Quick Facts About Emperor Zhangdi
- Emperor Zhangdi was born in 57 CE.
- His name at birth was Liu Da.
- He was the fifth son of the Eastern Han dynasty emperor, Mingdi.
- His mother was Emperor Mingdi’s concubine, Jia.
- After his father’s death in 75 CE, Liu Da became the third emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty.
- Zhangdi means “Methodical Emperor”.
What Made Emperor Zhangdi’s Reign Unique?
Emperor Zhangdi appears to have had a normal upbringing with few of the court intrigues that occurred in Chinese government and palaces. He remained friends with those who should have been his enemies, such as sons who should have found ways to assassinate him rather than enjoy their life in the court.
China Under Emperor Zhangdi
Senior officials, such as tutors and those having financial and military responsibilities, supported Emperor Zhangdi’s government.
A new addition to Chinese government offices was that of secretary. This office was in charge of recording the receipt of and drafting new documents.
Eunuchs began to gain more control within the government and the palaces. These castrated males were responsible for assuring the harmony in the imperial harem and for the maintenance of the imperial palaces. As these men could no longer guarantee that their family line would continue through them, they used their influence in the harem and palaces to assure their place in China’s history.
Unlike most western countries, the Chinese empire had millions of people to support. To keep order, the empire was divided into kingdoms and then into counties. Emperor Zhangdi’s ruled each kingdom while government officials ruled over the counties, which numbered over 1000 during Zhangdi’s reign.
The military also continued to be important as issues with tribal people along China’s borders threatened to spill over into the Chinese empire.
Emperor Zhangdi’s Family and Death
Emperor Zhangdi’s wife was Empress Dou who was childless. He had several concubines who bore him at least eight children. Upon his death in 88 CE, one of his sons, Hedi, succeeded him as emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty.