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Emperor Jiajing


Beijing's Forbidden City imperial palace was only a century old when Emperor Jiajing was in the middle of the Ming' Dynasty's second longest reign. Many felt saw Jiajing was a cruel man who was pushing China into corruption and chaos. In 1542, a group of his concubines made plans to assassinate him by strangulation. They failed, and the women and their families were executed via slow slicing—the methodical removal of body parts.

This was the turning point for Jiajing, because he moved out of the palace, recruited a new group of 13-year-old concubines, and started spending exorbitant amounts on the building of Taoist temples. Jiajing also turned to alchemy in the pursuit of eternal life, calling on the best Chinese alchemists. He died of mercury poisoning while trying to create the Elixir of Life out of rare minerals, including jade.