Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Empress Deng Sui -- Beautiful and Excellent Female Politician in the History of China

Deng Sui (81 -- 121) was the second queen of the Emperor Liu Zhao, who passed away when he was only 26 years old and left the dynasty to an only few months old baby emperor.


Liu Zhao was an intelligent emperor in the history of China who spent lots of time fighting against his foster mother, the powerful empress dowager Dou and her clan.


But he still trusted Deng Sui, as the adoptive mother of his baby son and as the empress dowager of his empire, and gave her the centralized power that he achieved after the difficult fights. 


One of the most important reasons was that Deng Sui was a smart and trustworthy person, which made her excellent husband emperor believed that she would be different. 


A Beautiful, Smart and Humble Highborn Girl

Deng Sui was born into a noble and powerful family; her grandfather was the most trusted and contributive general of Emperor Liu Xiu, her mother was a nephew of Liu Xiu’s beloved queen Yin Lihua.


As such a highborn girl, Deng Sui was quite humble and has been diligently reading and learning Confucianism books.


Besides Deng's remarkable intelligence and decency, she was extremely beautiful and that was clearly documented in historical records.


Her beauty made the emperor fell in love with her at first sight. 

Jealousy and Curse From the Angry Queen

After Deng Sui was nominated as imperial concubine who was loved by Emperor Liu Zhao, the current queen Xiaohe, another highborn girl who grew up with the emperor together, was very jealous. She became suspicious and needy and more arrogant, which gradually made the emperor get tired of her.

On the contrary, Deng Sui was quite humble, thoughtful, and gained everyone’s respect in the royal palace, from the emperor and other imperial concubines, to their maids and servants.


Deng barely wore fancy clothes, and always respected the arrogant queen; she even recommended many other beautiful women to the emperor.


Deng refused all the privileges that the emperor awarded her, and frequently claimed sick to make sure the emperor could spend more time with the queen and other concubines. 


The more perfect Deng was, the more jealous and furious the Queen Xiaohe became.


Years later, someone reported to the emperor that Xiaohe and her mother tried to use sorcery to curse Deng; soon this jealousy queen was abolished and died, then her clan was expelled.


Deng Sui as the Perfect Queen

When everyone recommended Deng Sui as the next queen, she refused under the reason of mourning the last queen and praying for the empire.


In the end, she finally accepted the queen’s crown when the third time the emperor begged her to be.


Then, Deng Sui became one of the most perfect queens in the history of China, who took very good care of everyone and cut off most of those luxury expenses of the royal palace.


Unfortunately, her husband passed away young, and she became the empress dowager when she was only 20 years old. 

A Loving Empress Dowager and A Successful Politician 

The next emperor, an only few month old baby, ascended to the throne and soon died when he was only one-year-old. Then Deng Sui supported another 12-year-old prince as the next emperor.


Afterwards, Deng Sui was in charge of the empire until she passed away. 


As a monarch, she was excellent and qualified.


She cut off many unnecessary expense and lowered taxes. When a ten-year-long flood disaster happened and a nomadic regime attacked, she handled those difficulties quite well.


She successfully led people went through natural disasters, maintained peace in borders and strictly punished corruption. In the end, the kingdom further progressed, after having sufferred the huge flood and long term wars. 


Most importantly, she constrained her clan very well.


As powerful as she was, people from her clan behaved quite well. Her brothers got political occupations based on their abilities, and none of them got very high occupations like other empress dowagers’ relatives in the history of China.


Deng Sui also established a private school for people of her clan, teaching them to be humble and polite.


During her ruling period, her clan had never been very powerful or crossed the line; some of them even tried to hide from getting involved in politics, and rejected honorable titles. 


As a perfect wife, she didn't fail her husband’s trust. She managed his empire well, and left to the next emperor a prosperous kingdom without super powerful clans.

Departure of Empress Deng Sui and Perishing of Her Clan

However, the emperor that Deng Sui supported was unhappy with her supervision and parenting style; though he had never challenged her because of her power and exceptional achievement.


Right after Deng Sui passed away, some greedy eunuchs framed up other people from Deng’s clan; the emperor finally got the chance to express his dissatisfaction toward Deng.


The House of Deng, which obtained few power, was easily perished by those eunuchs who were supported by the new emperor.


This new emperor used the eunuchs’ power to eliminate the House of Deng, because of personal hatred, however, he didn’t have the ability to control the big eunuch group, or bring the empire development.


Since then, the eunuch group gradually occupied more power and started to manipulate the empire, which severely declined the Han Dynasty, until it ended.