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Li Chun the Emperor Xianzong of Tang — Eliminator of Warlords, and Monarch With No Queen

Li Chun (778 — 820), respected as Emperor Xianzong of Tang, was considered one of the most successful monarchs in the mid to late Tang Dynasty

He inherited his grandfather's throne, ambition, assets, and unfinished dream. 

After years of difficult fights, Li Chun successfully accomplished the big challenge his grandfather didn't finish and flourished the empire. 

Meanwhile, he had never nominated a queen for some reason and ended up controversially in his late years.  

Golden Dragons (Zou Long) that used as Ritual Implements of Taoism Religion Ceremony in the Tang Dynasty

Golden Dragons (Zou Long) that used as Ritual Implements of Taoism Religion Ceremony in the Tang Dynasty — Shaanxi History Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Surprising Assets From His Controversial Grandfather

Li Chun's grandfather and father passed away in the same year, and he ascended to the throne when he was 27.

Li Chun's grandfather, the Emperor Dezong of Tang (742 — 805), had seen the most prosperous era of the Tang Dynasty and witnessed the destructive An-Shi Rebellion that lasted for eight years and took away over 35 million lives and dramatically declined the empire, after which some disobedient, half-independent local military forces were formed. 

Therefore, Emperor Dezong spent his life fighting against those strong warlords but failed and then implemented a series of self-contradicted, controversial policies in his late years. 

Unearthed Gilding Silver Wine Cup (Yu Shang) of the Tang Dynasty

Gilding Silver Wine Cup (Yu Shang) of the Tang Dynasty — Shaanxi History Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

It was uncertain whether he had ever told his beloved grandson Li Chun about how prosperous their empire used to be and the dream he had fought for.

When Li Chun got the throne, he found that his grandfather left him a great deal of money in the exchequer and a substantial and well-trained troop that only listened to the emperor.

The enlarged royal troop became a powerful weapon of Emperor Li Chun.

It turned out that in Emperor Dezong of Tang's frustrated late years, he took the blame for collecting large amounts of money, but he gave his grandson a chance to realize their dream.

Inscriptions on Mount Tai, Written by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang

Inscriptions on Mount Tai, Written by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang to Memorize the Grand Fengshan (the most significant and honorable sacrificial rite in ancient Chinese history) Ceremony (the Gold Characters on the Right) and his Great Reign.

Big Victories of Defeating Rebellious Warlords

The year when Li Chun became emperor, a warlord of the Tang Empire initiated a rebel war. Other warlords stayed put, observing and trying to figure out how the new emperor would handle the rebellion and what his policies would be.

Li Chun decisively organized his royal troop to fight back and achieved absolute success soon.

In the next following years, Emperor Li Chun defeated powerful warlords one by one, resolutely and smartly.

That "abrogation a strong one at a time" strategy worked very well. After some powerful warlords were defeated, others complied.

Li Chun, the Emperor Xianzong of Tang, didn't fail his grandfather's effort and expectations and successfully realized their dream.

Emperor Li Chun's Excellent Reign

After successfully defeating rebellious warlords, the emperor eliminated the potential possibility of separation of the nation, ensuring that the Tang Empire was progressing in a better direction.

Besides, Emperor Li Chun nominated and trusted many intelligent, honest, and righteous officials who supported his political conceptions.

Under their governance, the economy and agriculture recovered gradually, and people lived in peace and wealth again.

Though the empire never reached the prosperity it used to be in the first century of the Tang Dynasty, everything was recovering and flourishing. 

Additionally, Li Chun's attitude toward eunuch groups was unique: he nominated and empowered some of them but didn't treat them with any preferences either. In the emperor's mind, eunuchs were still his servants.

Unearthed Tri-coloured Glazed Pottery Horse (Tang San Cai) of the Tang Dynasty

Tri-coloured Glazed Pottery Horse (Tang San Cai) of the Tang Dynasty — Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Reasons that Emperor Li Chun Never Wanted A Queen

Emperor Li Chun never nominated a queen in his entire life. That didn’t mean he was not interested in women; on the contrary, he had many imperial concubines.

He highly valued centralized and absolute power, especially after he gained it after so many brutal wars.

But a queen and her clan might be very powerful and bring unpredictable political influences. He also didn’t want a queen with the right to intervene in his sex life or manage his other women.

So he wanted to make sure that all of his women were equal and that he could enjoy free love life. 

This behavior was then applied by many of the following emperors of the Tang Dynasty.

Jade Flying Deity of the Tang Dynasty

Jade Flying Deity of the Tang Dynasty — Shanghai Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

However, there was never absolute equality. 

One of his concubines, Guo, was way nobler than the emperor's other women. 

Her mother was an honorable royal princess, and her grandfather was the great general Guo Ziyi, who contributed significantly to the empire. 

Therefore, she obtained support from the royals, nobles, officials, and generals.  

Later, her son was nominated as crown prince, even though he wasn't the oldest nor Li Chun's favorite. 

Afterward, Li Chun tried to nominate another son as the crown prince but failed because of Guo's strong supporters' opposition. 

But Li Chun didn't give the queen's crown to Guo either.

Li Chun's Sudden, Controversial Death

Li Chun, Emperor Xianzong of Tang, passed away suddenly when he was 42, and the official documents recorded that sickness caused his death. 

Others, however, questioned his influential concubine Guo. At that time, Li Chun intended to remove her son from the crown prince and refused to nominate her as the queen.

Another saying was that some eunuchs that were badly treated poisoned the emperor.

After Emperor Li Chun's death, the force of Guo, now Empress Yi'an (779 — 848), immediately eliminated their political enemies and obtained control over the government. 

Her son and three grandsons became emperors of Tang in a row, but only the last one, Li Yan (814 — 846), was a good monarch.

Meanwhile, with incapable emperors reigning the empire, warlords and nearby nomadic regimes again started to obtain more power and land.

Painted Figurine of Tang Dynasty

Painted Figurine of Tang Dynasty — Art Institute of Chicago (Photo by Dongmaiying)

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