Li Shouli

Lĭ Shǒulĭ (672–741) (simplified Chinese: 李守礼; traditional Chinese: 李守禮) was the second son of Li Xián who was also known as Crown Prince Zhanghuai of Tang. Born Li Guangren (李光仁), during the Chuigong era of his youngest uncle Emperor Ruizong of Tang's reign when his grandmother Wu Zetian held the real power, he was renamed Shouli and given the post Crown Prince Xima (Taizi Xima 太子洗马).[1]

Li Shouli
Prince of Bin 邠王
Hereditary Prince of Yong 嗣雍王
Died741(741-00-00) (aged 68–69)
IssuePrincess Jincheng
Li Chenghong
Li Chengning
Li Chengcai
FatherPrince Zhanghuai
MotherLady Zhang


Li Guangren's father, Li Xián, as the heir apparent to his father Emperor Gaozong of Tang, was once created Crown Prince but failed in a power struggle against his ambitious mother Wu Zetian. He was deposed and exiled to Ba Prefecture with his family, and eventually was forced to commit suicide in 684. In 685, Wu Zetian restored Li Xián to his former title Prince of Yong and recalled his family back to the capital Chang'an, created Guangren Prince of Yong, appointed him as Taizi Xima and changed his name to Shouli. When Wu Zetian claimed imperial title, she bestowed Li Shouli as well as his elder brother Li Guangshun (李光顺), younger brother Li Shouyi (李守义) and sister Lady Changxin (长信郡主) her surname Wu. However, due to her resentment of Li Xián, Li Shouli and his siblings were all effectively under house arrest along with sons of Ruizong. Guangshun was executed, Shouyi also died early, and Lady Changxin disappeared into history. It was not until Ruizong was recreated Prince of Xiang that Shouli and his cousins were allowed to live outside the palaces. Shouli was appointed as Siyi Langzhong.[2]

According to Confucian succession law, Shouli should have been the heir apparent of Wu Zetian; but as son of a deposed crown prince, he was effectively barred from the succession while his two younger uncles of Shouli, Xiǎn (note different tone from that of Shouli's father Xián) and Dan (i.e. Emperor Ruizong), both younger sons of Wu Zetian, were still alive, and Xiǎn, who had briefly reigned as Emperor Zhongzong of Tang in 684 before being deposed by Wu Zetian, would become her successor and start his second reign.

As Royal PrinceEdit

When Emperor Zhongzong of Tang succeeded the throne for the second time in 705, Shouli was created Prince of Yong, a title formerly held by Li Xián, and appointed as Guangluqing. In 707, one of Shouli's daughters was created Princess of Jincheng and engaged to Kridê Zukzän the Lord of Tibet. They would marry in 710 while in the same year that Ruizong would also start his second reign. According to the Will of Zhongzong, Ruizong created Li Shouli Prince of Bin and successively appointed him as governor of Youzhou, titular Chanyu Daduhu, Sikong (司空) and so on.[3] Unlike his cousin brothers, Shouli loved hunting, having parties, travelling and watching dancings, and did not participate in governance. Sometime after 721, Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (son of late Ruizong) recalled Shouli to the capital Chang'an.[4]

As a royal prince, Shouli was so mediocre and lacking in ability that he could never be compared with neither Li Fan (李范) nor Li Ye (李业) (both younger brothers of Xuanzong). Most of his sons were also mediocre, while most of his daughters were adulterous. In summary, Shouli was unworthy of acclaim. He himself was always extravagant and would deny beneficial advice by relying on his special position as the eldest living cousin brother of Xuanzong.[5]

Forecasting abilityEdit

Li Shouli was noted for his ability to forecast the weather. Sometimes it was dark, but Shouli managed to forecast that it would be sunny soon. Sometimes it was continuously hot for about ten days, Shouli also knew it would rain in advance. Li Fan reported this to Emperor Xuanzong, saying Shouli had a knowledge of the weather. When praised by the emperor, Li Shouli explained that it was actually a result of his unfortunate childhood rather than the result of any scholarly research into the weather. He had been always beaten while under house arrest and as a result a thick scar had formed on his back which would become heavy or light as the weather turned rainy or sunny. Li Shouli wept as he explained, gaining Emperor Xuanzong's sympathy.[6]


16. Emperor Gaozu of Tang
8. Emperor Taizong of Tang
17. Empress Taimushunsheng
4. Emperor Gaozong of Tang
18. Zhangsun Sheng
9. Empress Wendeshunsheng
19. Lady Gao
2. Li Xián, Crown Prince Zhanghuai
20. Wu Hua
10. Wu Shihuo, Duke Ding of Ying
5. Empress Wu Zetian
22. Yang Da
11. Lady Yang
1. Li Shouli, Prince of Bin
3. Consort Zhang


Shouli died in 741 and was posthumously honored with the title Taiwei (太尉).[7] He had many concubines who bore him over 60 offspring. Among his sons, Li Chengning (李承寧), born by his consort, was his heir who would succeed him as the next Prince of Bin, while Li Chenghong, his eldest son born by his concubine, would briefly be created emperor by the Tibetans in November 763, though he reigned for no more than half a month. Li Chengcai (李承寀) would be created Prince of Dunhuang.

According to the New Book of Tang, names of some other sons of Shouli were also recorded, but they mostly served as officials rather than royal princes: Li Chengqian (李承骞), Li Chengyou (李承宥), Li Chenghuan (李承寰), Li Chengshi (李承寔), Li Chengshi (李承实), Li Chengcong (李承賨), Li Chengrong (李承容), Li Chengtu (李承突), Li Chengwei (李承寪), Chengjun (李承寯) and Li Chengkuan (李承宽).

Besides Princess Jincheng, the second daughter of Shouli was created Princess Huating, and another daughter titled Princess Jianning was married to Pang Jian (庞坚), an official and 4th-generation descendant of early Tang general Pang Yu (庞玉).


  This article incorporates text from publications now in the public domain: Quan Tang Wen and Zizhi Tongjian

Quan Tang Wen, vol. 99 Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 214

  1. ^ 守礼,章怀太子次子,始名光仁,垂拱初改今名。授太子洗马,嗣爵雍王。
  2. ^ 守礼以父得罪,与睿宗诸子闭处宫中十馀年。圣历元年,睿宗自皇嗣封相王,许出外邸,守礼等始居外,改司议郎中。
  3. ^ 中宗立,复故封,拜光禄卿。唐隆元年进封邠王。睿宗立,检校左金吾卫大将军,出为幽州刺史,遥兼单于大都护,迁司空。
  4. ^ 惟弋猎酣乐,未尝领事,后还京师。
  5. ^ 《新唐书 列传第六 三宗诸子》:后还诸王京师,守礼以外支为王,不甚才而多宠嬖,子六十余人,无可称者。常负息钱数百万。或劝少治居产,守礼曰:“岂天子兄无葬者邪?”
  6. ^ 守禮庸鄙無才識,每天將雨及霽,守禮必先言之,已而皆驗。岐、薛諸王言於上曰:「邠兄有術。」上問其故,對曰:「臣無術。則天時以章懷之故,幽閉宮中十餘年,歲賜敕杖者數四,背瘢甚厚,將雨則沉悶,將霽則輕爽,臣以此知之耳。」因流涕沾襟;上亦為之慘然。——資治通鑑/卷214
    • The translation of Shouli's quotes: "It was not my research. When Empress Wu was in power, my father was found guilty, and I was under house arrest in palaces for over ten years. During that times I was beaten many times every year, now black and blue. So, when it was to rain, my back felt heavy; when it was to be sunny, my back felt light."
  7. ^ 二十九年薨,年七十馀,赠太尉。