Challenging the Reigning Emperor for Success Hanshan Deqing 憨山德清 (1546–1623) and Late Ming Court Politics

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Dewei Zhang



The late Ming monk Hanshan Deqing forced his way into a Buddhist service held around Wanli 10 (1582) to pray for the birth of the imperial heir. His action has long been seen as a heroic act that challenged the Wanli Emperor for the benefit of the state, yet an act that would lead to his exile later. However, this paper demonstrates that it was Deqing’s desperate but deliberate attempt to seek support from the inner court. This strategy helped Deqing to rise to a leading Buddhist master in late Ming China, but it asked him to pay a high price by getting him involved in court strife. This paper reveals the fragility of the late Ming Buddhist revival under the pressure of contemporary politics.

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