chapter  11
The Later Western Han and the Wang Mang Interregnum
Pages 17

Six Han emperors reigned after Emperor Wu and before Wang Mang: Emperors Zhao, Xuan, Yuan, Cheng, Ai, and Ping. Emperor Zhao (87-74 BCE) and Emperor Ping (1 BCE-6 CE) came to the throne as young children; Emperor Zhao died at age twenty-one, Emperor Ping at age fi fteen. Emperors Xuan and Cheng were in their late teens when they were enthroned. In addition to these legitimate emperors, Liu He, king of Changyi, was named emperor in 74 BCE on the death of Emperor Zhao, but was deposed four weeks later and was never given a dynastic name. And the infant Liu Ying was named heir apparent in 6 CE, with Wang Mang as his regent; he never became emperor. This succession of young and sometimes short-lived sovereigns, each infl uenced by regents and other powerful persons close to the throne, led to a general instability in the central court during the fi nal century of the Western Han. Only three emperors with relatively long consecutive reigns provided periods of comparative stability: Emperor Xuan (74-49 BCE), Emperor Yuan (49-33 BCE) and Emperor Cheng (33-7 BCE). Ultimately, however, the forces of long-term decline proved too strong and the dynasty collapsed, being succeeded by Wang Mang’s Xin (“New”) dynasty (9-23 CE).