Quick Facts about Emperor Xiandi
- Emperor Xiandi was born in 181 CE.
- His name at birth was Liu Xie.
- He was a son of the Eastern Han dynasty emperor, Lingdi.
- His mother was his father’s concubine, Wang.
- After Emperor Lingdi’s death in 189 CE, Liu Xie became the twelfth and last emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty.
- Emperor Xiandi had 7 sons and 3 daughters.
- He had 2 wives (Fu Shou and Cao Jie) and 2 concubines (Cao Xian and Cao Hua).
- Xiandi (Hsien-ti) means “Dedicating Emperor”.
China under Emperor Xiandi: Rebellions and Abdication
Emperor Xiandi came to power during a rocky and turbulent time. Warlords had taken back their provinces and ruled in their own stead stopping rebellious peasants such as the Yellow Turbans and Five Pecks of Rice.
One warlord, Dong Zhuo, unable to tolerate the power the eunuchs had in the government, destroyed the Eastern Han dynasty capital, Luoyang, killing more than 2000 eunuchs in the process. The imperial records and library were destroyed. Although Dong Zhuo halted the eunuch’s power, his destruction of the capital and the imperial records and library were his undoing as he was killed for these acts. Xiandi’s brother, Shundi, the true heir apparent, had been killed and Emperor Xiandi’s government was in shreds.
Moving from palace to palace, Emperor Xiandi ruled over nothing and no one. The military, governed by generals and warlords or petty province rulers, had control of the government and the empire. Emperor Xiandi was forced to abdicate the throne in 220 CE by Cao Pi (Ts’ao Pi), the son of Cao Cao (Ts’ao Ts’ao) from the western Wei region.
The Fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty
Emperor Xiandi abdicated the throne in 220 CE and died in 234 CE. The Eastern Han dynasty ended with Xiandi’s rule.
The next era in China was known as The Three Kingdoms with the Wei, Wu, and Shu Han empires.