Liu Taigong

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Liu Taigong
Born277 BC
Feng County, Jiangsu
Died197 BC (aged 80)
SpouseWang Hanshi
Lady Li
IssueLiu Bo
Liu Xi
Emperor Gaozu
Liu Jiao
Empress Zhao'ai
FatherLiu Ren

Liu Taigong (simplified Chinese: 刘太公; traditional Chinese: 劉太公; pinyin: Liú Tàigōng, literally meaning "a senior person named Liu"; died 197 BC), was the father of Liu Bang, the founding emperor of the Han dynasty, which ruled over China for more than 400 years.

Biography[edit]

Not much is recorded about Taigong historically. He was born and likely lived his early life in present-day Feng County, Jiangsu. His personal name is not known. Some historical sources says his name is Liu Zhijia (simplified Chinese: 刘执嘉; traditional Chinese: 劉執嘉), although this name is likely chosen after Liu Bang became Emperor. He likely came from a humble, rural background.

After Taigong's son Liu Bang became emperor, Liu Bang continued to visit his father once a week. However, upon hearing from an advisor that it was no longer appropriate for Taigong to "receive" his son, as Taigong was technically one of his subjects, Taigong began to greet his son in deprecatory fashion, honoring the latter's status as emperor. Upon learning the reason behind his father's actions, Liu Bang honored Taigong with the title Taishang Huang after Liu Bang declared himself emperor. The title nominally elevated Liu's status in court protocol as to remain consistent with Confucian norms of filial piety.

Taigong is the only person in history to have held the title of "Taishang Huang" without himself having been emperor. It would be 450 years before the next person was bestowed the title (in recorded history): the Emperor Hui of Jin.

Taigong died at the Royal Palace of Xiang Yang in 197 BC.

He is entombed in present-day Lintong District, Xi'an.

The "Tomb of the Grand Emperor of Han" (漢太上皇陵), in Xi'an, Shaanxi

Family[edit]

  • Parents:
    • Liu Ren, Duke Fufeng (父豐公 劉仁)
  • Consorts and Issue:
    • Empress Zhaoling, of the Wang clan (昭靈皇后 王氏), personal name Hanshi (含始)
      • Liu Bo, Prince Wu'ai (武哀王 劉伯; b. 262 BC), first son
      • Liu Xi, Prince Wuqing (吳頃王 劉喜; 260–193 BC), second son
      • Empress Zhao'ai (昭哀皇后)
      • Liu Bang, Emperor Gao (高皇帝 劉邦; 256–195 BC), third son
    • Retired Empress, of the Li clan (太上皇后 李氏)
      • Liu Jiao, Prince Chuyuan (楚元王 劉交; d. 179 BC), fourth son

References[edit]

Honorary titles
Vacant
Title last held by
King Zhuangxiang of Qin
Retired Emperor of China
201 BC – 197 BC
Vacant
Title next held by
Emperor Hui of Jin