New Historian

Discovery of Emperor’s Tomb Highlights Short and Reckless Reign

Archaeological Finds of the Marquis of Haihun State

<![CDATA[Archaeologists have found the tomb of the controversial Chinese emperor Liu He, the Marquis of Haihun, near Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi province. Born in 92 BCE (reportedly), Lie He became the Prince of Changyi when his father, Liu Bo, died in 86 BCE. He began his reign as Emperor Fei in 74 BCE, when his uncle, Emperor Zhao, died without an heir. It was a reign that ended almost as quickly as it had started. The signs of impending trouble were there from the start; after learning of his succession it’s said Liu He rushed to the capital in such haste that his guards' horses fell dead from exhaustion, and that he demanded that the local governments where he stopped along the way offer him special meals and women. All of these actions were expressly forbidden or at the very least frowned upon during a mourning period. When confronted, Liu He blamed one of his subordinates – who was executed. Once emperor, Liu He immediately began promoting his friends, family and subordinates and engaging in a laundry list of behaviors leading officials to question his suitability for the role of Emperor. When the prince was unresponsive to the counsel of his advisers, his fate was sealed. His reign lasted a total of 27 days. He was deposed and his name was removed from the official list of Emperors. In addition, he lost his kingdom and was demoted to the rank of Marquis. The articles of impeachment read against him included 1127 items of misconduct, and show his main offenses as: * Refusing to abstain from meat (and sex) during the mourning period. * Failing to keep the Empire safe and secure. * Improperly rewarding and promoting friends and family. * Engaging in games and feasts during the mourning period. * Improperly offering sacrifices to his father during his uncle’s mourning period. Although some officials wanted the Prince exiled to some remote location, he was ultimately stripped of all of his titles and sent to the tiny ancient kingdom of Haihun in the north of Jiangxi, along with a fief of 2,000 families. His subordinates however, didn’t fare so well; accused of failing to keep the Prince’s behavior in check, almost all 200 were executed. The one exception was Liu He’s teacher, Wang Shi, who argued successfully that he had attempted to show the Prince what was proper and what wasn’t using poems. Chinese history has not looked kindly upon Prince Liu He, who died in 59 BCE. The excavation of his tomb however, may promote a reassessment of his life and history. Historical documents reflect his critics' claims that he was reckless and unprincipled, but artifacts found inside his tomb hint at another side. For example, the items he was buried with show he was scholarly (given the quantity of reading material in the tomb) and also a devout Confucian. It’s now believed by some historians that it was his intellectualism that irritated the officials who deposed him. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user: 三猎]]>

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