Emperor Shang of Tang

Emperor Shang (695 or 698[2] – 5 September 714[3]), also known as Emperor Shao (少帝), personal name Li Chongmao, was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, ruling briefly in 710.

Emperor Shang of Tang
Emperor of Tang Dynasty
Reign8 July[1] – 25 July 710[1]
(17 days)
PredecessorEmperor Zhongzong
SuccessorEmperor Ruizong
RegentEmpress Dowager Wei
Prince of Beihai Commendary 北海郡王
Prince of Wen 溫王
Prince of Xiang 襄王
Born695 or 698[2]
Died5 September 714 (aged 15–19)[3][4]
ConsortsLady Lu
(disappeared 710)
Family name: (李)
Given name: Chóngmào (重茂)
Era dates
Tánglóng (唐隆, 5 July 710[1] – 19 August 710[1]
Posthumous name
Emperor Shang (殤皇帝)
HouseTang Dynasty
FatherEmperor Zhongzong
Tang Shangdi
Literal meaning"Tang Emperor who died in childhood"
Beihaijun Wang
Literal meaningPrince of Beihai Commandery
Wen Wang
Literal meaningPrince of Wen
Xiang Wang
Literal meaningPrince of Xiang
Li Chongmao
Literal meaning(personal name)

Li Chongmao was the youngest son of Emperor Zhongzong, born to one of Zhongzong's concubines. As of 710, Empress Wei and her daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle were exceedingly powerful, but Li Guo'er was unable to convince Emperor Zhongzong to have her created crown princess. Empress Wei, meanwhile, wanted to become Empress Regnant like her mother-in-law, Emperor Zhongzong's mother Wu Zetian. Traditional historians believed that she and Li Guo'er poisoned Emperor Zhongzong in July 710 although it may have been a stroke or heart attack that killed Emperor Zhongzong. Empress Wei then arranged for Li Chongmao, then the Prince of Wen, to succeed Emperor Zhongzong as emperor, hoping to control the young teenager as empress dowager and regent.

Empress Dowager Wei's plans, however, were foiled when Empreror Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and nephew Li Longji the Prince of Linzi launched a coup less than a month after Emperor Shang's enthronement. Both Empress Wei and Li Guo'er were killed during the coup, and on July 25 the young emperor was forced to cede the imperial throne to Li Longji's father Li Dan the Prince of Xiang, a former emperor (as Emperor Ruizong).

Li Chongmao, who had been emperor for only 17 days, was reverted to a princely rank and sent away from the capital Chang'an. He died four years later without having returned to the capital. Immediately after his death, Li Longji, who had by then succeeded his father Emperor Ruizong (as Emperor Xuanzong), restored Li Chongmao's imperial dignity and gave him the posthumous name Shang which literally means "died at an early age." Li Chongmao is also known in histories as Emperor Shao, which literally means "the young emperor." Most traditional historians did not consider him a legitimate emperor and do not include him in the list of emperors of the Tang dynasty, although modern historians usually do.


Li Chongmao was either born in 695—during a time when his father Li Xian, who was formerly an emperor of Tang Dynasty but was deposed in 694, was in exile and carried the title of Prince of Luling—or in 698—after Li Xian had been recalled to then-capital Luoyang by Li Chongmao's grandmother Wu Zetian, then reigning as Empress Regnant, to be crown prince. His mother was a concubine of Li Xian's, but nothing, including her name, is written in official histories about her background. In 700, Wu Zetian created him the Prince of Beihai.

During Emperor Zhongzong's second reignEdit

In 705, Wu Zetian was overthrown in a coup, and Li Xian was restored (as Emperor Zhongzong). He created Li Chongmao the greater title of Prince of Wen. Li Chongmao was also made titularly a commanding general of the imperial guards and the commandant at Bing Prefecture (并州, roughly modern Taiyuan, Shanxi), but did not actually report to Bing Prefecture and remained in the palace. Sometime during his stint as Prince of Wen, he married a Lady Lu as his wife and princess.

Brief reignEdit

In 710, Emperor Zhongzong died suddenly—a death that traditional historians believed to be a poisoning by his powerful wife Empress Wei and daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle, so that Empress Wei could become "emperor" like Wu Zetian and Li Guo'er could become crown princess. Her final ambitions notwithstanding, Empress Wei named Li Chongmao emperor (as Emperor Shang), but retained power as empress dowager and regent. His wife Princess Lu was created empress.

Less than a month later, believing that Empress Dowager Wei would act against them, Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and nephew Li Longji the Prince of Linzi rose in rebellion, killing Empress Dowager Wei and Li Guo'er. Li Longji's father Li Dan the Prince of Xiang, himself a former emperor, became regent instead, and the popular sentiment at the time called for Li Dan to return to the throne. When eunuchs and ladies in waiting attending to the young Emperor Shang requested that one of the coup leaders who became a chancellor immediately after the coup, Liu Youqiu, draft an edict to let Emperor Shang to honor his mother as empress dowager, Liu refused and hinted that Li Dan should be emperor, and while Li Longji publicly told Liu not to speak any further, Li Longji, his brother Li Chengqi the Prince of Song, and Princess Taiping were trying to persuade Li Dan to take the throne. Several days later, Li Dan agreed, and he took the throne, displacing Emperor Shang, who was still sitting on the throne during the ceremony and whom Princess Taiping grabbed by the collar to pull down from the throne. He was again given the title of Prince of Wen.

After reignEdit

After Li Chongmao's removal from the throne, he was initially housed inside the palace to prevent anyone from using him to start a coup. In 711, he was given the title of Prince of Xiang and made the prefect of Ji Prefecture (集州, roughly modern Bazhong, Sichuan). 500 imperial guards were sent to accompany and watch him. In 714, by which time Li Longji was emperor (as Emperor Xuanzong), Li Chongmao died. Li Longji restored his imperial status and gave him the posthumous name of Shang, and observed a three-day mourning period, but not the customary three years for the death of an emperor. He appeared to be sonless, as while his older brother Li Chongjun, who died in 707, was listed with a son, he was not.[5]

Chancellors during reignEdit




Emperor Gaozu of Tang (566–635)
Emperor Taizong of Tang (598–649)
Empress Taimu (569–613)
Emperor Gaozong of Tang (628–683)
Zhangsun Sheng (552–609)
Empress Wende (601–636)
Lady Gao of Bohai
Emperor Zhongzong of Tang (656–710)
Wu Hua
Wu Shiyue (577–635)
Lady Zhao
Empress Zetian (624–705)
Yang Da (548–612)
Lady Yang of Hongnong (579–670)
Emperor Shang of Tang (695–714)

See alsoEdit

  1. Chinese emperors family tree (middle)


  1. ^ a b c d Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 209.
  2. ^ a b The chronicles of the reigns of Emperor Shang's father Emperor Zhongzong and uncle Emperor Ruizong, which included his own brief reign, in the Old Book of Tang, indicated that he was 15 at the time of his brief reign in 710, making him born in 695, but, in his own biography, gave his age as 16 at the time of death in 714, making him born in 698. It is not known which account is correct. Compare Old Book of Tang, vols. 7 and 86.
  3. ^ a b 兩千年中西曆轉換[dead link]
  4. ^ Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 211.
  5. ^ New Book of Tang, vol. 70
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of Tang Dynasty
Succeeded by