Emperor Shun (Prince Bao) was the only son of Emperor An of Han. After Emperor An died in 125, the Empress Dowager Yan, childless but yearning to hold on to power, displaced Prince Bao (whose title of crown prince she had wrongly caused Emperor An to strip in 124) from the throne in favour of Liu Yi, the Marquess of Beixiang. Liu Yi died after reigning less than seven months; eunuchs loyal to Prince Bao, led by Sun Cheng, carried out a successful coup d'etat against the Empress Dowager, and Prince Bao was finally declared emperor at age 10.
The people had great expectations for Emperor Shun, whose reign followed his incompetent and violent father. However, while Emperor Shun's personality was mild, he was just as incompetent as his father in general, and corruption continued without abatement among eunuchs and officials. He also overly entrusted government to his wife Empress Liang Na's father Liang Shang (梁商) - a mild-mannered man with integrity but little ability - and then Liang Shang's son Liang Ji - a corrupt and autocratic man. In general, Emperor Shun's reign was still somewhat of an improvement over his father's, but this minor improvement was unable to stem Eastern Han Dynasty's continued degradation.
Emperor Shun died at the age of 29 after reigning for 19 years. He was succeeded by his son Emperor Chong.
Then-Prince Bao was born to Emperor An and his concubine
Consort Li in 115, apparently shortly after Emperor An had created his favorite Yan Ji empress. Empress Yan herself was sonless, and in jealousy, she poisoned Consort Li to death, an act that went unpunished. Empress Yan would continue to hold a grudge against Prince Bao, despite his youth.
In 120, Emperor An created Prince Bao crown prince, as he continued to be Emperor An's only son.