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His father, Crown Prince Zhu Biao (朱標), was the son and designated successor of the Hongwu Emperor. When Zhu Biao died in 1392 before ascending to the throne, the Hongwu emperor made Zhu Biao's son Zhu Yunwen his successor, rather than Zhu Biao's younger brother Zhu Di.
The Jianwen reign was short (1398–1402). In 1402 the throne was usurped by Zhu Yunwen's uncle Zhu Di. The emperor is said to have died in a fire of the palace during the coup. The Jianwen emperor was advised by a group of scholars, later known as the Four Martyrs , who were killed by Yongle. The record of Jianwen's rule was systematically erased by Yongle and no temple name was given to Jianwen.
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