Hong Taiji

Hong Taiji (28 November 1592 – 21 September 1643; reigned 1626 – 1643), also transliterated as Huang Taiji based on the Chinese language transcription of his name, was the first Emperor of the qing dynasty

Hong Taiji was responsible for consolidating the empire that his father, Nurhaci, had founded. He laid the groundwork for the conquering of the ming dynasty, although he died before this was accomplished. He was responsible for changing the name of his people from Jurchen to Manchu in 1635 as well as that of the dynasty from later jin dynasty to Qing in 1636.

Name and titles

Hong Taiji is written as (Hung Taiji) in the Manchu language. In Chinese, Hong Taiji is also known as Hóng Tàijí (洪太極) or Huáng Táijí (皇太極). This name corresponded to well-known Mongolian title Khong Tayiji (Crown Prince) which

was sinicized as Hong Taiji or Huang Taizi. There are different views about the name Abahai. According to one view, the name Abakhai is wrong: Hong Taiji never mentioned under this name in Manchu and Chinese sources; it was a mistake done by Russian Sinologist G. V. Gorsky According to another view, Abakhai was a real name derived from Mongolian Abakai – honorary name given to younger sons of monarchs. Abahai may be also a part of his era name in Manchu language (Abkai sure, or Tienzong 天聰). According to another view, Hong Taiji was mistakenly, referred to as Abahai in Western scholarly literature, the result of a confusion with Nurhaci's favorite concubine. He was first Khan of the later jin dynasty and then Emperor of the qing dynasty, after he changed its name. His title as Great Khan was Bogd Khaan (Manchu: Gosin Onco Hūwaliyasun Enduringge Han). His reign names were Tiāncōng (Chinese: 天聰, Manchu: ᠠᠪᡴᠠᡳ ᠰᡠᡵᡝ Abka-i sure) 1627-1636; and Chóngdé (Chinese:崇德, Manchu: ᠸᡝᠰᡳᡥᡠᠨ ᡝᡵᡩᡝᠮᡠᠩᡤᡝ Wesihun erdemungge, Mongolian: Degede Erdemtü) 1636-1643. His temple name was Tàizōng 太宗.

His posthumous name evolved to become longer and longer:

1643: Yingtian-xingguo-hongde-zhangwu-kuanwen-rensheng-ruixiao Wen Emperor (應天興國弘德彰武寬溫仁聖睿孝文皇帝)

1662: Yingtian-xingguo-hongde-zhangwu-kuanwen-rensheng-ruixiao-longdao-xiangong Wen Emperor (應天興國弘德彰武寬溫仁聖睿孝隆道顯功文皇帝)

"Prosperous Way and Manifestation of Might" was added

1723: Yingtian-xingguo-hongde-zhangwu-kuanwen-rensheng-ruixiao-jingming-longdao-xiangong Wen Emperor (應天興國弘德彰武寬溫仁聖睿孝敬敏隆道顯功文皇帝)

"Reverence and Diligent" was added

1735: Yingtian-xingguo-hongde-zhangwu-kuanwen-rensheng-ruixiao-jingming-zhaoding-longdao-xiangong Wen Emperor (應天興國弘德彰武寬溫仁聖睿孝敬敏昭定隆道顯功文皇帝)

"Illustrious stability" was added

Consolidation of power

Hong Taiji was the eighth son of Nurhaci, whom he succeeded as the second ruler of the later jin dynasty in 1626. Although it was always thought of as gossip, he was said to be involved in the suicide of Prince Dorgon's mother, Lady Abahai in order to block the succession of his younger brother. This is speculated because at the time of Nurhaci's death, there were 4 Lords/Beile with Hong Taiji as the lowest rank, but also the most fit one. Originally, at the end of Nurhaci's reign, Hong Taiji got hold of the two White Banners, but after Lady Abahai's death, he switched his two banners with Dorgon and Dodo's two Yellow banners (Nurhaci gave his two Yellow Banners to the two). In the end, Hong Taiji had control over the 2 strongest/highest class banners- the Plain/Bordered Yellow Banner and the most influence. From there, he slowly got rid of his competitor's powers. Later, he would also receive the Plain Blue Banner from one of Šurhaci's sons, which was the 3rd strongest banner as it was controlled by Nurhaci's brother. Those 3 banners would officially become the Upper Three Banners during the early part of the qing dynasty.

His reign

During his reign, he started using officials of the Han ethnicity. Originally during Nurhaci's reign, Han people were heavily discriminated as Nurhaci despised them. Hong Taiji started incorporating Han people into the country and government. He realized that they would still be the majority and the Manchus would still be the minority, which means to control the Han people, they would need to live together or else the qing dynasty would be a repeat of the yuan dynasty.


He continued the expansion of the state in the region later known as Manchuria, pushing deeper into Mongolia and raiding Korea and Ming China. His personal military abilities were widely praised and he effectively developed the military-civil administration known as the Eight Banners or Banner system. This system was well-suited to accept the different peoples, primarily Chinese and Mongols, who joined the Manchu state either following negotiated agreements or military defeat.

In 1636, Hong Taiji invaded the Joseon Dynasty (see the Second Manchu invasion of Korea), as the latter did not accept that Hong Taiji had become emperor. With the Joseon Dynasty surrendered in 1637, Hong Taiji succeeded in making them cut off relations with the ming dynasty and force them to submit as protectorate of the Qing Empire. Also during this period, Hung Taji took over Inner Mongolia in three major wars, each of them victorious. In 1640 he completed the conquest of the Evenks, when he defeated and captured their leader Bombogor.

At the same time, Hong Taji upgraded the weapons of the Empire. He realized the advantage of the Red Cannons and later also bought the Red Cannons into the army. Though the ming dynasty still had more Cannons, Hong Taji now possessed the cannons of equal might and Asia's strongest cavalry.

Huang Taji's plan at first was to make a deal with the ming dynasty. If the ming dynasty was willing to give support and money that would be beneficial to the Qing's economy, the qing dynasty in exchange would not only be willing to not attack the borders, but also admit itself as a country one level lower than the ming dynasty; however, since all the Ming Court were reminded of the Jin Empire during the song dynasty, the court heavily refused the exchange. This ultimately forced Huang Taji to take the offensive.

The Change from Jin to Qing

In 1635, Hong Taiji changed the name of his people from Jurchen (Manchu: Jušen) to Manchu, or Manju in the Manchu language. The original meaning of Manju is not known and so the reasons for its adoption remain opaque. There are many theories as to the reason for the choice of name but two of the most commonly cited are its sounding similar to the Manchu word for "brave" and a possible connection with the Bodhisattva Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, of whom Nurhaci claimed to be an incarnation.

The dynastic name later jin dynasty was a direct reference to the jin dynasty founded by the Jurchen people, who ruled northern China from 1115 to 1234. As such, the name was likely to be viewed as closely tied to the Jurchens and would perhaps evoke hostility from Chinese who viewed the song dynasty, rival state to the Jin, as the legitimate rulers of China at that time. Hong Taiji's ambition was to conquer China proper and overthrow the ming dynasty, and to do that required not only a powerful military force but also an effective bureaucratic administration. For this, he used the obvious model, that of the Ming government, and recruited Ming officials to his cause. If the name of later jin dynasty would prove an impediment to his goal among many Chinese, then it was not too much to change it. Whatever the precise motivation, Hong Taiji proclaimed the establishment of the qing dynasty in 1636. The reasons for the choice of Qing as the new name are likewise unclear, although it has been speculated that the sound - Jin and Qing are pronounced similarly in Manchu - or wuxing theory - traditional ideas held that fire, associated with the character for Ming, was overcome by water, associated with the character for Qing - may have influenced the choice. Another possible reason may be that Hong Taiji changed the name of the dynasty from (Later)Jin to Qing in 1636 because of internecine fraternal struggle and skirmish between brothers and half brothers for the throne. According to Taoist philosophy, the name Jin has the meaning of metal and fire in its constituent, thereby igniting the tempers of the brothers of the Manchu Royal household into open conflicts and wars. Huangtaiji therefore adopted the new name of Qing 清, the Chinese character of which has the water symbol [strokes] on its left hand side. The name, which means clear and transparent, with its water symbol was hoped to put out the feud among the brothers of the Manchu Royal household.

The banners status

Before Hong Taiji was emperor, he controlled the 2 White banners. Upon Nurhaci's death, Hong Taiji immediately switched his 2 White Banners with Nurhaci's 2 Yellow Banners, which should have been passed on to Dorgun and his brothers. As the emperor, he is the holder of 3 banners out of 8. He controlled the Upper 3 Banners or the Elite banners of the time which at the time were the Plain/Bordered Yellow Banner and Plain Blue Banner. Later the Plain Blue Banner was switched by Dorgun to Plain White Banner as the 3rd Elite Banner. At the end of his reign, Huang Taji gave the 2 Yellow Banners to his eldest son-Haoge. Daisan, who was the 2nd son of Nurhaci, and his son controlled the 2 Red Banners. Dorgun and his 2 brothers controlled the 2 White Banners and Surachi's son-Chiurhala- controlled the remaining and Striped Blue Banner again.


Hong Taiji died on 21 September, possibly of stroke, just a few months before his army would seize control of Beijing . He actually issued an order for Xiao Zhuang Wen to follow him into the afterlife, however Dorgon forced him to change the decree. Since he was dying, he did not want to waste anymore time and changed his follower to Imperial Consort Chen. He therefore did not live to see his ambition of conquering Ming China come about, although his son, the Shunzhi Emperor, succeeded him and became the first of the qing dynasty emperors to govern China. That the Qing state succeeded not only in conquering China but also in establishing a capable administration was due in large measure to the foresight and policies of Hong Taiji. His body was buried in Zhaoling, located in northern Shenyang.


As the emperor, he is commonly recognized as having abilities similar to the best emperors such as Yongle, Tang Taizong because of his effective rule, effective use of talent, and effective warring skills. According to half historian and half writer Jin Yong, Huang Taji had the broad and wise views of Qin Shi Huang, Emperor Gaozu of Han, Emperor Guangwu of Han, Emperor Wen of Sui, Emperor Taizong of Tang, Emperor Taizu of Song, Kublai Khan, the Hongwu Emperor, and the Yongle Emperor. His ability to use people was only paralleled by Genghis Khan, Emperor Taizong of Tang, and Emperor Guangwu of Han. In this sense, Huang Taji is like the true beginning emperor for the qing dynasty. Some historians suspect Huang Taji was overall underrated and overlooked as a great emperor because he was a Manchu.

Personal information




Empress Xiaocigao, daughter of Prince Yangginu of the Yehenara (葉赫部貝勒楊吉砮)


Empress Xiaoduanwen

Empress Dowager Xiao Zhuang, initially Consort Zhuang (莊妃)

Consort Chen of Guansui Palace (关睢宫宸妃), posthumously titled First Consort Min Hui Gong He (敏惠恭和元妃) (died 1641), personal name Borjigit Harjol (博爾濟吉特·海蘭珠)

Noble Consort of Linzhi Palace (麟趾宫贵妃), posthumously titled Great Noble Consort Yi Jing (懿靖大貴妃) (died 1674), personal name Borjigit Namuzhong (博爾濟吉特. 娜木鍾)

Virtuous Consort of Yanqing Palace (衍庆宫淑妃), posthumously titled Virtuous Consort Kang Hui (康惠淑妃) (died 1667), personal name Borjigit Batemazhao (博爾濟吉特. 巴特瑪璪)

First Consort (元妃; Yuan Fei), Hong Taiji's first wife, daughter of Prince Eidu of the Niuhuru

Successor Consort (继妃; Ji Fei), of the Ulanara clan

Side Chamber Consort Yehenara (葉赫那拉側妃)

Side Chamber Consort Zaruborjigit (扎魯特博爾濟吉特側妃)

Ordinary Consort Nara (納喇庶妃)

Ordinary Consort Hilei (奇壘庶妃)

Ordinary Consort Yanja (顏扎庶妃)

Ordinary Consort Irgen Gioro (伊爾根覺羅庶妃)

unnamed Ordinary Consort

unnamed Ordinary Consort


Hooge (1609–1648).

Loge (1611–1621).

Gebohui (1611–1617).

Yebušu (1627–1690).

Šose (1628–1655).

Gaose (1637–1670).

Cangšu (1637–1699).

unnamed eighth son who died young (1637–1638).

Fulin (1638–1661).

Taose (1639–1695).

Bombogor (1642–1656).


State Princess Aukhan (敖漢固倫公主)(1621–1654) married in 1633 Bandi of the Mongolian Borjigit clan.

State Princess Wen Zhuang (固倫靖端長公主), personal name Makata (馬喀塔) (1625–1663), married Eje of the Chakhar Mongols in 1635. In 1661 Eje died and Makata married Eje's younger brother Abunai.

State Princess Jing Duan (固倫靖端長公主) (1628–1686) married Jitate of the Mongolian Borjigit clan in 1639.

State Princess Yong Mu (固倫雍穆長公主), personal name Yatu (雅圖) (1629–1678) married her cousin Birtakhar in 1641.

State Princess Shu Hui (固倫淑慧長公主), personal name Atu (阿圖) (1632–1700).

State Princess (1633–1649).

State Princess Shu Zhe (固倫淑哲長公主) (1633–1648).

State Princess Yong An (固倫永安長公主) (1634–1692).

Ninth daughter (1635–1652).

Tenth daughter (1635–1661).

State Princess Duan Shun (固倫端順長公主) (1636–1650).

Twelved daughter (1637–1678).

Thirteenth daughter (1638–1657).

Princess of the second rank Ke Chun (和碩恪純長公主) (1641–1704).

Last update 05-06-2012

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