The Kangxi Emperor was born Aisin Gioro Xuangye on 5 May 1654 in the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The Forbidden City was the palace of the emperors. Kangxi had two older brothers, but he would inherit the position of emperor over them as his mother was a higher social rank than his brothers’ mothers.
Kangxi’s father, the Shunzhi Emperor, died of smallpox in 1661. Kangxi was crowned emperor at 7 years old but until he got older, four regents ruled in his place. He was the fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty.
There was a brief power struggle as the four regents tried to each gain more power than the others.
The regents were called Sonin, Suksaha, Elbuin and Oboi. Sonin died naturally shortly after his granddaughter married Kangxi and became Empress Xiaochengren.
Elbuin was loyal to Oboi, which left Oboi fighting Suksaha. Oboi had Suksaha executed and theni seized all the power for himself.
The Kangxi Emperor and his grandmother, the Grand Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, were happy with this arrangement for a while.
Soon though they thought that Oboi had too much control. In 1669, when Kangxi was 15, he had Oboi thrown in prison and started to rule as emperor.
Kangxi was one of the longest serving emperors in China’s history, ruling for 61 years, from 1661 to 1722!
He is considered one of the best emperors as his rule created wealth and stability across the country and he did what was best for the people.
Kangxi was very open-minded. He introduced Western technology to China, such as creating the first precise map of Beijing, and had Western scholars teach.
They worked as translators, brought new ways of working, ran the observatory in Beijing and introduced people to Christianity.
Kangxi gave some scholars positions in court because he valued their knowledge and advice.
They helped his diplomatic and military problems, taught his army how to make better guns and helped to modernise the empire.
A new Chinese dictionary, called the Kangxi Dictionary, and a collection of Tang poetry, called the Quan Tangshi, were written on the orders of the emperor.
He wanted to show off Chinese culture.Kangxi brought in new laws, so the court could control industry and so make more money.
He expanded China by conquering Taiwan and brought peace between China and Russians. However, he faced several major rebellions.
While Kangxi managed to defeat them all, he had to give some rebelling generals power over certain regions of China.
When Kangxi died in 1722, his fourth son (out of 24 sons and 12 daughters!) became the Yongzheng Emperor.
Kangxi was so good at managing the economy that China had a lot more money when he died than when he became emperor!