Taishang Huang

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
See also: Retired Emperor
Taishang Huang
Chinese 太上皇

A Taishang Huang or Taishang Huangdi is a retired emperor who had, at least in name, abdicated in favor of someone else. Although technically no longer the reigning sovereign, there are instances where the retired emperor continued to exert considerable if not more power than the reigning emperor.

History[edit]

Styling himself the "Lord Father" (Simplified and Traditional Chinese: 主父), King Wuling of Zhao was one of the first known Chinese sovereigns to retire and abdicate in favour of his son and successor. But the title of Taishang Huang was not used until much later.

This title first began when Qin Shi Huangdi bestowed it upon his deceased father.[1]

Emperor Gaozu of Han had also bestowed this title on his living father.[2] He bestowed it onto his father to express filial piety and to preserve the social hierarchy between father and son.[2]

In 301 during the War of the Eight Princes, Sima Lun became emperor by forcing his puppet Emperor Hui of Jin to become Taishang Huang.[2] The title had always been an honorific before the 301 coup, but it had now become a tool of political infighting between opposing factions.[2]

Emperor Xianwen of Northern Wei (454–476), personal name Tuoba Hong, was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. After retiring in favor of his son Emperor Xiaowen to become Taishang Huang in 471. He continued to hold onto power until his death in 476—when he was killed by his stepmother Empress Dowager Feng over his having executed a lover of hers.

In 617, Li Yuan—later known as Emperor Gaozu of Tang—bestowed Taishang Huang upon Emperor Yang of Sui.[2]

In 626 during the Xuanwu Gate Incident, Prince Li Shimin led his armed men to commit a bloody palace coup.[2][3] During the course of the coup, he succeeded in killing his brothers Crown Prince Li Jiancheng and Prince Li Yuanji.[3] Within three days, Emperor Gaozu created Li Shimin as his heir.[3] On the 9th day of the eight month, Emperor Gaozu abdicated in favor for his son Li Shimin (Emperor Taizong).[3] Emperor Gaozu would retire as Taishang Huang until his death in 635.[2][3]

In 756 during the An Lushan Rebellion, Emperor Xuanzong of Tang retired while in Shu.[4] Earlier, Emperor Xuanzong had been driven out of the capital Chang'an to Shu by the rebel forces. However, in response, his son had assumed the throne as Emperor Suzong of Tang. He would lead his forces against the rebels.

China's last Taishang Huang was the Qianlong Emperor who abdicated in 1796 in favour of the 15th Imperial Prince, the Jiaqing Emperor in order not to out-reign his own grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor. However, unlike most previous Retired Emperors, the Qianlong Emperor was still the de facto holder of Imperial power until his death just over three years later.

Also notable, Yixuan, father of the Guangxu Emperor lived well into and was highly prominent during the reign of his second son, who was chosen by Dowager Empress Cixi to ascend the throne in 1871. Yixuan's fifth son Zaifeng was also put into the same position as his father before him at the death of the Guangxu Emperor as his young son Puyi ascended the Dragon Throne. But neither father nor son ever assumed the title of Taishang Huang.

Modern usage[edit]

In modern Chinese history after 1949, Deng Xiaoping has been called Taishang Huang in a pejorative context because he wielded much of his power without assuming the titles normally taken on by China's paramount leader, and because he belonged to Mao's generation of leaders but wielded influence over leaders who were a generation below him.[5] The term has also been applied to other party elders without formal titles who were seen as meddling in the affairs of their successors, such as Chen Yun,[6] Jiang Zemin, and so on.[7]

List of Taishang Huang[edit]

Instances of Chinese rulers who were granted the title Taishang Huang:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eisenberg, Andrew (2008). Kingship in Early Medieval China. Leiden: Brill. pp. 24–25. ISBN 9789004163812. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Eisenberg, Andrew (2008). Kingship in Early Medieval China. Leiden: Brill. p. 25. ISBN 9789004163812. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Wenchsler, Howard J. (1979). "The founding of the T'ang dynasty: Kao-tsu (reign 618–26)". The Cambridge history of China, Volume 3: Sui and T'ang China, 589–906, Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 186. ISBN 0-521-21446-7. 
  4. ^ Eisenberg, Andrew (2008). Kingship in Early Medieval China. Leiden: Brill. p. 26. ISBN 9789004163812. 
  5. ^ "叶剑英与邓小平的恩怨". Duowei History. 
  6. ^ "另一“太上皇”陈云赞军队六四镇压". Canyu. 
  7. ^ "太上皇纷纷亮相,足见中共内斗惨烈 (林保华)". Radio Free Asia. October 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ Wenchsler, Howard J. (1979). "The founding of the T'ang dynasty: Kao-tsu (reign 618–26)". The Cambridge history of China, Volume 3: Sui and T'ang China, 589–906, Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 186. ISBN 0-521-21446-7.