Daoguang Emperor

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The Imperial Portrait of Emperor Daoguang.PNG
Daoguang Emperor
Clan name: Aixīn-juéluó (愛新覺羅)
Given name: Miánníng (綿寧), later Mínníng (旻寧)¹
Min Ning
Dates of reign: 3 October, 1820–25 February, 1850
Era name: Dàoguāng (道光 ; Tao-kuang)
Doro Eldengge
Era dates: 3 February, 1821–31 January, 1851
Temple name: Xuānzōng (宣宗)
Posthumous name:
Emperor Chéng² (成皇帝)
Šanggan hūwangdi
Posthumous name:
Emperor Xiàotiān Fúyùn Lìzhōng Tǐzhèng Zhìwén Shèngwǔ Zhìyǒng Réncí Jiǎnqín Xiàomǐn Kuāndìng Chéng
General note: Names given in pinyin,Chinese, then in Manchu (full posthumous name, Chinese only).
1. The first character of his private given name was changed in 1820 when he ascended the throne (see inside the article for explanation).
2. Cheng means "the Completer" (i.e. he who puts down uprisings and perfects the foundation of the state).

The Daoguang (Tao-kuang) Emperor (Daoguang (reign name, or nien-hao), personal name Min-ning, posthumous name (shih) Ch'eng-Ti, temple name (miao-hao) (Ch'ing) Hsüan-Tsung) (September 16, 1782 – February 25, 1850) was the seventh emperor of the Manchu Qing dynasty and the sixth Qing (Ch'ing ) emperor to rule over China. When he came to power in 1820, he inherited a declining empire with Western imperialism encroaching upon the autonomy of China. The Imperial treasury was depleted, and the government faced problems such as the deterioration of the Grand Canal which was used to ship rice from South China to Peking and the collapse of dikes along the Yellow River.

During the 1830s, the Daoguang Emperor became concerned about the spread of opium use in China. In 1838, he appointed Lin Zexu (林則徐) as imperial commissioner, and ordered him to stop the opium trade. Lin was successful at first, and confiscated and destroyed 20,000 chests of opium. The British, determined to establish trading rights in China, retaliated by sending troops to begin the First Opium War (1839 – 1842). China lost the war and was forced to surrender Hong Kong at the Treaty of Nanking in August 1842. Daoguang died just as the Taiping Rebellion was beginning in South China. His reign saw the initial onslaught of western imperialism and foreign invasions that plagued China, in one form or another, for the next century.

Early Years

The Daoguang Emperor was born Mianning (綿寧) on September 16, 1782 in the Forbidden City, Beijing. His name was changed to Minning (旻寧) when he became emperor; the first character of his private name was changed from Mian (綿) to Min (旻) so that his brothers and cousins of the same generation would not have to change the first character of their names (all relatives of the same generation used the same first character in their names). The private name of an emperor is taboo and cannot be written or pronounced. This novelty was introduced by his grandfather the Qianlong Emperor (乾隆帝) who thought it improper to have a whole generation of people in the imperial family changing their names on an emperor's accession to the throne.

He was the second son of Yongyan (永琰), who became the Jiaqing Emperor (嘉庆/嘉慶 帝) in 1796. His mother, the principal wife of Yongyan, was Lady Hitara of the (Manchu) Hitara clan, who became empress when Jiaqing ascended the throne in 1796. She is known posthumously as Empress Xiaoshu Rui (孝淑睿皇后).

Reign as Emperor and the Opium Trade

The Daoguang Emperor ascended to the throne in 1820, and inherited declining empire with Western imperialism encroaching upon the autonomy of China. Previous reigns had greatly depleted the Imperial treasury, and Daoguang tried to remedy this by personal austerity. One problem was the degeneration of the dikes which had been built along the Yellow River to prevent flooding, and the Grand Canal which was used to ship rice from South China to the capital at Peking. Corrupt officials embezzled the money intended for repairs, and by 1849 the Grand Canal had become impassable. Rice had to be transported by sea, where it was often stolen by pirates, and the thousands of unemployed canal boatmen became discontented rebels.

During Daoguang’s reign, China experienced major problems with opium, which was being imported into China by British merchants. Opium had started to trickle into China during the reign of his great grandfather Emperor Yongzheng (雍正帝) but was limited to approximately 200 boxes annually. By Emperor Qianlong (乾隆帝)'s reign, the amount had increased to 1,000 boxes, 4,000 boxes by Jiaqing's (嘉庆/嘉慶 帝) era and more than 30,000 boxes during Daoguang's reign. He issued many edicts against the trade and use of opium during the 1820s and 1830s, which were executed by the famous Governor General Lin Zexu (林則徐), who confiscated 20,000 chests of opium, mixed it with lime and salt and dumped it into the sea. Lin Zexu's (林則徐) effort to halt the spread of opium in China was successful at first, but angry British merchants, resolved to enter the vast Chinese market, used his actions as a pretext to call in British troops and begin the First Opium War (1839 to 1842). Technologically and militarily inferior to the European powers, and hobbled by the incompetence of the Qing government, China lost the war and was forced to surrender Hong Kong at the Treaty of Nanking in August 1842. Lin ( 林則徐) fell out of favor and the Daoguang emperor suddenly banished him to Xinjiang (新疆). Daoguang became the first emperor of the Qing dynasty to have lost a portion of its sovereign territories.

The expense of the war and the large indemnity paid under the terms of the peace treaty further increased the economic burden on the Chinese people, and, together with the humiliation of losing to a foreign power, fueled the discontent which was sweeping through China. Tao-kuang died just as the great political-religious upheaval known as the Taiping Rebellion (1850–64) was beginning in South China.

Death and Legacy

Daoguang died on February 25, 1850, at the Old Summer Palace (圓明園), five miles (8 km) miles northwest of the walls of Beijing. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son.

Daoguang failed to comprehend the determination of the Europeans to enter China, and was unable to turn the fact that they were outnumbered, and were thousands of miles away from home, to China’s advantage. Like most of his contemporaries, Daoguang subscribed to Sinocentrism and had a poor understanding of the British and the industrial revolution that Britain had undergone, preferring to turn a blind eye to the rest of the world. It was said that Daoguang did not even know where Britain was located in the world. His 30-year reign introduced the initial onslaught by western imperialism and foreign invasions that would plague China, in one form or another, for the next one hundred years.

He was interred amidst the Western Qing Tombs (清西陵), 75 miles (120 kilometers) southwest of Beijing, in the Muling (慕陵 - meaning "Tomb of longing," or "Tomb of admiration") mausoleum complex.


  • Father: Emperor Jiaqing (嘉庆帝).
  • Mother: Empress Xiao Shu Rui (孝淑睿皇后).


  • Empress Xiao Mu Cheng (孝穆成皇后) (? - 1808) of the Niuhuru clan.
  • Empress Xiao Shen Cheng (孝慎成皇后) (? - 1833) of the Tunggiya clan.
  • Empress Xiao Quan Cheng (孝全成皇后) (1808 - 1840) of the Niuhuru clan.
  • Empress Xiao Jing Cheng (孝静成皇后) (1812 - 1855) of the Borjigit clan.
  • Imperial Honoured Consort Zhuang Shun (庄顺皇贵妃) (? - 1866) of the Wuya clan, she was the natural birth mother of the First Prince Chun.
  • Honoured Consort Tun (彤贵妃) (? - 1877) of the Shumulu clan.
  • Consort He (和妃) (? - 1836) of the Nala clan.
  • Consort Xiang (祥妃) (? - 1861) of the Niuhuru clan.
  • Noble Consort Jia (佳贵妃) (? - 1890) of the Gogiya clan.
  • Noble Consort Cheng (成贵妃) (? - 1888) of the Niuhuru clan.
  • Consort Chang (常妃) (? - 1860) of the Heseri clan.



  1. First son: Prince Yiwei (奕緯) (May 16, 1808 - May 23, 1831), son of He Fei of the Nala clan.
  2. Second son: Yikang (奕綱) (November 22, 1826 - March 5, 1827), son of Empress Xiaojing Cheng
  3. Third son: Yichi (奕繼) (December 2, 1829 - January 22, 1830), son of Empress Xiaojing Cheng
  4. Fourth son: Yichu (1831 - 1861), son of Empress Xiao Quan Cheng
  5. Fifth son: Yicong (July 23, 1831- February 18, 1889), the second Prince Tun, great-grandfather of Prince Yuyan and son of Imperial Consort Xiang (祥妃) of the Niuhuru clan.
  6. Sixth son: Yixin ( January 11, 1833 - May 29, 1898), the Prince Gong. Son of Empress Xiao Jing Cheng.
  7. Seventh son: Yixuan, the First (October 16, 1840 - January 1, 1891) Prince Chun. Father of Zaitian the Guangxu Emperor.
  8. Eight son: Yiho (奕詥) (February 21, 1844 - December 17, 1868), son of the Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangshun.
  9. Ninth son: Yihui(奕譓) (1845 - 1877) son of the Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangshun.


  1. First daughter: Duanmin (端悯固伦公主) (1813 - 1819), daughter of empress Xiaozhen Cheng.
  2. Second daughter: (1825), daughter of Xiang Fei.
  3. Third daughter: Duanshun (端顺固伦公主) (1825 - 1835), daughter of empress Xiaoquan Cheng.
  4. Fourth daughter: Shou-An (寿安固伦公主) (1826- 1860), daughter of empress Xiaoquan Cheng.
  5. Fifth daughter: Shou? (寿臧和硕公主) (1829 - 1856), daughter of Xiang Fei.
  6. Sixth daughter: Shou-Yen (寿恩固伦公主) (1830 - 1859), daughter of empress Xiaojing Cheng.
  7. Seventh daughter: (1840 - 1844), daughter of Tun Kuai Fei.
  8. Eight daughter: Shou-Xi (寿禧和硕公主) (1841- 1866), daughter of Tun Kuai Fei.
  9. Ninth daughter: Shou-Zhuang (寿庄固伦公主) (1842 - 1884), daughter of Zhuangshun Huang Kuai Fei.
  10. Tenth daughter: (1844 - 1845), daughter of Tun Kuai Fei.

See also

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House of Aisin-Gioro
Born: September 16 1782; Died: February 25 1850
Preceded by:
The Jiaqing Emperor
Emperor of China
Succeeded by: The Xianfeng Emperor


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