An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Prince Fusu 扶蘇

Jul 14, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Prince Fusu 扶蘇 (d. 210) was the Heir Apparent of the First Emperor 秦始皇帝 (r. 246-210 BCE) of the Qin dynasty 秦 (221-206 BCE). He was forced to commit suicide after the death of his father because the chief eunuch Zhao Gao 趙高 and the Counsellor-in-chief Li Si 李斯 forged an imperial edict ordering Prince Fusu to do so.

Prince Fusu 扶蘇 had long been nominated heir to the throne, but the First Emperor had preferred Prince Huhai 胡亥, and even allowed him to took part in his last inspection tour in 209 BCE. When the First Emperor died during the inspection tour, Zhao Gao and Li Si forged a testamentary edict nominating Huhai as the heir, while Prince Fusu was ordered to commit sucide. Fusu had been known as a very human person and had remonstrated against the burying alive of various scholars ("Confucians") ordered by his father. For this venture he had been ordered to survey the border troops of general Meng Tian 蒙恬 in the north. When the faked edict arrived commanding Prince Fusu, and also Meng Tian, to commit suicide, the general tried persuading the Prince to wait and see, but his filial heart ordered the crown prince to obey his father's command.

The plot of Zhao Gao and Li Si thus succeeded, and the young Huhai, assuming the title of Second Emperor of Qin 秦二世皇 (r. 209-207), was henceforth dependent from the two powerful ministers who both now had power enough to have their enemies executed. When Huhai finally dared to criticize Zhao Gao after the latter had eliminated Li Si, the eunuch had the emperor arrested and forced him to commit suicide.

Zhao Gao then enthroned a prince known with the name of Ziying 子嬰 (d. 206). He renounced the title of emperor and called himself just "King of Qin". Ziying managed to have Zhao Gao killed. He was only king for 46 days when the army of Liu Bang 劉邦 reached the capital Xianyang 咸陽 (modern Xianyang, Shaanxi). Ziying drove out to meet Liu Bang and presented him the state seals, submitting to the rebel army. When the hegemonial king Xiang Yu 項羽 arrived, Ziying was killed by the latter.

Cang Xiuliang 倉修良, ed. (1991). Shiji cidian 史記辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 212, 381, 384.
Huang Banghe 黃邦和, Pi Mingxiu 皮明庥, ed. (1987). Zhong-wai lishi renwu cidian 中外歷史人物詞典 (Changsha: Hunan renmin chubanshe), 208.
Ji Qianyun 冀遷運, Zhu Zhenghao 朱正浩, ed. (1996). Shaanxi gudai renming cidian 陜西古代名人辭典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 11.
Yuan Mingren 袁明仁 et al., ed. (1992). Sanqin lishi wenhua cidian 三秦歷史文化辭典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin jiaoyu chubanshe), 35.
Zhang Yonglu 張永祿, ed. (1993). Handai Chang'an cidian 漢代長安詞典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 246.