An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Ming Renzong 明仁宗, the Hongxi Emperor 洪熙

Jan 17, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald

Emperor Renzong 明仁宗 (1378-1425, r. 1424-1425), personal name Zhu Gaochi 朱高熾, was a ruler of the early Ming period 明 (1368-1644). He was the oldest son of Emperor Chengzu 明成祖 (the Yongle Emperor 永樂, r. 1402-1424) and was made heir of the Prince of Yan 燕 (his father was Prince of Yan before he usurped the throne) in 1395. In this function he was resident regent during his father's rebellion against Emperor Huidi 明惠帝 (the Jianwen Emperor 建文, r. 1398-1402). He proved to be an excellent administrator during that time, expecially under the conditions of natural disasters, when the afflicted population was to be supported, but also understood much of the soldier's business. With only 10,000 men he resisted the siege by Li Jinglong 李景隆 who had five times as many troops. In 1404 he was made heir apparent. From that time on he was slandered by his two brothers Zhu Gaoxu 朱高煦 and Zhu Gaosui 朱高燧, and only a memorial by vice minister (shilang 侍郎) Hu Ying 胡濙 secured his father's trust in him. He therefore again acted as regent during his father's campaign against the Mongols.
During one of these wars the Yongle Emperor died in Yumuchuan 榆木川 (near modern Dolon 多倫, Inner Mongolia). Zhu Gaochi acceded to the throne and adopted the reign motto Hongxi 洪熙 "Inundating Brilliance". Yet he was one the throne only for half a year when he died unexpectedly. He was buried in the tomb mound Xianling 獻陵 and was given the posthumous honorific title Emperor Xiaozhao 孝昭皇帝 and the temple name Renzong 仁宗. He was succeeded by his son Zhu Zhanji 朱瞻基, Emperor Xuanzong 明宣宗 (the Xuande Emperor 宣德, r. 1426-1435).

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