Wang Mang

Wang Mang
Emperor of the Xin Dynasty
Reign 9–23
Predecessor none, Ruzi Ying as Emperor of Western Han Dynasty
Successor dynasty abolished, Emperor Gengshi as Emperor of Xuan Han Dynasty
Born 45 BC
Died 6 October 23 (aged 68)
Spouse Empress Wang
Empress Shi
Zhenzhi, concubine
Huaineng, concubine
Kaiming, concubine
Issue Wang Yu (王宇)
Wang Hue (王獲)
Wang An, Prince of Xinqian (王安)
Wang Lin, Prince of Tongyiyang (王臨)
Wang Xing, Duke of Gongxiu (王興)
Wang Kuang, Duke of Gongjian (王匡)
Lady Wang, Empress Xiaoping of Han ( 孝平皇后)
Wang Jie, Lady of Mudai (王捷)
Lady Wang, Lady of Muxiu
Era dates
Shi-jian-guo 始建國 (9–13)
Tian-feng 天鳳 (14–19)
Di-huang 地皇 (20–23)
Posthumous name
none
Temple name
none
Dynasty Xin Dynasty
Father Wang Man ( 王曼)
Mother Qu (渠)
Wang Mang
Chinese 王莽

Wang Mang ( Chinese: 王莽, c. 45 BC – 6 October 23 AD), courtesy name Jujun (巨君), was a Han Dynasty official who seized the throne from the Liu family and founded the Xin (or Hsin, meaning "renewed" [1]) Dynasty (新朝), ruling 9–23 AD. The Han dynasty was restored after his overthrow, and his rule marks the separation between the Western Han Dynasty (before Xin) and Eastern Han Dynasty (after Xin). Some historians have traditionally viewed Wang as a usurper, while others have portrayed him as a visionary and selfless social reformer. Though a learned Confucian scholar who sought to implement the harmonious society he saw in the classics, his efforts ended in chaos.

In October 23 AD, the capital Chang'an was attacked and the imperial palace ransacked. Wang Mang died in the battle.

The Han dynasty was reestablished in 25 AD when Liu Xiu ( Emperor Guangwu) took the throne.

Early life and career

Wang Mang was the son of Wang Man (王曼), the younger brother of Empress Wang Zhengjun, and his wife Qu (渠, family name unknown), born in 45 BC. Wang Man died early, while Wang Mang was young, before Emperor Cheng took the throne and his mother Empress Wang became empress dowager. Unlike most of his brothers, Wang Man did not have the opportunity to become a marquess. Empress Wang took pity on his family, and after she herself was widowed, had Qu moved to the imperial palace to live with her.

While Wang Mang was obviously well-connected to the imperial family, he did not have nearly the luxuries that his cousins enjoyed. Indeed, unlike his relatives who lived expensively and competed with each other on how they could spend more, Wang Mang was praised for his humility, thriftiness, and desire to study. He wore not the clothes of young nobles but those of a young Confucian scholar. He was also praised on how filial he was to his mother and how caring he was to his deceased brother Wang Yong (王永)'s wife and son Wang Guang (王光). Wang Mang befriended many capable people and served his uncles carefully.

When Wang Mang's powerful uncle Wang Feng (王鳳, commander of the armed forces 33 BC-22 BC) grew ill, Wang Mang cared for him near his sick bed day and night, and attended to his medical and personal needs. Wang Feng was greatly touched, and before his death, he asked Empress Dowager Wang and Emperor Cheng to take good care of Wang Mang. Wang Mang was therefore given the post of imperial attendant (黃門郎) and later promoted to be one of the subcommanders of the imperial guards (射聲校尉).

In 16 BC, another of Wang Mang's uncles, Wang Shang (王商) the Marquess of Chengdu, submitted a petition to divide part of his march and to create Wang Mang a marquess. Several well-regarded officials concurred in this request, and Emperor Cheng was impressed with Wang Mang's reputation. He therefore created Wang Mang the Marquess of Xindu and promoted him to the Chamberlain for Attendants (光祿大夫). It was described by historians that the greater the posts that Wang was promoted to, the more humble he grew. He did not accumulate wealth, but used the money to support scholars and to give gifts to colleagues, so he gained more and more praise.

Another thing that Wang Mang made himself known for was that he had only a single wife, Lady Wang, and no concubines. (Note that she had the same family name as Wang Mang—strong evidence that at this point the taboo against endogamy based on the same family name was not firmly in place in Chinese culture.) However, as later events would show, Wang was not completely faithful to his wife, even at this time.

Emperor Cheng appointed his uncles, one after another, to be commander of the armed forces (the most powerful court official) (see here for more information), and speculation grew as to who would succeed Wang Mang's youngest surviving uncle, Wang Gen (王根, commander 12 BC-8 BC). Wang Mang was considered one of the possibilities, while another was his cousin Chunyu Zhang (the son of Empress Dowager Wang's sister), who had a much closer personal relationship to Emperor Cheng than Wang Mang did. Chunyu also had friendly relations with both Emperor Cheng's wife Empress Zhao Feiyan and his deposed former wife Empress Xu.

To overcome Chunyu's presumptive hold on succeeding Wang Gen, Wang Mang took action. He collected evidence that Chunyu, a frivolous man in his words and deeds, had secretly received bribes from the deposed Empress Xu and had promised to help her become "left empress", and that he had promised his associates great posts once he succeeded Wang Gen. In 8 BC, he informed Wang Gen and Empress Dowager Wang of the evidence, and both Wang Gen and Empress Dowager Wang were greatly displeased. They exiled Chunyu back to his march. Chunyu, before he left the capital, gave his horses and luxurious carriages to his cousin Wang Rong (王融) – the son of his uncle Wang Li (王立), with whom he had a running feud. Wang Li, happy with Chunyu's gift, submitted a petition requesting that Chunyu be allowed to remain at the capital—which drew Emperor Cheng's suspicion, because he knew of the feud between Wang Li and Chunyu. He ordered Wang Rong to be arrested, and Wang Li, in his panic, ordered his son to commit suicide—which in turn caused Emperor Cheng to become even more suspicious. He therefore had Chunyu arrested and interrogated. Chunyu admitted to deceiving Empress Xu and receiving bribes from her, and he was executed.

Also in 8 BC, Wang Gen, by then seriously ill, submitted his resignation and requested that Wang Mang succeed him. In winter 8 BC, Emperor Cheng made Wang Mang the commander of the armed forces (大司馬), at the age of 37.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Wang Mang
العربية: وانغ مانغ
azərbaycanca: Van Man
Bân-lâm-gú: Ông Bóng
беларуская: Ван Ман
български: Уан Ман
català: Wang Mang
čeština: Wang Mang
Deutsch: Wang Mang
eesti: Wang Mang
Ελληνικά: Ουάνγκ Μανγκ
español: Wang Mang
한국어: 왕망
Հայերեն: Վան Ման
hrvatski: Wang Mang
қазақша: Ван Ман
Nederlands: Wang Mang
日本語: 王莽
norsk: Wang Mang
پنجابی: وانگ منگ
polski: Wang Mang
português: Wang Mang
русский: Ван Ман
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Wang Mang
suomi: Wang Mang
svenska: Wang Mang
Türkçe: Wang Mang
українська: Ван Ман
Tiếng Việt: Vương Mãng
文言: 王莽
粵語: 王莽
中文: 王莽