Quick Facts about the Eastern Han Dynasty’s Emperor Mingdi
- Emperor Mingdi was born in 28 CE.
- His name at birth was Liu Yang.
- He was the eldest son of the Eastern Han dynasty emperor, Guang Wudi.
- His mother was Emperor Guang Wudi’s wife, Yin.
- After his father’s death in 57 CE, Liu Yang became the second emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty.
- Mingdi (Ming-ti) means “Brilliant Emperor”.
China and the Han Dynasty under Emperor Mingdi
While Emperor Mingdi’s father, Guang Wudi, was emperor, the people, after several years of war, began to enjoy a better life with more food and fewer issues from government officials and troops. Due to Guang Wudi’s use of government money to hire people to repair roads and levees, fewer natural disasters impacted the people. Emperor Mingdi appears to have been the opposite of his father, Emperor Guang Wudi.
Mingdi did not share his father’s Confucian ideas. He ruled by fear. Officials were routinely arrested and while some were killed, others were punished by flogging, which was so widespread that it was later banned in the reign of Emperor Zhangdi.
Emperor Mingdi used forced laborer to rebuild roads and palaces. Although the forced labor helped to rebuild levees, which held back the widespread flooding of the Yellow River, and rebuilt roads for the transportation of much needed grain, it wasn’t enough. After a rebellion broke out by those forced to work on one of his palaces, Mingdi stopped his building projects.
Emperor Mingdi continued to have the capital of the Eastern Han dynasty in Luoyang.
Empress Ma’s Palaces
Mingdi’s wife, Empress Ma, had no issue with using forced labor and had several large palaces built. These palaces like many before them were filled with rare and costly woods and gems. The gardens had artificial lakes, forests, and rare and exotic animals. Empress Ma and her family lived life as one big party.
Emperor Mingdi’s Downfall
Emperor Mingdi’s wife was Empress Ma who had no children. He had at least nine children by concubines. Upon his death in 75 CE, one of his sons, Zhangdi, succeeded him as emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty.