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At its height, more than 200,000 workers were deployed in the construction.The main palace buildings and outer city walls were ready around 1417 at which time Yongle moved his court to the new capital.The 3rd Ming emperor with reign title of Yongle ("Perpetual Happiness") was the 4th son of the 1st Ming emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang.Born as Zhu Di on , he was Prince of Yan and commander of China's northern frontier army around today's Beijing, when his father died in 1398.His envoys reached Java, Central Asia and even the Middle East.He dispatched the great eunuch admiral Zheng He on seven famous maritime expeditions reaching as far as the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the East African coast, visiting a total of 30 nations between 1405 an 1433.He justified the huge expense by claiming that the fleet was to find and kill the escaped Jianwen emperor.
As to exact location, Zhu Di decided to use the original site of the earlier Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), which was a couple of kilometers north of the previous capital sites in Beijing.
When his father passed away, Zhu Di was the oldest surviving son of the Ming dynasty founder and he harbored a strong opinion that he be the natural successor to carry the Mantle of Heaven.
But Zhu Yuanzhang had instead chosen as his successor his grandson Zhu Yuwen, 2nd son of Zhu Yuanzhang's eldest son.
After an honorary feast, they were made to stand on a wooden bed with ropes around their necks after which the bed was pulled away. This front gate has three openings and is covered by a single eaved roof with yellow glazed tiles (see photo).
The center gate -for the exclusive use of the Emperor and the Empress- is taller than its sisters on each side.