Hongxian Emperor of China

Yuan Shikai (Chinese: 袁世凱; pinyin: Yuán Shìkǎi; 16 September 1859 – 6 June 1916) was a Chinese military and government official who rose to power during the late Qing dynasty and eventually ended the Qing dynasty rule of China in 1912, later becoming the Emperor of the Empire of China (1915–1916).

He first tried to save the dynasty with a number of modernization projects including bureaucratic, fiscal, judicial, educational, and other reforms, despite playing a key part in the failure of the Hundred Days' Reform. He established the first modern army and a more efficient provincial government in North China in the last years of the Qing dynasty before forcing the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor, the last monarch of the Qing dynasty, in 1912. Through negotiation, he became the first President of the Republic of China in 1912. This army and bureaucratic control were the foundation of his autocratic rule.

He was frustrated in a short-lived attempt to restore hereditary monarchy in China, with himself as the Hongxian Emperor (Chinese: 洪憲皇帝). His death shortly after his abdication led to the fragmentation of the Chinese political system and the end of the Beiyang government as China's central authority. (This temporary text has been reproduced from this article and will be replaced with our own text soon.)



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Emperor Hongxian had 17 sons and 15 daughters by his wife and his nine concubines. None of them have publicly laid claim to the throne of the Empire of China, which Yuan Shikai abdicated. This article features some of his descendants. 

Crown Prince Yuán Kèdìng (1878–1958)

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The Emperor's eldest son was Yuán Kèdìng 袁克定 (1878–1958) known by his style name Yuntai 云台. He was the only son of Emperor Hongxian and his only wife Yu Yishang 于義上. Yuan became Crown Prince Yuntai when his father proclaimed the Empire. After the dissolution of the Empire, he retained the courtesy of a Crown Prince and lived in the Summer Palace until the newly-founded Peoples' Republic of China evicted him. He had a son and two daughters with descendants alive today.

Line of Succession

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The Chinese Wikipedia article of Crown Prince Yuan Keding presents the patrilinear male line of succession (eldest sons of eldest sons) as:

  • Hongxian Emperor of China (1859-1916) married Yu Yishang 于義上 and had:
  • Crown Prince Yuan Keding (1878-1958) married Wu Benxian. His eldest son was:
  • Yuan Jiarong 袁家融 (1904-1996) married Wang Shi and had:
  • Yuan Monglin 袁萌臨 (1933-2009)  (originally named Yuan Ji Wu) (style name: Menglin) married ? and had:
  • Yuan Qihe 袁啟和, a Chinese-American printing technology expert.

The Twelve Symbols national emblem of the Empire of China (1915–1916). It was first used by the Republic of China (1912–1927).

Digitally enhanced image of the Hongxian Emperor of China in traditional robes sitting on a throne. 

The Mausoleum of Yuan Shikai was built by the Republic of China in Anyang, Hebei. Image © Tak.Wing. Digitally enhanced by us.

The Hongxian Emperor of China wearing traditional Chinese Imperial attire. Image digitally enhanced by us.

Reigned as

Hongxian Emperor


12 December 1915 — 22 March 1916




Planned and postponed, but did not happen.


Empire of China (1915 — 1916)

Objects in our Collection

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