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The history of the Forbidden City begins with a bloody coup at the beginning of the 15th century when the ambitious field commander Prince Zhu Di took power. As the Yongle Emperor, he declared Beijing the new capital of China and ordered the construction of a giant palace complex. The building of the architectural symbol of his almightiness, and the perfect reflection of cosmic order, was finished in only a few years. However, Yongle’s destiny was to be intimately tied to the empire’s collapse.