: Zhu; Wade–Giles: Chu; Chinese: 朱), was the imperial family of the Ming Empire. Zhu was the family name of the emperors of the Ming dynasty. The House of Zhu ruled China from 1368 until the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644, followed by the rule as the Southern Ming dynasty until 1662, and the last Ming Prince, the Prince of Ningjing Zhu Shugui held out until the annexation of the Kingdom of Tungning in 1683.


  • Family history 1
    • The founder 1.1
    • Rise of power 1.2
    • Decline 1.3
  • The fall of the empire 2
  • After Ming 3
  • Notable members 4
    • Ming dynasty (1368–1644 C.E.) 4.1
    • Prominent princes of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 C.E.) 4.2
    • Southern Ming dynasty (1644–1662 C.E.) 4.3
    • Artists and philosophers 4.4
    • Modern era 4.5
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6

Family history

The founder

Portrait of the Hongwu Emperor (r. 1368–98)

The founder is Hongwu Emperor (Chinese: 洪武帝; Wade–Giles: Hung-wu Ti; 21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang (Chinese: 朱元璋; Wade–Giles: Chu Yuan-chang) and by his temple name Taizu of Ming (Chinese: 明太祖; literally "Great Ancestor of Ming"), was the founder and first emperor of the Ming dynasty of China. His era name, Hongwu, means "vastly martial".

In the middle of the 14th century, with famine, plagues and peasant revolts sweeping across China, Zhu became a leader of an army that conquered China, ending the government of the Mongol Yuan dynasty, and forcing the Mongols to retreat to the Mongolian Gobi. With his seizure of the Yuan capital (present-day Beijing), he claimed the Mandate of Heaven and established the Ming dynasty in 1368. Ming dynasty's mission was to drive away the Mongols and to restore Han Chinese rules in China.

Under Hongwu's rule, the Mongol bureaucrats who dominated the government in the Yuan dynasty's time were replaced by Han Chinese officials. Hongwu revamped the traditional Confucian examination system. Mongol-related things, including garments and names, were discontinued from use and boycotted. There were also attacks on palaces and administrative buildings previously used by the Yuan rulers.[1]

Rise of power

Portrait of the Yongle Emperor (r. 1402–24)

Hongwu's grandson Zhu Yunwen (Wade–Giles: Chu Yunwen) assumed the throne as the Jianwen Emperor (1398–1402) after Hongwu's death in 1398. In a prelude to a three-year-long civil war beginning in 1399,[2] Jianwen became engaged in a political showdown with his uncle Zhu Di (Wade–Giles: Chu Ti, Traditional Chinese: 朱棣; Simplified Chinese: 朱棣), the Prince of Yan, later the Yongle Emperor (Traditional Chinese: 永樂; Simplified Chinese: 永乐; pinyin: Yǒnglè; Wade–Giles: Yung-lo; IPA: ). Jianwen was aware of the ambitions of his princely uncles, establishing measures to limit their authority. The militant Zhu Di, given charge over the area encompassing Beijing to watch the Mongols on the frontier, was the most feared of these princes. After Jianwen arrested many of Zhu Di's associates, Zhu Di plotted a rebellion. Under the guise of rescuing the young Jianwen from corrupting officials, Zhu Di personally led forces in the revolt; the palace in Nanjing was burned to the ground, along with Zhu Di's nephew Jianwen, his wife, mother, and courtiers. Zhu Di assumed the throne as the Yongle Emperor (1402–1424); his reign is universally viewed by scholars as a "second founding" of the Ming dynasty since he reversed many of his father's policies.[3]

After the coronation, Yongle decided to move China's capital from Nanjing (literally Southern Capital) to Beijing (literally Northern Capital). According to a popular legend, the capital was moved when the emperor's advisers brought the emperor to the hills surrounding Nanjing and pointed out the emperor's palace showing the vulnerability of the palace to artillery attack.

Yongle also ordered to build a massive network of structures in new capital Beijing in which government offices, officials, and the imperial family itself resided. After a painfully long construction time, the Forbidden City was finally completed and became the political capital of China for the next 500 years.

The Forbidden City, the official imperial household of the Ming and Qing dynasties from 1420 until 1924, when the Republic of China evicted Puyi from the Inner Court.
Wanli Emperor (r. 1572–1620)


The financial drain of the Imjin War in Korea against the Japanese was one of the many problems—fiscal or other—facing Ming China during the reign of the Wanli Emperor (r. 1572–1620). In the beginning of his reign, Wanli surrounded himself with able advisors and made a conscientious effort to handle state affairs. His Grand Secretary Zhang Juzheng (in office from 1572 to 1582) built up an effective network of alliances with senior officials. However, there was no one after Zhang Juzheng was as excellent as him in maintaining the stability of these official alliances;[4] these officials soon banded together in opposing political factions. Over time Wanli grew tired and frustrated about the court affairs and frequent political quarreling amongst his ministers, and choosing to stay behind the walls of the Forbidden City and out of his officials' sight.[5]

Officials aggravated Wanli about which of his sons should succeed to the throne; he also grew equally disgusted with senior advisors constantly bickering about how to manage the state.[5] There were rising factions at court and across the intellectual sphere of China stemming from the philosophical debate for or against the teaching of Wang Yangming (1472–1529), the latter of whom rejected some of the orthodox views of Neo-Confucianism.[6][7] Annoyed by all of this, Wanli began neglecting his duties, remaining absent from court audiences to discuss politics, lost interest in studying the Confucian Classics, refused to read petitions and other state papers, and stopped filling the recurrent vacancies of vital upper level administrative posts.[5][8] Scholar-officials lost prominence in administration as eunuchs became intermediaries between the aloof emperor and his officials; any senior official who wanted to discuss state matters had to persuade powerful eunuchs with a bribe simply to have his demands or message relayed to the emperor.[5]

The fall of the empire

The Chongzhen Emperor killing his daughter, before hanging himself. (Drawing by a European artist for Martino Martini's De bello tartarico)
Portrait of the Chongzhen Emperor (r. 1627–44)

In the early 1630s, A peasant soldier named Li Zicheng (1606–45) mutinied with his fellow soldiers in western Shaanxi.[9] Li's rebel forces retaliated the government by killing the officials, and led a rebellion based in Rongyang, central Henan province by 1635.[10] By the 1640s, an ex-soldier and rival to Li—Zhang Xianzhong (1606–47)—had created a firm rebel base in Chengdu, Sichuan, while Li's center of power was in Hubei with extended influence over Shaanxi and Henan.[10]

Meanwhile, after years' tremendous supporting Korean Royal Family during the Imjin War against Japanese warlord Hideyoshi, the Chinese military and finance, which had not gotten fully recovered, were forced to go into the new battles. Exhausted, Unpaid and unfed, the army was struggling hard between the Manchu raiders from the north and huge peasant revolts in the provinces. Eventually, the troops fell apart, and was defeated by Li Zicheng—now self-styled as the Prince of Shun—and took the capital without much of a fight.[11] On 26 May 1644, Beijing fell to a rebel army led by Li Zicheng; during the turmoil, rather than facing capture and probable execution at the hands of the rebel—Li Zicheng, Chongzhen arranged a feast and gathered all members of the imperial household aside from his sons. Using his sword, he killed all of them there. All people died except his second daughter, Princess Chang Ping, whose attempt to resist the sword blow resulted in her left arm being severed by her father. Then, Chongzhen Emperor (the last Ming emperor) went to Jingshan Hill, and hanged himself with the hair covering his face on a tree in the imperial garden outside the Forbidden City.[11]

After Ming

Since the fall of the Ming Empire and Manchurian's cruel hunting down and killing, a number of members of the family have changed their surnames to Zhou (Wade–Giles: Chou; Chinese: 周),[12] Wang (Chinese: 王),[13] Gao (Chinese: 高),[14] Guang (Chinese: 廣),[15] Dong (Traditional Chinese: 東; Simplified Chinese: 东),[16] Zhang (Wade–Giles: Chang; Traditional Chinese: 張; Simplified Chinese: 张), Zhuang (Wade–Giles: Chuang; Traditional Chinese: 莊; Simplified Chinese: 庄),[17] and Yan (Traditional Chinese: 嚴; Simplified Chinese: 严).[17] Some of them changed their family names back to Zhu after the collapse of Qing, during the era of Republic of China.

In 1725 the Qing dynasty Yongzheng Emperor bestowed the hereditary title of Marquis on a descendant of the Ming dynasty Imperial family, Zhu Zhiliang, who received a salary from the Qing government and whose duty was to perform rituals at the Ming tombs, and was also inducted the Chinese Plain White Banner in the Eight Banners. Later the Qianlong Emperor bestowed the title Marquis of Extended Grace posthumously on Zhu Zhuliang in 1750, and the title passed on through twelve generations of Ming descendants until the end of the Qing dynasty.

Notable members

Ming dynasty (1368–1644 C.E.)

  • Hongwu Emperor, key leader of the rebel movement which ousted the Mongolian Yuan dynasty; founder of the Ming dynasty
  • Jianwen Emperor, grandson of the Hongwu Emperor; second emperor of the Ming dynasty reigned from 1399 to 1402; overthrown by his uncle the Yongle Emperor
  • Yongle Emperor, fourth son of the Hongwu Emperor and third emperor of the Ming dynasty; reigned from 1403 to 1424; he was responsible for expanding China's influence throughout Asia, East Africa and perhaps beyond through his fleet of treasure ships led by the admiral eunuch Zheng He; he founded the Forbidden City and the Ming dynasty Tombs
An overview of the Changling tomb
  • Hongxi Emperor, eldest son of the Yongle Emperor and fourth emperor of the Ming dynasty; he reigned for one year, 1425

Prominent princes of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 C.E.)

Southern Ming dynasty (1644–1662 C.E.)

Artists and philosophers

  • Zhu Zhiyu (Chinese: 朱之瑜), also known as Zhu Shunshui (Chinese: 朱舜水), born in Zhejiang Province, great historian, philosopher, and litterateur. He went to Japan after the collapse of Ming. His philosophy influenced the development of Mitogaku (jap. 水戸学).
  • Zhu Zaiyu, (Chinese: 朱載堉; Wade–Giles: Chu Tsai-Yu; ?: Chu Tsai-yü) (1536 – 19 May 1611), a prince of the Ming dynasty of China. He was a musician and one of the first people to describe equal temperament in music in 1584. He also wrote treatises (three survive) on mathematics and calendrics, although he was unsuccessful in his attempt to correct the inaccuracies of the Ming calendar.
  • Shitao, Yuanji Shi Tao (simplified Chinese: 石涛; traditional Chinese: 石濤; pinyin: Shí Tāo; Wade–Giles: Shih T'ao); (1642–1707), born Zhu Ruoji (朱若極), was a Chinese landscape painter and poet during the early Qing dynasty (1644–1911).[18]
Shi Tao, Master Shi Planting Pines, c. 1674, ink and color on paper. National Palace Museum
  • Yale University scholar, Wang Fangyu, was a major collector of Bada Shanren paintings from the 1960s until his death in 1997.
  • Niu Shihui, (Chinese: 牛石慧), Bada Shanren's younger brother. He was also a famous painter.
The panorama painting "Departure Herald", painted during the reign of the Xuande Emperor (1425–1435 AD), shows the emperor traveling on horseback with a large escort through the countryside from Beijing's Imperial City to the Ming dynasty tombs.

Modern era

Portrait of the Zhu Rongji
  • Zhu Jianfan (Traditional Chinese: 朱劍凡; Simplified Chinese: 朱剑凡), (1883–1932), previously named as Zhou Jia Chun (Chinese: 周家純), born in Ningxiang, Hunan province, was a famous revolutionary educator. He founded Zhounan Women's School (Chinese: 周南女學堂) by selling off and contributing all his property, which was valued at 111,700 silver dollars. He held the post of principal until 1927. It is a rare magnificent feat in the educational history of China. In 1911, he led students participate in Anti-Manchurian Revolution, and persuaded Hunan army to correspond to Wuchang Uprising. In 1922, he invited Mao Zedong to live on his campus, and sponsored Mao's library.[19]
  • Zhu Rongji (Traditional Chinese: 朱鎔基;Simplified Chinese: 朱镕基; Pinyin: Zhū Róngjī; Wade–Giles: Chu Jung-chi; IPA: [t͡ʂú ʐʊ̌ŋt͡ɕí]; born 21 October 1928 in Changsha, Hunan) is a prominent Chinese politician who served as the Mayor and Party chief in Shanghai between 1987 and 1991, before serving as Vice-Premier and then the fifth Premier of the People's Republic of China from March 1998 to March 2003.
  • Zhu Qingshi (Traditional Chinese: 朱清時;Simplified Chinese: 朱清时), (born 1946), famous chemist, member of Royal Society of Chemistry. He was the former principal of the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC; simplified Chinese: 中国科学技术大学; traditional Chinese: 中國科學技術大學; pinyin: Zhōngguó Kēxué Jìshù Dàxué). He was also a Delegate of The 8th and 9th National People's Congress, and The 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
  • Zhu Yunlai (simplified Chinese: 朱云来; traditional Chinese: 朱雲來; pinyin: Zhū Yúnlái; born 1957 in Changsha, Hunan), CEO of the China International Capital Corporation
  • Zhu (Chu) Hsuin Urli (born 1908 in Hangzhou), graduate of Saint John's University, Shanghai, Beijing University Professor of Medicine. Research Assistant with E.V.Cowdry/Rockefeller Institute in China 1940. PHD Washington University, St Louis Missouri 1947. Emeritus Professor Medicine Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Ohio.

See also


  1. ^ Stearns, Peter N., et al. World Civilizations: The Global Experience. AP Edition DBQ Update. New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006. 508.
  2. ^ Robinson (2000), 527.
  3. ^ Atwell (2002), 84.
  4. ^ Hucker (1958), 31.
  5. ^ a b c d Spence (1999), 16.
  6. ^ Ebrey (2006), 281–3.
  7. ^ Ebrey (1999), 203–6, 213.
  8. ^ Ebrey Cambridge (194), 195.
  9. ^ Spence (1999), 21–2.
  10. ^ a b Spence (1999), 22.
  11. ^ a b Spence (1999), 25.
  12. ^ Unforgettable Youth-hood (in Chinese),
  13. ^ Zhen Zhou Local Geography, Xin Zhen: "Zhu to Wang"—Zhu's Descendants (in Chinese),
  14. ^ Zhu Yuanzhang's Descendants were founded in Qi Xian (in Chinese),
  15. ^ Yan Zhou Government, Guang Jia Street (in Chinese),
  16. ^ Royal Family Zhu Changed Family Name to 'Dong', went to Guang Dong, and Settled in Zhuang He (in Chinese),
  17. ^ a b About the Connections Among Zhu, Zhuang, and Yan, (in Chinese),
  18. ^ Hay 2001, pp. 1, 84
  19. ^ Zhou Nan Middle School, Profile of Zhu Jia Chun,
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