The Youngest Empress in History: Crowned at 6, Became Empress at 15 While Remaining Virgin Until the End of Her Life

Throughout history, Empress Shang Quan has become well-known for achieving the position of Empress at a very young age, just at the tender age of 6.


In history, Empress Dowager Shangguan is famous for becoming Empress Dowager at a very young age, only 6 years old. Furthermore, when she assumed the position of Empress, Empress Dowager Shangguan was only 15 years old and remained a virgin until her death.

Empress Dowager Shangguan ascended the throne at the age of 6

Empress Dowager Shangguan is known as the youngest empress in Chinese history to ascend the throne at the age of 6. Throughout her life, Empress Dowager Shangguan witnessed the extermination of her family line both internally and externally due to political scheming.

Her maternal grandfather Shangguan Kiet and maternal great-grandfather He Quang were both famous statesmen during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han. After Emperor Wu’s death, Shangguan Kiet and He Quang became regents for Emperor Zhao of Han. Therefore, since birth, she naturally became a link to strengthen the relationship between the grand statesmen and the emperor.

When Emperor Wu of Han fell ill (87 BC), he entrusted Shangguan Kiet and He Quang to serve as regents for Crown Prince Liu Piyu, later Emperor Zhao of Han, who was only 8 years old at the time. At that time, Emperor Zhao of Han was still too young, so the grand statesmen agreed to honor the emperor’s sister, the Princess, as the assistant to help take care and advise the young ruler in his decisions.

Four years later, Shangguan An, the father of Empress Dowager Shangguan, wanted to rely on He Quang’s power to bring his daughter into the imperial palace as the wife of Emperor Zhao of Han, but was refused by He Quang. Shangguan An then encountered the kind heart of the Princess, who helped mediate their situation. As a result, Empress Dowager Shangguan was allowed to enter the palace and became the Empress. That year, Empress Dowager Shangguan was only 6 years old and Emperor Zhao of Han was only 12 years old.

He Quang repeatedly offended the Shangguan family. Moreover, to repay the kindness of the Princess, Shangguan An asked He Quang to grant her an honorable title, but he was rejected. As a result, the grudge between the Shangguan family and He Quang increased. This also made He Quang a thorn in the eyes of the Princess. On the other hand, He Quang also offended many officials who supported Emperor Zhao’s older brother, Liu Dan. Therefore, all these people conspired to assassinate He Quang, overthrow Emperor Zhao of Han, and place Liu Dan on the throne.

However, by this time, Emperor Zhao of Han had grown up and, together with He Quang, secretly prepared resistance forces against the Shangguan family. The rebellion plan failed, and the Princess and Liu Dan were forced to commit suicide by Emperor Zhao of Han. The entire Shangguan family was exiled. Empress Dowager Shangguan, being the maternal granddaughter of He Quang, was allowed to stay and continue serving as the Empress.

After He Quang became the most powerful figure in the court, the position of Empress Dowager Shangguan also rose. He Quang wanted his niece to give birth to a prince as soon as possible and prohibited Emperor Zhao of Han from favoring other concubines and palace ladies.

However, until Emperor Zhao of Han died at the age of 21, Empress Dowager Shangguan did not give birth to any child. Some say that it was because Emperor Zhao of Han disliked the autocratic rule of He Quang and never touched Empress Dowager Shangguan, remaining chaste until her death.

Becoming Empress Dowager at the age of 15

After Emperor Zhao of Han died without an heir, He Quang suggested selecting a person from the royal family to enter the palace and become the Empress Dowager to succeed the emperor. Liu Ha, the son of Liu Bo, the marquis of Xiong Ap, and the maternal nephew of Emperor Wu of Han, was chosen as the heir to the throne.

In June, 74 BC, Liu Ha ascended the throne and honored Empress Dowager Shangguan as Empress Dowager, at the age of 15, making her the youngest empress dowager in Chinese history.

However, Liu Ha proved to be incompetent and was ultimately overthrown by He Quang, at the request of Empress Dowager Shangguan, after only 27 days on the throne. He Quang then requested to make Liu Benyi, the eldest grandson of Emperor Wu of Han, the emperor and renamed him Emperor Xuan of Han.

In 68 BC, He Quang passed away. Two years later, the entire Hoắc family was exterminated by Emperor Xuan of Han for plotting the assassination of Crown Prince Liu Shi. Both the internal and external families were brutally exterminated, and Empress Dowager Shangguan retired to live a solitary life until her death in the Truong Lac Palace.

In 48 BC, Emperor Xuan of Han died, and Crown Prince Liu Shi ascended the throne, becoming Emperor Yuan of Han, honoring Empress Dowager Shangguan as the Empress Dowager. In 37 BC, Empress Dowager Shangguan passed away at the age of 52 in Truong Lac Palace. In total, from entering the palace until her death, Empress Dowager Shangguan experienced four reigns of Emperor Wu of Han, served as Empress for 9 years under Emperor Zhao of Han, became Empress Dowager for 27 days under Marquis of Xiong Ap, and for 25 years under Emperor Xuan of Han. Finally, she became Empress Dowager for 12 years during the reign of Emperor Yuan of Han.

You may also like

Silence rule forces Qing dynasty concubines to keep quiet during intimate activities

During the Qing Dynasty, imperial consorts were expected to maintain silence and refrain from making any noise while being attended to by the emperor.

4 Esteemed High-ranking Figures of China, Revered Even by the Emperor

Not kings or gods, but the status of these special individuals is even higher and stronger than that of kings.

The Unique Black Queen in Chinese History: From Lowly Concubine to the Enchanting Beauty Loved by All

Despite her foreign and uncultured background, she rose to become a queen, a revered figure admired by all.

The Painful Life of Ancient Female Court Officials: A Harrowing Tale

In ancient China, female concubines in the imperial harem led a seemingly peaceful life, yet their existence was plagued by immense suffering.

The Benevolent Emperor Kangxi but the Empress Dowager wants him to forbid something

Being filial is a blessing for parents. Emperor Kangxi was not only a ruler but also a filial son. He was renowned for his filial piety, but there was one thing that the Empress Dowager absolutely did not want him to do.