Kangxi Emperor

For other uses, see Kangxi (disambiguation).
Kangxi Emperor
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
Jingren Palace, Forbidden City, Beijing
Died 20 December 1722(1722-12-20) (aged 68)
Yuanmingyuan Profile, Beijing
Burial Eastern Qing Tombs, Zunhua
Empress Empress Xiaochengren
Empress Xiaozhaoren
Empress Xiaoyiren
Empress Xiaogongren
among others...
Yinzhi, Prince Zhi
Gulun Princess Rongxian
Yinreng, Prince Li
Heshuo Princess Duanjing
Yinzhi, Prince Cheng
Yinzhen, Prince Yong
Gulun Princess Kejing
Yinqi, Prince Heng
Yinyou, Prince Chun
Yinsi, Prince Lian
Gulun Princess Wenxian
Yin'e, Prince Dun
Gulun Princess Chunque
Yintao, Prince Lü
Yinxiang, Prince Yi
Heshuo Princess Wenke
Yinti, Prince Xun
Heshuo Princess Quejing
Heshuo Princess Dunke
Yinxu, Prince Yu
Yinlu, Prince Zhuang
Yinli, Prince Guo
Yinxi, Prince Shen
Yinmi, Prince Xian
Full name
Chinese: Aixin-Jueluo Xuanye愛新覺羅玄燁
Manchu language: ᡥᡳᠣᠸᠠᠨ ᠶᡝᡳ ; Möllendorff transliteration: 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[ Listen ]
Temple name
Shengzu (聖祖)
House House of Aisin Gioro
Father Shunzhi Emperor
Mother Empress Xiaokangzhang
Kangxi Emperor

"Kangxi Emperor" in Chinese (top) and Manchu (bottom) characters
Chinese name
Chinese 康熙帝
Literal meaning Peace and tranquility
Mongolian name
Mongolian script ᠡᠩᠭᠡ ᠠᠮᠤᠭᠤᠯᠠᠩ
Manchu name
Manchu script ᡝᠯᡥᡝ
Möllendorff Elhe taifin hūwangdi

The Kangxi Emperor (4 May 1654  20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty,[1] the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Shanhai Pass near Beijing, and the second Qing emperor to rule over that part of China, from 1661 to 1722.

The Kangxi Emperor'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.[2] 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.

The Kangxi Emperor is considered one of China's greatest emperors.[3] He suppressed the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, forced the Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan and assorted Mongol rebels in the North and Northwest to submit to Qing rule, and blocked Tsarist Russia on the Amur River, retaining Outer Manchuria and Outer Northwest China.

The Kangxi Emperor'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",[4] which lasted for several generations after his death. His court also accomplished such literary feats as the compilation of the Kangxi Dictionary.

Early reign

Portrait of the young Kangxi Emperor in court dress

Born on 4 May 1654 to the Shunzhi Emperor and Empress Xiaokangzhang in Jingren Palace, the Forbidden City, Beijing, the Kangxi Emperor was originally given the personal name Xuanye (Chinese: 玄燁 ; Möllendorff transliteration: hiowan yei). He was enthroned at the age of seven (or eight by East Asian age reckoning), on 7 February 1661.[5] His era name "Kangxi", however, only started to be used on 18 February 1662, the first day of the following lunar year.

Sinologist Herbert Giles, drawing on contemporary sources, described the Kangxi Emperor 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."[6]

Before the Kangxi Emperor 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. The Kangxi Emperor 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 that evacuated the entire population from the seacoast to counter a resistance movement started by Ming loyalists under the leadership of Taiwan-based Ming general Zheng Chenggong, also titled Koxinga.

In 1669, the Kangxi Emperor had Oboi arrested with the help of his grandmother Grand Dowager Empress Xiaozhuang, who had raised him.[7] 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.[7]

Military achievements


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 the Kangxi Emperor. 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.

The main reason for this decline was a change in system between the Kangxi and Qianlong emperors' reigns. The Kangxi Emperor 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.

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

By the Qianlong Emperor'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.

Revolt of the Three Feudatories

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. The Kangxi Emperor 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. The Kangxi Emperor 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.[8] 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, the Kangxi Emperor'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.[9]


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, 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, the Kangxi Emperor 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.[10]


In 1701, the Kangxi Emperor ordered the reconquest of Kangding 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, the Kangxi Emperor appointed Lha-bzang Khan Regent of Tibet (翊法恭顺汗; Yìfǎ gōngshùn Hán; "Buddhism Respecting, Deferential Khan").[11] 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 the Kangxi Emperor sent a larger expedition force there to defeat the Dzungars.

Chinese nobility

The Kangxi Emperor granted the title of Wujing Boshi (五经博士; 五經博士; Wǔjīng Bóshì) to the descendants of Shao Yong, Zhu Xi, Zhuansun Shi, Ran family (Ran Qiu, Ran Geng, Ran Yong), Bu Shang, Yan Yan (disciple of Confucius), and the Duke of Zhou's offspring.[12][13]

Economic achievements

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

The contents of the national treasury during the Kangxi Emperor's reign were:

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

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

Cultural achievements

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

During his reign, the Kangxi Emperor ordered the compilation of a dictionary of Chinese characters, which became known as the Kangxi Dictionary. This was seen as an attempt by the emperor 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, the Kangxi Emperor led them to gradually taking on greater responsibilities until they were assuming the duties of state officials.

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

The Kangxi Emperor also was interested in Western technology and wanted to import them to China. This was done through Jesuit missionaries, such as Ferdinand Verbiest, whom the Kangxi Emperor frequently summoned for meetings, or Karel Slavíček, who made the first precise map of Beijing on the emperor'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 Istituto Orientale and the present day Naples Eastern University.

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


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

In the early decades of the Kangxi Emperor'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. The Kangxi Emperor was grateful to the Jesuits for their contributions, the many languages they could interpret, and the innovations they offered his military in gun manufacturing[14] and artillery, the latter of which enabled the Qing Empire to conquer the Kingdom of Tungning.[15]

The Kangxi Emperor was also fond of the Jesuits' respectful and unobtrusive manner; they spoke the Chinese language well, and wore the silk robes of the elite.[16] In 1692, when Fr. Thomas Pereira requested tolerance for Christianity, the Kangxi Emperor was willing to oblige, and issued the Edict of Toleration,[17] which recognized Catholicism, barred attacks on their churches, and legalized their missions and the practice of Christianity by the Chinese people.[18]

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 the Kangxi Emperor, to communicate the ban on Chinese rites.[14][19] On 19 March 1715, Pope Clement XI issued the papal bull Ex illa die, which officially condemned Chinese rites.[14]

In response, the Kangxi Emperor officially forbade Christian missions in China, as they were "causing trouble".[20]

Succession disputes

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

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

The Kangxi Emperor'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 the Kangxi Emperor 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 the Kangxi Emperor 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, the Kangxi Emperor kept constant watch over Yinreng and became aware of his son's many flaws, while their relationship gradually deteriorated. In 1707, the emperor 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",[21] and decided to strip Yinreng of his position as crown prince. The Kangxi Emperor 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. The Kangxi Emperor was enraged and stripped Yinzhi of his titles. The emperor then 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 the Kangxi Emperor 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.[22]

In 1712, during the Kangxi Emperor'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 the Kangxi Emperor to abdicate when his father returned to Beijing. However, the emperor 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, the emperor 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, the Kangxi Emperor 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 the Kangxi Emperor, 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, the Kangxi Emperor called seven of his sons to assemble at his bedside. They were the third, fourth, eight, ninth, tenth, 16th and 17th princes. After the Kangxi Emperor died, Longkodo announced that the emperor had selected the fourth prince, Yinzhen, as the new emperor. Yinzhen ascended to the throne and became known as the Yongzheng Emperor. The Kangxi Emperor was entombed at the Eastern Tombs in Zunhua, Hebei.

A legend concerning the Kangxi Emperor'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.[23]

Personality and achievements

The Kangxi Emperor 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 the Shunzhi Emperor died and was succeeded by the Kangxi Emperor, 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. The Kangxi Emperor completed the conquest, suppressed all significant military threats and revived the central government system inherited from the Ming with important modifications.

The Kangxi Emperor 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.[24]

The Kangxi Emperor 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.[25]

The Kangxi Emperor 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.[26]

In the one military campaign in which he actively participated, against the Dzungar Mongols, the Kangxi Emperor showed himself an effective military commander. According to Finer, the emperor'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".[27]

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, the Kangxi Emperor 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).[28]



The Kangxi Emperor had an estimated 64 spouses in total. Note that not all of them are listed in the table below.

Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Empress Xiaochengren
Lady Hešeri
26 November 1653 16 June 1674 Gabula, a son of Sonin of the Hešeri clan Married the Kangxi Emperor in 1665 and became Empress in the same year
Empress Xiaozhaoren
Lady Niohuru
1653 18 March 1678 Ebilun of the Niohuru clan Became Empress on 18 September 1677
Empress Xiaoyiren
Lady Tunggiya
unknown 24 August 1689 Tong Guowei (佟國維) of the Tunggiya clan Promoted to Imperial Noble Consort in 1681;
Became Empress in 1689
Empress Xiaogongren
Lady Uya
1660 1723 Weiwu (威武) of the Uya clan Promoted to Imperial Concubine in 1679;
Promoted to Consort in 1682;
Became Empress Dowager Renshou (仁壽皇太后) in 1722
Imperial Noble Consorts
Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Imperial Noble Consort Quehui
Lady Tunggiya
1668 1743 Tong Guowei (佟國維) of the Tunggiya clan Empress Xiaoyiren's younger sister;
Promoted to Noble Consort in 1700;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Noble Consort (皇考皇貴妃) in 1724;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Shouqi (皇祖壽祺皇貴太妃) in 1736
Imperial Noble Consort Dunyi
Lady Gūwalgiya
1683 1768 Yuman (裕滿) of the Gūwalgiya clan Known as Imperial Concubine He (和嬪) and later as Consort He (和妃) during the Kangxi era;
Promoted to Dowager Noble Consort (皇考貴妃) during the Yongzheng era;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Noble Consort Wenhui (皇祖溫惠貴太妃) and later to Grand Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Wenhui (皇祖溫惠皇貴太妃) during the Qianlong era
Imperial Noble Consort Jingmin
Lady Janggiya
unknown 1699 Haikuan (海寬) of the Janggiya clan
Noble Consorts
Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Noble Consort Wenxi
Lady Niohuru
unknown 1694 Ebilun of the Niohuru clan Empress Xiaozhaoren's younger sister
Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Consort Shunyimi
Lady Wang
unknown 1744 Wang Guozheng (王國正), the prefect of Suzhou Promoted to Imperial Concubine Mi (密嬪) in 1718;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Mi (皇考密妃) during the Yongzheng era;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Consort Shunyimi (皇祖順懿密太妃) during the Qianlong era
Consort Chunyuqin
Lady Chen
unknown 1753 Chen Ximin (陳希敏), a second-class imperial guard Promoted to Imperial Concubine Qin (勤嬪) in 1718;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Qin (皇考勤妃) during the Yongzheng era;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Consort Chunyuqin (皇祖純裕勤太妃) during the Qianlong era
Consort Hui
Lady Nara
unknown 1732 Suo'erhe (索爾和) of the Nara clan Promoted to Imperial Concubine (惠嬪) in 1677;
Promoted to Consort Hui in 1681
Consort Yi
Lady Gorolo
unknown 1733 Sanguanbao (三官保) of the Gorolo clan Promoted to Imperial Concubine Yi (宜嬪) in 1677;
Promoted to Consort Yi in 1681
Consort Rong
Lady Magiya
unknown 1727 Gaishan (蓋山) of the Magiya clan Promoted to Imperial Concubine Rong in 1677;
Promoted to Consort Rong in 1681;
Bore the most children among the Kangxi Emperor's consorts
Consort Ding
Lady Wanliuha
1661 24 May 1757 Tuo'erbi (拖爾弼) of the Wanliuhua clan Promoted to Imperial Concubine Ding (定嬪) in 1718;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Ding (皇考定妃) during the Yongzheng era
Consort Xuan
Lady Borjigit
unknown 12 September 1736 Heta (和塔), a Khorchin Mongol prince from the Borjigit clan Niece of the Shunzhi Emperor's Consort Dao (悼妃);
Promoted to Consort Xuan in 1718
Consort Cheng
Lady Daigiya
unknown unknown Zhuoqi (卓奇) of the Daigiya clan Promoted to Consort Cheng in 1718
Consort Liang
Lady Wei
unknown 29 December 1711 Abunai (阿布鼐), a Chahar Mongol prince who was executed
Consort Ping
Lady Hešeri
unknown 1696 Gabula, a son of Sonin of the Hešeri clan Empress Xiaochengren's younger sister
Consort Hui
Lady Borjigit
unknown 1670 Ayuxi (阿郁錫), a third class taiji from the Khorchin Mongol Borjigit clan Distant niece of the Kangxi Emperor's grandmother, Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang
Imperial Concubines
Title / Posthumous title Name Born Died Father Notes
Imperial Concubine An
Lady Li
unknown unknown Gang'atai (剛阿泰), a son of Li Yongfang Promoted to Imperial Concubine in 1677
Imperial Concubine Jing
Lady Janggiya
unknown unknown Huashan (華善), a military officer Promoted to Imperial Concubine in 1677
Imperial Concubine Duan
Lady Dong
unknown unknown Dong Daqi (董達齊) Promoted to Imperial Concubine in 1677
Imperial Concubine Xi
Lady Hešeri
unknown 1702 Laishan (賚山) of the Hešeri clan Promoted to Imperial Concubine in 1677
Imperial Concubine Tong
Lady Nara
unknown 1744 Changsudai (常素代) of the Nara clan Held the rank of Noble Lady during the Kangxi era;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Tong (皇考通嬪) in 1724 during the Yongzheng era
Imperial Concubine Xiang
Lady Gao
unknown 1746 Gao Tingxiu (高廷秀) Held the rank of Ordinary Consort during the Kangxi era;
Promoted to Dowager Noble Lady (皇考貴人) in 1722 by the Yongzheng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Imperial Concubine Xiang (皇祖襄嬪) in 1736 by the Qianlong Emperor
Imperial Concubine Jin
Lady Sehetu
unknown 1739 Dorji (多爾濟) of the Sehetu clan Promoted to Dowager Noble Lady (皇考貴人) in 1722 by the Yongzheng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Imperial Concubine Jin (皇祖謹嬪) in 1736 by the Qianlong Emperor
Imperial Concubine Jing
Lady Shi
unknown 1758 Shi Huaiyu (石懷玉) Held the rank of an Ordinary Consort during the Kangxi era;
Promoted to Dowager Noble Lady (皇考貴人) in 1722 by the Yongzheng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Imperial Concubine Jing (皇祖靜嬪) in 1736 by the Qianlong Emperor
Imperial Concubine Xi
Lady Chen
unknown 1737 Chen Yuqing (陳玉卿) Promoted to Dowager Noble Lady (皇考貴人) in 1722 by the Yongzheng Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Imperial Concubine Xi (皇祖熙嬪) in 1736 by the Qianlong Emperor
Imperial Concubine Mu
Lady Chen
unknown 1727 Chen Qishan (陳岐山) Promoted to Dowager Noble Lady (皇考貴人) in 1722 by the Yongzheng Emperor;
Posthumously honoured as Grand Dowager Imperial Concubine Mu (皇祖穆嬪) in 1736 by the Qianlong Emperor
Noble Ladies
Title Name Born Died Father Notes
Noble Lady
Lady Gorolo
unknown unknown Sanguanbao (三官保) of the Gorolo clan Consort Yi's younger sister
Lady Zhaogiya
unknown 1717 Saikesaihe (塞克塞赫), a military officer
Lady Yuan
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Yi
unknown 1728 unknown
Lady Chen
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Nara
unknown unknown Nadanzhu (那丹珠) of the Nara clan
Lady Nara
unknown unknown Zhaoge (昭格), a cavalry colonel
Lady Xin
unknown 1716 unknown
Lady Ma
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Yin
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Le
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Wen
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Lan
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Chang
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Su
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Xian
unknown unknown unknown
Ordinary Consorts
Title Name Born Died Father Notes
Ordinary Consort
Lady Niohuru
unknown unknown Jinbao (晉寶) of the Niohuru clan
Lady Zhang
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Wang
unknown unknown unknown
Lady Liu
unknown unknown unknown
First Class Female Attendants (Changzai) and Second Class Female Attendants (Daying)
Name / Title Born Died Father Notes
Changzai Yin
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Se
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Lu
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Shou
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Chang
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Rui
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Gui
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Xu
unknown 1702 unknown
Changzai Shi
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Niu
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Zha
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Yao
unknown unknown unknown
Changzai Nei
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Ling
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Chun
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Xiao
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Qing
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Xiu
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Zhi
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Miao
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Niu
unknown 1702 unknown
Daying Shuang
unknown unknown unknown
Daying Cai
unknown unknown unknown


Having the longest reign in Chinese history, the Kangxi Emperor also had 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 Title / Posthumous title 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 Enfeoffed as Prince Zhi of the Second Rank (直郡王) in 1698;
Stripped of his title in 1708;
Buried with honours befitting a beizi
11 May 1674 12 May 1674 Consort Rong Died young
2 Prince Limi of the First Rank
6 June 1674 27 January 1725 Empress Xiaochengren Original name Baocheng (保成);
Designated as Crown Prince in 1675 and deposed in 1708;
Re-designated as Crown Prince in 1709 but deposed again in 1712
12 August 1675 27 April 1677 Consort Rong Died young
4 December 1675 11 March 1679 Imperial Concubine Tong Died young
3 Prince Chengyin of the Second Rank
23 March 1677 10 July 1732 Consort Rong Made a junwang in 1698;
Demoted to beile in 1699;
Promoted to qinwang in 1709;
Demoted to junwang again in 1728;
Promoted to qinwang again in 1728
4 Yongzheng Emperor
13 December 1678 8 October 1735 Empress Xiaogongren Made a beile in 1698;
Promoted to Prince Yong of the First Rank (雍親王) in 1709;
Enthroned on 27 December 1722
10 April 1679 30 April 1680 Imperial Concubine Tong Died young
5 Prince Hengwen of the First Rank
5 January 1680 10 July 1732 Consort Yi Made a beile in 1698;
Promoted to qinwang in 1698
6 Yinzuo
5 March 1680 15 June 1685 Empress Xiaogongren Died young
7 Prince Chundu of the First Rank
19 August 1680 18 May 1730 Consort Cheng Made a beile in 1698;
Promoted to junwang in 1709;
Promoted to qinwang in May 1723
8 Yinsi
29 March 1681 5 October 1726 Consort Liang Made 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 Aisin Gioro clan in 1726;
Forced to rename himself Akina (阿其那);
Posthumously rehabilitated and restored to the Aisin Gioro clan in 1778
13 September 1683 17 July 1684 Noble Lady Gorolo Died young
9 Yintang
17 October 1683 22 September 1726 Consort Yi Made a beizi in 1709;
Stripped of his title and expelled from the Aisin Gioro clan in 1725;
Forced to rename himself Sesihei (塞思黑);
Posthumously rehabilitated and restored to the Aisin Gioro clan in 1778
10 Yin'e
28 November 1683 18 October 1741 Noble Consort Wenxi Made Prince Dun of the Second Rank (敦郡王) in 1709;
Stripped of his title in 1724;
Made a fuguo gong in 1737;
Buried with honours befitting a beizi
11 Yinzi
8 June 1685 22 August 1696 Consort Yi Died young
12 Prince Lüyi of the First Rank
18 January 1686 2 September 1763 Consort Ding Made a beizi in 1709;
Promoted to junwang in 1722;
Demoted to beizi in 1724;
Promoted to junwang in 1730;
Promoted to qinwang in 1735
13 Prince Yixian of the First Rank
16 November 1686 18 June 1730 Imperial Noble Consort Jingmin Made a beizi in 1709;
Stripped of his title in 1712;
Made a qinwang in 1722
14 Prince Xunqin of the Second Rank
16 January 1688 13 January 1756 Empress Xiaogongren Born Yinzhen (胤禎);
Made a beizi in 1709;
Promoted to junwang in 1723;
Demoted to feng'en zhenguo gong and later restored as a beizi in 1725;
Stripped of his title in 1726;
Restored as a feng'en zhenguo gong in 1737;
Promoted to beile in 1747;
Promoted to junwang in 1748
23 February 1691 30 March 1691 Consort Ping Died young
15 Prince Yuke of the Second Rank
24 December 1693 8 March 1731 Consort Shunyimi Made a beile in 1726;
Promoted to junwang in 1730
16 Prince Zhuangke of the First Rank
28 July 1695 20 March 1767 Consort Shunyimi Adopted by Boguoduo
Inherited the Prince Zhuang peerage in 1723
17 Prince Guoyi of the First Rank
24 March 1697 21 March 1738 Consort Chunyuqin Made a junwang in 1723;
Promoted to qinwang in 1728
18 Yinxie
15 May 1701 17 October 1708 Consort Shunyimi Died at the Chengde Mountain Resort from mumps
19 Yinji
25 October 1702 28 March 1704 Imperial Concubine Xiang Died young
20 Jianjing Beile
1 September 1706 30 June 1755 Imperial Concubine Xiang Made a beile in 1726
21 Prince Shenjing of the Second Rank
27 February 1711 26 June 1758 Imperial Concubine Xi Made a beizi in 1730;
Promoted to beile in 1730;
Promoted to junwang in December 1735
22 Gongqin Beile
10 January 1712 12 February 1744 Imperial Concubine Jin Made a beile in 1730
23 Cheng Beile
14 January 1714 31 August 1785 Imperial Concubine Jing Made a beile in 1730
24 Prince Xianke of the First Rank
5 July 1716 3 December 1773 Imperial Concubine Mu Made a qinwang in 1733
2 March 1718 2/3 March 1718 Noble Lady Chen Died in infancy


# Title / Posthumous title Born Died Mother Spouse Notes
1 unnamed 23 December 1668 November 1671 Ordinary Consort Zhang Died young
2 unnamed 17 April 1671 8 January 1674 Ordinary Consort Dong Died young
3 Gulun Princess Rongxian
20 June 1673 29 May 1728 Consort Rong Urgun (烏爾袞; d. 1721) of the Borjigit clan and Baarin Right Banner, married in July 1691
4 unnamed 16 March 1674 1678 Ordinary Consort Zhang Died young
5 Heshuo Princess Duanjing
9 June 1674 April 1710 Noble Lady Zhaogiya Garzang (噶爾臧; 1675–1722) of the Ulanghan clan (烏梁罕氏), married in November 1692
6 Gulun Princess Kejing
4 July 1679 1735 Noble Lady Gorolo Dunduobudorji (敦多布多爾濟; d. 1743) of the Borjigit clan, married in 1697
7 unnamed 5 July 1682 September 1682 Empress Xiaogongren Died in infancy
8 unnamed 13 July 1683 July or August 1683 Empress Xiaoyiren Died in infancy
9 Gulun Princess Wenxian
10 November 1683 August or September 1702 Empress Xiaogongren Shun'anyan (舜安顏; d. 1724) of the Tunggiya clan (佟佳氏), married in October or November 1700
10 Gulun Princess Chunque
20 March 1685 1710 Imperial Concubine Tong Celeng (策棱; 1672–1750) of the Borjigit clan, married in 1706 Bore Celeng a son, Chenggunzhabu (成袞扎布; d. 1771)
11 unnamed 24 October 1685 June or July 1686 Noble Consort Wenxi Died in infancy
12 unnamed 14 June 1686 late February or March 1697 Empress Xiaogongren Died young
13 Heshuo Princess Wenke
1 January 1688 July or August 1709 Imperial Noble Consort Jingmin Cangjin (倉津) of the Borjigit clan, married in 1706 Bore Cangjin two daughters
14 Heshuo Princess Quejing
16 January 1690 1736 Noble Lady Yuan Sun Chengyun (孫承運; d. 1719), married in 1706[31]
15 Heshuo Princess Dunke
3 February 1691 January 1710 Imperial Noble Consort Jingmin Dorji (多爾濟) of the Borjigit clan, married in January or February 1709
16 unnamed 27 November 1695 October or November 1707 Ordinary Consort Wang Died young
17 unnamed 12 January 1699 December 1700 Ordinary Consort Liu Died in infancy
18 unnamed 17 November 1701 unknown Imperial Noble Consort Dunyi Died young
19 unnamed 30 March 1703 late February or March 1705 Imperial Concubine Xiang Died young
20 unnamed 20 November 1708 January or early February 1709 Ordinary Consort Niohuru Died in infancy


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Video games


  1. 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
  2. "Emperor Kangxi - The Emperor Who Reigned for the Longest Period in Chinese History". Cultural China. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  3. Magill, editor, Larissa Juliet Taylor ; editor, first edition, Frank N. (2006). Great lives from history. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press. ISBN 978-1-58765-222-6.
  4. Rowe (2009), p. 63.
  5. 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).
  6. Giles 1912, p. 40.
  7. 1 2 Bennet Peterson. Notable Women of China. p. 328.
  8. Manthorpe 2008, p. 108.
  9. SarDesai, D. R. (1988). Vietnam, Trials and Tribulations of a Nation, p. 38
  10. Gorelova 2002, p. 36.
  11. Cordier & Pelliot 1922, p. 33.
  12. 不詳 (21 August 2015). 新清史. 朔雪寒. pp. –. GGKEY:ZFQWEX019E4.
  13. H.S. Brunnert; V.V. Hagelstrom (15 April 2013). Present Day Political Organization of China. Routledge. pp. 493–494. ISBN 978-1-135-79795-9.
  14. 1 2 3 Mantienne, p. 180
  15. 'Les Missions Etrangeres, p. 83
  16. Manteigne, p. 178
  17. "In the Light and Shadow of an Emperor: Tomás Pereira, S.J. (1645–1708), the Kangxi Emperor and the Jesuit Mission in China", An International Symposium in Commemoration of the 3rd Centenary of the death of Tomás Pereira, S.J., Lisbon, Portugal and Macau, China, 2008
  18. Neill, S. (1964). A History of Christian Missions, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, pp. 189-l90
  19. Aldridge, Alfred Owen, Masayuki Akiyama, Yiu-Nam Leung. Crosscurrents in the Literatures of Asia and the West, p. 54
  20. Li, Dan J., trans. (1969). China in Transition, 1517–1911, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, p. 22
  21. original words:不法祖德,不遵朕训,惟肆恶虐众,暴戾淫乱
  22. 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 Emperor'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)"
  23. 吕四娘刺雍正 只是个传说
  24. Finer (1997), pp. 1134–5
  25. Spence, The Search for Modern China (2013), pp. 67-68
  26. Spence, The Search for Modern China (2013), pp. 56-58
  27. Finer (1997), p. 1142
  28. Finer (1997), pp. 1156–7
  29. 章曉文、陳捷先 (2001). 雍正寫真. 遠流出版公司
  30. 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
  31. Rubie Sharon Watson (1991). Marriage and Inequality in Chinese Society. University of California Press. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-520-07124-7.

Bibliography and further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kangxi Emperor.
Kangxi Emperor
Born: 4 May 1654 Died: 20 December 1722
Regnal titles
Preceded by
The Shunzhi Emperor
Emperor of China
Succeeded by
The Yongzheng Emperor
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