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Source: Zhang Ai, Hou Su (Editors) 2008. Prince Gong's Palace. Chinese Theatre Press.
Prince Gong's mansion is located on Liuyin Street on the west bank of Shishahai in Beijing. It was built in approximately 1776. It is a former residence of ministers and university scholars favored by Emperor Qian Long. During the reign of Jia Qing, the emperor granted Qing Wang Yonglin permission to live in the residence and it became known as Prince Qing's Residence. Afterwards, Emperor Xian Feng granted to to his own sixth brother Grand Prince Yi Xin and it became known as Prince Gong's Palace. This is an imposing, expansive, and spacious building and, further, independently has traditional Chinese characteristics. It is one of Beijing's still existing, most refined, best preserved, and complete Qing Dynasty declared bureau.
In 1644 Ad the Qing army cut off and eliminated the Ming Dynasty. Since the Qing Dynasty designated the capital as Beijing they continued to use the Ming Dynasty as the emporer's palace and began to started large scale dividing and confering of property to princes and to build palaces. In contrast with the Ming Dynasty the Qing Dynasty Prince's mansions were not scattered all over the country. Before siezing power the Qing Dynasty's mansions were concentrated in Shengjing (Shenyang) but after siezing power they were moved to Beijing. Beijing's princes' mansions are basically in the inner city (that is in present Beijing Dongcheng and Xicheng districts). The core of the inner city is the Imperial Palace and surrounding it the Prince's mansions decorate the Forbidden City adding a multitude of stars held up to the moon, displaying the emperor's unsurpassed crown position at the core. These prince's mansions were built over different periods of time, following uninterupted division and granting of property. From 1616 to 1911 when the last Qing emperor Xuan Tong (Pu Yi) abdicated, in almost 300 years the Qing Dynasty granted nearly one hundred properties to princes and all buildings are very worthwhile to visit. In addition, after the demise of the Qing Dynasty, Beijings' princes' palaces rapidly fell into decline, many changed owners, and were put to other uses. Even now it is difficult to see the original form of most of these mansions.
At present, amongst the ten or so prince's mansions, Prince Gong's mansion is the best preserved and most intact and is the only one open to the public. However, even though is is not amongst the oldest the rise and fall of its successive generations of owners followed the tide of Qing Dynasty politics and was closely connected with the struggle for power. From the reign of Qian Long to the end of the Qing Dynasty, over more than a hundred years, it has witnessed the prosperity and gradual decline up to and including the ultimate demise of the Qing Dynasty. In particular, there were two hosts — at the time of collapse of the court of Qian Long, the university scholar He Shen, as well as Grand Prince Yi Xin who experienced the reigns of emperors Dao Guang, Xian Feng, Tong Zhi, and Guang Xu and, furthermore wielded signifcant power duing the reigns of Xian, Tong, and Guang's &mdash both played key roles in Qing history. So it is said that “in the Prince Gong Mansion is half of Qing capital's history.” It witnessed the late period of China's historic feudal society, the vicissitudes of politics in the prince's mansion, the evolution of political institutions, and historic characters. Because of architectural and cultural history aspects it possessed a unique place during historic times.
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