Taichang

Article

July 1, 2022

Emperor Taichang (Chinese Pinyin Táichàng​​​​, characters 泰昌; August 28, 1582 – September 26, 1620) real name Chu Changluo (Chinese Pinyin Zhū​ Chángluò​​​​​​ ​​, characters 朱常洛) from the Ming Dynasty ruled Ming China for one month in 1620. He succeeded his father, Emperor Wan-li. After his death, an era of "Great Prosperity", Taichang was declared, lasting from his accession to the throne until the (Chinese) New Year. The name of the era is also used as the name of the emperor. Chu Changluo was born in 1582, in the tenth year of Emperor Wanli's reign, to Lady Wang, a servant of the emperor's mother. Lady Wang was promoted, but did not gain Wan-li's favor, and her son, despite being the emperor's eldest son, was ignored by him. Instead, Wan-li preferred Chu Chang-sun, the son of his favorite lady Cheng. Wan-li's intention to appoint Zhu Chang-sun as crown prince encountered resolute opposition from the ministers, and the whole matter remained at a standstill for many years due to the intransigence of both sides. Finally, in 1601, Emperor Wan-li succumbed to pressure from ministers, officials, and especially his mother, and the nineteen-year-old Chu Changluo was officially appointed crown prince and rightful heir to the throne. Even this formal recognition did not end all intrigue, and the emperor's dissatisfaction with the succession persisted. In 1615, the court was excited by an unusual scandal. A certain Zhang Chai armed himself with a wooden staff and broke into the Forbidden City to the Crown Prince's palace. The initial investigation called him insane, but another investigator pointed to the complicity of two eunuchs close to Ms. Cheng. Both were quickly executed, but speculation about the perpetrators of the plot continued to flourish. Emperor Wanli died on August 18, 1620, and Taichang officially ascended the throne on August 28. A few days after the coronation, he fell ill and died on September 26, 1620 after unsuccessful treatment. Taichung's eldest son, Tianchi, became the new Ming ruler. The death of the relatively young emperor caused a wave of suspicion, speculation and recrimination among court factions.

Childhood and youth, appointment as heir to the throne

Chu Changluo was born in 1582, the tenth year of Emperor Wanli's reign, as the emperor's first son. His mother was Lady Wang, a servant of Empress Dowager Li, Wan-li's mother. Wan-li wanted nothing to do with the child, but Madam Li got him to acknowledge paternity with the help of records of his visits and pushed for Madam Wang's promotion to imperial concubine with the title kueifei (恭妃, "respectable lady"). But the monarch's interest in Lady Wang quickly waned as another concubine, Lady Cheng, who also bore him a son in 1586, Chu Chang-sun (1586–1641), gained his lasting favor and trust. Chu Changluo, despite being the eldest, was ignored by the emperor. In 1586, the question of succession became open when the emperor promoted Mrs. Cheng to "imperial noble lady" (huang-kuei-fei), placing her only one step below his empress and above any of his other concubines, including Mrs. Wang. It was clear to those around him that he would rather have Mrs. Cheng's son Chu Chang-sun - his third (the second son died in infancy) - than Chu Chang-luo as his successor. The officials then split up; some began to defend the rights of the first son, citing legal primogeniture, but some supported Mrs. Cheng. The emperor responded to widespread support among officials for the rights of the eldest son by postponing the decision. He justified the delays by waiting for a son from the empress. The request for the appointment of Chu Changluo as crown prince when he reached the age of eight, so that his education could officially begin, he again defended himself by saying that princes are taught by eunuchs. In 1589, the emperor agreed to Chu Changluo's appointment as