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Kangxi's Valedictory Edict

In: Historical Events

Submitted By mbi615
Words 3326
Pages 14
The imperial edict below was issued by the Kangxi emperor (1654—1722) on December 23, 1717. By this time, Kangxi had ruled China for over fifty years and placed the stamp of his thoughtful and inquiring mind on the workings of the imperial state. The ambitious rivals who threatened the throne at the outset of Kangxi's reign were long since under control. Oboi, Galdan, Wu Sangui, and Koxinga were all dead and the forces they commanded in vain efforts to achieve their aims followed them into oblivion. In the final years of the emperor's life,
Kangxi was the master of a powerful and unified state.

While one glimpses through this edict the emperor's sense of his own accomplishments, there are also ruminations on mortality and the concerns of ruling a state so vast and complex as seventeenth- and eighteenth-century China. One of the agonizing difficulties of the final years of Kangxi's reign was the problem of finding an appropriate successor. Until 1712, Kangxi favored his second son,
Yinreng, but the erratic and conspiratorial behavior of the heir apparent made him an impossible choice. By the time of the 1717 edict,
Kangxi appeared to favor Yinti, his fourteenth son, for the throne, but the document merely suggests how burdensome this problem had become and makes no explicit reference to how Kangxi intended to resolve it.[1]

[1] "Unofficial histories" of the Qing era have suggested that Yinzhen
(later Emperor Yongzheng), son number four (si), simply erased the character for ten (shi) in Kangxi's decree appointing the fourteenth son (shisi) as his heir.

When I was young, Heaven gave me great strength, and I didn't know what sickness was. This spring I started to get serious attacks of dizziness and grew increasingly emaciated. Then I went hunting in the autumn beyond the borders, and the fine climate of the Mongolian regions made my…...

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