Daoguang Emperor
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Daoguang Emperor
Daoguang Emperor
?  .jpg
Prince Zhi of the First Rank
Reign 1813-1820
8th Emperor of the Qing Dynasty
Reign 3 October 1820 - 26 February 1850
Predecessor Jiaqing Emperor
Successor Xianfeng Emperor
Born Aisin Gioro Mianning
(? )
(1782-09-16)16 September 1782
( )
Xiefang Hall, Forbidden City
Died 26 February 1850(1850-02-26) (aged 67)
( )
Jiuzhou Qingyan Hall, Old Summer Palace
Burial Mu Mausoleum, Western Qing tombs
Lady Niohuru
(m. 1796; d. 1808)

Lady Tunggiya
(m. 1809; d. 1833)

Lady Niohuru
(m. 1821; d. 1840)

Lady Uya (-1850)
Issue Princess Shou'an
Full name
Aisin Gioro Minning
(? )
Manchu: Min ning ( )
Era dates
(; 3 February 1821 - 31 January 1851)
Manchu: Doro eldengge (? ?)
Mongolian: (? ?)
Posthumous name
Emperor Xiaotian Fuyun Lizhong Tizheng Zhiwen Shengwu Zhiyong Renci Jianqin Xiaomin Kuanding Cheng
Manchuanggan h?wangdi (
Temple name
Manchu: Siowandzung ()
House Aisin Gioro
Father Yongyan
Mother Lady Hitara

The Daoguang Emperor (16 September 1782 - 26 February 1850) was the eighth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the sixth Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1820 to 1850. His reign was marked by "external disaster and internal rebellion," that is, by the First Opium War, and the beginning of the Taiping Rebellion which nearly brought down the dynasty. The historian Jonathan Spence characterizes the Daoguang Emperor as a "well meaning but ineffective man," who promoted officials who "presented a purist view even if they had nothing to say about the domestic and foreign problems surrounding the dynasty."[1]

Early years

The Daoguang Emperor was born in the Forbidden City, Beijing, in 1782, and was given the name Mianning (; ; Miánníng; Mien-ning). It was later changed to Minning (; ; M?nníng; Min-ning) when he became emperor: The first character of his private name was changed from Mian to Min to avoid the relatively common character Mian. This novelty was introduced by his grandfather, the reigning Qianlong Emperor, who thought it inappropriate to use a common character in the emperor's private name due to the longstanding practice of naming taboo.

Mianning was the second son of Prince Yongyan, the 15th son and heir of the Qianlong Emperor. Even though he was Yongyan's second son, he was first in line after Prince Yongyan to his grandfathers throne. This was because according to the dishu system, his mother, Lady Hitara, was Yongyan's primary spouse whereas his elder brother was born to Yongyan's concubine.Mianning was favoured by his grandfather, the Qianlong Emperor. He frequently accompanied his grandfather on hunting trips. On one such trip, at the age of nine, Mianning successfully hunted a deer, which greatly amused the Qianlong Emperor. The emperor would abdicate five years after that incident, in 1796, when Mianning was 14. Miannings father Prince Yongyan was then enthroned as the Jiaqing Emperor, after which he made Lady Hitara (Miannings Mother) his empress consort. The elderly Qianlong would live three more years in retirement before dying in 1799, aged 88, when Mianning was 17.

In 1813, while he was still a prince, Mianning also played a vital role in repelling and killing White Lotus invaders who stormed the Forbidden City. This action earned him important merit in securing his claim to the throne later on.


Khoja rebellion in Xinjiang

In September 1820, at the age of 38, Mianning inherited the throne after the Jiaqing Emperor died suddenly of unknown causes. He became the first Qing emperor who was the eldest legitimate son of his father. Now known as the Daoguang Emperor, he inherited a declining empire with Westerners encroaching upon the borders of China. The Daoguang Emperor had been ruling for six years when the exiled heir to the Khojas, Jahangir Khoja, attacked Xinjiang from Kokand in the Afaqi Khoja revolts. By the end of 1826, the former Qing cities of Kashgar, Yarkand, Khotan, and Yangihissar had all fallen to the rebels.[2][3] After a friend betrayed him in March 1827, Khoja was sent to Beijing in an iron litter and subsequently executed,[4] while the Qing Empire regained control of their lost territory.

First Opium War

During the Daoguang Emperor's reign, China experienced major problems with opium, which was imported into China by British merchants. Opium had started to trickle into China during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor, but was limited to approximately 200 chests annually. By the time of the Qianlong era, this amount had increased to 1,000 chests, 4,000 chests by the Jiaqing era and more than 30,000 chests during the Daoguang era.

The Daoguang Emperor issued many imperial edicts banning opium in the 1820s and 1830s, which were carried out by Lin Zexu, whom he appointed as an Imperial Commissioner. Lin Zexu's efforts to halt the spread of opium in China led directly to the First Opium War. With the development of the First Opium War, Lin Zexu was made a scapegoat. The Daoguang Emperor removed his authority and banished him to Yili. Meanwhile, in the Himalayas, the Sikh Empire attempted an occupation of Tibet but was defeated in the Sino-Sikh war (1841-1842). On the coasts, the Qing Empire lost the war, exposing their technological and military inferiority to European powers, and ceded Hong Kong to the British in the Treaty of Nanjing in August 1842.


In 1811, a clause sentencing Europeans to death for spreading Catholicism had been added to the statute called "Prohibitions Concerning Sorcerers and Sorceresses" () in the Great Qing Code.[5] Protestants hoped that the Qing government would discriminate between Protestantism and Catholicism, since the law mentioned the latter by name, but after Protestant missionaries gave Christian books to Chinese in 1835 and 1836, the Daoguang Emperor demanded to know who were the "traitorous natives" in Guangzhou who had supplied them with books.[6][page needed]

Nobility titles

The Daoguang Emperor granted the title of "Wujing Boshi" (?; W?j?ng Bóshì) to the descendants of Ran Qiu.[7]

Death and legacy

The Daoguang Emperor died on 26 February 1850 at the Old Summer Palace, 8 km/5 miles northwest of Beijing. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Yizhu, who was later enthroned as the Xianfeng Emperor. The Daoguang Emperor failed to understand the intention or determination of the Europeans, or the basic economics of a war on drugs. Although the Europeans were outnumbered and thousands of miles away from logistical support in their native countries, they could bring far superior firepower to bear at any point of contact along the Chinese coast. The Qing government was highly dependent on the continued flow of taxes from southern China via the Grand Canal, which the British expeditionary force easily cut off at Zhenjiang. The Daoguang Emperor ultimately had a poor understanding of the British and the industrial revolution that Britain and Western Europe had undergone, preferring to turn a blind eye to the rest of the world. It was said that the emperor did not even know where Britain was located in the world. His 30-year reign introduced the initial onslaught by Western imperialism and foreign invasions that would plague China, in one form or another, for the next one hundred years.

The Daoguang Emperor was interred in the Mu (?; lit. "Longing" or "Admiration") mausoleum complex, which is part of the Western Qing Tombs, 120 kilometers/75 miles southwest of Beijing.

On a side note, the Daoguang Emperor was the last Qing emperor to be able to choose an heir among his sons since his successors either had only one surviving son or had no offspring.

In fiction and popular culture


  1. Empress Xiaomucheng, of the Niohuru clan ( ?; 1781 - 17 February 1808)
  2. Empress Xiaoshencheng, of the Tunggiya clan ( ; 5 July 1792 - 16 June 1833), fifth cousin eight times removed
    1. Princess Duanmin of the First Rank (; 29 July 1813 - 7 December 1819)
  3. Empress Xiaoquancheng, of the Niohuru clan ( ?; 24 March 1808 - 13 February 1840), courtesy title Quan
    1. Princess Duanshun of the First Rank (; 8 April 1825 - 27 December 1835)
    2. Princess Shou'an of the First Rank (; 12 May 1826 - 24 March 1860)
    3. Yizhu, Wenzong ( ; 17 July 1831 - 22 August 1861)
  4. Empress Xiaojingcheng, of the Borjigit clan ( ; 19 June 1812 - 21 August 1855), fifth cousin, courtesy titles Jing then Kangci ()
    1. Yigang, Prince Shunhe of the Second Rank (? ; 22 November 1826 - 5 March 1827)
    2. Yiji, Prince Huizhi of the Second Rank (? ; 2 December 1829 - 22 January 1830)
    3. Princess Shou'en of the First Rank (; 20 January 1831 - 15 May 1859)
    4. Yixin, Prince Gongzhong of the First Rank (? ; 11 January 1833 - 29 May 1898)
  5. Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangshun, of the Uya clan ( ; 29 November 1822 - 13 December 1866), courtesy titles Xiu (?) then Lin (?)
    1. Yixuan, Prince Chunxian of the First Rank (? ; 16 October 1840 - 1 January 1891)
    2. Princess Shouzhuang of the First Rank (; 24 March 1842 - 11 March 1884)
    3. Yihe, Prince Zhongduan of the Second Rank (? ; 14 March 1844 - 17 December 1868)
    4. Yihui, Prince Fujing of the Second Rank (? ; 15 November 1845 - 22 March 1877)
  6. Noble Consort Tong, of the Sumuru clan ( ?; 3 June 1817 - 1877)
    1. Unnamed daughter (30 July 1840 - 27 January 1845)
    2. Princess Shouxi of the Second Rank (; 7 January 1842 - 10 September 1866)
    3. Unnamed daughter (4 May 1844 - 26 February 1845)
  7. Noble Consort Jia, of the Gogiya clan ( ; 21 November 1816 - 24 May 1890)
  8. Noble Consort Cheng, of the Niohuru clan ( ?; 10 March 1813 - 10 May 1888)
  9. Consort He, of the Hoifa-Nara clan ( ; d. 18 May 1836)
    1. Yiwei, Prince Yinzhi of the Second Rank (? ; 16 May 1808 - 23 May 1831)
  10. Consort Xiang, of the Niohuru clan ( ?; 9 February 1808 - 15 February 1861)
    1. Unnamed daughter (2 March 1825 - 27 August 1825)
    2. Princess Shouzang of the Second Rank (; 15 November 1829 - 9 August 1856)
    3. Yicong, Prince Dunqin of the First Rank (? ; 23 July 1831 - 18 February 1889)
  11. Consort Chang, of the He?eri clan ( ?; 31 December 1808 - 10 May 1860)
  12. Concubine Tian, of the Fuca clan ( ; 15 April 1789 - 21 August 1845)
  13. Concubine Shun, of the Nara clan ( ; 28 February 1811 - 11 April 1868)
  14. Concubine Yu, of the Shanggiya clan ( ; 20 December 1816 - 24 September 1897)
  15. Concubine Heng, of the Caigiya clan ( ; d. 28 May 1876)

See also


  1. ^ Spence 1990, p. 149, 166.
  2. ^ Millward 1998, p. 34.
  3. ^ "Zhuozhou Celebrity -- Lu Kun (?-)". Xinhua. 15 June 2012. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 2014.(in Chinese)
  4. ^ Rahul 2000, p. 98.
  5. ^ Maclay 1861, p. 336-337.
  6. ^ Maclay 1861.
  7. ^ Qin ding da Qing hui dian (Jiaqing chao)0. 1818. p. 1084.
The Daoguang Emperor is presented with prisoners of the campaign to pacify rebels in Xinjiang at the Meridian Gate in 1828
The Daoguang Emperor inspecting his guards at the Meridian Gate of the Forbidden City
The Daoguang Emperor with his empress, imperial consorts and children in a palace courtyard
The Daoguang Emperor with his children
  • Spence, Jonathan D. (1990). The Search for Modern China. Norton. ISBN 9780393307801.

Further reading

  • Jane Kate Leonard. Controlling from Afar: The Daoguang Emperor's Management of the Grand Canal Crisis, 1824-1826. Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1996. ISBN 0892641142. Shows the Daoguang Emperor in a competent and effective mode when dealing with a crisis early in his reign.
  • Pierre-Etienne Will, "Views of the Realm in Crisis: Testimonies on Imperial Audiences in the Nineteenth Century." Late Imperial China 29, no. 1S (2008): 125-59. JSTOR Link. Uses transcripts of imperial audiences to present Daoguang as more a victim of circumstances than the bumbling administrator in many accounts.
  • Karl Gutzlaff, Life of Taou-Kwang, Late Emperor of China. London, Smith, Elder & Co. 1852.. The only biography of the Daoguang Emperor; written by a missionary and contemporary.
  • Evelyn S. Rawski, The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (Berkeley: University of Californian Press, 2001) ISBN 0-520-22837-5.
  • Daily life in the Forbidden City, Wan Yi, Wang Shuqing, Lu Yanzhen. ISBN 0-670-81164-5.
  • (Qingshi Kao) Draft history of the Qing dynasty.
Daoguang Emperor
Born: 16 September 1782 Died: 26 February 1850
Regnal titles
Preceded by
The Jiaqing Emperor
Emperor of China
Succeeded by
The Xianfeng Emperor

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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