Home> The Palace>About

Prince Mansions in the Qing Dynasty

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

The birth of the prince mansion system was closely related to the granting of noble titles in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). There were princes from the royal family, from non-Aisin Gioro families, and from the Mongolian, Hui and Tibetan ethnic groups. Prince mansions in the Qing Dynasty mainly referred to the residences of the descendants of Nurhachi (1559-1626), the founder of the dynasty, and his brothers as well as the living places of a limited number of princes from non-Aisin Gioro families and the Mongolian ethnic group.

According to royal systems in the Qing Dynasty, its princes enjoyed independent mansions and lucrative payments in line with their hierarchical titles but did not have land to themselves. Therefore, a majority of their mansions were built in the capital city--Shengjing (former name of Shenyang) in Northeast China's Liaoning province and later Beijing.

There was no exact number of prince mansions in the Qing Dynasty. Some people said that it might have been several hundred on the basis of the number of people with the royal title. In fact, there is a huge disparity between the number of titles and the number of mansions, because some people were awarded the title posthumously and a mansion was probably lived in by several princes consecutively. In addition, some princes from non-Manchu ethnic groups had no independent mansions.

According to an urban layout of Shengjing drawn in the early days of the Kangxi reign (1662-1722), there were 11 prince mansions in the city before the Qing Dynasty moved its ruling center from the city to Beijing in 1644. Statistics show that Beijing had 47 prince mansions of the Aisin Gioro family, some of which weren't strictly compatible with the royal systems during their construction. Meanwhile, there were 13 Mongolian prince mansions for Mongolian princes and four for Manchu people from the non-Aisin Gioro family and the Han ethnic group.

Early in the reign of Emperor Huangtaiji (1592-1643), there were specific regulations on the building of prince mansions. The royal systems of prince mansions became basically finalized in 1652, the ninth year of the Shunzhi reign (1644-1661). Surprisingly, a majority of prince mansions didn't follow the standards in their building except for Prince Yuqin's and Prince Kung's mansions. An auspicious date was often selected by emperors in the Qing Dynasty to congratulate princes on the completion and occupancy of their mansions. Since the Kangxi reign, only the sons of the emperors were entitled to have an independent prince mansion. Emperors always bestowed a large volume of wealth, goods, servants and lands to princes in accordance with strict hierarchical and ceremonial systems when they moved into their own mansions. Meanwhile, all major functional government departments were responsible for the supply of security guards, servants, wealth and other resources.

During the Qing Dynasty, princes mainly lived with their family members in the mansions, which were equipped with a large number of servants and institutions to help maintain their normal operations. Aisin Gioro Pujie (1907-1994), son of Prince Chun (1883-1951) and half-brother of Emperor Puyi (r. 1909-1911), gave a narrative description of the organizational structure of Prince Chun's mansion in his memoir.

During the Jiaqing reign (1796-1820), the Qing Dynasty took further actions to strengthen the security of prince mansions.

Princes in the Qing Dynasty only had the right to live in their mansions instead of ownership. The mansions were taken back by the emperors when their occupants were found to have committed crimes or were deprived of their royal titles. In addition, the right to use these mansions would be re-delegated when descendants of deceased princes failed to inherit their royal honor.

Only with the collapse of the Qing Dynasty did these prince mansions become the private property of their occupants.

Contact Us