What the Emperor Built

One of the most famous rulers in Chinese history, the Yongle emperor gained renown for constructing Beijing’s magnificent Forbidden City. In her new book What the Emperor Built: Architecture and Empire in the Early Ming (University of Washington Press, 2020), Boston College Associate Professor of Art History Aurelia Campbell demonstrates how the siting, design, and use of Yongle’s palaces and temples helped cement his authority and legitimize his usurpation of power. Through his constructions, Yongle connected himself to the divine, interacted with his subjects, and extended imperial influence across space and time. What the Emperor Built, considered the first book-length study devoted to the architectural projects of a single Chinese emperor, situates the buildings within their larger historical and religious contexts. What the Emperor Built was featured in an article in the South China Morning Post Magazine.

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