Quick Facts about Emperor Yuandi
- Emperor Yuandi’s name at birth was Sima Rui (Ssu-ma Jui).
- Upon the death of Emperor Mindi of the Western Jin dynasty in 316 CE, Sima Rui became the first emperor in 317 CE of the Eastern Jin dynasty.
- His title Yuandi means “Original Emperor”.
Emperor Yuandi was a minor prince and a military governor. When the Western Jin dynasty capital at Chang’an fell to the attacking Xiongnu, wealthy families headed by Emperor Yuandi moved south of the Yangzi River. Rebuilding a capital in Jiankang (now known as Nanjing), Emperor Yuandi began the Eastern Jin dynasty.
China under Emperor Yuandi
Yuandi revived the court opulence of the Han dynasty. Confucian ideas returned and Buddhism began to become important as a religion for those who continued to believe in Daoist ideals.
The northern tribes continued to attack those Chinese left north of the Yangzi River. Money came into the area and into the government as these displaced people began moving south of the Yangzi. The tax revenues increased but so did the number of wealthy families with enough land and peasants to build their own armies.
Although the government of the Eastern Jin dynasty was stable, the disagreements between the wealthy families and Emperor Yuandi’s government continued during reign of each emperor in the Eastern Jin dynasty.
Emperor Yuandi died in 322 CE. Upon his death, Mingdi succeeded him as emperor of the Eastern Jin dynasty.
Emperor Mingdi became the second emperor of the Eastern Jin dynasty in 323 CE. His title Mingdi means “Brilliant Emperor”.
Emperor Mingdi died in 325 CE. Upon his death, Chengdi succeeded him as emperor of the Eastern Jin dynasty.
Emperor Chengdi became the third emperor of the Eastern Jin dynasty in 326 CE. His title Chengdi means “Accomplished Emperor”.
The northern tribes and the wealthy families in the south continued to apply pressure to the emperor and the Chinese government during Emperor Chengdi’s reign.
Emperor Chengdi died in 342 CE. Upon his death, Kangdi succeeded him as emperor of the Eastern Jin dynasty.
Emperor Kangdi became the fourth emperor of the Eastern Jin dynasty in 343 CE. His title Kangdi means “Healthy Emperor”.
It is ironic that Emperor Kangdi’s title means healthy as he died one year after becoming emperor.
Emperor Kangdi died in 344 CE. Upon his death, Mudi succeeded him as emperor of the Eastern Jin dynasty.