Ming Dynasty (Middle period)


Empress Zhang (Tianqi)

Empress Yi’an, of the Zhang clan, served as the empress consort of the Tianqi Emperor during the Ming dynasty. Selected as the primary spouse in 1621, Empress Zhang, known for her calm and straightforward demeanor, opposed the influences of the emperor’s favorites, Madame Ke and the eunuch Wei Zhongxian. Despite their attempts to undermine her position, including falsely accusing her father of piracy, Empress Zhang’s standing remained intact. In 1627, following the Tianqi Emperor’s death and a succession crisis, she secured the throne for the late emperor’s brother, thwarting Wei Zhongxian’s usurpation plot. Acknowledging her efforts, the new emperor bestowed upon her the title Empress Yi’an. As the rebel Li Zicheng’s army approached the capital in 1644, during the downfall of the Ming dynasty, the Chongzhen Emperor ordered female family members to be killed. Empress Yi’an, along with Empress Zhang Baozhu, chose suicide to avoid capture, with Empress Yi’an hanging herself.

Spouse: Emperor Longqing of Ming


The Tianqi Emperor, with the personal name Zhu Youjiao, was the 16th emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigning from 1620 to 1627. As the eldest son of the Taichang Emperor and the elder brother of the Chongzhen Emperor, he held the throne during the “heavenly opening” era of Tianqi. His reign faced challenges, marked by peasant rebellions and the influence of figures like Madame Ke and the eunuch Wei Zhongxian. The Tianqi Emperor died in 1627 without leaving an heir, leading to a succession crisis and setting the stage for the downfall of the Ming dynasty.

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