Since I'm on the subject of Imperial princes of Ming Dynasty rebelling, I suppose I should include the failed rebellion of Prince Zhū GāoXù of Hàn (汉王朱高煦) though it happened much earlier in the Dynasty's timeline.
Zhū GāoXù was the second son of the YŏngLè Emperor (永乐), who himself successfully usurped the throne from his nephew the JiànWén Emperor (建文帝) in AD 1403. The civil war devastated much of China and left a lot of people dead - it took years for YŏngLè to restore a measure of stability. At the same time though, YŏngLè's foreign wars and naval expeditions continued to put heavy pressure on the resources of the State.
YŏngLè's successor was his eldest son Zhū GāoChì (朱高炽), known as Emperor RénZōng (明仁宗) and the reign name of HóngXī (洪熙, AD 1424-1425). Zhū GāoChì's ill-health led to his demise a mere 8 months after inheriting the throne, and the crown was in turn passed to his eldest son Zhū ZhānJī (朱瞻基), known as Emperor XuānZōng (明宣宗) and the reign name of XuānDé (宣德).
Both Zhū GāoChì and Zhū GāoXù contributed to their father's efforts to seize the throne. Seeing a 27-year old nephew inheriting the throne he had fought hard to obtain for his father, which had gone to his only older brother by reason of primogeniture, Zhū GāoXù harboured thoughts of repeating his father's "JìngNàn coup" of seizing the throne from a young inexperienced nephew (靖难之变) on the pretext of ridding evil ministers from the ruler's side.
I suppose since Zhū GāoChì was on the throne for only 8 months and his father Zhū Dì (朱棣) had obtained the throne by force, the dynastic succession at this time could not be considered as stable yet, unlike the later rebellions of imperial princes during the reign of Emperor WŭZōng (明武宗).
Background of Zhū GāoXù
While Zhū Dì was the Prince of Yān (燕王), Zhū GāoChì was the designated heir to the principality and the highest Zhū GāoXù could aspire to was the title of Prefectural-Prince or jùn wáng (郡王). That was the traditional title of sons of "prince of the blood" or qīn wáng (亲王) who were not heirs of the principality.
After Zhū Dì seized the throne, Zhū GāoXù was duly promoted from jùn wáng to qīn wáng with his own principality. But he was not content and chaffed having to settle for second best to his brother Zhū GāoChì who got to become Imperial Crown Prince (皇太子).
Despite being brothers born by the same mother, Zhū GāoChì and Zhū GāoXù were very different people.
Zhū GāoChì (AD 1378-1425) showed great talents and promise, and was well thought of by his grandfather founding Emperor TàiZŭ (明太祖), who confirmed him as designated heir to the title of Prince of Yān (燕世子) in AD 1395. Despite the brief rule, his reign was noted for his policies and measures to alleviate the burden of the populace, reduction in State expenditure, being able to take wise advise from the Court officials, relaxing some of the harsher punishments etc. His reign, together with his successor's, were known as an era of good governance (仁宣之治).
Zhū GāoXù on the other hand was said to be ferocious by nature, frivolous in conduct, preferring martial activities and disliked studying. It was said Emperor TàiZŭ did not like this grandchild.
During the reign of the JiànWén Emperor, though harbouring ambitions for the throne, Zhū Dì despatched the brothers Zhū GāoChì and Zhū GāoXù from his fief based in Beijing to go to Nanjing, the then Imperial Capital, as hostages to his good conduct.
Their mother was a granddaughter of Xú Dá (徐达), a pioneer general of the Ming Dynasty who served Emperor TàiZŭ. In the Imperial Capital, their maternal uncle Xú HuīZŭ (徐辉祖), son of Xú Dá, noted Zhū GāoXù behaving outrageously and severely reprimanded his nephew.
The haughty and arrogant Zhū GāoXù could not take the admonishment. He stole a precious steed belonging to his uncle and sneaked out of the capital with no thoughts to the consequences. Apparently, he disregarded he was suppose to be a hostage, and that his wilful and illegal departure would jeopardise his father's plot and his brother's well-being. En route, he even killed local officials and citizens to vent his frustrations. This action cause a lot of censure for his father by various officials.
[to be continued ...]
Edited by snowybeagle, 20 October 2005 - 10:27 PM.