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Jiaqing Emperor

From Academic Kids

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The Jiaqing Emperor (November 13, 1760 - September 2, 1820) was the sixth emperor of the Manchu Qing dynasty, and the fifth Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1796 to 1820.

Son of the famous Qianlong Emperor, he is remembered for his prosecution of Heshen (和珅), the infamously corrupt favorite of Emperor Qianlong, as well as for trying to restore the state and curb the smuggling of opium inside China.

He was born at the Old Summer Palace (圓明園), 8km (5 mi) northwest of the walls of Beijing, and was given the name Yongyan (永琰), changed into Yongyan (顒琰) when he became emperor: the first character of his private name was changed from 永 to 顒, both pronounced Yong, so that his brothers and cousins of the same generation would not have to change the first character of their names (a character identical for all relatives of the same generation), which they should normally have done given that the private name of an emperor is taboo and cannot be written or pronounced. This novelty was introduced by his father Emperor Qianlong who thought it not proper to have a whole generation of people changing their names on his son's accession to the throne.

He was the fifteenth son of Qianlong. His mother was a Han Chinese concubine, Concubine of the second rank Ling (令貴妃), who became a favorite of Qianlong. She was posthumously made Empress Xiaoyi Chun (孝儀純皇后) when her son became emperor. She was the daughter of Wei Qingtai (魏清泰), an official in the Qing administration whose Han Chinese family had long been integrated in the Manchu elites. In 1818 Emperor Jiaqing made his mother's family officially Manchu, and changed their Chinese family name Wei into the Manchu clan name Weigiya.

After the first two original choices for heir to the throne succumbed early to disease, in December 1773 Yongyan was secretly chosen by Qianlong to be the next emperor. In 1789 he was made Prince of the 1st rank Jia (嘉親王).

At the end of his reign, Qianlong became infatuated with a Manchu government minister called Heshen (和珅). Prince Jia hated the notoriously corrupt Heshen for his abuse of power, and vowed to punish the minister once he became an emperor.

In October 1795, in the 60th year of his reign, Emperor Qianlong announced his intention to abdicate in favor of Prince Jia, because he did not thought it proper to rule longer than his grandfather, the late Kangxi Emperor. Prince Jia was crowned Emperor Jiaqing in February 1796. For the next 3 years, Emperor Jiaqing ruled as emperor in name only. Decisions were made by his father, the retired emperor Qianlong.

At the death of Qianlong in the beginning of February 1799, Jiaqing took control of the government and prosecuted Heshen. Heshen was charged with corruption and abuse of power. His titles and properties were stripped off, and he was ordered to commit suicide. Heshen's daughter in law was a sister of the new emperor and she was spared from the punishment. She was given a few properties from Heshen estates.

At the time the empire was facing internal disorders, such as the large scale White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1804), and the treasury was empty. Emperor Jiaqing engaged in pacification of the empire and quelling of rebellions, and he tried to bring the country back to its 18th century prosperity and power; but due to large outflows of silver out of the country because of the opium smuggled inside China from British India, the economy was in decline.

On September 2, 1820, Jiaqing died at the Rehe Traveling Palace (熱河行宫), 230 km (140 mi) northeast of Beijing, where the imperial court was in summer quarters. Allegedly he died after being struck by lightning, but not all sources agree on that. He was also said to have been killed by a mob. He was succeeded by his second son, Emperor Daoguang.

Jiaqing was interred amidst the Western Qing Tombs, 120 km (75 mi) southwest of Beijing, in the Changling (昌陵 - meaning "Splendid tomb") mausoleum complex.


Preceded by:
Qianlong Emperor
Emperor of China
(Qing Dynasty)
1796–1820
Succeeded by:
Daoguang Emperor

Template:End boxde:Jiaqing nl:Jiaqing ja:嘉慶帝 zh:嘉庆帝

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