Yonglo (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Combining traditional Chinese and Mongol ideas of imperial rule, Yonglo brought the Ming Dynasty to its height, making it notable for the caliber of its ministers, internal improvements, support of the arts, and domestic stability.
Chu Ti, who upon ascension to the throne in 1402 took the reign name Yonglo (meaning “eternal joy”) and later received the temple name Ch’eng-tsu (“completing ancestor”), was born in the Imperial Palace in Nanking, China, in 1363. He was the fourth son of Chu Yüan-chang, known as Hung-wu, who was shortly to become the first Ming emperor, and a Korean palace concubine. A northerner and a commoner whose family background included lower-class Yangtze artisans and Huai River (northern Anhwei Province) tenant farmers, Chu Yüan-chang had emerged from a background of abysmal poverty, seeking refuge for a time in a Buddhist monastery where he received a rudimentary education. Subsequently, he lived by his wits, eventually establishing a rebel power base in his northern home district. Before he was forty, by adroit selection of comrades and great military skill, he became the master of Han lands along the Yangtze, successfully expelled the Mongols (thus causing the collapse of the Yüan Dynasty), and seized power.
Chu Ti’s early years were shaped by his father’s sometimes savage efforts to found and stabilize what he designated as the Ming, or...
(The entire section is 2725 words.)
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Yonglo (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Presided over China’s greatest period of naval dominance
Zhu Di was the fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, first emperor (as Hongwu) of the Ming dynasty. As a young man, Zhu Di made expeditions into Mongolia, seeking to secure Ming borders. Granted extensive military power during Hongwu’s reign (1368- 1398), he rebelled against the new emperor, a nephew, who sought to limit military authority. Zhu Di marched south, laying siege to the capital of Nanjing (1399) and laying waste to much of northern China. After three years of fighting, he captured Nanjing (1402), and the following year he was proclaimed emperor, taking the reign name Yonglo. In order to consolidate his position, Yonglo murdered hundreds of royal family members and moved his capital from Nanjing to his power base at Beijing.
Yonglo’s reign was marked by expansion, both by land and by sea. His military expeditions conquered Annam (central Vietnam), in 1407, weakened the Mongol coalitions to the north (principally of Oirat and Tatar tribes), and laid the foundation for the future influence of much of Indochina. In 1409, he personally led an army of 500,000 against Mongol forces in western China. At the same time, he sent Muslim Chinese admiral Zheng He, who had previously suppressed a rebellion in Yunnan, on a series of voyages, which enhanced Chinese international prestige and brought most Indian Ocean rulers into tributary...
(The entire section is 344 words.)