Skip to main content
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Zhu, Jianfei 2018. Gridded Worlds: An Urban Anthology. p. 121.

  • Print publication year: 1988
  • Online publication date: March 2008

6 - The Ch'eng-hua and Hung-chih reigns, 1465–1505



Chu Chien-shen, posthumously known as the emperor Hsien-tsung, was born on 9 December 1447 and came to the throne on the death of his father, the restored emperor Ying-tsung, on 23 February 1464; he proclaimed the reign title Ch'eng-hua to begin on the next New Year, almost a full year later. He died on 9 September 1487, three months before his fortieth birthday, having reigned for twenty-three years. His eldest surviving son, Chu Yu-t'ang, then came to the throne at the age of seventeen, having been born 30 July 1470, and under the reign title Hung-chih reigned for eighteen years, dying just a month short of his thirty-fifth birthday, in June 1505. He is known to history by his posthumous temple name of Hsiao-tsung.

Of the sixteen Ming emperors who reigned between 1368 and 1644, only five passed their fortieth birthdays, and none of those occupied the throne in the century from 1425 to 1521. Yet those short-lived rulers did not die in battle or from accidental causes – unless we accept the quite plausible speculation that several Ming emperors accidentally shortened their lives by taking longevity drugs containing such toxic elements as mercury compounds. Whether that can ever be fully proved, an unhealthy atmosphere enveloped the Ming imperial institution through much of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Throughout the middle years of the dynasty China was ruled by feckless young men whose brief lives tended to be dominated by their consorts, their mothers and grandmothers, and their eunuch servants.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Cambridge History of China
  • Online ISBN: 9781139054751
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
Chang, T'ing- yü et al. ed. Ming shih. 1736; rpt. Peking: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1974.
Chiao, Hung. Kuo ch'ao hsien cheng lu. 1594–1616; facsimile rpt. No. 6 of Chung kuo shih hsüeh ts'ung shu, ed. Hsiang-hsiang, Wu. Taipei: Hsüeh-sheng shu-chü, 1965.
Chung-kuo, li-shih ti-t'u chi pien-chi tsu, ed. Yüan Ming shih ch'i. Vol. VII of Chung-kuo li shih ti t'u chi, 1st ed. Shanghai: Chung-hua ti-t'u hsüeh-she, 1975.
Goodrich, L. Carrington and Fang, Chaoying, ed. Dictionary of Ming biography. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1976.
Herrmann, Albert. Historical and commercial atlas of China. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1935; new ed., ed. Ginsburg, Norton, Chicago: Aldine, 1966.
Hsia, Hsieh, comp. Ming t'ung chien. Ca. 1870; rpt. Peking: Chung-hua shu-chü, 1959.
Huang, Chang-chien. “Lun ‘[Huang Ming] Tsu hsün lu’ so chi Ming ch'u huan kuan chih tu Chung yang yen chiu yüan li shih yü yen yen chiu so chi k'an (Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica), 32 (1961). Rpt. in his Ming Ch'ing shih yen chiu ts'ung kao, Taipei: T'ai-wan Shang-wu yin-shu kuan, 1977.
Ku, Ying-t'ai. Ming shih chi shih pen mo. 1658; rpt. 4 vols., in Kuo hsüeh chi pen ts'ung shu chien pien Shanghai: Shang-wu yin-shu kuan, 1936; photographic rpt. Taipei: Shang-wu yin-shu kuan, 1956. [Originally Ming ch'ao chi shih pen mo]
P'eng, Shih. P'eng Wen-hsien kung pi chi. Late fifteenth century; in No. 126 of Chi lu hui pien; ed. Chieh-fu, Shen. 1617; rpt. No. 2796 of Ts'ung shu chi ch'eng, ed. Yün-wu, Wang. Facsimile rpt. Shanghai: Shang-wu yin-shu kuan, 1936.
Serruys, Henri. (Sino-Mongol relations during the Ming. II) The tribute system and diplomatic missions, 1400–1600. In Mélanges chinois et bouddhiques, Vol. 14, 1966–67. Bruxelles: l'Institut beige des hautes études chinoises, 1967.
Shen, Shih-hsing, comp. Ta Ming hui tien, 228 ch. 1587; rpt. 40 vols. Shanghai: Shang-wu yin-shu kuan, 1936; photographic rpt. 5 vols. Taipei: Tung-nan shu-pao she, 1964.