Three Kingdoms History: Liu Xang (Mingdi)

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Liu Xang (Mingdi)
Ruled (AD 58-75)

Han Ruler and Emperor Biographies
Authoring and Translation by

In the year AD 57, Liu Xiu passed away, he took the posthumous name, and title of Guang-Wu-Di and his son Liu Xang succeeded him. He ruled for eighteen years while China was still in economic recovery.

Ming-di’s rule was considered harsh and unlike other Emperors, he associated himself with Daoism and theological Confucianism. Daoists preached about paradises that were full of beautiful hanging garden and where life would never be a burden. In Luo Yang, Ming-di preached Daoist teachings, thousands would come to the capital to listen to it.

Daoists maintained a bond with nature and often went on long searches to find potions of longevity. Some Daoist monks extended their search for salvation in nature by focusing on the bliss of sexual intercourse, and some of the holy men searched for everlasting life through exercises or dietary regimes. These experiments usually ended when the monk would die, but rather than accepting the fact that everlasting life was unattainable, their followers explained the failure to be the result of circumstances other than human mortality.

Daoism absorbed practices of magic that had existed in some of China's rural communities. Some Daoists adopted gods that were ridiculed by the gentry and the Confucianists. Contrary to Daoism's original belief in inaction, some Daoists actively sought converts, and some Daoists became activists for social change and initiated political programs. Daoism had held no clearly defined orthodoxy or tightly knit organization of priests, but here and there, organizations led by priests were developing. Daoist priests gathered around them followers who believed they had joined an exclusive group that was concerned with their well-being. This annoyed China's authorities -- Confucianists and gentry-bureaucrats -- who feared that unapproved religious cults might develop into a focal point of opposition to their authority.

In the year AD 75, Ming-di died and was succeeded by Zhang-Di.

Copyright © 2002 - 2003
Major Sources: Hou Han shu (Fan Ye)
Ancient Chinese History and Emperors (Brian Williams)
with notes from William Ho and Quentin Tran