Some Chinese emperors left behind rich legacies for us – the modern humans to know them and their dynasties in depth, while others left nothing but crazy, sometimes sordid stories that can surprise or repel anyone. China had over 2000 years of emperor rule, beginning with the very first Qin Dynasty that started in 221 BC and ended with the Qing Dynasty in 1912. Some of these emperors were Chinese by birth, while many others had Mongolian or Manchu lineage. Quite a few of these emperors brought about revolutionary changes to China, but today, we are not going to put forth the names of such men and their contributions, but will cover the 13 ancient Chinese emperors that drove their societies to misery and have quite an interesting collection of stories to their credit.
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Taichang’s rule lasted for only about a month or more when he died mysteriously, therefore ending his short rule. Taichang belonged to the Ming Dynasty and took the throne on August 28 in 1620. However, soon after he was affected with some sort of sickness that still remains a mystery. This mysterious sickness left him very weak and his condition worsened. On the recommendation of his close officials, a man named Li Keshao was appointed to make the emperor a red pill to cure his illness. Taichang recovered a little, but soon fell to his death suddenly in the evening, the causes of which are still unknown.
2. Toghon Temur
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Toghon Temur’s accession to the Yuan Dynasty throne at mere age of 13 years took ancient China by surprise. Temur had interest in Buddhism but was in no way a spiritualist like he projected himself to be. He was a sadistic emperor who roamed around wearing a monk’s clothes while his kingdom suffered and starved. Temur was a sex addict and he went around organizing sex orgies while being dressed up as a monk. He along with his chief minister also started a campaign wherein people with Wang, Li, Zhao and Zhang were planned to be executed when China came under the attack of rebels.
3. Gao Yang
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Chinese emperors like Gao Yang often started their journeys on the right footing but ended with many a disappointments. He was known as the Emperor Wenxuan who ruled Northern Qi from 529 to 559. When he took over the reign, he did a lot for the betterment of the people by lessening the burden of taxes from their shoulders. It was during his rule that Northern Qi became a powerful kingdom in China, but this golden rule was short lived as a few years later, Gao Yang took to womanizing and drinking so much so that he was eventually killed because of these vices. No one knew how sadistic this emperor could actually be till he flaunted the head of a woman he was having an affair with in front of his officials at a feast. He had a thing for beheading people when drunk and this is one of the creepiest things to know about this emperor.
4. Wang Mang
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Wang Mang, the socialist ruler founded the Xin Dynasty and brought many reforms for the development of the society and the people. He led a government that took measures like price control, slave trade ban, equal redistribution of wealth and therefore made many enemies in the process. When the civil war started, Wang Mang saw an uprising both from the rich merchants as well as from the farmers who rebelled against him. He became so depressed about this state of affairs that he started confining himself to his palace and spent more time with magicians. However, the rebels attacked Chang’an, his capital and invaded his palace. He met a violent death when he was beheaded and his body was dismembered.
5. Chen Shubao
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The last emperor of Chen Dynasty, Chen Shubao took over the throne in 583 and ruled only for six years. His rule was considered incompetent as the emperor was only interested in women, wine and literature. He was a firm believer in living life lavishly as he got luxurious pavilions built in his palace where he along with his consort and concubines would spend the entire day feasting and enjoying. He was a crazy man who favored those that were believed to be traitors but were good poets or writers, but he exiled those that were actually loyal to his throne. In his court dealings, he would make his consort Zhang sit on his lap and read out reports as he himself was not worthy of understanding anything.
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Some ancient Chinese dynasties lasted for centuries while a few of them perished because of the incompetencies of their emperors. One such dynasty that lasted till China became a republic was Qing Dynasty whose emperor Xuantong was also the country’s last emperor. Henry Puyi was his personal name and he took over the throne when he was merely 3 years old. When China became a republic in 1911, Puyi’s rule as a monarch ended, but was allowed to retain his title. Many events following the end of monarchy saw Puyi relocating to Tianjin, his accession of the throne in Manchukuo – a Japanese state, his abduction and imprisonment for 5 years by the Soviets, his return to China in 1950 followed by his imprisonment for ten long years, and his release that saw him working as a gardener in the Botanical Garden at Beijing, the release of his autobiography and his death in 1967.
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7. Sun Hao
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Sun Hao was known for his vindictive nature and was infamous for his incompetency as well. The grandson of Sun Quan who founded the Eastern Wu during 220 to 280, also known as the Three Kingdoms period, Sun Hao initially began as an able ruler who took measures for controlling taxes and also set many concubines free, but soon turned towards vices like drinking and womanizing, much like other of his contemporaries. With many killings and murders to his credit, Sun Hao had a fetish for inflicting pain on others. He loved to punish people by peeling off their facial skin and gouging their eyes. The officials who refused to drink at feasts were beheaded at Sun Hao’s orders.