The emperor's words were considered sacred edicts (聖旨), and his written proclamations "directives from above" (上諭). In theory, the emperor's orders were to be obeyed immediately. He was elevated above all commoners, nobility and members of the imperial family. Addresses to the emperor were always to be formal and self-deprecatory, even by the closest of family members.
In practice, however, the power of the emperor varied between different emperors and different dynasties. Generally, in the Chinese dynastic cycle, Emperors founding a dynasty usually consolidated the empire through absolute rule, examples including Shi Huang of the Qin Dynasty, Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty, and Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty. These emperors ruled as absolute monarchs throughout their reign, maintaining a centralized grip on the country. During the Song Dynasty, the Emperor's power was significantly overshadowed by the power of the chancellor.
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