Quick Facts about Emperor Xuandi
- Emperor Xuandi was born in 91 BCE.
- His name at birth was Liu Bingyi.
- He was the grandson of the Western Han dynasty emperor, Wudi and his father was Emperor Wudi’s son, Liu Ju, who was forced to commit suicide in 91 BCE.
- His grandmother was Emperor Wudi’s wife, Empress Wei.
- His mother is unknown.
- Upon the death of his uncle, Emperor Zhaodi, in 74 BCE, Liu Bingyi became the seventh emperor of the Western Han dynasty.
- Xuandi (Hsuan-ti) means “Proclaimed Emperor”.
How Emperor Xuandi became Emperor
During the rebellion that killed Emperor Wudi’s wife, Empress Wei and her family, Liu Bingyi’s life had been spared. He was taken away from the court and raised as a commoner. He was brought back to court when another grandson of Emperor Wudi, Liu He, who had been placed on the throne, was removed due to unsuitability. Apparently, he didn’t act much like an emperor.
China under Emperor Xuandi
Emperor Xuandi ruled for twenty-five years. During that time, no further progress was made in the government to restore the treasury. Reforms that might have saved the Western Han dynasty from further decline did not occur. The wealthy families still maintained a hold over the empire and Emperor Xuandi was unable to stop their control.
Emperor Xuandi continued his father, Emperor Zhaodi’s, ideas of reforming the government by lowering taxes, removing control of mining from the government, and limiting the amount of land owned by any one family.
Palace Life under Emperor Xuandi
Palace intrigue was strong and the wealthy families continued to rule there as well. One of Emperor Xuandi’s concubines killed his wife, Empress Xu. This concubine, Huo, became Empress. Her family was extremely wealthy as indicated by her father being buried in a suit made of jade.
Emperor Xuandi’s Death
Emperor Xuandi had three wives, Empresses Xu, Huo, and Wang. He had at least one child. Xuandi died in 49 BCE, leaving behind a tattered dynasty. His son, Yuandi, succeeded him as emperor of the Western Han dynasty.