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The mystery of Zhu Yunwen


bhchao

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Whatever happened to the fate of Zhu Yunwen, the 建文 emperor whom Zhu Di usurped the throne from?

During Zhu Di's siege on Nanjing in 1402, Zhu Yunwen and his wife disappeared when a palace fire broke out during the siege. The new Yongle emperor claimed that Zhu Yunwen and his wife's remains were found, but a claim made by an usurper is difficult to substantiate.

Supposedly Zhu Yunwen retreated to southwest China and lived out his life as a monk, but this has also never been proven.

A widely held hypothesis about the motive behind Zheng He's voyages was that Yongle wanted to search out Zhu Yunwen. Although this hypothesis might sound ludicrous, it is difficult to discard. Zhu Di and Zhu Yunwen were bitter enemies prior to the former's usurpation.

And what did Zhu Di do right after usurping the throne? He ruthlessly wiped out any supporters of Zhu Yunwen that he could get his hands on. Fang Xiaoru was a strong supporter of the 建文 emperor. After Fang was executed following the usurpation, Zhu Di had every examination candidate who took the exams Fang administered executed.

Such extreme measure could likely result from having a fear of your nemesis being still alive, and that anyone who got promoted to higher office during the 建文 reign might rally behind the missing former emperor should he appear all of a sudden.

This remains one of the big mysteries in Chinese history. Throughout the Yongle reign, people reported sightings of Zhu Yunwen, much like how some people in the US like to report sightings of Elvis Presley.

What is the official view held by Chinese historians today?

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What happened to Jian Wen is just a myth and few people care. Zhu Di was not a too bad emperor. Definitely better than those transient emperors. At least he did somethings.

I got to know Yongle in 大钟寺, which is located on the 3rd ring road of Beijing, northside. The temple has a gargantuan bell called Yongle Bell.

Yongle is memorized for

1. Zheng He's expedition, which happened during his reign.

2. Yongle Encyclopedia 永乐大典

3. Some wars to consolidate the victories over mogulians.

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People have different perceptions of Zheng He's voyages that happened during Yongle's reign. You like many others view the voyages as a positive event, which is fine. I however have mixed thoughts on the voyages. I'm going to post the remainder of my comments in this thread: http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/2181-1421-the-year-china-discovered-the-world&page=2

Yongle despite his megalomania did build the Forbidden City. Otherwise there would be no Forbidden City today.

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