The Jiajing Emperor was the ruler of Ming from May 27, 1521 to January 23, 1567. He reigned for 45 years, the second longest reign in the history of the Ming Empire.
Jiajing was the cousin of the Zhengde Emperor. When Zhengde died in 1521 without an heir, Jiajing was his closest relative and was appointed Emperor. He was fourteen at the time.
Jiajing developed a reputation for cruelty. He appointed lazy and incompetent people to high posititions in the government, while able people were banished, exiled, or executed. Jiajing also refused to recieve official audiences, and sent messages through eunuchs. This created great corruption in the Ming government which would last until the end of the 16th century.
In 1542, a group of the Emperor’s concubines plotted to assassinate him. Their plan was to strangle him in his sleep with ribbons from their hair. This assassination attempt ultimately failed, though, due to a concubine tying a knot that could not be tightened. When Jiajing awoke, the concubines and all of their families were executed.
Towards the end of his reign, Jiajing refused to take part in the government. He made no attempt to effectively rule Ming. However, many accomplishments were made during his reign despite his incompetence and idleness. These accomplishments included several innovations in pottery, the defeat of the Mongols, the expansion of Beijing, and the defeat of Japanese pirates raiding Chinese coasts.
Jiajing’s reign sparked the beginning of the end for the Ming dynasty. By the end of the 16th century, Ming was a mere shadow of its former glory and the dynasty eventually died out.
Interesting Fact #1: Jiajing was a devoted Taoist, and built many lavish temples during his reign.
Interesting Fact #2: Jiajing’s name means “admirable tranquility”. His reign was very stable and peaceful, largely due in part to his lackadaisical attitude.
Interesting Fact #3: The deadliest earthquake of all times, The Shaanxi Earthquake of 1556, in which over 800,000 people perished, occured during Jiajing’s reign.
Credits: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/110094/Jiajing, http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Jiajing_Emperor, http://timelines.com/perspectives/707ef848d46dbe580324dbc78a8508d7 Picture: http://www.openminds.tv/chinese-ufos-ptii/