An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Emperor Han Xiandi 漢獻帝 Liu Xie 劉協

Mar 8, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Emperor Han Xiandi 漢獻帝 (181-234, r. 189-220), personal name Liu Xie 劉協, courtesy name Bohe 伯和, was the last emperor of the Later Han dynasty 後漢 (25-220). His father was Emperor Ling 漢靈帝 (r. 167-189), his mother was Beauty Wang 王美人.

As a child he was given the title of Prince of Bohai 渤海王, later that of Prince of Chenliu 陳留王. In 189, he was enthroned as emperor by the powerful general Dong Zhuo, who controlled the imperial court. His formerly enthroned older brother, Liu Bian 劉辯, known as the Infant Emperor 漢少帝, was deposed.

Fearing the military challenge by his competitors, Dong Zhuo forced Emperor Xian to leave the capital Luoyang 洛陽 (modern Luoyang, Henan) and to take residence in the former capital Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi). Dong Zhuo was killed by Wang Yun 王允, and Li Jue 李傕 again abused the person of the young puppet emperor. He was finally able to flee Chang'an and found his way to the warlord Cao Cao 曹操.

The latter had Emperor Xian settle down in Cao Cao's own residence in Xu 許 (modern Xuchang 許昌, Henan).

In 220, Cao Cao's son Cao Pi 曹丕 demoted Emperor Xian to Duke of Shanyang 山陽公 and proclaimed himself emperor (known as Emperor Wen 魏文帝, r. 220-226) of the Wei dynasty 魏 (220-265).

After his death, Liu Xie was buried in the tomb mound Chanling 禪陵. His posthumous title is Emperor Xiaoxian 漢孝獻帝.

Zhang Shunhui 張舜徽, ed. (1994). Houhanshu cidian 後漢書辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 582.