Yongzheng, titled Qing Shizong, was the 4th son of emperorKangxi
. Because Kangxi had many sons, the rivalry between each was very fierce. Yongzheng had to fight hard, and after the crown prince's failure to do his duties, Yongzheng had a chance to become the crown prince. But because of strong rivalry, this decision was never made.
When emperor Kangxi was at his death bed, he called Yongzheng over. It was rumored that he poisoned the old emperor, and added a stroke to the proclamation of emperor, that made the statement "…pass the throne to 14th son" to "pass the throne to 4th son". This rumor of course could never be proved.
After ascending the throne, he carried out a series of new policies that much benefited the development of the Qing dynasty. Just to name a few: he established the "Junji Chu" (Cabinet of Military) and weakened the power of the princes to strengthen the central power; he improved the tax law by demanding taxes according to the number of acres of land; by dispatching ministers to the minority areas, he strengthened the control overthem.
Yongzheng set up the rule of choosing successor secretly. The rule was: the emperor wrote his successor's name on two pieces of paper, then put one piece of paper in a box and had the box stored behind the stele in the Qianqing Palace. The emperor had the other identical copy with him or hidden somewhere. Upon the emperor's passing, the ministers would take out the paper in the box and compare it with the copy with the emperor. If they were deemed identical, the person whose name was on the paper would be the new emperor. Since that, there was no contention for imperial throne. Yongzheng was in power for only 13 years but he layed the foundation to the prosperous rein of Qianlong. Without Yongzheng's efforts, Qianlong could not become the emperor he was.
However, his rein was full of turbulence as the other princes were always trying to dethrone him. One time, in alliance with the Eight Kings, the 7th, 8th and 9th son of Kangxi almost dethroned Yongzheng, if it were not for the 13th prince who came to help out. But because of this event, the 13th prince died and Yongzheng lost the only brother that was close to him. Because this plot also involved his first son, Yongzheng, who did not want Qian Long to share the same tragedy as he, sent orders for the first son to commit suicide. This way, when Qian Long ascended the throne, he had no rivals.
Although Yongzheng achieved so much, because of his revival of the Wenzi Yu (suppressing of scholars and burning of books) and his cruelty, he had many bad names that survived till today. In August 1735, Yongzheng died in the Summer Palace and then was buried in the Tai Mausoleum in today's Hebei Province.