Kangxi Emperor

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Kangxi Emperor
Portrait of the Kangxi Emperor in Court Dress.jpg
4th Qing Emperor of China
Reign 5 February 1661 – 20 December 1722
Coronation 1667
Predecessor Shunzhi Emperor
Successor Yongzheng Emperor
Regent Sonin (1661–1667)
Ebilun (1661–1667)
Suksaha (1661–1669)
Oboi (1661–1669)
Born (1654-05-04)4 May 1654
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Burial Eastern Qing Tombs, Zunhua
Spouse Empress Xiaochengren
Empress Xiaozhaoren
Empress Xiaoyiren
Empress Xiaogongren
among others...
Yinzhi, Prince Zhi
Rongxian, Princess of Baarin
Yinreng, Prince Li
Princess Duanjing of the Second Rank
Yinzhi, Prince Cheng
Yinzhen, Yongzheng Emperor
Kejing, Princess of the Khalkha Mongols
Yinqi, Prince Heng
Yinyou, Prince Chun
Yinsi, Prince Lian
State Princess Wenxian
State Princess Chunque
Yintao, Prince Lü
Yinxiang, 1st Prince Yi
Princess Wenke of the Second Rank
Yinti, Prince Xun
Princess Quejing of the Second Rank
Princess Dunke of the Second Rank
Yinwu, Prince Yu
Yinlu, Prince Zhuang
Yinli, Prince Guo
Yinyi, Beile
Yinxi, Prince Shen
Yinhu, Beile
Yinqi, Beile
Yinmi, Prince Xian
Full name
Chinese: Aixin-Jueluo Xuanye 愛新覺羅玄燁
Manchu: Aisin Gioro hala i Hiowan Yei
Era name and dates
Kāngxī (康熙): 1662–1723
Posthumous name
Emperor Hétiān Hóngyùn Wénwǔ Ruìzhé Gōngjiǎn Kuānyù Xiàojìng Chéngxìn Zhōnghé Gōngdé Dàchéng Rén
合天弘運文武睿哲恭儉寬裕孝敬誠信中和功德大成仁皇帝[<phonos file="Chinese-Kangxi Posthumous name.ogg">Listen</phonos>]
Temple name
Shengzu (聖祖)
House House of Aisin Gioro
Father Shunzhi Emperor
Mother Empress Xiaokangzhang
Kangxi Emperor
Chinese name
Chinese 康熙帝
Manchu name
Manchu script ᡝᠯᡥᡝ
Romanization Elhe taifin hūwangdi

The Kangxi Emperor (Chinese: 康熙帝; Manchu: elhe taifin hūwangdi; Mongolian: ᠡᠩᠭᠡ ᠠᠮᠤᠭᠤᠯᠠᠩ engke amuɣulang 'peace and tranquility'; 4 May 1654 – 20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty,[1][2] the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Pass (Beijing) and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1661 to 1722.

Kangxi's reign of 61 years makes him the longest-reigning emperor in Chinese history (although his grandson, the Qianlong Emperor, had the longest period of de facto power) and one of the longest-reigning rulers in the world.[3] However, since he ascended the throne at the age of seven, actual power was held for six years by four regents and his grandmother, the Grand Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.

Kangxi is considered one of China's greatest emperors.[4] He suppressed the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, forced the Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan to submit to Qing rule, blocked Tsarist Russia on the Amur River and expanded the empire in the northwest. He also accomplished such literary feats as the compilation of the Kangxi Dictionary.

Kangxi's reign brought about long-term stability and relative wealth after years of war and chaos. He initiated the period known as the "Prosperous Era of Kangxi and Qianlong" or "High Qing",[5] which lasted for generations after his own lifetime. By the end of his reign, the Qing Empire controlled all of China proper, Taiwan, Manchuria, part of the Russian Far East (Outer Manchuria), both Inner and Outer Mongolia, and Tibet proper.

Early reign

Portrait of young Kangxi Emperor in court dress

Born on 4 May 1654 to the Shunzhi Emperor and Empress Xiaokangzhang, Kangxi was originally given the personal name Xuanye (Chinese: 玄燁 ; Manchu language: ᡥᡳᠣᠸᠠᠨ ᠶᡝᡳ ; Möllendorff transliteration: hiowan yei). He was enthroned at the age of seven (or eight by East Asian age reckoning), on 7 February 1661.[6] His era name "Kangxi", however, only started to be used on 18 February 1662, the first day of the following lunar year.

In his 1912 book China and the Manchu's, sinologist Herbert Giles describes Kangxi as: fairly tall and well proportioned, he loved all manly exercises, and devoted three months annually to hunting. Large bright eyes lighted up his face, which was pitted with smallpox.[7]

Before Kangxi came to the throne, Grand Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang (in the name of Shunzhi Emperor) had appointed the powerful men Sonin, Suksaha, Ebilun, and Oboi as regents. Sonin died after his granddaughter became Empress Xiaochengren, leaving Suksaha at odds with Oboi in politics. In a fierce power struggle, Oboi had Suksaha put to death and seized absolute power as sole regent. Kangxi and the rest of the imperial court acquiesced in this arrangement.

In the spring of 1662, the regents ordered a Great Clearance in southern China to counter a resistance movement started by Ming loyalists under the leadership of Taiwan-based Ming general Zheng Chenggong, also titled Koxinga. This involved the forced migration inland of entire populations in the coastal regions of southern China.

In 1669, Kangxi had Oboi arrested with the help of his grandmother Grand Dowager Empress Xiaozhuang, who had raised him[8] and began taking personal control of the empire. He listed three issues of concern: flood control of the Yellow River; repair of the Grand Canal; the Revolt of the Three Feudatories in south China. The Grand Empress Dowager influenced him greatly and he took care of her himself in the months leading up to her death in 1688.[8]

Military achievements

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The Emperor mounted on his horse and guarded by his bodyguards.

The main army of the Qing Empire, the Eight Banners Army, was in decline under Kangxi. It was smaller than it had been at its peak under Hong Taiji and in the early reign of the Shunzhi Emperor; however, it was larger than in the Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors' reigns. In addition, the Green Standard Army was still powerful with generals such as Tuhai, Fei Yanggu, Zhang Yong, Zhou Peigong, Shi Lang, Mu Zhan, Shun Shike and Wang Jingbao.[citation needed]

The main reason for this decline was a change in system between Kangxi and Qianlong's reigns. Kangxi continued using the traditional military system implemented by his predecessors, which was more efficient and stricter. According to the system, a commander who returned from a battle alone (with all his men dead) would be put to death, and likewise for a foot soldier. This was meant to motivate both commanders and soldiers alike to fight valiantly in war because there was no benefit for the sole survivor in a battle.[citation needed]

The Kangxi Emperor in ceremonial armor, armed with bow and arrows, and surrounded by bodyguards.

By Qianlong's reign, military commanders had become lax and the training of the army was deemed less important as compared to during the previous emperors' reigns. This was because commanders' statuses had become hereditary; a general gained his position based on the contributions of his forefathers.[citation needed]

Revolt of the Three Feudatories

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The Revolt of the Three Feudatories broke out in 1673 when Wu Sangui's forces overran most of southwest China and he tried to ally himself with local generals such as Wang Fuchen. Kangxi employed generals including Zhou Peigong and Tuhai to suppress the rebellion, and also granted clemency to common people caught up in the war. He intended to personally lead the armies to crush the rebels but his subjects advised him against it. Kangxi used mainly Han Chinese Green Standard Army soldiers to crush the rebels while the Manchu Banners took a backseat. The revolt ended with victory for Qing forces in 1681.


In 1683, the naval forces of the Taiwan-based Ming loyalists were defeated by Qing naval forces under the command of admiral Shi Lang at the Battle of Penghu. Zheng Keshuang, ruler of Tungning and grandson of Koxinga, surrendered a few days later, and Taiwan became part of the Qing Empire. Soon afterwards, the coastal regions of southern China were ordered to be repopulated. In addition, to encourage settlers, the Qing government granted financial incentives to families that settled there.

Zheng Keshuang was awarded the title "Duke Haicheng" (海澄公) and was inducted into the Han Chinese Plain Red Banner of the Eight Banners when he moved to Beijing. Several Ming princes had accompanied Koxinga to Taiwan in 1661–1662, including Prince Zhu Shugui of Ningjing and Prince Zhu Honghuan (朱弘桓), son of Zhu Yihai, where they lived in the Kingdom of Tungning. The Qing sent the 17 Ming princes still living on Taiwan in 1683 back to mainland China where they spent the rest of their lives in exile, their lives having been spared from execution.[9] Zheng's former soldiers on Taiwan, such as the rattan shield troops, were also inducted into the Eight Banners and used by the Qing against Russian Cossacks at Albazin.


In 1673, Kangxi's government helped to mediate a truce in the Trịnh–Nguyễn War in Vietnam, which had been ongoing for 45 years since 1627. The peace treaty that was signed between the conflicting parties lasted for 101 years until 1774.[10]


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European couple, Kangxi period

In the 1650s, the Qing Empire engaged the Tsardom of Russia in a series of border conflicts along the Amur River region, which concluded with victory for the Qing side. After the Siege of Albazin, he gained control of the area.

The Russians invaded the northern frontier again in the 1680s. After a series of battles and negotiations, both sides signed the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689, in which a border was fixed, and the Amur River valley given to the Qing Empire.


The Inner Mongolian Chahar leader Ligdan Khan, a descendant of Genghis Khan, opposed and fought against the Qing until he died of smallpox in 1634. Thereafter, the Inner Mongols under his son Ejei Khan surrendered to the Qing and he was given the title of Prince (Qin Wang, 親王). The Inner Mongolian nobility now became closely tied to the Qing royal family and intermarried with them extensively. Ejei Khan died in 1661 and was succeeded by his brother Abunai. After Abunai showed disaffection with Manchu Qing rule, he was placed under house arrested in 1669 in Shenyang and the Kangxi Emperor gave his title to his son Borni. Abunai bided his time then, with his brother Lubuzung, revolted against the Qing in 1675 during the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, with 3,000 Chahar Mongol followers joining in on the revolt. The revolt was put down within two months, the Qing defeating the rebels in battle on April 20, 1675, killing Abunai and all his followers. Their title was abolished, all Chahar Mongol royal males were executed even if they were born to Manchu Qing princesses, and all Chahar Mongol royal females were sold into slavery except the Manchu Qing princesses. The Chahar Mongols were then put under the direct control of the Qing Emperor unlike the other Inner Mongol leagues which maintained their autonomy.

The Outer Khalkha Mongols had preserved their independence, and only paid tribute to the Qing Empire. However, a conflict between the houses of Tümen Jasagtu Khan and Tösheetü Khan led to a dispute between the Khalkha and the Dzungars over the influence of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1688, as the Khalkhas were fighting wars with Russian Cossacks in the north of their territory, the Dzungar chief, Galdan Boshugtu Khan, attacked the Khalkha from the west and invaded their territory. The Khalkha royal families and the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu crossed the Gobi Desert and sought help from the Qing Empire in return for submission to Qing authority. In 1690, the Dzungars and Qing forces clashed at the Battle of Ulan Butung in Inner Mongolia, in which the Qing eventually emerged as the victor.

The Kangxi Emperor at the age of 45, painted in 1699

In 1696, Kangxi personally led three armies, totaling 80,000 in strength, in a campaign against the Dzungars in the early Dzungar–Qing War. The western section of the Qing army defeated Galdan's forces at the Battle of Jao Modo and Galdan died in the following year.

Manchu Hoifan and Ula rebellion against the Qing

In 1700, some 20,000 Qiqihar Xibe were resettled in Guisui, modern Inner Mongolia, and 36,000 Songyuan Xibe were resettled in Shenyang, Liaoning. The relocation of the Xibe from Qiqihar is believed by Liliya M. Gorelova to be linked to the Qing's annihilation of the Manchu clan Hoifan (Hoifa) in 1697 and the Manchu tribe Ula in 1703 after they rebelled against the Qing; both Hoifan and Ula were wiped out.[11]


In 1701, Kangxi ordered the reconquest of Dartsedo and other border towns in western Sichuan that had been taken by the Tibetans. The Manchu forces stormed Dartsedo and secured the border with Tibet and the lucrative tea-horse trade.

The Tibetan desi (regent) Sangye Gyatso concealed the death of the 5th Dalai Lama in 1682, and only informed the emperor in 1697. He moreover kept relations with Dzungar enemies of the Qing. All this evoked the great displeasure of the Kangxi Emperor. Eventually Sangye Gyatso was toppled and killed by the Khoshut ruler Lha-bzang Khan in 1705. As a reward for ridding him of his old enemy the Dalai Lama, Kangxi appointed Lha-bzang Khan Regent of Tibet (翊法恭顺汗; Yìfǎ gōngshùn Hàn; "Buddhism Respecting, Deferential Khan").[12] The Dzungar Khanate, a confederation of Oirat tribes based in parts of what is now Xinjiang, continued to threaten the Qing Empire and invaded Tibet in 1717. They took control of Lhasa with a 6,000 strong army and killed Lha-bzang Khan. The Dzungars held on to the city for three years and at the Battle of the Salween River defeated a Qing army sent to the region in 1718. The Qing did not take control of Lhasa until 1720, when Kangxi sent a larger expedition force there to defeat the Dzungars.

Economic achievements

The Kangxi Emperor returning to Beijing after a southern inspection tour in 1689.

The contents of the national treasury during Kangxi's reign were:[citation needed]

1668 (7th year of Kangxi): 14,930,000 taels
1692: 27,385,631 taels
1702–1709: approximately 50,000,000 taels with little variation during this period
1710: 45,880,000 taels
1718: 44,319,033 taels
1720: 39,317,103 taels
1721 (60th year of Kangxi, second last of his reign): 32,622,421 taels[citation needed]

The reasons for the declining trend in the later years of Kangxi's reign were a huge expenditure on military campaigns and an increase in corruption.[citation needed] To fix the problem, Kangxi gave Prince Yong (the future Yongzheng Emperor) advice on how to make the economy more efficient.[citation needed]

Cultural achievements

A vase from the early Kangxi period (Musée Guimet).

During his reign, Kangxi ordered the compilation of a dictionary of Chinese characters, which became known as the Kangxi Dictionary. This was seen as an attempt by Kangxi to gain support from the Han Chinese scholar-bureaucrats, as many of them initially refused to serve him and remained loyal to the Ming dynasty. However, by persuading the scholars to work on the dictionary without asking them to formally serve the Qing imperial court, Kangxi led them to gradually taking on greater responsibilities until they were assuming the duties of state officials.

In 1705, on Kangxi's order, a compilation of Tang poetry, the Quantangshi, was produced.

Kangxi also was interested in Western technology and wanted to import them to China. This was done through Jesuit missionaries, such as Ferdinand Verbiest, whom Kangxi frequently summoned for meetings, or Karel Slavíček, who made the first precise map of Beijing on Kangxi's order.

From 1711 to 1723, Matteo Ripa, an Italian priest sent to China by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, worked as a painter and copper-engraver at the Qing court. In 1723, he returned to Naples from China with four young Chinese Christians, in order to groom them to become priests and send them back to China as missionaries. This marked the beginning of the Collegio dei Cinesi, sanctioned by Pope Clement XII to help the propagation of Christianity in China. This Chinese Institute was the first school of Sinology in Europe, which would later develop to become the Instituto Orientale and the present day Naples Eastern University.

Kangxi was also the first Chinese emperor to play a western musical instrument. He employed Karel Slavíček as court musician. Slavíček was playing Spinet; later Kangxi would play on it himself. He also invented a Chinese calendar.[citation needed] China's famed blue and white porcelain probably reached its zenith during the rule of Kangxi.


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Jesuit astronomers of the Jesuit China missions, with the Kangxi Emperor (Beauvais, 1690–1705)

In the early decades of Kangxi's reign, Jesuits played a large role in the imperial court. With their knowledge of astronomy, they ran the imperial observatory. Jean-François Gerbillon and Thomas Pereira served as translators for the negotiations of the Treaty of Nerchinsk. Kangxi was grateful to the Jesuits for their contributions, the many languages they could interpret, and the innovations they offered his military in gun manufacturing[13] and artillery, the latter of which enabled the Qing Empire to conquer the Kingdom of Tungning.[14]

Kangxi was also fond of the Jesuits' respectful and unobtrusive manner; they spoke the Chinese language well, and wore the silk robes of the elite.[15] In 1692, when Fr. Thomas Pereira requested tolerance for Christianity, Kangxi was willing to oblige, and issued the Edict of Toleration,[16] which recognized Catholicism, barred attacks on their churches, and legalized their missions and the practice of Christianity by the Chinese people.[17]

However, controversy arose over whether Chinese Christians could still take part in traditional Confucian ceremonies and ancestor worship, with the Jesuits arguing for tolerance and the Dominicans taking a hard-line against foreign "idolatry". The Dominican position won the support of Pope Clement XI, who in 1705 sent Charles-Thomas Maillard De Tournon as his representative to Kangxi, to communicate the ban on Chinese rites.[13][18] On 19 March 1715, Pope Clement XI issued the papal bull Ex illa die, which officially condemned Chinese rites.[13]

In response, Kangxi officially forbade Christian missions in China, as they were "causing trouble".[19]

Succession disputes

The Kangxi Emperor on a tour, seated prominently on the deck of a junk.

Kangxi's reign saw a prolonged struggle between various princes over who should inherit the throne – the Nine Lords' War (九子夺嫡).

Kangxi's first spouse, Empress Xiaochengren, gave birth to his second surviving son Yinreng, who at the age of two was named crown prince – a Han Chinese custom, to ensure stability during a time of chaos in the south. Although Kangxi left the education of several of his sons to others, he personally oversaw the upbringing of Yinreng, grooming him to be a perfect successor. Yinreng was tutored by the mandarin Wang Shan, who remained devoted to him, and spent the later years of his life trying to persuade Kangxi to restore Yinreng as the crown prince.

Yinreng proved to be unworthy of the succession despite his father showing favoritism towards him. He was said to have beaten and killed his subordinates, and was alleged to have had sexual relations with one of his father's concubines, which was deemed incest and a capital offence. Yinreng also purchased young children from Jiangsu to satisfy his pedophiliac pleasure. In addition, Yinreng's supporters, led by Songgotu, gradually formed a "Crown Prince Party" (太子黨), that aimed to help Yinreng get the throne as soon as possible, even if it meant using unlawful methods.

The seated Kangxi Emperor

Over the years, Kangxi kept constant watch over Yinreng and became aware of his son's many flaws, while their relationship gradually deteriorated. In 1707, Kangxi decided that he could no longer tolerate Yinreng's behavior, which he partially mentioned in the imperial edict as "never obeying ancestors' virtues, never obliged to my order, only doing inhumanity and devilry, only showing maliciousness and lust",[20] and decided to strip Yinreng of his position as crown prince. Kangxi placed his oldest surviving son, Yinzhi, in charge of overseeing Yinreng's house arrest. Yinzhi, an unfavored Shu son, knowing he had no chance of being selected, recommended the eighth prince, Yinsi, and requested his father to order Yinreng's execution. Kangxi was enraged and stripped Yinzhi of his titles. Kangxi commanded his subjects to cease debating the succession issue, but despite this and attempts to reduce rumours and speculation as to who the new crown prince might be, the imperial court's daily activities were disrupted. Yinzhi's actions caused Kangxi to suspect that Yinreng might have been framed, so he restored Yinreng as crown prince in 1709, with the support of the 4th and 13th princes, and on the excuse that Yinreng had previously acted under the influence of mental illness.

A turtle-based stele with the Kangxi Emperor's inscription, erected in 1699 at the Nanjing mausoleum of the Hongwu Emperor, honouring the founder of the preceding Ming dynasty as surpassing the founders of the Tang and Song dynasties.[21]

In 1712, during Kangxi's last inspection tour of the south, Yinreng, who was put in charge of state affairs during his father's absence, tried to vie for power again with his supporters. He allowed an attempt at forcing Kangxi to abdicate when his father returned to Beijing. However, Kangxi received news of the planned coup d'etat, and was so angry that he deposed Yinreng and placed him under house arrest again. After the incident, Kangxi announced that he would not appoint any of his sons as crown prince for the remainder of his reign. He stated that he would place his Imperial Valedictory Will inside a box in the Palace of Heavenly Purity, which would only be opened after his death.

Seeing that Yinreng was completely disavowed, Yingsi and some other princes turned to support the 14th prince, Yinti, while the 13th prince supported Yinzhen. They formed the so-called "Eighth Lord Party" (八爷党) and "Fourth Lord Party" (四爷党).

Death and succession

Following the deposition of the crown prince, Kangxi implemented groundbreaking changes in the political landscape. The 13th prince, Yinxiang, was placed under house arrest as well for cooperating with Yinreng. The eighth prince Yinsi was stripped of all his titles and only had them restored years later. The 14th prince Yinti, whom many considered to be the most likely candidate to succeed Kangxi, was sent on a military campaign during the political conflict. Yinsi, along with the ninth and tenth princes, Yintang and Yin'e, pledged their support to Yinti.

In the evening of 20 December 1722 before his death, Kangxi called seven of his sons to assemble at his bedside. They were the third, fourth, eight, ninth, tenth, 16th and 17th princes. After Kangxi died, Longkodo announced that Kangxi had selected the fourth prince, Yinzhen, as the new emperor. Prince Yinzhen ascended to the throne and became known as the Yongzheng Emperor. Kangxi was entombed at the Eastern Tombs in Zunhua, Hebei.

A legend concerning Kangxi's will states that he chose Yinti as his heir, but Yinzhen forged the will in his own favour. It has, however, long been refuted by serious historians. Yinzhen, later the Yongzheng Emperor, has attracted many rumours, and some novel-like private books claim he did not die of illness but was assassinated by a swordswoman, Lü Siniang (吕四娘), the granddaughter of Lü Liuliang, though this is never treated seriously by scholars.[22]

Personality and achievements

Kangxi was the great consolidator of the Qing dynasty. The transition from the Ming dynasty to the Qing was a cataclysm whose central event was the fall of the capital Beijing to the peasant rebels led by Li Zicheng, then to the Manchus in 1644, and the installation of the five-year-old Shunzhi Emperor on their throne. By 1661, when Shunzhi died and was succeeded by Kangxi, the Qing conquest of China proper was almost complete. Leading Manchus were already using Chinese institutions and mastering Confucian ideology, while maintaining Manchu culture among themselves. Kangxi completed the conquest, suppressed all significant military threats and revived the central government system inherited from the Ming with important modifications.

Kangxi was a workaholic, rising early and retiring late, reading and responding to numerous memorials every day, conferring with his councilors and giving audiences – and this was in normal times; in wartime, he might be reading memorials from the warfront until after midnight or even, as with the Dzungar conflict, away on campaign in person.[23]

Kangxi devised a system of communication that circumvented the scholar-bureaucrats, who had a tendency to usurp the power of the emperor. This Palace Memorial System involved the transfer of secret messages between him and trusted officials in the provinces, where the messages were contained in locked boxes that only he and the official had access to. This started as a system for receiving uncensored extreme-weather reports, which the emperor regarded as divine comments on his rule. However, it soon evolved into a general-purpose secret "news channel." Out of this emerged a Grand Council, which dealt with extraordinary, especially military, events. The council was chaired by the emperor and manned by his more elevated Han Chinese and Manchu household staff. From this council, the mandarin civil servants were excluded – they were left only with routine administration.[24]

Kangxi managed to woo the Confucian intelligentsia into co-operating with the Qing government, despite their deep reservations about Manchu rule and loyalty to the Ming. He appealed to this very sense of Confucian values, for instance, by issuing the Sacred Edict in 1670. He encouraged Confucian learning and made sure that the civil service examinations were held every three years even during times of stress. When some scholars, out of loyalty to the Ming, refused to take the exams, he hit upon the expedient of a special exam to be taken by nomination. He personally sponsored the writing of the Ming Official History, the Kangxi Dictionary, a phrase-dictionary, a vast encyclopedia and an even vaster compilation of Chinese literature. To promote his image as a "sage ruler," he appointed Manchu and Chinese tutors with whom he studied the Confucian classics and worked intensively on Chinese calligraphy.[25]

In the one military campaign in which he actively participated, against the Dzungar Mongols, Kangxi showed himself an effective military commander. According to Finer, Kangxi's own written reflections allow one to experience "how intimate and caring was his communion with the rank-and-file, how discriminating and yet masterful his relationship with his generals".[26]

As a result of the scaling down of hostilities as peace returned to China after the Manchu conquest, and also as a result of the ensuing rapid increase of population, land cultivation and therefore tax revenues based on agriculture, Kangxi was able first to make tax remissions, then in 1712 to freeze the land tax and corvée altogether, without embarrassing the state treasury (although the dynasty eventually suffered from this fiscal policy).[27]


  • Father: Shunzhi Emperor
  • Mother: Empress Xiaokangzhang (1640–1663). Her family was of Jurchen origin but had lived among the Han Chinese for generations and assimilated with them into Ming society and culture. It adopted a Han Chinese family name, Tong (), but converted to the Manchu clan name Tongiya later. She was instated as the Empress Dowager Cihe (慈和皇太后) in 1661 when Kangxi became emperor. She is known posthumously as Empress Xiaokangzhang (Chinese: 孝康章皇后; Manchu: Hiyoošungga Nesuken Eldembuhe Hūwanghu).


The total number is approximately 64.

  1. Empress Xiaochengren (died 1674) from the Hešeri clan – married in 1665.
  2. Empress Xiaozhaoren (Manchu: Hiyoošungga Genggiyen Gosin Hūwanghu) from the Niohuru clan.
  3. Empress Xiaoyiren (Manchu: Hiyoošungga Fujurangga Gosin Hūwanghu) from the Tunggiya clan.
  4. Empress Xiaogongren (Manchu: Hiyoošungga Gungnecuke Gosin Hūwanghu) from the Wuya clan.
  5. Imperial Noble Consort Que Hui (1668–1743) from the Tunggiya clan, Empress Xiaoyiren's younger sister.
  6. Imperial Noble Consort Dun Yi (1683–1768) from the Guwalgiya clan
  7. Imperial Noble Consort Jing Min (died 1699) from the Janggiya clan
  8. Noble Consort Wen Xi (died 1695) from the Niuhuru clan, Empress Xiaozhaoren's younger sister.
  9. Consort Shun Yi Mi (1668–1744) from the Wang clan was Han Bannerman in origin.
  10. Consort Chun Yu Qin (died 1754) from the Han Bannerman Chen clan.
  11. Consort Rong (died 1727) from the Magiya clan.
  12. Consort Yi (died 1733) from the Gobulo clan.
  13. Consort Hui (died 1732) from the Nala clan.
  14. Consort Liang (died 1711) from the Wei clan.
  15. Consort Cheng (died 1740) from the Daigiya clan.
  16. Consort Xuan (died 1736) from the Mongol Borjigit clan.
  17. Consort Ding (1661–1757) from the Wanliuha clan.
  18. Consort Ping (died 1696) from the Hešeri clan, Empress Xiaochengren's younger sister.
  19. Consort Hui (died 1670) from the Borjigit clan.


Having the longest reign in Chinese history, Kangxi also has the most children of all Qing emperors. He had officially 24 sons and 12 daughters. The actual number is higher, as most of his children died from illness.

#1 Name2 Born Died Mother Notes
5 November 1667 10 July 1670 Consort Rong Died young
4 January 1670 3 March 1672 Empress Xiaochengren Died young
21 March 1670 26 May 1671 Consort Hui Died young
24 January 1672 6 March 1674 Consort Rong Died young
1 Yinzhi
12 March 1672 7 January 1735 Consort Hui Created Prince Zhi of the Second Rank (直郡王) in 1698;
Stripped of his title in 1708;
Buried with honors due a Beizi
11 May 1674 12 May 1674 Consort Rong Died young
2 Yinreng
6 June 1674 27 January 1725 Empress Xiaochengren Original name Baocheng (保成);
Created Crown Prince in 1675;
Stripped of his position in 1708;
Re-created Crown Prince in 1709;
Stripped of his position in 1712;
Posthumously created Prince Li of the First Rank, posthumous name Mi (密)
12 August 1675 27 April 1677 Consort Rong Died young
4 December 1675 11 March 1679 Imperial Concubine Tong Died young
3 Yinzhi
23 March 1677 10 July 1732 Consort Rong Created Prince Cheng of the Second Rank (誠郡王) in 1698; demoted to a beile in 1699; promoted to Prince Cheng of the first Rank(進親王) in 1709 ; demoted to Prince Cheng of the Second Rank in 1728; promoted to Prince Cheng of the first Rank in 1728; demoted to Prince Cheng of the Second Rank in 1730 ;
Granted the posthumous name Yin (隱)
4 Yinzhen
13 December 1678 8 October 1735 Empress Xiaogongren Created a beile in 1698 ; promoted to Prince Yong of the First Rank (雍親王) in 1709;
Ascended the throne as the Yongzheng Emperor on 27 December 1722
10 April 1679 30 April 1680 Imperial Concubine Tong Died young
5 Yinqi
5 January 1680 10 July 1732 Consort Yi Created a beile in 1698 ; promoted to Prince Heng of the First Rank (恆親王) in 1698;
Granted the posthumous name Wen (溫)
6 Yinzuo
5 March 1680 15 June 1685 Empress Xiaogongren Died young
7 Yinyou
19 August 1680 18 May 1730 Consort Cheng Created a Beile in 1698;
Elevated to Prince Chun of the Second Rank (淳郡王) in 1709;
Elevated further to Prince Chun of the First Rank (淳親王) in May 1723;
Granted the posthumous name Du (度)
8 Yinsi
29 March 1681 5 October 1726 Consort Liang Created a beile in 1698; promoted to Prince Lian of the First Rank (廉親王) in 1723;
Stripped of his title and expelled from the imperial house in 1726;
Forced to rename himself Akina (阿其那) ("pig")
Posthumously restored in 1778
13 September 1683 17 July 1684 Honored Lady Gorolo Died young
9 Yintang
17 October 1683 22 September 1726 Consort Yi Created a Beizi in 1709;
Stripped of his title and expelled from the imperial house in 1725;
Forced to rename himself Sesihei (塞思黑) ("dog")
Posthumously restored in 1778
10 Yin’e
28 November 1683 18 October 1741 Noble Consort Wen Xi Created Prince Dun of the Second Rank (敦郡王) in 1709;
Stripped of his title in 1724;
Granted the title “Duke Who Assists the State" (輔國公) in 1737

Buried with honors due a beizi

11 Yinzi
8 June 1685 22 August 1696 Consort Yi Died young
12 Yintao
18 January 1686 2 September 1763 Consort Ding Created a beizi in 1709; promoted to Prince Lu of second Rank in 1722; demoted to a beizi in 1724; promoted to Prince Lu of second Rank in 1730 ; promoted to Prince Lü of the First Rank (履親王) in 1735 ;
Granted the posthumous name Yi (懿)
13 Yinxiang
16 November 1686 18 June 1730 Imperial Noble Consort Jing Min Created a beizi in 1709 ; stripped of his title in 1712 ; created Prince Yi of the First Rank (怡親王) in 1722;
Granted the posthumous name Xian (賢)
Was one of the Qing dynasty’s 12 iron-cap princes
14 Yinti
16 January 1688 13 January 1756 Empress Xiaogongren Born Yinzhen (胤禎);
Creted a beizi in 1709; promoted to Prince Xun of the Second Rank (恂郡王) in 1723; demoted to a Duke Who Receives Grace and Guards the Nation and later promoted a beizi in 1725;Stripped of his title in 1726; created a Duke Who Receives Grace and Guards the Nation in 1737; promoted to a beile in 1747; promoted to Prince Xun of the Second Rank in 1748
Granted the posthumous name Qin (勤)
23 February 1691 30 March 1691 Consort Ping Died young
15 Yinwu
24 December 1693 8 March 1731 Consort Shun Yi Mi Created a beile in 1726, promoted to Prince Yu of the Second Rank (愉郡王) in 1730;
Granted the posthumous name Ke (恪)
16 Yinlu
28 July 1695 20 March 1767 Consort Shun Yi Mi Adopted by Boguoduo, Prince Zhuang;
Inherited the title Prince Zhuang of the First Rank (莊親王) in 1723;
Granted the posthumous name Ke (恪)
17 Yinli
24 March 1697 21 March 1738 Consort Chun Yu Qin Created Prince Guo of the Second Rank (果郡王) in 1723; promoted to Prince Guo of first Rank in 1728;
Granted the posthumous name Yi (毅)
18 Yinxie
15 May 1701 17 October 1708 Consort Shun Yi Mi Died at the Chengde Mountain Resort from the mumps
19 Yinji
25 October 1702 28 March 1704 Imperial Concubine Xiang Died young
20 Yinyi
1 September 1706 30 June 1755 Imperial Concubine Xiang Created a Beile (貝勒) in 1726
Granted the posthumous name Jianjing (簡靖)
21 Yinxi
27 February 1711 26 June 1758 Imperial Concubine Xi Created a beizi in 1730, promoted to a beile in 1730, promoted to Prince Shen of the Second Rank (慎郡王) in December 1735
Granted the posthumous name Jing (靖)
22 Yinhu
10 January 1712 12 February 1744 Imperial Concubine Jin Created a Beile in 1730;
Granted the posthumous name Gongqin (恭勤)
23 Yinqi
14 January 1714 31 August 1785 Imperial Concubine Jing Created a Beile in 1730;
Granted the posthumous name Cheng (誠)
24 Yinmi
5 July 1716 3 December 1773 Imperial Concubine Mu Created Prince Xian of the First Rank (諴親王) in 1733;
Granted the posthumous name Ke (恪)
2 March 1718 2/3 March 1718 Honored Lady Chen Died soon after birth
  • Notes: (1) The order by which the princes were referred to and recorded on official documents were dictated by the number they were assigned by the order of birth. This order was unofficial until 1677, when Kangxi decreed that all of his male descendants must adhere to a "generation code" as their middle character (see Chinese name). As a result of the new system, the former order was abolished, with Yinzhi, Prince Zhi becoming the First Prince, thus the current numerical order. (2) All of Kangxi's sons changed their names upon Yongzheng's accession in 1722 by modifying the first character from "胤" (yin) to "允" (yun) to avoid the nominal taboo of the emperor. Yinxiang was posthumously allowed to change his name back to Yinxiang. Yongzheng forced his two brothers to rename themselves, but his successor restored their names. There have been many studies on their meanings.[28][29]


# Title Born Died Married Spouse Issue Mother
1 unnamed 23 December 1668 November 1671 Ordinary Consort Zhang
2 unnamed 17 April 1671 8 January 1674 Ordinary Consort Dong
3 State Princess Rongxian
20 June 1673 29 May 1728 July 1691 Borjigit Urgun, Prince of Baarin
Consort Rong
4 unnamed 16 March 1674 1678 Ordinary Consort Zhang
5 Princess Duanjing of the Second Rank
9 June 1674 April 1710 November or December 1692 Ulanghan Garzang
Honored Lady Bu
6 State Princess Kejing
4 July 1679 1735 1697 Borjigit Dunduobudorji, Prince of the Khalkha Mongols Honored Lady Gorolo
7 unnamed 5 July 1682 September 1682 Empress Xiaogongren
8 unnamed 13 July 1683 late July or August 1683 Empress Xiaoyiren
9 State Princess Wenxian
10 November 1683 August or September 1702 October or November 1700 Tunggiya Shun’anyan
Empress Xiaogongren
10 State Princess Chunque
20 March 1685 1710 1706 Borjigit Celeng
Borjigit Chenggunzhabu
Imperial Concubine Tong
11 unnamed 24 October 1685 June or July 1686 Noble Consort Wen Xi
12 unnamed 14 June 1686 late February or March 1697 Empress Xiaogongren
13 Princess Wenke of the Second Rank
1 January 1688 July or August 1709 1706 Borjigit Cangjin
Imperial Noble Consort Jing Min
14 Princess Quejing of the Second Rank
16 January 1690 1736 1706 Sun Chengyun, Baron of the First Rank
Honored Lady Yuan
15 Princess Dunke of the Second Rank
3 February 1691 January 1710 January or February 1709 ‘’Taiji’’ Borjigit Dorji
Imperial Noble Consort Jing Min
16 unnamed 27 November 1695 October or November 1707 Ordinary Consort Wang
17 unnamed 12 January 1699 December 1700 Ordinary Consort Liu
18 unnamed 17 November 1701 Imperial Noble Consort Dun Yi
19 unnamed 30 March 1703 late February or March 1705 Imperial Concubine Xiang
20 unnamed 20 November 1708 January or early February 1709 Ordinary Consort Niuhuru

Popular culture


  • Kangxi Dadi (康熙大帝; literally: The Great Kangxi Emperor): a historical fiction novel by Er Yuehe, featuring a romanticized version of Kangxi's biography
  • The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎記): a wuxia novel by Louis Cha. In the story, by coincidence, Kangxi and the protagonist, Wei Xiaobao, become close friends since childhood. Wei helps the emperor consolidate power and strengthen his rule over the empire, playing an important role in affecting how the historical events during Kangxi's reign unfold.
  • Qijian Xia Tianshan (七劍下天山; literally: Seven Swords Descend from Mount Heaven): a wuxia novel by Liang Yusheng. In the story, Kangxi discovers that his father, the Shunzhi Emperor, has become a monk in a monastery on Mount Wutai. He orders a close aide to kill his father in order to consolidate power, and attempts to erase evidence of the murder later.

Film and television

  • The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎记): a 1984 TVB series adaption of Louis Cha's novel. Andy Lau starred as Kangxi.
  • The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎记): a 1998 TVB series adaption of Louis Cha's novel. Steven Ma starred as Kangxi.
  • Kangxi Dynasty (康熙王朝): a 2001 television series adaption of the above-mentioned novel by Er Yuehe. Chen Daoming starred as Kangxi.
  • Secret History of Kangxi (康熙秘史): fourth installment in a series of four television dramas about the early history of the Qing dynasty. Xia Yu starred as Kangxi.
  • Records of Kangxi's Travel Incognito (康熙微服私访记): a long-running television drama about Kangxi's inspection tours. During some of his tours, Kangxi dressed like an ordinary civilian to conceal his identity so that he can blend in with the commoners and understand their daily lives better. Zhang Guoli starred as Kangxi.
  • The Life and Times of a Sentinel (紫禁惊雷): TVB series about Kangxi's brother's attempt to overthrow him.
  • The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎记): a 2008 mainland China television series adaption of Louis Cha's novel. Wallace Chung starred as Kangxi.
  • Palace (宫): a 2011 television drama set during Kangxi's rule. A girl from the 21st century accidentally travels through time and ends up in the 18th century, in the Forbidden City, shortly before Kangxi strips the crown prince Yinreng of his position.
  • Scarlet Heart (步步惊心): another 2011 television drama set during Kangxi's rule. A girl from the 21st century accidentally travels through time and ends up in the 18th century, in the Forbidden City, way before Kangxi strips the crown prince Yinreng of his position. Damian Lau starred as Kangxi.
  • The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎记): a 2014 mainland China television series adaption of Louis Cha's novel. Wei Qianxiang starred as Kangxi.

Video games


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  1. Schirokauer, Conrad (2006). A Brief History of Chinese Civilization, Thompson Wadswoth, pp. 234–235
  2. He can be viewed as the fourth emperor of the dynasty, depending on whether the dynasty's founder, Nurhaci, who used the title of Khan but was posthumously given imperial title, is to be treated as an emperor or not
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  5. China's Last Empire: The Great Qing, by William T. Rowe, p63
  6. Note that Xuanye was born in May 1654, and was therefore less than seven years old at the time. Both Spence 2002 and Oxnam 1975 (p. 1) nonetheless claim that he was "seven years old." Dennerline 2002 (p. 119) and Rawski 1998 (p. 99) indicate that he was "not yet seven years old." Following East Asian age reckoning, Chinese documents concerning the succession say that Xuanye was eight sui (Oxnam 1975, p. 62).
  7. Giles 1912, p. 40.
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  9. Manthorpe 2008, p. 108.
  10. SarDesai, D. R. (1988). Vietnam, Trials and Tribulations of a Nation, p. 38
  11. Gorelova 2002, p. 36.
  12. Cordier & Pelliot 1922, p. 33.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Mantienne, p. 180
  14. 'Les Missions Etrangeres, p. 83
  15. Manteigne, p. 178
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  17. Neill, S. (1964). A History of Christian Missions, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, pp. 189-l90
  18. Aldridge, Alfred Owen, Masayuki Akiyama, Yiu-Nam Leung. Crosscurrents in the Literatures of Asia and the West, p. 54 [1]
  19. Li, Dan J., trans. (1969). China in Transition, 1517–1911, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, p. 22
  20. original words:不法祖德,不遵朕训,惟肆恶虐众,暴戾淫乱
  21. 明孝陵两大“碑石之谜”被破解 (Solving the two great riddles of the Ming Xiaoling's stone tablets). People's Daily, 13 June 2003. Quote regarding the Kangxi's stele text and its meaning: "清朝皇帝躬祀明朝皇帝 ... 禦書“治隆唐宋”(意思是讚揚朱元璋的功績超過了唐太宗李世民、宋高祖趙匡胤)"
  22. 吕四娘刺雍正 只是个传说
  23. Finer (1997), pp. 1134–5
  24. Spence, The Search for Modern China (2013), pp. 67-68
  25. Spence, The Search for Modern China (2013), pp. 56-58
  26. Finer (1997), p. 1142
  27. Finer (1997), pp. 1156–7
  28. 章曉文、陳捷先 (2001). 雍正寫真. 遠流出版公司
  29. 史松 (2009). 雍正研究/满族清代历史文化研究文库. 辽宁民族出版社

Bibliography and further reading

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  • Finer, S. E. (1997). The History of Government from the Earliest Times. ISBN 0-19-822904-6 (three-volume set, hardback)
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  • Ch. 3, "Kangxi's Consolidation," in Jonathan D. Spence, The Search for Modern China (New York: Norton; 3rd, 2013), pp. 48–71.
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Kangxi Emperor
Born: 4 May 1654 Died: 20 December 1722
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of China
Succeeded by
The Yongzheng Emperor