G. PREVOT Portrait of Emperor Daoguang (1782-1850) ca. 1860 [R/V] - x +
PreG1860empr

CN: PreG1860empr

MT: albumen print on paper mounted on card (9x5 / C:10x6)

TX: printed at lower left of margin in French <G. PREVOT, 5, Boulevart Montmartre>, inscribed with fountain pen at lower center of margin <Empereur de Chine>, inscribed with pencil at rear upper center <Emp. de Chine>, printed at center <G. PREVOT / PHOTOGRAPHE / de la Garde Impériale / 5, Boulevart Montmartre, 5 / PRÈS LE THÉATRE DES VARIÉTÉS / PARIS>, stamped below <MAISON / ALPH. GIROUX>

PR: Maison Alphonse Giroux, Paris

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos - 2009

CM: The Daoguang Emperor (16 September 1782 - 25 February 1850) was the seventh emperor of the Manchu Qing dynasty and the sixth Qing emperor to rule over China. Daoguang was his reign name, Min-ning his personal name, and Ch'eng-Ti his posthumous name. When he came to power in 1820, he inherited a declining empire with Western imperialism encroaching upon the autonomy of China. The Imperial treasury was depleted, and the government faced problems such as the deterioration of the Grand Canal which was used to ship rice from South China to Peking and the collapse of dikes along the Yellow River. § During the 1830s, the Daoguang Emperor became concerned about the spread of opium use in China. In 1838, he appointed Lin Zexu as imperial commissioner, and ordered him to stop the opium trade. Lin was successful at first, and confiscated and destroyed 20,000 chests of opium. The British, determined to establish trading rights in China, retaliated by sending troops to begin the First Opium War (1839-1842). China lost the war and was forced to surrender Hong Kong at the Treaty of Nanking in August 1842. Daoguang died just as the Taiping Rebellion was beginning in South China. His reign saw the initial onslaught of western imperialism and foreign invasions that plagued China, in one form or another, for the next century. § The Daoguang Emperor was born Mianning on 16 September 1782 in the Forbidden City, Beijing. His name was changed to Minning when he became emperor; the first character of his private name was changed from Mian to Min so that his brothers and cousins of the same generation would not have to change the first character of their names (all relatives of the same generation used the same first character in their names). The private name of an emperor is taboo and cannot be written or pronounced. This novelty was introduced by his grandfather, the Qianlong Emperor, who thought it improper to have a whole generation of people in the imperial family changing their names on an emperor's accession to the throne. He was the second son of Yongyan, who became the Jiaqing Emperor in 1796. His mother, the principal wife of Yongyan, was Lady Hitara of the (Manchu) Hitara clan, who became empress when Jiaqing ascended the throne in 1796. She is known posthumously as Empress Xiaoshu Rui. § The Daoguang Emperor ascended to the throne in 1820, and inherited declining empire with Western imperialism encroaching upon the autonomy of China. Previous reigns had greatly depleted the Imperial treasury, and Daoguang tried to remedy this by personal austerity. One problem was the degeneration of the dikes which had been built along the Yellow River to prevent flooding, and the Grand Canal which was used to ship rice from South China to the capital at Peking. Corrupt officials embezzled the money intended for repairs, and by 1849 the Grand Canal had become impassable. Rice had to be transported by sea, where it was often stolen by pirates, and the thousands of unemployed canal boatmen became discontented rebels. § During Daoguang's reign, China experienced major problems with opium, which was being imported into China by British merchants. Opium had started to trickle into China during the reign of his great grandfather Emperor Yongzheng but was limited to approximately 200 boxes annually. By Emperor Qianlong's reign, the amount had increased to 1,000 boxes, 4,000 boxes by Jiaqing's era and more than 30,000 boxes during Daoguang's reign. He issued many edicts against the trade and use of opium during the 1820s and 1830s, which were executed by the famous Governor General Lin Zexu, who confiscated 20,000 chests of opium, mixed it with lime and salt and dumped it into the sea. Lin Zexu's effort to halt the spread of opium in China was successful at first, but angry British merchants, resolved to enter the vast Chinese market, used his actions as a pretext to call in British troops and begin the First Opium War (1839 to 1842). Technologically and militarily inferior to the European powers, and hobbled by the incompetence of the Qing government, China lost the war and was forced to surrender Hong Kong at the Treaty of Nanking in August 1842. Lin fell out of favor and the Daoguang emperor suddenly banished him to Xinjiang. Daoguang became the first emperor of the Qing dynasty to have lost a portion of its sovereign territories. § The expense of the war and the large indemnity paid under the terms of the peace treaty further increased the economic burden on the Chinese people, and, together with the humiliation of losing to a foreign power, fueled the discontent which was sweeping through China. Daoguang died just as the great political-religious upheaval known as the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864) was beginning in South China. § Daoguang died on 25 February 1850, at the Old Summer Palace, 8 kilometers northwest of the walls of Beijing. He was interred amidst the Western Qing Tombs, 120 kilometers southwest of Beijing, in the Muling (meaning tomb of longing) mausoleum complex. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son. § Daoguang failed to comprehend the determination of the Europeans to enter China, and was unable to turn the fact that they were outnumbered, and were thousands of miles away from home, to China's advantage. Like most of his contemporaries, Daoguang subscribed to Sinocentrism and had a poor understanding of the British and the industrial revolution that Britain had undergone, preferring to turn a blind eye to the rest of the world. It was said that Daoguang did not even know where Britain was located in the world. His 30-year reign introduced the initial onslaught by western imperialism and foreign invasions that would plague China, in one form or another, for the next one hundred years. [Megakles Rogakos 23/12/2009]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
EDWARD SAMUEL BEHR The Last Emperor 1987 Bantam, Toronto

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