The Yongzheng Emperor decided in the early years of his reign that he would not openly name a crown prince like his predecessors, but instead he would secretly write down the name of his rightful heir in a secret edict which was to be sealed in a case placed behind the high wall plaque “Fair and Impartial” at the Qianqing Palace. This new method was adopted by later Qing emperors. From this point onwards, the imperial last testaments were no longer legal documents in naming the heir apparent but merely nominal announcements to the general public about the succession to the imperial throne. In the 6th month of the 8th year of his reign (1730), the Yongzheng Emperor almost died of a severe illness. This event was only ambiguously mentioned in the Imperial Diary of the Yongzheng Emperor, but was disclosed in the inscription on the stele of Divine Merits (Shengde Shengong stele) in his imperial tomb. The inscription was written by the succeeding emperor Qianlong, and mentioned that himself along with other princes, grand secretaries and other high-ranking officials were summoned by the severely-ill Yongzheng Emperor in the 6th month of 1730 to discuss about the emperor’s last testament. This last testament in principle followed the guidelines and the political arrangements outlined in Yongzheng’s personal order from 1730.
- Item No.
- 79.9x517.8 cm