Taichang Emperor

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The Taichang Emperor was the eldest son of the Wanli Emperor of Ming Dynasty China, and succeeded his father to the throne in 1620. His reign was extremely short, however, as he died merely weeks after taking the throne, being succeeded in turn by his son, who then reigned as the Tianqi Emperor.

Zhu Changluo, as he was called before becoming emperor, was born the first son of the Wanli Emperor in 1582. Wanli was fonder, however, of his third son, Changxun, and of Changxun's mother, the concubine Lady Zheng. For years, Wanli refused to officially authorize Changluo's designation as heir, and even blocked Changluo from having his coming-of-age capping ceremony. Changluo was thus raised without the formal education typically provided an imperial heir.

In 1590, when Changluo was ten years old by traditional age calculation, or roughly 8 1/2 by modern/Western reckoning, First Grand Secretary Shen Shixing and three other grand secretaries under him, with the backing of much of the officialdom, submitted letters of resignation, a bold statement that unless Wanli would designate Changluo his heir, they would all resign. Wanli yielded, and conceded that he would do so in 1592, provided no one bothered him about the matter again. This controversy, the opposition presented against him by the officialdom, is often quoted as the key tipping point leading to Wanli, for the remainder of his reign, stubbornly refusing to reply to any memorials, to authorize any decisions (including appointments, promotions, and resignations), or to participate in cosmic imperial rituals.

When Zhu Changluo finally did take the throne following his father's death, remained there only a very brief time before his own sudden and unexpected death. He was succeeded by his own son, a grandson of the Wanli Emperor, who took the throne as the Tianqi Emperor.

Preceded by
Wanli Emperor
Emperor of Ming
Succeeded by
Tianqi Emperor


  • Ray Huang, 1587: A Year of No Significance, Yale University Press (1981), 75, 80.