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The Zhengde Emperor (1491 – 1521), born Zhu Houzhao, was the tenth Emperor of the Ming dynasty and was infamous for his lackluster leadership and childish disposition.[1]


Of his concubines, his favorite was Shao Jun, who eventually became a member of the Chinese Brotherhood of Assassins after his death; he liked abusing his power and often used Jun for mischief and humiliation of the court.[2]

He was eventually succeeded by his nephew Zhu Houcong—secretly backed by the Templars—due to the Zhengde Emperor's lack of a legitimate heir.[2]


  • The Zhengde Emperor's birth name is Zhū​ Hòu​zhào (朱厚照). His family name, Zhū (朱), refers to the color vermilion. His personal name is Hòu​zhào (厚照). The former component Hòu​ (厚) literally means "thick" though in this context can mean "profound" or "substantial". Zhào (照) means "to shine", "to illuminate", or "to reflect".
  • Zhèng​dé (正德) is Zhū​ Hòu​zhào's era name. Historically, Chinese emperors were given posthumous names, temple names, and era names. In English, it is conventional to refer to early Chinese monarchs by their posthumous names. However, after the Tang dynasty, posthumous names became increasingly long and tedious to read and write, spanning at least seven characters. From the Tang up until the Mongol Yuan dynasty, emperors are conventionally referred to by their temple names, whereas the emperors of the last two dynasties, the Ming and Qing, are commonly referred to by their era names. Emperors of dynasties before the Ming tended to have multiple era names, which made it impractical to adopt their era names to identify them posthumously, but starting from the Ming, emperors began to adopt one era name per reign.
  • As Zhū​ Hòu​zhào's era name, Zhèng​dé is not one of his actual names, but the name of his regnal period. Thus, it is incorrect to call him "Emperor Zhengde" or even "Zhengde" rather than "the Zhengde Emperor" (i.e. "Emperor of the Zhengde era").
  • The era name Zhèng​dé (正德) literally means "correct virtue".



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