Emperor Yuandi Facts
- Emperor Yuandi was born in 75 BCE.
- His name at birth was Liu Shi.
- He was the son of the Western Han dynasty emperor, Xuandi.
- His mother was his father’s wife, Empress Xu.
- Emperor Xuandi’s concubine, Hou, who later became Empress, killed Emperor Yuandi’s mother.
- Upon the death of his father, Emperor Xuandi, in 49 BCE, Liu Shi became the eighth emperor of the Western Han dynasty.
- Yuandi (Yuan-ti) means “Original Emperor”.
China under Emperor Yuandi
Yuandi became emperor in a time when the Western Han dynasty had already seen many years of decline. The government costs far exceeded the money found in its treasury. Although, Emperor Yuandi continued his father practice of reform, the new reforms had little effect. He continued to lower taxes and kept families from ruling over large areas.
To help the empire’s struggling economy, Emperor Yuandi stopped the use of multiple palaces and other imperial buildings. He stopped having royal banquets, reduced the use of royal parks, and ended food service at imperial shrines (Some of the imperial shrines provided food for tens of thousands of people and had even larger staffs to cook and serve the food.).
Palace intrigue remained strong and wealthy families continued to gain in strength and wealth. The Silk Road, as a trade route, remained open and wealthy families profited from the caravans coming in and going out of the empire.
His Family and Death
Emperor Yuandi had three wives in total: Empresses Fu, Feng, and Wang. He had at least one child. He died in 33 BCE. His son, Chengdi, succeeded him as emperor of the Western Han dynasty.