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King or Prince of Wu was an ancient and medieval Chinese title referring to ruler of the area originally controlled by the Gou Wu tribes around Wuxi on the lower Yangtze, generally known as the Wu region. The title wang is written identically in Chinese, but it is common in English to distinguish between the scions of the imperial dynasties (translated "prince") and the dynasties of independent lords (translated "king").

King of Wu
Traditional Chinese吳王
Simplified Chinese吴王
Literal meaningKing of Wu


According to traditional Chinese historians, the title was first used by two refugee princes from Zhou who were credited with civilizing the barbarian Wu (and sometimes Japan as well). Their state of Wu had its capital first at Meili (traditionally held to be Meicun in modern Wuxi), then at Gusu (within modern Suzhou) and Helu City (present-day Suzhou). It was established independently but became a vassal to Zhou after its conquest of Shang. It became independent again during the Spring and Autumn period, but was annexed by Yue in 473 BC.

The title was somewhat infelicitous for the early Kings of the Han dynasty, who were quite autonomous and powerful before being reined in after an unsuccessful revolt in 154 BC. Therefore, the early princes are sometimes counted as "kings" as well. After the rebellion, the Wuyue region was divided up among different princes and the title was abolished until it was recreated during the Three Kingdoms era when Cao Cao recommended Sun Ce to be Marquis of Wu in 197. Sun Quan was created as King of Wu in 220 as Cao Wei vassal kingdom, which translated as Prince of Wu. He later declared himself an independent king in 222 and proclaimed as emperor of Eastern Wu in 229.

The Prince of Wu title was recreated during the Tang dynasty for 14th son of Emperor Gaozu, Li Yuangui. Li Ke was created as Prince of Wu in 636. The title was suspended in 653 when Li Ke ordered to commit suicide. He was found innocent in 705, and his son Li Kun was posthumously honored as Prince of Wu. The title remained suspended until near the end of Tang dynasty, Yang Xingmi was created Prince of Wu in 902, and his successor kept the Wu title even after end of Tang in 907. They remained independent as Southern Wu as King of Wu until Yang Pu declared himself an emperor.

During the Red Turban Rebellion, Zhu Yuanzhang declared himself King of Wu during the late phases of against the Yuan, just prior to his establishment of the Ming dynasty. His fifth son, Zhu Su, received the title as Prince of Wu after he became emperor in 1370. The title was vacated in 1378 after Zhu Su's title changed to Prince of Zhou. In 1399, Zhu Yuntong was recreated as Prince of Wu, but he was strip of the title after Jianwen Emperor was deposed by Yongle Emperor due to his relationship. The title became extinct since then.




Later HanEdit

  • Sun Quan (220–229), vassal king between 220 and 222, and independent afterward.


Five Dynasties and Ten KingdomsEdit

  • Yang Wo (886–908), eldest son of Yang Xingmi.
  • Yang Longyan (897–920), second son of Yang Xingmi.
  • Yang Pu (900–938), fourth son of Yang Xingmi, declared himself emperor.


  • Zhu Yuanzhang (1364–1368)
  • Zhu Su (1361–1425), 5th son of Hongwu Emperor, created as Prince of Wu in 1370 and changed to Prince of Zhou in 1378.
  • Zhu Yuntong (1378–1402), 3rd son of Zhu Biao, grandson of Hongwu Emperor, brother of Jianwen Emperor, created as Prince of Wu in 1399.

See alsoEdit