Wang Mang | as acting emperor

As acting emperor

Because the young Emperor Ping had not had any children by his wife Empress Wang or any of his concubines, there was no heir. Further, by that point, Emperor Ping's grandfather, Emperor Yuan had no surviving male issue. The progeny of Emperor Ping's great-grandfather Emperor Xuan were therefore examined as possible successors.

There were 53 great-grandsons of Emperor Xuan then still living by this stage, but they were all adults, and Wang Mang disliked that fact—he wanted a child whom he could control. Therefore, he declared that it was inappropriate for members of the same generation to succeed each other (even though Emperor Ping had succeeded his cousin Emperor Ai several years earlier). He then examined the 23 great-great-grandsons of Emperor Xuan—all of whom were infants or toddlers.

While the examination process was proceeding, the mayor of South Chang'an submitted a rock with a mysterious red writing on it – "Wang Mang, the Duke of Anhan, should be emperor." In May, Wang had his political allies force Grand Empress Dowager Wang to issue an edict granting him the title of "Acting Emperor" (假皇帝), [2] with the commission to rule as emperor until a great-great-grandson of Emperor Xuan could be selected and raised. To further bolster his claims, Wang also faked his genealogy, declaring himself a descendant of the Yellow Emperor, a legendary emperor revered in Chinese culture. [3]

In the spring of 6, Acting Emperor Wang selected the child Ying—then just one year old—as the designated successor to Emperor Ping, claiming that soothsayers told him that Ying was the candidate most favored by the gods. He gave Ying the epithet Ruzi – the same epithet that King Cheng of Zhou had when he was in his minority and under the regency of the Duke of Zhou – to claim that he was as faithful as the Duke of Zhou. However, Emperor Ruzi did not ascend the throne, but was given the title of crown prince. Empress Wang was given the title empress dowager.

As acting emperor, Wang reinstituted the Zhou system of five grades of nobility—duke (公, gong), marquess (侯, hou), earl (伯, bo), viscount (子, zi), and baron (男, nan).

Several members of the imperial Liu clan were naturally suspicious of Acting Emperor Wang's intentions. They started or assisted in several failed rebellions against Wang:

  • In 6, Liu Chong (劉崇), the Marquess of Anzhong, made an attack against Wancheng (宛城, in modern Nanyang, Henan). His attack failed, but historians did not specify what happened to him, other than that as punishment, Wang had his house filled with filthy water.
  • In 7, Zhai Yi (翟義), the governor of the Commandery of Dong (roughly modern Puyang, Henan) and Liu Xin (劉信), the Marquess of Yanxiang (and the father of Liu Kuang (劉匡), the Prince of Dongping (roughly modern Tai'an, Shandong)) started the largest of these rebellions—and they were joined by agrarian rebellion leaders Zhao Peng (趙朋) and Huo Hong (霍鴻) from the area immediately west of the capital Chang'an. They declared Liu Xin emperor. Wang responded by sending messengers all around the nation to pledge that he will in fact return the throne to Emperor Ruzi once he was grown. Wang's armies defeated Zhai and Liu's armies in winter 7, and Zhai was captured and executed by drawing and quartering. Liu fled and was never captured. Zhao and Huo were also eventually defeated and executed.
  • In 9 (after Wang Mang had usurped the throne—see below), Liu Kuai (劉快), the Marquess of Xuxiang, attacked the Dukedom of Fuchong, of his brother Liu Ying (劉殷), the former Prince of Jiaodong. He was defeated and died while fleeing from the battle.
  • In 13, under Emperor Wang Mang's rule, the Heavenly Stems were incorporated to number the years and replace the previous system which used only the Earthly Branches.

After Zhai and Liu Xin were defeated, Wang became even more convinced that the empire was entirely under his control, and decided to finally seize the throne and start a new dynasty. In the winter of 8, after receiving a false prophecy written by the hoodlum Ai Zhang (哀章) which pretended to be a divine decree from Emperor Gaozu (Liu Bang) stating that the throne should be given to Wang, and that Grand Empress Dowager Wang should follow this divine will, Wang issued a decree accepting the position of emperor, establishing the Xin Dynasty.

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
עברית: ואנג מאנג
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