Titel: The Eternal Forbidden City - World Heritage Site of China - 紫禁城 - 中国的世界遗产
Author / Editor: 杨茵, 旅舜 Yang Yin, Lü Shun
ISBN: 978-7-80069-613-8, 9787800696138
Publisher: China Nationality Art Photograph Publishing House - 中国民族摄影艺术出版社
Date of Publication: 2004.01
Number of pages: 153
Dimensions: 26 x 29 cm
During Chinese 2,000-year feudal society period, dozens of power-centered dynasties existed successively, along with many a small government. Emperors of various dynasties would build imperial palaces in their capitals. For them the palaces were not so much a luxurious place for their handling affairs and residing, as well as the manifestation of imperial dignity and supreme power. So they always built their extremely sumptuous palaces with labor-force and money throughout the country. Famous imperial palaces in Chinese history include the Xianyanggong and Epanggong of the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C. - 206 B.C.) in its capital Xianyang (present Xianyang in Shaanxi Province), Changlegong, Weiyanggong and Jianzhanggong of the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- 25 A.D.) in its capital Chang'an (today's Xi'an in Shaanxi Province), as well as Daminggong and Xingqinggong of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) also in Chang'an. Regrettably, they were all destroyed by wars or disappeared along with the flowing years. Today, there is little enough to hang your imagination. You have to picture how fascinating the original must once have been according to the historical records and poems.
Fortunately, the imperial palace of China's last two feudal dynasties, the Forbidden City at the center of Beijing, is well preserved. This former imperial palace of the Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties, is the China's extant largest ancient palace complex.
The construction of Forbidden City started from the Ming Dynasty. During the dynasty's beginning 53 years, the Ming court had its capital at Yingtianfu (present Nanjing, Jiangsu Province), a city located at the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Beijing, known as Beipingfu at that time, was an important military strongpoint in north of China, and the enfeoffment of Zhu Di, the fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, who founded the Ming Dynasty and reigned between 1368-1398. Amongst the 20-odd regional princes enfeoffed by Zhu Yuanzhang, Zhu Di, who was eye-catching for his military and political talents, was regarded highly by his father. In accordance with the rule at that time, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang's heir should be his eldest son, Zhu Biao, however, Zhu Biao died during Zhu Yuanzhang's reign. So before his death in 1398, also according to the traditional rule of succession, Zhu Yuanzhang willed the imperial throne to his grandson Zhu Yunwen, the eldest son of the deceased Crown Prince Zhu Biao.
Aware of the threat posed by his enfeoffed uncles, especially Zhu DJ, the new emperor, reign-titled Jianwen, acted to curtail their powers. Zhu Di wasted no time in launching an insurrection against the young emperor, by name of "Jingnan (Resolving the National Crisis)". In the aftermath of the four-year civil war between the uncle and his nephew, Zhu Di took the throne and Emperor Jianwen ran away.
In 1402, Zhu Di, whose posthumous title was Chengzu, ascended the throne in Nanjing, and he changed his reign title to Yongle the following year. In 1421, the 19th year of Emperor Yongle's reign, the capital of the Ming Dynasty was moved from Nanjing to Beijing. It was in the new-completed Forbidden City that Emperor Zhu Di received the paying of respects and congratulations from his officials, making him the first ruler lived in the city. For some five centuries thereafter, the Forbidden City continued to be the residence of 23 successive emperors of both Ming and Qing dynasties, Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle's reign. The first completed hall was Fengtiandian (Hall for Heaven Worship, the predecessor of today's Taihedian). The large-scale construction of the Forbidden City started in 1417, the 15th year of Yongle's reign, and it was not completed until the end of 1420.