Emperor of China

Emperor of China, or Huángdì, was the monarch of China during the imperial period of Chinese history. In traditional Chinese political theory, the emperor was considered the Son of Heaven and the autocrat of All under Heaven. Under the Han dynasty, Confucianism replaced Legalism as the official political theory and succession theoretically followed agnatic primogeniture. The succession of emperors in a paternal family line constituted a dynasty.

Emperor of China
A portrait of the Kangxi Emperor (1654-1722), the third emperor of the Qing dynasty and the longest reigning Chinese emperor
StyleHis Imperial Majesty (陛下)
First monarchQin Shi Huang
Last monarchXuantong Emperor (reigned from 2 December 1908 to 12 February 1912, abdicated due to Xinhai Revolution)[note 1]
FormationQin's wars of unification
ResidenceVaries according to dynasties, from 1420 to 1912 in the Forbidden City in Beijing
Pretender(s)Jin Yuzhang (Qing dynasty)

The absolute authority of the emperor came with a variety of governing duties and moral obligations; failure to uphold these was thought to remove the dynasty's Mandate of Heaven and to justify its overthrow. In practice, emperors sometimes avoided the strict rules of succession and dynasties' ostensible "failures" were detailed in official histories written by their successful replacements. The power of the emperor was also limited by the imperial bureaucracy, which was staffed by scholar-officials and in some dynasties eunuchs. An emperor was also constrained by filial obligations to his ancestors' policies and dynastic traditions, such as those detailed in the Ming dynasty's Ancestral Instructions.