How did the Kangxi Emperor's ideology influence his motivation and goals?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The young Kangxi was very aware of his mixed heritage and after becoming Emperor at age seven (although he would not take the throne until age fifteen) he spent much of his time reading and studying history and art. One of his major influences was Confucius, and he used his knowledge of science to oust General Oboi from the Regency that ruled until he was of age. His goals included expanding the Empire and stabilizing the economy.

To expand the Empire, Kangxi conquered both the South, including the Three Feudatories and Taiwan, and the North, including the Mongols and Russians. His tours of the warring areas were not isolated to fighting; he frequently spent time examining the local arts and distributing gifts (many of which came from conquered cities) to display his compassion and interest in uniting rather than controlling. Where the general populace had been taxed beyond their means, and so were resentful of the Empire, he reduced taxes and routed corruption in government, as well as increasing education with promises of government positions. His major motivation was the improvement of the Empire based on his own hard work, and he was always directly involved in operations instead of staying behind the lines and delegating important work.

Kangxi's extensive education and his willingness to consider unusual or previously banned information allowed him a very broad outlook on Empire and government. Unlike previous Emperors, Kangxi was willing to accept superior technology from the West and incorporate it into his own worldview. His ideology of ruling through compassion, military strength, and science allowed him to be the longest-ruling Emperor in Chinese history, as well as one of the most beloved.


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