Fu Sheng (Former Qin)

Fu Sheng (Chinese: 苻生; 335–357), originally named Pu Sheng (蒲生), courtesy name Changsheng (長生), formally Prince Li of Yue (越厲王), was an emperor of the Chinese/Di state Former Qin. He was the son of Former Qin's founding emperor Fu Jiàn, and was a violent, arbitrary, and cruel ruler, and after ruling for only two years was overthrown by his cousin Fu Jiān (note different tone than his father) in a coup and executed, and therefore was not posthumously recognized as an emperor during the remainder of Former Qin's rule.

Fu Sheng
Reign10 July 355-357
Died357 (aged 21–22)
Posthumous name
Prince Li 厲王
FatherFu Jian

Before reignEdit

Pu Sheng was born to Pu Jiàn in 335, as his third son, by his wife, the later Empress Qiang. At that time, both Pu Jiàn and his father Pu Hong (蒲洪) were generals for Later Zhao. Pu Sheng was born blind in one eye (though some accounts said that he lost his eye to an eagle while trying to get eagle eggs). Once, his grandfather Pu Hong teased him, "I heard that you, my blind boy, only shed tears from one eye; is that true?" Pu Sheng, in anger, stabbed his blind eye and exclaimed, "This is the other eye shedding tear!" Pu Hong, shocked at his reaction, whipped him and told him, "You are only deserving to be a slave!" He responded, "That is fine; I'll just be like Shi Le (a slave who became an emperor)." Pu Hong became concerned at his behavior, which was also manifested by lack of discipline, and told Pu Jiàn that he should consider killing his son, lest that his family be destroyed by him. Pu Jiàn considered it, but was dissuaded from it by his brother Pu Xiong (蒲雄) who told him that, "We should give this boy sometime to grow and be mature." As Pu Sheng grew, he became known for his strength and ferocity in battle, as he was strong enough to battle wild beasts, and was skillful in horsemanship and use of weapons. After his father (who had by then changed the family name from Pu to Fu) established Former Qin in 351, he was created the Prince of Huainan.

In 354, when the Jin general Huan Wen launched a major attack against Former Qin, nearly destroying it, Fu Sheng was one of the generals that Fu Jiàn commissioned to lead the army against Huan. Fu Sheng was personally successful in battles, single-handedly slaying tens of Jin officers and soldiers, he also cut down many enemy flags, but was not particularly successful as a commanding general. Eventually, Huan was forced to withdraw when his food supplies ran out, but Fu Sheng's older brother Fu Chang (苻萇) the Crown Prince suffered an arrow wound during the campaign, and died in winter 354. Initially, his mother Empress Qiang wanted to create his younger brother Fu Liu (苻柳) the Prince of Jin crown prince, but Fu Jiàn, reading a prophecy that contained the phrase "three goats shall have five eyes," believed that the prophecy indicated that Fu Sheng should succeed him (because one of his eyes was blind), and therefore created Fu Sheng crown prince. After a failed coup by his cousin Fu Qing (苻菁) the Prince of Pingchang to take over in 355, Fu Sheng succeeded to the throne when his father died thereafter. He honored his mother Empress Qiang as empress dowager, and created his wife Princess Liang empress.


Yue Liwang (越厲王)
Family name: Fu (苻; fú)
Given name: Sheng (生, shēng)
Posthumous name: Li (厲, lì),
literary meaning: "violent"

Fu Sheng almost immediately displayed his violent and cruel nature, however. Fu Jiàn's will commissioned a number of high-level officials to serve as Fu Sheng's assistants, but all of them (with the possible exception of his granduncle Fu An (苻安) the Prince of Wudu, who might or might not have been named in the will) perished rather quickly under his violent rule:

  • Yu Zun (魚遵): executed in 357 along with his sons and grandsons after Fu Sheng dreamed of a large fish (yu (魚) in Chinese) eating calamus (pu (蒲) in Chinese),
  • Lei Ruo'er (雷弱兒): executed in 355 along with his sons and grandsons after false accusations by Fu Sheng's associates Zhao Shao (趙韶) and Dong Rong (董榮),
  • Mao Gui (毛貴), uncle of Fu Sheng's wife Empress Liang: executed in 355 along with Empress Liang, Liang An, and Liang Leng after astrologers prophesied that there would be a great funeral and high-level officials would be killed,
  • Wang Duo (王墮): executed in 356 after offending Dong, who then advised Fu Jiàn that a high-level official needed to be executed in accordance with astrological signs,
  • Liang Leng (梁楞): executed in 355, along with Empress Liang, Mao Gui, and Liang An,
  • Liang An (梁安): executed in 355, along with Empress Liang, Mao Gui, and Liang Leng,
  • Duan Chun (段純): executed in 355, the same day that Fu Jiàn became emperor, after Fu Sheng was offended at his suggestion that changing the era name in the middle of a year was improper,
  • and Xin Lao (辛牢): killed in 356 by an arrow Fu Sheng launched during the middle of a feast after Fu Sheng became displeased that he, as the master of ceremony, was not getting everyone drunk.

Because Fu Sheng was blind in one eye and apparently apprehensive that people would be making fun at him or be contemptuous of him due to that disability, he ordered that words such as "missing," "lacking," "slanted," "less," and "without" to never be used. He was also engaged in heavy drinking, and he often either ignored officials' petitions altogether or made irrational decisions on them in the middle of his stupor, allowing his attendants to make random decisions on his behalf. He also carried out cruel punishment—in addition to frequent executions, he also liked to cruelly treat animals—including throwing them into boiling water or skinning them alive—the latter he sometimes applied to humans. In 356, when his uncle Qiang Ping (強平), Empress Dowager Qiang's brother, tried to correct his ways, he broke Qiang Ping's skull by hammering him, and then executed him, leading Empress Dowager Qiang to die in sorrow and fear.

Also in 356, Fu Sheng's brother Fu Liu the Prince of Jin was able to persuade the Former Liang regent Zhang Guan to have the young Former Liang ruler Zhang Xuanjing become a vassal.

In 357, the former Jin general Yao Xiang (姚襄), who, after rebelling against Jin in 354, had intended to establish his independent state, attacked former Qin's northern territory, and the former Qin generals Deng Qiang (鄧羌) and Fu Huangmei (苻黃眉) the Prince of Guangping fought back and captured and executed him. Fu Sheng, still respectful of Yao Xiang and his father Yao Yizhong (姚弋仲), whose casket Yao had carried with his army, buried both with honors. However, he not only did not reward Fu Huangmei but further insulted him, leading Fu Huangmei to plot an unsuccessful assassination against him, resulting in Fu Huangmei's death.

Later in 357, Fu Sheng became suspicious of his cousins Fu Jiān the Prince of Donghai and Fu Fa (苻法) the Prince of Qinghe and considered killing them. His ladies in waiting leaked the news to Fu Jiān, who immediately led his private army to attack the palace. The imperial guards, who had already resented Fu Sheng's ferocity, defected to Fu Jiān. Fu Jiān captured Fu Sheng, who was still in a drunken stupor, and had him deposed, demoted to Prince of Yue and then executed by being dragged by a horse. Fu Jiān then took the throne.

Era nameEdit

  • Shouguang (壽光 shòu guāng) 355–357

Personal informationEdit


King Li of (Former) Qin
Born: 335 Died: 357
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Fu Jiàn
Emperor of Former Qin
Succeeded by
Fu Jiān
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Fu Jiàn
Emperor of China
Reason for succession failure:
Sixteen Kingdoms
Succeeded by
Fu Jiān