Emperor Kangxi, named Xuanye, was the
fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and the third son of Emperor
Shunzhi. He was born on May 4, 1654 and died in 61st year of his reign (1722),
Kangxi succeeded imperial throne at
the age of 8 on February 17, 1661, twelve days after his father's death. He
ruled during the years from 1661 to 1722 -- the longest reign on the throne in
China's history, 61 years.
When he was still a child, Kangxi was quite
hard-working and showed great talent in literature. Because he was too young,
his father appointed four ministers to help him to administrate the country, one
of whom, named Ao Bai, secretly fostered his own henchmen against the young
emperor. When Kangxi was old enough to rule the nation, he cleverly smashed Ao
the course of his five tours to
South China (in the years 1684, 1689, 1699, 1703, and 1707) he made painstaking efforts to
inspect conservancy projects and so spurred the officials in charge to be more
efficient and conscientious. He frequently singled out those who were reported
as incorrupt for promotion .
Desirous of lessening the opposition of
recalcitrant Chinese scholars to the new regime, he solicited their help in the
compilation of Ming-shi . In order to obtain capable scholars for
this project he summoned many to complete in a special examination. He
selected learned men and good calligraphers to be his personal secretaries, their
office being known as the Imperial Study. Many famous works on literature and art
were compiled under his order.
During Kangxi's reign, the society
accumulated huge wealth and most of the time enjoyed peace and prosperity. In
Chinese history, the good ruling from Emperor Kangxi's reign to Emperor
Qianlong's reign was called "Kang Qian Sheng Shi", with prosperity lasting more
than 100 years, and this was the last most prosperous period in ancient China.