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Zhu Houzhao (朱厚照; 1491 – 1521), the Zhengde Emperor (正德帝), was the tenth Emperor of the Ming dynasty.


Amonng his concubines, Zhu Houzhao's favorite was Shao Jun, who eventually became a member of the Chinese Assassins after his death. He liked abusing his power and often used Jun for mischief and humiliation of the court.[1]

Due to Zhengde Emperor's lack of a legitimate heir, he was eventually succeeded by his nephew Zhu Houcong, who ruled as the Jiajing Emperor through secret backing by the Templar eunuchs known as the the Eight Tigers.[2]

Personality and characteristics

The Zhengde Emperor was notorious for his lackluster leadership and childish disposition.[3]

Behind the scenes

The Zhengde Emperor's birth name is Zhū Hòuzhào (朱厚照). His family name, Zhū (朱), refers to the color vermilion. His personal name is Hòuzhào (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".

Zhèngdé (正德) is Zhū Hòuzhào'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 Hòuzhào's era name, Zhèngdé 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 Zhèngdé (正德) literally means "correct virtue".