The Ming Dynasty ruled China for almost 300 years, starting with Zhu Yuanzhang who was the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. In my visit to the Beijing Wax Works Museum, I had a chance to see the history of the Ming Dynasty brought to life with life sized wax figures.
Below is a list of all the Ming Dynasty emperors you will see at the Beijing Wax Museum:
Ming Dyansty Emperors, and Significant Events During Reign of the Ming Dynasty At the Wax Museum
- 1328 - 1398: Zhu Yuanzhang, Emperor Taizu
- 1363: A scene showing the battle of Lake Poyang - Zhu Yuanzhang wins battle against chief rival Chen Youliang
- 1380: To fortify his power, Zhu Yuanzhang accuses Hu Weiyong, and executes over 30,000 of Hu's family, relatives, and friends
- 1398: Zhu Yuanzhang dies, and Zhu Yunwen (Emperor Huidi) ascended the throne
- Zhu Yunwen began to weaken the other princes to solidify his own power. Princes of Zhou, Xiang, Qi, and Dai were all killed or imprisoned. However, Prince Yan (Zhu Di) rose up in rebellion, which began the Jingnan indcident.
- Prince Yan defeats the emperor's army, and reached Nanjing in 1402 when the city was surrendered to the Yan Troops - Emeperor Huidi burned himself to death in his palce.
- Zhu Di, Prince of Yan ascended the throne and became Emperor Chengzu (1360 - 1424). His tomb is the Changling Tomb, one of the Ming Tombs in Beijing
- Chengzu's reigning title was Yongle.
- 1406 Yongle renamed Beiping to Beijing, and moved the capital to Beijing. Construction began in 1407 and completed in 1420. The old Yuan Dynasty capital of Dadu was transformed and extended.
- Zhu Gaochi, Emperor Renzong (1377 - 1425) was made prince in 1405, in 1425 he changed his reign title to Hongxi, and died that year in June. His tomb is buried in the Xianling Tomb in the the Beijing Ming Tombs.
- Zhu Zhanji, Emperor Xuanzong (1399-1435) was Emperor Renzong's first son, who succeeded his father in 1426 and took the reign title Xuande
- 1449, Oirat chieftain Esen attacked Datong in Shanxi Province. Emperor Yingzong, Zhu Qizhen (1427-1464) lead an army of 500,000 men against the enemy; however emperor Yingzong was taken prisoner by the Oirats - this began the decline of the Ming Dynasty
- October 1449, after capturing emperor Yingzong, the Oirat chieftain Esen led an attack on Beijing
- The Emperor's younger brother Zhu Qiyu (prince of Cheng) was enthroned as the new Emperor Daizong (1428-1457). The deputy minister of war Yu Qian organized the resistance troops, and after five days of battles, forced the Oirats to retreat beyong the Great Wall of China with heavy losses.
- 1450, the Oirats sent Emperor Yingzong back to Beijing. After returning, unwilling to relinquish his power, he collbaorated with Shi Heng and Xu Youzhen to regain control
- 1457 Emperor Daizong fell ill. Shi Heng and Zhang Yue rammed open the gates of southern palace, known as the "Storming the Gate incident".
- Emperor Yingzong ascended the throne once again, demoted Emperor Daizong to a prince, demolished the Shouling Tomb which Daizong built for himself, and upon Daizong's death, buried him with the honors due to a prince.
- Yingzong reigned another 8 years and died in 1464, and was buried in Yuling Tomb of the Beijing Ming Tombs
- Emperor Xianzong had the reign title of Zhu Jianshen (1446 - 1487)
- Emperor Xiaozong (Zhu Youtang 1469 - 1505) succeeded Emperor Xianzong in 1487, with the reign title Hongzhi. He advocated frugality and encouraged increased production - the Ming empire prospered during his reign, and was known as the "Hongzhi Resurgence".
- Zhu Houzhao, Emperor wuzong (1490 - 1521) ascended the throne at age 16. He was pampered as a child, and after ascending the throne, he continued his reckless ways, and did little in ways of governing the Empire. He was buried in Kangling Tomb in the Ming Tombs.
- Zhu Houcong, Emperor Shizong (1508-1567) became emperor in 1521 and reigned for 45 long years. In his last 20 years in power, he entrusted a evil minister named Yan Song, and politics became corrupt and foreign aggression intensified. He was buried in the Yongling Tomb in the Ming Tombs
- Zhu Zaihou, Emperor Muzong (1536-1572) succeeded the throne.
- Zhu Yijun, Emperor Shenzong (1563-1620) ascended the throne in 1572 with the title Wanli at age 10.
- Zhu Yijun was promiscuous, and refused to attend to state affairs. He refused to see his ministers for 20 years, while corruption in politics flourished.
- Zhu Changluo, Emperor Guangzong (1581-1620) was Shenzong's first son. 1620 Guangzong ascended the throne, but died a month later. He was buried in Qingling Tomb
- Zhu Youxiao, Eperor Xizong (1605-1627) ascended the throne in 1620 and took the reign title Tianqi. He was fond of and preoccupied with carpentry work. He left a eunuch named Wei Zhongxian in charge of all the state affairs. Corruption was worse, and Wei Zhongxian took the Ming Empire to the point of collapse. Wei was banished to Fengyang County after Emperor Yizong (Zhu Youjian) took power, where he committed suicide
- Zhu Youjian, Emperor Yizong (1611-1644) ascended the throne in 1627, and took the reign title Chongzhen. During his reign, a pesant uprising broke out and the Qing troops were approaching Jinzhou.
- April 1641, Qing Emperor Abahai captured Jinzhou. By that time, the Ming empire had lost all its territories in the northeast, and the Qing army was about to break through Shanhaiguan pass.
- Zhu Youjian, the last emperor of the Ming Dyansty was diligent and frugal. Although the Ming Dynasty was lost during his reign, historians look on him sympathetically. He prosecuted Wei Zhongxian's group of eunuchs, and made every effort to sustain the failing Ming Empire.
- In the end, Emperor Yizong hanged himself in Beijing. On his clothing, he wrote: "I have no face to meet my ancestors, so I take off my hat and cover my face with my hair." Thus, bringing the end to the Ming Dynasty.
A photo of the scene where Emperor Yizong
hangs himself in shame - taken at the wax works