Emperor Qianlong is Emperor
Yongzheng's fourth son. He was born in the 50th year of Emperor Kangxi's reign
(1711), and died in the 4th year of Emperor Jiaqing's reign at the age of 89. He
was the sixth Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and also the emperor who
lived for the longest time in Chinese history.
Qianlong showed his talent when in his childhood.
Because of this, his grandfather Emperor Kangxi liked him a lot. After setting
up the rule of choosing successor secretly, Emperor Yongzheng chose Qianlong to
succeed the throne without hesitation.
Qianlong was 25 years old when he succeeded
the throne. He learnt his grandfather's and his father's ways of running the
state affairs. And he skillfully dealt with the relationship between Manchu, Han
and other ethnic minorities to consolidated imperial power. His reign was the
most prosperous period of Qing Dynasty.
Qianlong was a keen poet, writer and
calligrapher: he produced three collections of essays and five albums of poetry,
making him one of the most prolific poets and calligraphers in ancient China. He
was highly accomplished in painting and was fond of collecting cultural antiques
-- there were many examples of jade carving, tooth carving, bamboo and wood
carving, lacquer art, enamel and porcelain art in his imperial study. He also
sponsored the compilation of Si Ku Quan Shu (Complete Collection in
Four Treasuries), which is regarded as the largest series in Chinese history
and a valuable treasure representing Chinese culture. He was familiar with
military strategies and invented Shi Quan Wu Gong (perfect gongfu). He
was fond of hunting and traveling, and traveled to Southern China six times for
inspection. Almost every autumn, he would visit Wutai Mountain in the west and
Confucius's Temple in the south.
Qianlong promised that he would abdicate
after ruling as an emperor for 60 years, because that his grandfather Emperor
Kangxi's reign lasted for 61 years, and Qianlong did not want to exceed his
grandfather. In 60th year of his reign, he carried out his promise, and his son
Yuyan (Emperor Jiaqing) became the new emperor. Actually, Qianlong was still
running the country. A lot of important affairs was reported to and solved by
Qianlong took great pride in his
administrative style which ushered in a period of great prosperity in the
country. Emperor Qianlong's reign marked the peak of feudalism in China and,
together with the reign of Emperor Kangxi, this period is known as Kang Qian
Sheng Shi (the Great Prosperity of Emperor Kangxi and Qianlong). Unfortunately,
however, in his old age he appointed corrupt officials such as Huo Shen, and
problems of extortion and poor administration contributed directly to the
decline of the Qing Dynasty.