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Jiaqing Emperor

Jiaqing Emperor
7th Qing Emperor of China
Reign 9 February 1796 – 2 September 1820
Predecessor Qianlong Emperor
Successor Daoguang Emperor
Regent Qianlong Emperor (1796–1799)
Born (1760-11-13)13 November 1760
Old Summer Palace, Beijing
Died 2 September 1820(1820-09-02) (aged 59)
Chengde Summer Palace, Hebei
Burial Western Qing Tombs
Spouse Empress Xiaoshurui
Empress Xiaoherui
Issue Mianmu, Prince Mu
Princess Zhuangjing
Mianning, Daoguang Emperor
Princess Zhuangjing
Princess Huian
Miankai, Prince Dun
Mianxin, Prince Rui
Mianyu, Prince Hui
Full name
Chinese: Aixin-Jueluo Yongyan 愛新覺羅永琰, later Yongyan 顒琰
Manchu: Aisin-Gioro Yongyan ᠠᠪᡴᠠᡳ ᠶᠣᠩ ᠶᠠᠨ
Posthumous name
Emperor Shòutiān Xìngyùn Fūhuà Suīyóu Chóngwén Jīngwǔ Guāngyù Xiàogōng Qínjiǎn Duānmǐn Yīngzhé Ruì
Temple name
Qing Rénzōng
House Aisin Gioro
Father Qianlong Emperor
Mother Empress Xiaoyichun

The Jiaqing Emperor (Chinese: 嘉慶帝; pinyin: Jiāqìng Dì; Wade–Giles: Chia1-ch'ing4 Ti4; Mongolian: Sayishiyaltu Yirugertu Khaan, 13 November 1760 – 2 September 1820), personal name Aisin Gioro Yongyan, was the seventh emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the fifth Qing emperor to rule over China from 1796 to 1820. He was the son of the Qianlong Emperor. During his reign, he prosecuted Heshen, the corrupt favourite of his father, and attempted to restore order within the Qing Empire and curb the smuggling of opium into China.


  • Early years 1
  • Accession to the throne 2
    • Court intrigues and incidents 2.1
    • Renaming Vietnam 2.2
    • Opposition to Christianity 2.3
  • Family 3
    • Consorts 3.1
      • Empresses 3.1.1
      • Imperial Noble Consorts 3.1.2
      • Consorts 3.1.3
      • Imperial Concubines 3.1.4
    • Children 3.2
      • Sons 3.2.1
      • Daughters 3.2.2
  • Death and burial 4
  • Ancestry 5
  • References 6

Early years

Yongyan was born in the Old Summer Palace, 8 km (5 mi) northwest of the walls of Beijing. His personal name, "Yongyan" (永琰), was later changed to "Yongyan" (顒琰) when he became the emperor. The Chinese character for yong in his name was changed from the more common 永 to the less common 顒. This novelty was introduced by the Qianlong Emperor, who believed that it was not proper to have a commonly used Chinese character in an emperor's personal name due to the longstanding practice of naming taboo in the imperial family.

Yongyan was the 15th son of the Qianlong Emperor. His mother was Noble Consort Ling, the daughter of Wei Qingtai (魏清泰), a Han Chinese official whose family had been long integrated into the Manchu Eight Banners as part of a Han Banner. She was posthumously honoured as "Empress Xiaoyichun" after Yongyan became the emperor. In 1818, the Jiaqing Emperor officially converted his mother's family from Han Chinese to Manchu by transferring them from the Han Banners to the Manchu Banners and changing their family name from "Wei" to the Manchu-sounding "Weigiya".

The Qianlong Emperor originally had two other sons in mind for succeeding him, but both of them died early from diseases, hence in December 1773 he secretly chose Yongyan as his successor. In 1789, the Qianlong Emperor instated Yongyan as "Prince Jia of the First Rank" (嘉親王; or simply "Prince Jia").

Accession to the throne

Portrait of the Jiaqing Emperor in his study

In October 1795, the 60th year of his reign, the Qianlong Emperor announced his intention to abdicate in favour of Prince Jia. He made this decision because he felt that it was disrespectful for him to rule longer than his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor, who was on the throne for 60 years. Prince Jia ascended the throne and adopted the era name "Jiaqing" (Chinese: 嘉慶; Manchu: ᠰᠠᡳᠴᡠᠩᡤᠠ ᡶᡝᠩᡧᡝᠨ saicungga fengšen) in February 1796, hence he is historically known as the Jiaqing Emperor. For the next three years however, the Jiaqing Emperor was only an emperor in name only because decisions were still made by his father, who became a Taishang Huang (Retired Emperor) after his abdication.

After the death of the Qianlong Emperor in the beginning of February 1799, the Jiaqing Emperor took control of the government and prosecuted Heshen, a favourite official of his father. Heshen was charged with corruption and abuse of power, stripped of his titles, had his property confiscated, and ordered to commit suicide. Heshen's daughter-in-law, Princess Hexiao, a sister of the Jiaqing Emperor, was spared from punishment and given a few properties from Heshen's estates.

At the time, the Qing Empire faced internal disorder, most importantly the large-scale White Lotus (1796–1804) and Miao (1795–1806) rebellions, as well as an empty imperial treasury. The Jiaqing Emperor engaged in the pacification of the empire and the quelling of rebellions. He endeavored to bring China back to its 18th-century prosperity and power. However, due in part to large outflows of silver from the country as payment for the opium smuggled into China from British India, the economy declined.

Court intrigues and incidents

Members of the Qing imperial family tried to assassinate him twice – in 1803 and in 1813. The princes involved in the attempts on his life were executed. Other members of the imperial family, numbering in the hundreds, were sent into exile.[1][2][3]

Renaming Vietnam

The Jiaqing Emperor refused the Vietnamese ruler Gia Long's request to change his country's name to Nam Việt. He changed the name instead to Việt Nam.[4]

Opposition to Christianity

The Great Qing Code includes one statute titled "Prohibitions Concerning Sorcerers and Sorceresses" (禁止師巫邪術). In 1811, a clause was added to it with reference to Christianity. It was modified in 1815 and 1817, settled in its final form in 1839 under the Daoguang Emperor, and abrogated in 1870 under the Tongzhi Emperor. It sentenced Europeans to death for spreading Catholicism among Han Chinese and Manchus. Christians who would not repent their conversion were sent to Muslim cities in Xinjiang, to be given as slaves to Muslim leaders and beys.[5]




Per imperial regulations, there was only one Empress at any given time. However, that did not prevent others from being elevated to that position after the death of an existing empress. During the Jiaqing Emperor's reign, there were two empresses, each serving in different periods of time:

  • Lady Hitara of the Hitara (Manchu) clan, who became Empress when Prince Jia ascended the throne in 1796. She was the mother of Daoguang Emperor (2nd son of Jiaqing) She is known posthumously as Empress Xiaoshurui (孝淑睿皇后).
  • Empress Xiaoherui, of the Niohuru clan (孝和睿皇后) (1776–1849), elevated after Empress Xiaoshurui died in 1798.

Imperial Noble Consorts

Per imperial regulations, only two Imperial Noble Consorts are allowed at any given time.


Per imperial regulations, only four Consorts are allowed at any given time. Not counting those who were later elevated to higher titles and those who were elevated posthumously, there was effectively only two consorts during the Jiaqing era.

  • Consort Hua (d. 1808) of the Hougiya clan.
  • Consort Zhuang (d. 1811) of the Wang clan.
  • Consort Shu of the Wanyan clan (Posthumously elevated. Never served as Consort in life)

Imperial Concubines

Per imperial regulations, only six Imperial Concubines are allowed at any given time.




Death and burial

On 2 September 1820, the Jiaqing Emperor died at the Rehe (Jehol) Traveling Palace (熱河行宫), 230 km (140 mi) northeast of Beijing, where the imperial court was in summer quarters. The Draft History of Qing did not record a cause of death. Some have alleged that he died after being struck by lightning, but others prefer the theory that he died of a stroke as the emperor was quite obese. He was succeeded by his second son, Mianning, who became known as the Daoguang Emperor.

Renzong was interred amidst the Western Qing Tombs, 120 km (75 mi) southwest of Beijing, in the Changling (昌陵; lit. "splendid tomb") mausoleum complex.



  •  This article incorporates text from China in the light of history, by Ernst Faber, a publication from 1897 now in the public domain in the United States.
  •  This article incorporates text from China in the light of history, by Ernst Faber, a publication from 1897 now in the public domain in the United States.
  •  This article incorporates text from The Chinese recorder, Volume 27, a publication from 1896 now in the public domain in the United States.
  •  This article incorporates text from Life among the Chinese: with characteristic sketches and incidents of missionary operations and prospects in China, by Robert Samuel Maclay, a publication from 1861 now in the public domain in the United States.
  1. ^ Ernst Faber (1897). China in the light of history. American Presbyterian mission press. p. 17. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  2. ^ The Chinese recorder, Volume 27. American Presbyterian Mission Press. 1896. p. 242. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  3. ^ Ernst Faber (1897). China in the light of history. American Presbyterian mission press. p. 17. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  4. ^ Woodside 1971, p. 120.
  5. ^ Robert Samuel Maclay (1861). Life among the Chinese: with characteristic sketches and incidents of missionary operations and prospects in China. Carlton & Porter. p. 336. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
Jiaqing Emperor
Born: 13 November 1760 Died: 2 September 1820
Regnal titles
Preceded by
The Qianlong Emperor
Emperor of China
Succeeded by
The Daoguang Emperor
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