Emperor He of Han

Han Hedi (漢和帝)
Family name:Liu (劉; liú)
Given name:Zhao (肇, zhào)
Temple name:Muzong (穆宗, mù zōng)
Posthumous name:
Xiaohe (孝和, xiào hé)
literary meaning: "filial and moderate"
Posthumous name:
He (和, hé)

Emperor He of Han (Chinese: 漢和帝; pinyin: Hàn Hé Dì; Wade–Giles: Han Ho-ti; 79 – 13 February 106) was an emperor of the Chinese Han dynasty who ruled from 88 to 105. He was the 4th emperor of the Eastern Han.

Emperor He was the son of Emperor Zhang. He ascended the throne at the age of nine and reigned for 17 years. It was during Emperor He's reign that the Eastern Han began its decline. Strife between consort clans and eunuchs began when the Empress Dowager Dou (Emperor He's adoptive mother) made her own family members important government officials. Her family was corrupt and intolerant of dissension. In 92, Emperor He was able to remedy the situation by removing the empress dowager's brothers with the aid of the eunuch Zheng Zhong and his brother Liu Qing the Prince of Qinghe. This in turn created a precedent for eunuchs to be involved in important affairs of state. These trend would continue to escalate for the next century contributing to the fall of the Han dynasty. Further, while Qiang revolts, spurred by corrupt and/or oppressive Han officials, started during his father Emperor Zhang's reign, they began to create major problems for the Han during Emperor He's reign and would last until the reign of Emperor Ling.

Emperor He himself appeared to be a largely kind and gentle man who, however, lacked his father's and grandfather Emperor Ming's acumen for governance and for judgment of character. Although Emperor He's reign arguably began Han's long decline, notable scientific progresses were made during this period including the invention of paper by the eunuch Cai Lun in 105.

One additional trend that started with Emperor He was the lack of imperial heirs - most of Emperor He's sons predeceased him, and at his death he had only two live male children, neither of whom survived him long. Whereas many dynasties had succession crises triggered by an emperor's many sons vying to succeed him, in the case of the Eastern Han crises were triggered by the lack of direct male line heirs, further adding to dynastic instability.

Family background

Then-Prince Zhao was born to Emperor Zhang and his concubine Consort Liang in 79. Because Emperor Zhang's favorite, Empress Dou, had no sons of her own, she adopted Prince Zhao as her own son; in doing so, she might have been inspired by her mother-in-law, Empress Ma, who had adopted Emperor Zhang, born of Emperor Ming's concubine Consort Jia. By the time Prince Zhao was born, his older brother Liu Qing, born of another concubine, Consort Song, had already been created crown prince. However, Empress Dou deeply wanted to make her adopted son crown prince as well as to eliminate Consort Song and her younger sister, also an imperial consort, as competition for Emperor Zhang's affection.

In 82, an opportunity came for Empress Dou. Consort Song, the mother of Crown Prince Qing, had become ill, and in her illness, she craved raw cuscuta, and she requested that her family bring her some. Empress Dou seized the cuscuta and accused Consort Song and her sister of using it for witchcraft. Emperor Zhang was enraged and expelled Crown Prince Qing from the palace. He had both Consort Song and her sister arrested and interrogated by the eunuch Cai Lun. Following this they committed suicide by poison. Crown Prince Qing was deposed and created the Prince of Qinghe instead; he was replaced by Prince Zhao as crown prince. Prince Zhao, however, was friendly to his brother, and they often spent time together.

The Song sisters would not be Empress Dou's only victims. After Prince Zhao was made crown prince, his birth mother's clan, the Liangs, did not dare to openly celebrate, but were secretly happy. When the Dou clan heard of this, they were displeased and fearful, and they felt that they had to destroy the Liangs. Empress Dou began to give false reports about Prince Zhao's birth mother Consort Liang and her sister, also an imperial consort, and they lost Emperor Zhang's favor. In 83, the Dou clan further submitted anonymous accusations against the father of both Consorts Liang, Liang Song (梁竦), who died in prison. The two Liang sisters died of sadness and fear.

In 86, Emperor Zhang died, and Crown Prince Zhao succeeded to the throne at age seven.

Other Languages
Bân-lâm-gú: Hàn Hô-tè
Deutsch: Han Hedi
français: Han Hedi
한국어: 후한 화제
hrvatski: He od Hana
Bahasa Indonesia: Kaisar He dari Han
Nederlands: Han Hedi
日本語: 和帝 (漢)
norsk: Han Hedi
русский: Хэ-ди (Хань)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Car He od Hana
українська: Лю Чжао
Tiếng Việt: Hán Hòa Đế
粵語: 劉肇
中文: 汉和帝