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"Many a state has fallen because a ruler does not know the affairs of his people."
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The Yongle Emperor (2 May 1360 – 12 August 1424), personal name Zhu Di, was the third emperor of the Ming dynasty, ruling from 1402 to his death. His reign saw the construction of the Forbidden City and the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, the compilation of the monumental Yongle Encyclopedia, Zheng He's maritime expeditions and a significant reformation and expansion of the imperial examination system. He leads the Chinese in Civilization VI.

Yongle controls his cities with Projects at first, and larger cities receive additional Gold Gold, Science Science and Culture Culture from their population.


The world awaits, great Yongle Emperor of Ming China. Stretch out your hand and grasp its riches and its knowledge. Place your nation at the center of all things, and let all come to you in supplication. Let none speak ill of you.


Yongle's unique agenda is Yinding. He likes civilizations with positive Gold Gold income per turn and dislikes those with negative Gold Gold income.

His leader ability is Lijia. His cities gain access to three unique Lijia projects, which can convert 50% of their Production Production into Food Food or Faith Faith, or 100% of their Production Production into Gold Gold. Additionally, from Rise and Fall onward, cities with 10 Citizen Population or more gain 2 Gold Gold, 1 Science Science, and 1 Culture Culture for each Citizen Population.

Detailed Approach[]

Yongle wants to control his population with his Lijia ability. In his cities, unique projects convert their Production Production into Food Food, Faith Faith or Gold Gold. Then, when the city reaches 10 population, the population celebrates with additional Gold Gold, Science Science and Culture Culture. His civilization ability further helps his Science Science and Culture Culture progression with better and free Eurekas and Inspirations. The Crouching Tiger helps protect his empire from invaders, but it is the Great Wall that makes him a powerful force towards a Culture Victory.


Yongle is voiced by Jing Chu. He speaks Mandarin Chinese.


Codename Quote (English translation) Quote (Mandarin Chinese) Notes
Agenda-based Approval We only deal with those who have something to offer. Like you, for instance. (lit. "I only summon those who come to pay tribute, such as you lot.") 朕惟召見前來朝貢者,如親黨尓。

Zhèn wéi zhào jiàn qián lái cháo gòng zhě, rú qīn dǎng ěr.

Agenda-based Disapproval We must seek wealth, from the ox-driver to the king. (lit. "We seek wealth from all over the world, from the shepherd to the kings.") 朕其求財於天下,自牧伕至於國君。

Zhèn qí qiú cái yú tiān xià, zì mù fū zhì yú guó jūn.

Attacked You may as well seek to conquer heaven itself. Let us see how high your arrows fly. (lit. "You might as well conquer the heaven itself. Hahaha. We'll see how well you control the bowstrings.") 何妨討平天界,哈哈哈,吾等始知汝控弦之所至。

Hé fáng tǎo píng tiān jiè, hāhāhā, wú děng shǐ zhī rǔ kòng xián zhī suǒ zhì.

Declares War Conquest by arms was never my aim, but we arrive at a point now where there is no alternative. (lit. "It is not my wish to conquer your realm by force, but there is no other way.") 力征天下實非吾願,然別無他途。

Lì zhēng tiān xià shí fēi wú yuàn, rán bié wú tā tú.

Defeated The road before me is dark, and black are the surrounding pines. Above I cannot see the heavens, and below I cannot see the earth. (lit. "The road ahead is dark, the surrounding pines are dense like walls, the sky and earth are full dark as lacquer.") 前路暗昧,週松森然如堵,天地渾然似漆。

Qián lù àn mèi, zhōu sōng sēn rán rú dǔ, tiān dì hún rán sì qī.

Greeting I am the Yongle Emperor, friend to those who would steer their trade ships in my direction, and terrible to those who oppose me. (lit. "I'm the Yongle Emperor, those who come in merchant ships are my friends. Is there any future for those who oppose my will?") 朕永樂帝也,商舶之來者即朕之友,違逆朕志者豈有來日乎。

Zhèn yǒng lè dì yě, shāng bó zhī lái zhě jí zhèn zhī yǒu, wéi nì zhèn zhì zhě qǐ yǒu lái rì hū.

Quote from Civilopedia Many a state has fallen because a ruler does not know the affairs of his people. (lit. "Many countries have been destroyed because their rulers did not care about the people's civil affairs.") 諸國多以人君不卹民事而毀之也。

Zhū guó duō yǐ rén jūn bù xǜ mín shì ér huǐ zhī yě.


Delegation: Silk and porcelain, tea and cloth - the lifeblood of the Chinese empire.

Accepts Player's Delegation: We have tried our best to educate your people on the merits of good governance, of propriety and tact. I am not sure we succeeded.

Rejects Player's Delegation: We already have some of those.

Accepts Player's Declaration of Friendship: May you learn from our example.

Rejects Player's Declaration of Friendship: A friend is an equal. You are not.

Requests Declaration of Friendship: We are building a coalition of like-minded people. Shall you take part?

Player Accepts Declaration of Friendship: Let both benefit.

Player Rejects Declaration of Friendship: We cannot accept such a thing.

Denounced by Player: The barking of dogs.

Denounces Player: I have told you again and again to refrain from evil. Soon I will tire of the telling.

Too Many Troops Near His Border: We know well how to handle barbarian hordes on our frontier.

Invitation to Capital: Come and see the Hall of Supreme Harmony, and let your thoughts be stilled.

Invitation to City: We seek knowledge of the world. You are drawn towards the world's center.

Civilopedia entry[]

The most forward-thinking and outward-looking of the Ming emperors, Yongle built the foundation for Ming’s international system and rebuilt its infrastructure. He did so via a ruthless bid for legitimacy, in which he destroyed all opposition to his claim but then expanded outward, gathering support and foreign gold for what was to become China’s quintessential empire.

The Ming Dynasty was a moment of reconsolidation for China, where, after years of foreign rule, the Han Chinese established a Han-centric power that was to last and remain prosperous for centuries. Ming was wealthy, peaceful, and… for a time… advanced. Ming was also successful in incorporating its neighbors into its orbit; the tributary system pulled much of East Asia together into a protection alliance that would lead to regional stability and the expansion of Confucian values. But over time, Ming fell into complacency and isolation, and while Ming entered the race well ahead of its competition, it emerged weakened, over-dependent on foreign gold, and unprepared for how the world had changed around it.

Such events might not have happened had the Yongle emperor had his way.

Yongle was born Zhu Di in 1360. He was the second son of another great Ming emperor – the Hongwu emperor. As such, he was an important person and a military commander who had been fighting the Mongols – both the remnants of the Yuan Dynasty as well as the great Khanates of the west. Zhu Di was next in line for the throne after his older brother, Zhu Biao. Well… so the story goes – others say Zhu Di was not at all the son of the Emperor’s primary consort but of a lesser concubine.

But Zhu Biao was his father’s favorite. And this favor extended to Biao’s family, including his son. So when Zhu Biao died suddenly, the Hongwu emperor named Zhu Biao’s son, not Zhu Di, as next in line… and Zhu Di went into rebellion.

Zhu Di fought a three-year war and won, renaming himself the Yongle Emperor. He then swept the bureaucracy ruthlessly for any trace of his nephew’s influence. This was considerable – recall the Confucian edicts to accept a peaceful rule, many scholars opposed the takeover. But many others were swept up in association - Yongle ordered the death of his enemies, especially the famous Fang Xiarou, but also everyone who had passed their exams during Fang’s tenure, all of Fang’s relatives (out to the tenth degree), and on, and on. Thousands were killed. Further, Yongle banned Mongolian cultural forms, something which had been predominant under the Yuan.

Yongle then set about making a new society. He expanded the role of the eunuchs, even including a secret police (the Eastern Depot) loyal to the emperor. He expanded, too, the scholars and historians – at least those who agreed to strike his nephew from history (and, some say, to rewrite history making Yongle the son of the Empress, not a Korean concubine). This rule extended, too, from a new source: the Forbidden City, built to mark Beijing as a new capital, closer to the Mongol lines (so as to better lead the war) and closer to Yongle’s old military outposts. With this came a reconstruction and re-fortification of the Great Wall and a re-opening of the Grand Canal.

Hongwu (Yongle’s father) was an isolationist; indeed, isolation was to be the plague of the Ming. But Yongle was rather the opposite. He actively cultivated and expanded the tribute system – indeed, this was what Zheng He’s voyages were all about – finding new potential tributaries. These trips went out to India, the Persian Gulf, and Africa, although tributaries really only came from East Asia. Significant here was the courting of Tibet – recall that Tibet remains a source of Buddhist knowledge for much of Chinese history; Ming is no different. Militarily speaking, Yongle attacked the Mongols and Vietnam, incorporating the latter into the Chinese empire and sparking the massacre of the Tran nobles.

Another achievement was the Yongle Dadian Encyclopedia, a massive work that encapsulated all Chinese knowledge to that point. There’s little new here, but a compilation of everything previously known.

Yongle died during a military campaign against the Mongols in 1424, at the age of 64.


  • Yongle's diplomacy screen shows one of the gates of the Forbidden City.
  • Yongle's leader ability is named after the Ming era version of the Baojia, a system of social organization that grouped together households for administrative and tax purposes, while his leader agenda is named after the silver ingots commonly used as currency in imperial China.
  • The narrator of the First Look video for the Rulers of China Pack says that Yongle "aims to build the tallest towers," which references the Porcelain Tower constructed during his reign.




Leader Spotlight- Yongle - Civilization VI- Leader Pass

Leader Spotlight: Yongle

Related achievements[]

Live Yongle Reaction
Live Yongle Reaction
Win a regular game as Yongle.
A reference to a popular meme in the Civilization community.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Cannon
Crouching Tiger Hidden Cannon
Playing as China, end a turn with 5 Crouching Tigers on Great Wall tiles.
A reference to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a 2000 martial arts film.

See also[]

External links[]

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1 Requires DLC

R&F-Only Added in the Rise and Fall expansion pack.
GS-Only Added in the Gathering Storm expansion pack.