Ming Dynasty (Middle period)


Empress Zhang (Hongzhi)

Empress Zhang was the daughter of Zhang Luan (張巒). She was born and in Xingji (nowadays Qing county, Hebei province). In 1487, she married then-Crown Prince Youcheng and was thus give the title of crown princess. She was created empress when her husband succeeded the throne later that year. She remains the only empress to an adult emperor who had no concubines in Chinese history. The emperor did not want other wives or concubines because he is said to have loved her sincerely.

Empress Zhang was described as a “foolish and demanding woman, capable of no more than petty faults”, but those included a constant desire for expensive objects, credulity about the teachings of the most specious Buddhist and Taoïst clerics, and limitless favour for her family, especially her two unrestrainedly venal brothers. This pair, Zhang Heling (張鶴齡) and Zhang Yanling (張延齡), with the support of their sister the Empress and her mother, Lady Gin, made careers of misusing their high position.

In 1505, the Hongzhi Emperor died and her son ascended the throne as the Zhengde Emperor. Being his mother she was created empress dowager. In 1510 she was bestowed upon the titles of Cishou (慈寿皇太后).

Spouse: Emperor Hongzhi of Ming


The Hongzhi Emperor (Chinese: 弘治帝; pinyin: Hóngzhì Dì; 30 July 1470 – 9 June 1505), personal name Zhu Youcheng (朱祐樘),[2][3] was the tenth emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1487 to 1505. He was the eldest surviving son of the Chenghua Emperor and his reign as emperor of China is called the “Hongzhi Restoration” (弘治中興). His era name, “Hongzhi”, means “great governance”. During his reign, he impeached a large amount of his officials from office as he considered them corrupt and incompetent. His transparent style of governance fostered prosperity among the people he ruled, and he was one of only two Chinese Emperors who had no concubines.

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