Most Famous Emperors in History of China

The First Emperor Qin Shi Huang(嬴政)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaQin Shi Huang (259 BC – 210 BC), personal name Ying Zheng (嬴政), was king of the Chinese State of Qin Dynasty from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC. He ruled until his death in 210 BC at the age of 49. Calling himself the First Emperor after China's unification, Qin Shi Huang is a pivotal figure in Chinese history, ushering nearly two millennia of imperial rule. After unifying China, he and his chief advisor Li Si passed a series of major economic and political reforms. He undertook gigantic projects, including the first version of the Great Wall of China, the now famous city-sized mausoleum guarded by a life-sized Terracotta Army, and a massive national road system, all at the expense of numerous lives. To ensure stability, Qin Shi Huang outlawed and burned many books and buried some scholars alive.

Han Gaozu Liu Bang (刘邦)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaEmperor Gao, personal name (刘邦) (256 BC or 247 BC – 1 June 195 BC), commonly known within China by his temple name Gaozu, personal name Liu Bang, was the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, ruling over China from 202 BC to 195 BC. Liu Bang was one of the few dynasty founders in Chinese history who emerged from the peasant class (another prominent example being Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty). In the early stage of his rise to prominence, Liu Bang was addressed as "Duke of Pei", with the "Pei" referring to his hometown of Pei County. He was also granted the title of "King of Han" by Xiang Yu, when the latter split the former Qin Empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms. Liu Bang was known by this title before becoming Emperor of China.

 

Han Wudi Emperor (刘彻)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaEmperor Wu of Han, (156 BC–29 March, 87 BC), personal name Liu Che (劉徹), was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized. He is cited in Chinese history as the greatest emperor of the Han dynasty and one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history. Emperor Wu's effective governance made the Han Dynasty one of the most powerful nations in the world. As a military campaigner, Emperor Wu led Han China through its greatest expansion — at its height, the Empire's borders spanned from modern Kyrgyzstan in the west, to Korea in the northeast, and to northern Vietnam in the south. Emperor Wu successfully repelled the nomadic Xiongnu from systematically raiding northern China and dispatched his envoy Zhang Qian in 139 BC to seek an alliance with the Yuezhi of modern Uzbekistan. This resulted in further missions to Central Asia. Although historical records do not describe him as a follower of Buddhism, exchanges probably occurred as a consequence of these embassies, and there are suggestions that he received Buddhist statues from central Asia, as depicted in Mogao Caves murals.

Tang Taizong-Li Shimin(李世民)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaEmperor Taizong of Tang(January 23, 599 – July 10, 649), personal name Li Shimin (Chinese: 李世民), was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, ruling from 626 to 649. As he encouraged his father, Li Yuan (later Emperor Gaozu) to rise against Sui Dynasty rule at Taiyuan in 617 and subsequently defeated several of his most important rivals, he was ceremonially regarded as a co-founder of the dynasty along with Emperor Gaozu. He is typically considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, emperors in Chinese history. Throughout the rest of Chinese history, Emperor Taizong's reign was regarded as the exemplary model against which all other emperors were measured, and his "Reign of Zhenguan" was considered a golden age of Chinese history and required study for future crown princes. During his reign, Tang China flourished economically and militarily. For more than a century after his death, Tang China enjoyed peace and prosperity. During Taizong's reign, Tang was the largest and the strongest nation in the world. It covered most of the territory of present-day China, Vietnam, Mongolia and much of Central Asia until eastern Kazakhstan. It laid the foundation for Xuanzong's reign, which is considered Tang China's greatest era.

Song Taizu Zhao Kunagyin (赵匡胤)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaEmperor Taizu (21 March 927 AD–14 November 976 AD, born Zhao Kuangyin, was the founder of the Song Dynasty of China, reigning from 960 to 976. His family was of fairly modest origins and cannot be traced back with any certainty further than the late Tang dynasty. His ancestor Zhao Ting (828-874) was an official who served in Zhuozhou, in Hebei near where the family lived. His sons, Zhao Ting (851-928) and Zhao Jing (872-933), also served as local officials in Hebei. Zhao Jing's son Zhao Hongyin (趙弘殷) (899-956) decided against a civil career and became a military officer instead under Emperor Zhuangzong of Later Tang (后唐莊宗): he knew that in times of disunity it would be a military career that will lead to success. As a result, Zhao Kuangyin was trained in martial arts and in the art of war. He started training as a child, and showed strong preservence. According to legend he was said to have found an untamed horse to practice his archery skills. The horse threw him off its back and onto the wall. Everyone was shocked, because one would be expected to sustain a serious injury, but Zhao Kuangyin got right back up and chased the horse. Eventually, it was subdued, while Zhao Kuangyin went unharmed.

Gheghis Khan Tie Muzhen (成吉思汗铁木真)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaGenghis Khan (1162? – August 1227), born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu (太祖), was the founder and Great Khan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After founding the Mongol Empire and being proclaimed "Genghis Khan", he started the Mongol invasions that resulted in the conquest of most of Eurasia. These included raids or invasions of the Kara-Khitan Khanate, Caucasus, Khwarezmid Empire, Western Xia and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were often accompanied by wholesale massacres of the civilian populations – especially in Khwarezmia. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China.

Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaThe Hongwu Emperor(1 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang (Chinese: 朱元璋) and by his temple name Taizu of Ming, was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China. His era name, Hongwu, means "vastly martial". In the middle of the 14th century, with famine, plagues and peasant revolts sweeping across China, Zhu became a leader of an army that conquered China, ending the Yuan Dynasty and forcing the Mongols to retreat to the Mongolian steppes. With his seizure of the Yuan capital (present-day Beijing), he claimed the Mandate of Heaven and established the Ming Dynasty in 1368.

 

Kangxi Emperor (康熙皇帝)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaThe Kangxi Emperor (Chinese: 康熙帝),(4 May 1654 –20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Pass (Beijing) and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1661 to 1722.Kangxi's reign of 61 years makes him the longest-reigning Chinese emperor in history (although his grandson, the Qianlong Emperor, had the longest period of de facto power) and one of the longest-reigning rulers in the world. However, having ascended the throne at the age of seven, he was not the effective ruler until later, with that role temporarily fulfilled for six years by four regents and his grandmother, the Grand Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang. Kangxi is considered one of China's greatest emperors. He suppressed the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, forced the Kingdom of Tungning on Taiwan to submit to Qing rule, blocked Tzarist Russia on the Amur River and expanded the empire in the northwest. He also accomplished such literary feats as the compilation of the Kangxi Dictionary.

 

Yongzheng Emperor (雍正皇帝)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaThe Yongzheng Emperor (Chinese: 雍正帝)13 December 1678 – 8 October 1735), born Yinzhen, was the fifth emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty and the third Qing emperor from 1722 to 1735. A hard-working ruler, Yongzheng's main goal was to create an effective government at minimal expense. Like his father, the Kangxi Emperor, Yongzheng used military force to preserve the dynasty's position. Suspected by historians to have usurped the throne, his reign was known as despotic, efficient, and vigorous.Although Yongzheng's reign was much shorter than the reigns of both his father (the Kangxi Emperor) and his son (the Qianlong Emperor), his sudden death was probably brought about by a heavy workload. Yongzheng continued an era of peace and prosperity; he cracked down on corruption and waste, and reformed the financial administration. During his reign the formulation of the Grand Council began, an institution which have an enormous impact on the future of imperial China.

 

Qianlong Emperor (乾隆皇帝)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaThe Qianlong Emperor (Chinese: 乾隆帝), 25 September 1711 – 7 February 1799) was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, he reigned officially from 11 October 1735 to 8 February 1796. On 8 February, he abdicated in favor of his son, the Jiaqing Emperor – a filial act in order not to reign longer than his grandfather, the illustrious Kangxi Emperor. Despite his retirement, however, he retained ultimate power until his death in 1799. Although his early years saw the continuation of an era of prosperity in China, his final years saw troubles at home and abroad converge on the Qing Empire.

Chinese Last Emperor Puyi (溥仪)

top ten emperors in history of ChinaPuyi (7 February 1906 – 17 October 1967), of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan, was the last Emperor of China, and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing Dynasty. He ruled as the Xuantong Emperor from 1908 until his abdication on 12 February 1912. From 1 to 12 July 1917 he was briefly restored to the throne as a nominal emperor by the warlord Zhang Xun. In 1934 he was declared the Kangde Emperor of the puppet state of Manchukuo by the Empire of Japan, and he ruled until the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1945. After the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, Puyi was a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from 1964 until his death in 1967. Puyi's abdication in 1912 marked the end of centuries of dynastic rule in China, and he is also widely known as The Last Emperor.