Yongle emperor


Yongle emperor
or Yung-lo emperor orig. Zhu Di

born May 2, 1360, Yingtian [Nanjing], China
died Aug. 5, 1424, Yumuchuan, Inner Mongolia

Third emperor of China's Ming dynasty, which he raised to its greatest power.

Son of the Hongwu emperor, founder of the Ming, he was his father's favourite. He was enfeoffed as the Prince of Yan (the region around present-day Beijing) and spent his youth patrolling the northern frontier and keeping the Mongols fragmented. When his nephew succeeded to the throne, Zhu Di rebelled and became emperor in 1402. As emperor, he worked to extend China's sway. He sent out ships of exploration, most notably under Zheng He; these returned with envoys bearing tribute to acknowledge China's overlordship. He became the only ruler in Chinese history to be acknowledged suzerain by the Japanese. A foray into Annam (now Vietnam), which he attempted to incorporate into China, led to years of guerrilla warfare. He five times led large armies north to the Gobi Desert, forestalling the creation of a Mongol confederation that might have threatened China. He transferred China's capital from Nanjing to Beijing. He built the Forbidden City and repaired the Grand Canal so that Beijing could be provisioned without relying on sea transport. He sponsored the compilation and publication of the Confucian Classics and the preparation of the Yongle dadian ("Great Canon of the Yongle Era"), an 11,000-volume compendium.

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Universalium. 2010.

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