Jingtai Emperor

The Jingtai Emperor (景泰) (21 September 1428 – 14 March 1457) was Emperor of China from 1449 to 1457. The second son of the Xuande Emperor, he was selected in 1449 to succeed his older brother, the Zhengtong Emperor, when the latter was captured by Mongols following the Tumu Crisis. He reigned for 8 years before being removed from the throne by his brother, who was restored as the Tianshun Emperor. The Jingtai Emperor's era name means "Exalted View".


Zhu Qiyu ascended the throne in 1449 after his older brother (the Zhengtong Emperor) was defeated and taken prisoner by the Oirat Mongols of Esen Khan.

The Zhengtong Emperor was eventually released in 1450 after the Mongols learned that the Ming government had installed Jingtai as the new emperor. After that, Jingtai continued to rule as emperor while his brother was granted a technical title of "grand-emperor" and was forced to live in obscurity.

During Jingtai's reign, aided by the prominent minister Yu Qian, he paid particular attention to matters affecting his country. He repaired the Grand Canal as well as the system of dykes along the Yellow River. As a result of his administration, the economy prospered and the dynasty was further strengthened.

Zhu Qiyu reigned for eight years. When his death was imminent in 1457, he refused to name an heir, particularly because his own son had died mysteriously — perhaps poisoned. The sidelined Zhengtong saw an opportunity to regain the throne and through a military coup overthrew Jingtai and declared himself his successor. Zhengtong, now emperor again, renamed his era Tianshun (it has never been discovered why he changed his era name). The former Jingtai Emperor was demoted to the rank of Prince of Cheng, which was the title he had held before ascending the throne, and was placed under house arrest in Xiyuan (西苑). Jingtai died a month later with some sources hinting that he was murdered by eunuchs on the order of the Tianshun emperor.

After Jingtai's death, the Tianshun Emperor denied his brother's rightful honor to be buried at the ming dynasty Tombs (together with his predecessors) located north of Beijing . He was instead buried well away from that locale in the hills west of Beijing and was buried as a prince rather than an emperor. His posthumous name was also shortened to five characters, instead of the normal seventeen, to reflect his demoted status.

Personal information


Xuande Emperor


Empress Dowager Xiao Yi


Empress Xiao Yuan Jing (孝淵景皇后), family name Wang (汪) (died 1505), married the Jingtai Emperor in 1449 when he was still Prince of Cheng, deposed in 1452, mother of Princess Gu'an and another daughter

Empress Su Xiao (肅孝皇后), family name Hang (杭) (died 1456), was the Jingtai Emperor's concubine before he ascended the throne, created empress following the deposition of Empress Xiao Yuan in 1452, mother of Zhu Jianji

Imperial Noble Consort Tang (唐皇貴妃) (buried alive with Jingtai Emperor after his death) Li Xi'er (李惜兒), was a courtesan prior to becoming the Jingtai Emperor's concubine



Formal Title





Zhu Jianji

Crown Prince Huaixian

1 Aug 1448

21 Mar 1453

Empress Su Xiao

Posthumously demoted to Heir Apparent (世子) in 1457;
original title restored under theSouthern ming dynasty





Date Married




Princess Gu'an

19 February 1449

20 Mar 1491


Wang Xian

Empress Xiao Yuan Jing

Demoted to Gu'an Junzhu(固安郡主) on 12 March 1470;
original title restored posthumously




Empress Xiao Yuan Jing

Became a nun after refusing to marry

Last update 04-06-2012

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