Emperor Huidi was born in 210 BCE. His name at birth was Liu Ying. He was the oldest son of the Western Han dynasty emperor, Gaodi, and Empress Lu Hou, Emperor Gaodi’s wife. Upon his father’s death in 195 BCE, Liu Ying became emperor of the Western Han dynasty. Huidi (Hui-ti) means “Beneficial Emperor”.
Unlike his father Emperor Gaodi, Emperor Huidi was not warlike and did not lead his armies to expand his empire. He was, however, as good as his father towards his people. He continued in his father’s footsteps by repealing more laws that had been enforced since the Qin dynasty.
One important law that he stopped was the law that allowed for the burning of books. By stopping this law, scholars were able to record and save much of the history of the Western Han dynasty and of those dynasties that came before it.
Emperor Huidi believed it was important to remember one’s ancestors and he had many shrines built in honor of his father and placed around his empire.
Huidi does not appear to have been a strong person or an emperor with strong advisors and as such, his mother, the dowager empress Lu Hou controlled him and his government. Although Huidi was the emperor of the Western Han dynasty, Lu Hou had her own ambitions for the empire. She killed many of Huidi’s family members and she and her family lead military campaigns to gain control of more areas.
Emperor Huidi’s wife was Empress Chang and he had several concubines. He had at least one child, a daughter. Huidi’s mother, the dowager empress Lu Hou killed this child, her granddaughter.
Emperor Huidi left no heirs and at his death in 188 BCE, his mother, dowager empress Lu Hou became regent.