Facts about Chinese Emperors

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To be an emperor was the most prestigious and most dangerous career in Chinese history. About 31% of them died from assassinations if you count from the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC), and the killers were normally their family members or relatives.

How many emperors existed in China? Historians have different numbers depending on how far back they count. If they count from the Qin Dynasty, then the number would be 408. If count from the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors era, then there are 829.

The Chinese emperors claimed they were the sons of Heaven, and they were called Wan-sui, meaning Long-living one, literally meaning that they would live ten thousand (wan) years (sui). They actually often failed the meanings of the names, and badly.

If we talk about the 408 Chinese emperors starting from the Qin Dynasty, more than half of them died before they reached their 50th birthday.

Only five enjoyed their 80th birthday. They are the Emperor Qianlong from Qin Dynasty, 88; the Emperor Wu Xiao Yan in Han Dynasty, 85; the Emperor Wu Zetian, the only female emperor, 81; Zhao Gou, the Emperor Gaozong of the Song Dynasty, 80; and Wuyue Wu Su in the era of the Five Dynasties & Ten Kingdoms, 80.

There are only 10 emperors lived more than 70 years, and 60 of them who lived more than 50 years.

55 emperors died between 40 and 49, including the first emperor Yinzheng.

62 emperors died between 30 and 39.

50 emperors died between 20 and 29.

28 emperors died between 10 and 19.

There are 29 kid emperors, including the last emperor Puyi. The youngest one is Liu Long, the Emperor Shangdi in Han Dynasty, who enthroned when he was only 100 days old and died before he reach his first birthday.

Though many emperors died soon after they tasted the life of on the throne, some occupied the throne for quite a long time.

The emperors who occupied the throne longest are:

Kangxi in Qin Dynasty, total 61 years.

Qianlong in Qin Dynasty, 60 years. He is also the emperor who lived the longest life among all the emperors in Chinese history.

There are three emperors who ruled more than 50 years, eleven who ruled between 40-49 years, and 19 ruled between 30 and 39 years.

240 emperors ruled less than 10 years, about 200 ruled less than 5 years, 40 less than 1 year.

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