Emperor Shun of Song

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Emperor Shun of (Liu) Song ((劉)宋順帝) (8 August 467 – 23 June 479), personal name Liu Zhun (劉準), courtesy name Zhongmou (仲謀), nickname Zhiguan (智觀), was an emperor of the Chinese dynasty Liu Song. He became emperor in 477 after his violent older brother Emperor Houfei was assassinated by his attendant at the instigation of the general Xiao Daocheng, but in his brief reign was effectively Xiao's puppet. In 479, Xiao forced him to yield the throne to Xiao, ending Liu Song and starting Southern Qi. Later that year, the former Emperor Shun was killed by guards who were supposed to protect him, and the Liu clan was soon slaughtered as well.

Emperor Shun of Song
Emperor of Liu Song
Reign477 – 479
PredecessorEmperor Houfei
SuccessorNone (Dynasty Abolished)
Born8 August 467
Died23 June 479(479-06-23) (aged 11)
ConsortsXie Fanjing of Chen
Full name
Chinese: Liu Zhun 劉準
Posthumous name
Emperor Shun (順帝)
FatherEmperor Ming
MotherChen Farong


Liu Zhun was born in 467, and ostensibly, his parents were Emperor Ming and Emperor Ming's concubine Consort Chen Farong—but history does not provide a conclusive account of his actual parentage. Historical accounts, written during the succeeding Southern Qi Dynasty, indicate that Emperor Ming was impotent, and that although he had 12 sons, those were the results of his having seized his brothers' pregnant concubines and kept the children if they bore males, or his having had his concubines have sexual relations with others. (However, the fact that Emperor Ming's wife Empress Wang Zhenfeng had two daughters, although no sons, may argue against such allegations, because it appeared rather unlikely that Emperor Ming would do this over female children—indeed, the allegations stated that he would only do this if his brothers' concubines bore males—or that the morally upright Empress Wang would engage in sexual relations with others, thus suggesting that the allegations were made to delegitimize Emperor Ming's sons Emperor Houfei and Liu Zhun vis-à-vis Southern Qi.) Those accounts allege that his biological father was Emperor Ming's brother Liu Xiufan (劉休範) the Prince of Guiyang, and his biological mother was a concubine of Liu Xiufan. In any case, whether he was born of Consort Chen or not, she raised him. In 471, he was created the Prince of Ancheng.

After Emperor Ming's death in 472, Liu Zhun's older brother Liu Yu the Crown Prince became emperor (as Emperor Houfei). Liu Zhun himself was made the governor of the important capital region, Yang Province (揚州, modern Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu), but actual governance was carried out by his staff members. In 474, after Liu Xiufan rebelled and sieged the capital Jiankang, the official Chu Cheng (褚澄), not knowing that assassins sent by Emperor Houfei's general Xiao Daocheng had already assassinated Liu Xiufan, seized Liu Zhun and surrendered Liu Zhun's headquarters to Liu Xiufan's army, claiming that Liu Xiufan had declared Liu Zhun to be his son. (Liu Xiufan himself made no such public declaration before his death.) However, when Liu Xiufan's army later found out that he was already dead, it collapsed, and Liu Zhun was not harmed.

By 477, Emperor Houfei had shown himself to be a cruel and violent ruler, often roving outside the palace with his guards and killing any person or animal that they encountered. Xiao, in fear of being killed by Emperor Houfei, engaged his associates to have him assassinated, and then used his personal control of the army to effectively force other high-level officials Yuan Can and Liu Bing to grant him near-imperial powers. He then made Liu Zhun emperor (as Emperor Shun), but the 10-year-old emperor was little more than Xiao's puppet.


Upon hearing of Emperor Houfei's death, the general Shen Youzhi accused Xiao Daocheng of wanting to usurp the throne, and he started a rebellion from his Jing Province (荊州, modern central and western Hubei), although he then ill-advisedly became bogged down in his progress in sieging Yingcheng (郢城, in modern Wuhan, Hubei). Meanwhile, an attempted coup by Yuan Can and Liu Bing to seize back power for the imperial clan failed in late 477, and both Yuan and Liu Bing were killed, permitting Xiao to further consolidate his power. By spring 478, Shen also had been defeated, and he committed suicide. Xiao no longer had opposition. He began to have himself bestowed with higher and higher offices and honors, posturing himself for the throne. He was also gradually assassinating some of Emperor Shun's brothers.

In winter 478, Emperor Shun created Xie Fanjing, the granddaughter of the official Xie Zhuang (謝莊), as his wife and empress.

In 479, Xiao first had Emperor Shun create him the Duke of Qi and grant him the nine bestowments, and then create him the Prince of Qi. In summer 479, Xiao was prepared to seize the throne, and he prepared a ceremony at which Emperor Shun was to ascend a high platform and issue an edict giving the throne to him. However, the 12-year-old Emperor Shun was fearful, and he hid under a statue of a buddha, crying. Xiao sent his general Wang Jingze (王敬則) into the palace, and Empress Dowager Wang, fearful of what the consequences might be, personally led the eunuchs to search for Emperor Shun as well, finally finding him. Wang Jingze calmed Emperor Shun with false promises, finally getting him to get on the wagon that Wang Jingze prepared. He asked Wang, "Are you going to kill me?" Wang responded, "I will not kill you -- just letting you live elsewhere. Do not be sad -- this is what your Liu clan did to the Sima clan as well." (This was a reference to how Emperor Shun's great-grandfather Emperor Wu had seized the throne from Jin Dynasty.) Emperor Shun resumed crying, and said, "When I am reincarnated, may it be that I will never be again reborn in an emperor's household!" Wang brought Emperor Shun to the platform and had him complete the ceremony. Xiao accepted the throne, ending Liu Song and starting Southern Qi (as its Emperor Gao).


Xiao Daocheng created Liu Zhun the Prince of Ruyin and built him a mansion in the vicinity of the capital Jiankang, but put him under heavy guard. Less than a month after Xiao's taking of the throne, someone rode a horse near Liu Zhun's mansion, and the guards mistook the situation as someone wanting to seize Liu Zhun and start a rebellion, so they killed Liu Zhun themselves. Xiao not only did not punish them, but instead awarded them, and subsequently started a slaughter of the Liu clan. He did, however, bury the former emperor with imperial honors.

Era nameEdit

  • Shengming (昇明 shēng míng) 477-479


  • Parents:
    • Liu Yu, Emperor Ming (明皇帝 劉彧; 439–472)
    • Zhaohua, of the Chen clan (昭華 陳氏), personal name Farong (法容)
  • Consorts:
    • Empress, of the Xie clan of Chen (皇后 陳郡謝氏; b. 466), personal name Fanjing (梵境)


Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Emperor Houfei of Liu Song
Emperor of Liu Song
Dynasty ended
Emperor of China (Southern)
Succeeded by
Emperor Gao of Southern Qi