Frontiers of History in China

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 26–52 | Cite as

Civil-military tensions during the Kangxi emperor’s first southern tour

  • Michael G. ChangEmail author
Research Article


Starting with a court debate which broke out in the spring of 1684, this essay explores the multivalent symbolism of the Kangxi emperor’s first imperial tour to Shandong and Jiangsu provinces in the fall of 1684. Some courtiers advocated treating the Kangxi emperor’s touring activities as a rite of conquest, while others saw them as an exercise in sagely rule and benevolent civil governance. Here I suggest that this ritual controversy revealed a tension between civil and military values within the political culture of the Qing court. Furthermore, this ideological tension became most acute and apparent during the Kangxi emperor’s “eastern” and “southern” tours of 1684, when the imperial procession approached and crossed certain culturally and symbolically significant locations. As such, we are reminded that the legitimization of Qing rule was never fully complete, but was rather an open-ended and ongoing historical process.


the Qing dynasty the Kangxi emperor touring activities the imperial court political culture civil-military values ritual 


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Art HistoryGeorge Mason UniversityFairfax, VirginiaUSA

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