The Ming Dynasty’s Second Emperor was the opposite of Hongwu

Before Emperor Hongwu (the 1st emperor of the Ming Dynasty), died, he made arrangements so his oldest grandson would become the next emperor. To ensure this wouldn’t fail, he had all the “potential” enemies of his grandson killed. Hongwu did this because he wanted someone to replace him that thought like him.

However, that grandson didn’t become the second emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Instead, Hongwu’s fourth son became that emperor, and he became Emperor Yongle who ruled 1402 – 1424.  Before his father died, Yongle had been sent to guard the north against the nomads and was given the title of King Yan. Due to his success at driving back the Mongols, he had the support of China’s nobility to become emperor.

After a bloodbath to gain the throne, he became emperor and reversed his father’s decisions reopening China to world trade.

In 1404, Yongle also decided to move the capital from Nanjing to Beijing since that city was situated in an important strategic position between Mongolia and the plains of northern China, twenty miles from the Great Wall.

Before moving from Nanjing, Yongle had Beijing rebuilt with a new palace now known as The Forbidden City. The materials for this construction came from all over China with most of it being carried on barges along the Grand Canal.

Emperor Yongle also wanted to learn more about the world, so he had a huge fleet of ships built that the world had never seen before, and he put a Muslim eunuch by the name of Zheng He in charge.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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