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Emperor Shun of Han (; 115 – 20 September 144) was an
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...
of the Chinese
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
and the seventh emperor of the Eastern Han. He reigned from 125 to 144. Emperor Shun (Prince Bao) was the only son of
Emperor An of Han Emperor An of Han (; 94 – 30 April 125) was an emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the fema ...
. After Emperor An died in 125, the Empress Dowager Yan, childless but yearning to hold on to power, displaced Prince Bao (whose title of
crown prince A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when i ...

crown prince
she had wrongly caused Emperor An to strip in 124) from the throne in favour of Liu Yi, the
Marquess of Beixiang The Marquess of Beixiang (; died 10 December 125), personal name Liu Yi, also referred to as Emperor Shao (少帝, literally "young emperor"), was an emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the ...
. After Liu Yi died after reigning less than seven months, eunuchs loyal to Prince Bao, led by Sun Cheng, carried out a successful coup d'etat against the Empress Dowager, and Prince Bao was declared emperor at age 10. The people had great expectations for Emperor Shun, whose reign followed his incompetent and violent father. However, while Emperor Shun's personality was mild, he was just as incompetent as his father and corruption continued without abatement among eunuchs and officials. He also overly entrusted government to his wife
Empress Liang Na Liang Na (; 116–150), formally Empress Shunlie (順烈皇后, literally "the kind and achieving empress"), was an empress during the Han Dynasty. Her husband was Emperor Shun of Han. She later served as regent for his son Emperor Chong of Han, Em ...
's father
Liang Shang Liang may refer to: Chinese history * Liang (state) (梁) (8th century BC – 641 BC), a Spring and Autumn period state * Wei (state) (403–225  BC), a Warring States period state, also known as Liang (梁) after moving its capital to Daliang ** ...
() - a mild-mannered man with integrity but little ability - and then Liang Shang's son
Liang Ji Liang Ji (梁冀) (died 159), courtesy name Bozhuo (伯卓), was a Chinese military general and politician. As a powerful consort kin, he dominated government in the 150s together with his sister, Empress Liang Na. After his sister's death, Lian ...
- a corrupt and autocratic man. In general, Emperor Shun's reign was an improvement over his father's, but this minor improvement was unable to stem Eastern Han Dynasty's continued decline. Emperor Shun died at the age of 29 after reigning for 19 years. He was succeeded by his son Emperor Chong.


Family background

Prince Bao was born to Emperor An and his
concubine Concubinage is an interpersonal The concept of interpersonal relationship involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships vary in their degree of intimacy or self-disclo ...
Consort Li in 115, apparently shortly after Emperor An had created his favourite
Yan Ji Empress Yan Ji (閻姬) (died 126), formally Empress Ansi (安思皇后, literally "the peaceful and deep-thinking empress"), was an empress An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A c ...
empress. Empress Yan had no sons, and out of jealousy, she poisoned Consort Li to death, an act that went unpunished. Empress Yan would continue to hold a grudge against Prince Bao, despite his youth. In 120, Emperor An created Prince Bao
crown prince A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when i ...

crown prince
, as he was Emperor An's only son.


Removal as crown prince and enthronement

In 124, some of the people trusted by Emperor An,
eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot ...
s Jiang Jing () and Fan Feng () and his
wet nurse A wet nurse is a woman who breastfeeding, breast feeds and cares for another's child. Wet nurses are employed if the mother dies, or if she is unable or chooses not to nurse the child herself. Wet-nursed children may be known as "milk-siblings", ...
Wang Sheng (), for reasons no longer known, falsely accused Crown Prince Bao's wet nurse Wang Nan () and chef Bing Ji (邴吉, not to be confused with Emperor Xuan's prime minister of the same name) of unspecified crimes. Emperor An executed Wang and Bing and exiled their families. The nine-year-old crown prince was greatly saddened. Jiang and Fan, fearful of reprisals later, entered into a conspiracy with Empress Yan (who had always hated Crown Prince Bao since he was not her own son) to falsely accuse Crown Prince Bao and his servants of crimes. Emperor An believed them and demoted Crown Prince Bao to be the Prince of Jiyin. In 125, Emperor An died suddenly while on a trip to Wancheng (宛城, in modern
Nanyang Nanyang is the romanization of two common Chinese place names. It may refer to: Written as 南洋 (Southern Ocean) * Nanyang (region), a Chinese term denoting the Southeast Asian lands surrounding the South China Sea ;China * Nanyang Fleet, Qing d ...
,
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China The provincial level administrative divisions () are the highest-level administrative divisions of China. There are 34 such divisions claimed by the People's Republic of ...

Henan
). Although Prince Bao was Emperor An's only son and therefore logical heir, Empress Yan resolved to make someone younger to be the emperor so that she could better control him. She therefore made Liu Yi (), the
Marquess of Beixiang The Marquess of Beixiang (; died 10 December 125), personal name Liu Yi, also referred to as Emperor Shao (少帝, literally "young emperor"), was an emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the ...
, emperor. The 10-year-old Prince Bao was excluded not only from succession but even from the official mourning for his father. Empress Dowager Yan and her brothers dominated the political scene. Later that year, the young emperor was gravely ill. The eunuch Sun Cheng, loyal to Prince Bao, entered into a conspiracy with Prince Bao's head of household, Changxing Qu (), and other eunuchs to restore Prince Bao. After the young emperor died, Sun and 18 of his fellow eunuchs made a surprise attack on the palace, killing Jiang and forcing Jiang's colleague Li Run () to join them. They then welcomed Prince Bao to the palace and declared him emperor. For several days, the eunuchs' forces battled with the empress dowager's forces, finally defeating the empress dowager and her brothers. The Yan clan was slaughtered, while Empress Dowager Yan was confined to her palace until her death in 126.


Early reign

At the start of Emperor Shun's reign, the people were hopeful that he would reform the political situation from the pervasive corruption under the Yans. However, the teenage emperor proved to be a kind but weak ruler. While he trusted certain honest officials, he also trusted many corrupt eunuchs, who quickly grabbed power. In 126, Sun Cheng tried to encourage the young emperor to carry out extensive reforms, but was instead removed from the capital for his audacity. Sun was recalled to the capital in 128, but continued to lack any influence to put into effect concrete reforms. Another major influence on Emperor Shun was his wet nurse Song E (), who was described as a kind woman. But she lacked the ability to be an effective advisor to the Emperor. Rather, as she took on the role of an empress dowager. Early in Emperor Shun's reign,
Ban Chao Ban Chao (; 32–102 CE), courtesy name Zhongsheng, was a Chinese military general, explorer and diplomat of the Eastern Han Dynasty. He was born in Fufeng (region), Fufeng, now Xianyang, Shaanxi. Three of his family members—father Ban Biao, el ...
's son,
Ban Yong Ban Yong (, died c. 128 CE), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere The East ...
, was able to effectively restore Han suzerainty over Xiyu (modern
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
and former Soviet
central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

central Asia
) kingdoms, but in 127, Ban Yong was falsely accused of being late in arriving for a military action and removed from his office. After Ban Yong's removal, the situation in Xiyu gradually deteriorated. Other than these events, the rule of Emperor Shun was generally one during which the empire avoided periods of political turmoil. Although the emperor lacked capability, and corruption continued to run unchecked, his personal kindness allowed the people a measure of peace. In 131, Emperor Shun wanted to create an empress, and not wanting to play favourites, he considered drawing lots before the gods to determine who should be the empress. After his officials discouraged him from this action, he finally selected one of his consorts, Liang Na, as the one he considered most virtuous and most rational. He created her empress in 132. She was 16 and he was 19. Her father Liang Shang () became an honoured official and was gradually promoted to increasingly important posts.


Late reign

In 135, two major political changes occurred. Eunuch-marquesses began to be allowed to pass their
marches In medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe s ...
to their adopted sons, and Liang Shang became the commander of the armed forces and effectively the most powerful individual in the imperial government. Neither of these developments appeared at the time to be major, but had great implications. The former demonstrated that the power of the eunuchs was becoming systemic, and the latter led to the start of the Liangs controlling the imperial government for several administrations. Liang Shang was, much like his son-in-law, a kind man who lacked any real political abilities, even though he appeared to be honest, compassionate and ethical. For example, in 138, when there was a conspiracy by some eunuchs to undermine him that Emperor Shun discovered, he advocated leniency, and while Emperor Shun did not completely agree with him, Liang's intercession clearly saved many lives. However, both he and Emperor Shun trusted his son
Liang Ji Liang Ji (梁冀) (died 159), courtesy name Bozhuo (伯卓), was a Chinese military general and politician. As a powerful consort kin, he dominated government in the 150s together with his sister, Empress Liang Na. After his sister's death, Lian ...
() who, unlike his father, was corrupt and violent. From 136 to 138, there were a number of native rebellions in various parts of southern China. While these were generally put down with relative ease (in particular, the rebels generally surrendered willingly if the corrupt officials they were protesting against were replaced by Emperor Shun), these would foreshadow the much more serious rebellions that would come in the next few decades. Further, in 139, the Qiang again rebelled, and this time the rebellion would not be put down easily and would plague Emperor Shun for the rest of his reign. Indeed, in 141, the Qiang forces annihilated a Han force led by Ma Xian () and set fire to the tomb-gardens of a number of Western Han emperors in the
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
region. Further, agrarian rebellions started in Jing (荊州, modern
Hunan Hunan (, ; ) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdi ...

Hunan
,
Hubei Hubei (; ; alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity ...

Hubei
, and southern
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China The provincial level administrative divisions () are the highest-level administrative divisions of China. There are 34 such divisions claimed by the People's Republic of ...

Henan
) and Yang (揚州, modern
Jiangxi Jiangxi (; ; alternately romanized as Kiangsi or Chianghsi, Gan Chinese Gan, Gann or Kan is a group of Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibe ...

Jiangxi
,
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
, and central and southern
Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, ...

Jiangsu
,
Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provincial capital and largest city is Hefei. The province is l ...

Anhui
) Provinces and would not be pacified for the rest of Emperor Shun's reign. Also in 141, Liang Shang died. Inexplicably, Emperor Shun gave his post to Liang's son Liang Ji and gave Liang Ji's post to his younger brother Liang Buyi (). Liang Ji proceeded to seize power at every opportunity, and even though Liang Buyi tried to encourage his brother to be moderate in his behaviour, his pleas fell on deaf ears. In 144, apparently already ill, Emperor Shun created his only son Liu Bing (), born of his concubine Consort Yu in 143, crown prince. Later that year, Emperor Shun died, and Crown Prince Bing succeeded him as Emperor Chong. Empress Dowager Liang served as regent, and while she personally appeared capable, her trust in her brother Liang Ji would lead to a further decline in the standing of the Eastern Han.


Era names

* ''Yongjian'' () 126–132 * ''Yangjia'' () 132–135 * ''Yonghe'' () 136–141 * ''Hanan'' () 142–144 * ''Jiankang'' () 144


Family

Consorts and Issue: * Empress Shunlie, of the Liang clan (; 116–150), personal name Na () * '' Meiren'', of the Yu clan (; d. 179) ** Princess Wuyang (), personal name Sheng (), first daughter ** Liu Bing, Emperor Xiaochong (; 143–145), first son *Guiren, of the Liang clan (贵人 梁氏) *Guiren, of the Dou clan (贵人 窦氏) * Unknown ** Princess Guanjun (), personal name Chengnan (), second daughter ** Princess Ruyang (), personal name Guang (), third daughter


Ancestry


See also

*
Family tree of the Han Dynasty This is a family tree of Chinese emperors from the foundation of the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE (by Qin Shihuangdi), till the end of the Sixteen Kingdoms The Sixteen Kingdoms (), less commonly the Sixteen States, was a chaotic period in Chinese hi ...


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Shun Of Han, Emperor 115 births 144 deaths Eastern Han dynasty emperors Child rulers from Asia 2nd-century Chinese monarchs Emperors from Luoyang