12. Han Chengdi – Going on an heir hunt

ChengdiChengdi Reign Card v2

In a complete change of pace from his father, Han Chengdi was not a man of strict principles in pretty much any way, and actually became infamous for being quite a playboy. This obsession with the opposite sex, rather than perhaps his other duties, is thought to be partially responsible for the constant downward trajectory of the Han empire around this time.

Indeed, his trust in the women around him, notably the empress dowager of the ‘Wang’ clan, could be the very start of what would completely undo the Han Dynasty in the near future. Giving them more and more power, as he looked for excuses to spend more time with the lovely ladies in his life.

However, despite this reputation as a ladies man, it soon became clear that Chengdi was unable to produce an heir. Rumour spread that Chengdi may be infertile, so when Chengdi made suggestions his Nephew should be placed next in line to the throne (rather than wait any longer for Chengdi to have a son of his own), there was very little resistance from his officials.

However, unknown to the palace Chengdi was perfectly able to produce sons, and had in-fact become a father twice during his reign. But these sons were murdered behind the scenes by Chengdi’s favourite consort.. totally in love with the woman despite her spree of child murder, Chengdi helped covered the whole thing up to stop her being punished.

Perhaps in an effort to finally ‘inspire’ Chengdi to have a child of her own, she is rumoured to have given Chengdi an excessive amount of aphrodisiacs. Unfortunately for Chengdi ancient Chinese medicine wasn’t something to ever wolf down. In 7BCE after 26 years of womanising rule, he died as he lived… of an aphrodisiac overdose.

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