Encyclopedia > Emperor of China

  Article Content

Emperor of China

The emperor or huangdi (皇帝 in pinyin: huang2 di4) of China was the head of the government of China from the Qin dynasty in 221 A.D. until the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911. The pre-Qin heads of the government were called wang. Before Qin Shi Huangdi, the characters huang ("godking") and di ("sage king") were used separately and never consecutively (See Three Huang and five Di). After the Han dynasty, huangdi began to be abbreviated to huang or di -- the two characters had lost their original pre-Qin meanings.

Although formally the son of heaven, the power of the emperor varied between different emperors and different dynasties, with some emperors being absolute rulers and others being figureheads with actual power in the hands of court factions, eunuchs, the bureaucracy or noble families.

The emperor title was transmitted from father to son. Usually the first born of the queen inherited the office, but this rule was not universal and disputed succession was the cause of a number of civil wars. Unlike the Emperor of Japan, Chinese political theory allowed for a change in dynasty and an emperor could be replaced by a rebel leader. It was generally not possible for a female to succeed to the throne and in the history of China there has only been one reigning Empress, the Empress Wu of the Tang dynasty.

See Chinese sovereign for a list of emperors

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article

... short hair for women. Actresses mimicked the style, and even cartoon characters such as Betty Boop and Minnie Mouse got into the act. Despite its popularity, the ...

This page was created in 29 ms