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Li Chongrun

Li Chongrun
Crown Prince Yide
Spouse Lady Pei (posthumously married)
Full name
Birth name: Li Chongzhao 李重照
Posthumous name
Crown Prince Yide 懿德太子
Father Emperor Zhongzong of Tang
Mother Empress Wei
Born 682
Died 8 October 701 (aged 19)

Li Chongrun (李重潤) (682 – October 8, 701[1]), né Li Chongzhao (李重照), formally Crown Prince Yide (懿德太子), was an imperial prince of the Chinese dynasties Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty. He was the only son of Emperor Zhongzong (Li Zhe/Li Xian) and Emperor Zhongzong's second wife Empress Wei. In 701, he offended his grandmother Wu Zetian by discussing Wu Zetian's lovers Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong with his sister Li Xianhui the Lady Yongtai and her husband Wu Yanji (武延基) the Prince of Wei, and he, along with Li Xianhui and Wu Yanji, were forced to commit suicide.[2][3] He was posthumously honored as crown prince after his father Emperor Zhongzong was restored to the throne in 705 and in 706, Emperor Zhongzong provided Li Chongrun with an honorable burial by interring his remains at the Qianling Mausoleum.


  • During Emperor Gaozong's reign and Emperors Zhongzong and Ruizong's first reigns 1
  • During Wu Zetian's reign 2
  • Ancestry 3
  • Notes and references 4

During Emperor Gaozong's reign and Emperors Zhongzong and Ruizong's first reigns

A sancai ceramic horse figurine from the tomb of Li Chongrun, now on display in the Shaanxi History Museum

Li Chongrun, then named Li Chongzhao, was born in 682, to then-Crown Prince Li Zhe and Li Zhe's wife Crown Princess Wei.[4] Shortly after Li Chongzhao's birth, Li Zhe's father Emperor Gaozong created Li Chongzhao the unprecedented title of Deputy Crown Prince (皇太孫, Huang Taisun)[5] and gave him a staff. When Emperor Gaozong became ill at the eastern capital Luoyang late in 683, Emperor Gaozong summoned Li Zhe to Luoyang and left the capital Chang'an, where Li Zhe was previously in charge, nominally under Li Chongzhao, but with the chancellor Liu Rengui actually in charge.[6] Later that year, Emperor Gaozong died, and Li Zhe succeeded him (as Emperor Zhongzong), although Li Zhe's mother Empress Wu wielded actual power, as empress dowager.

In spring 684, after Emperor Zhongzong showed signs of independence, Empress Dowager Wu deposed him and reduced him to the title of Prince of Lulin, replacing him with Li Chongzhao's uncle Li Dan the Prince of Yu (as Emperor Ruizong). Shortly thereafter, Li Chongzhao was reduced to commoner rank. It is not completely clear, but he appeared to have been exiled with his parents to Jun Prefecture (均州, in modern Shiyan, Hubei). It might have been around that time that he was renamed to Li Chongrun, to observe naming taboo of Empress Dowager Wu's personal name.

During Wu Zetian's reign

Que towers along the walls of Tang-era Chang'an, 8th-century mural from Li Chongrun's tomb at the Qianling Mausoleum in Shaanxi

Meanwhile, in 690, Li Chongrun's grandmother Empress Dowager Wu forced his uncle Emperor Ruizong to yield the throne to her, interrupting Tang Dynasty and establishing her own Zhou Dynasty with her as "emperor" (thereafter known as Wu Zetian). In 698, under the advice of the chancellor Di Renjie, she recalled Li Zhe to Luoyang, which had been made capital. Soon thereafter, Li Dan, who had been made crown prince when he yielded the throne, offered to yield the position of crown prince to Li Zhe. Wu Zetian agreed, and created Li Zhe crown prince, changing his personal name to Xian and further changing his surname to Wu. She created Li Chongrun the Prince of Shao.

As of 701, in her old age, Wu Zetian had allowed her lovers Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong to handle much of the affairs of state. Li Chongrun was not pleased with this state of affairs, and had discussed the issue with his sister Li Xianhui the Lady Yongtai and her husband Wu Yanji the Prince of Wei (Wu Zetian's grandnephew). This discussion was somehow leaked,[7] and Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong complained to Wu Zetian. In anger, she ordered that the three of them be forced to commit suicide (or, possibly, be caned to death).

It was said that Li Chongrun was handsome, filially pious, and caring for his siblings, and that his death was much mourned by the people. In 705, after Emperor Zhongzong was restored to the throne after a coup, he ordered that Li Chongrun and Li Xianhui be reburied with honors usually only due emperors, near the tomb of Emperor Gaozong. He also posthumously honored Li Chongrun as Crown Prince Yide and Li Xianhui as Princess Yongtai. He had the deceased daughter of the official Pei Cui (裴粹) be posthumously married to Li Chongrun and had her buried with Li Chongrun.


Notes and references

  1. ^ 兩千年中西曆轉換
  2. ^ The Zizhi Tongjian asserted that Li Chongrun was forced to commit suicide, but the Old Book of Tang and the New Book of Tang asserted in his biographies that he was caned to death on Wu Zetian's orders. Compare Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 207, with Old Book of Tang, vol. 86 [1] and New Book of Tang, vol. 81.[2] The Old Book of Tang, meanwhile, inconsistently asserted in the chronicles of Wu Zetian's reign that he was forced to commit suicide. See Old Book of Tang, vol. 6.[3] The chronicles of Wu Zetian's reign in the New Book of Tang merely stated that the three of them "were killed." See New Book of Tang, vol. 4.[4]
  3. ^ However, some modern historians, based on the text on Li Xianhui's tombstone (written after Emperor Zhongzong was restored to the throne in 705), which suggested that she died the day after her brother and her husband and that she was pregnant at death, and the fact that the skeleton believed to be hers had a small pelvis, have proposed the theory that she was not ordered to commit suicide, but had, in grief over her brother's and husband's deaths, had either a miscarriage or a difficult birth and died from that. See, e.g., illustrations preceding the Bo Yang Edition of the Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 49. It may be notable that the Chinese WorldHeritage article for Li Xianhui gave the text for her tombstone, but did not give a citation corroborating the text in the article, although on the Web the text appeared to be generally accepted as true — including by Chinese government Web sites. See, e.g., Shaanxi government site.
  4. ^ It is unclear whether he was Li Zhe's first son, as asserted by Old Book of Tang, vol. 86, as his brother Li Chongfu, described as the second son, was said to have died at age 30 when he was killed in 710 -- which would make his birth date 680, two years before Li Chongzhao's. The New Book of Tang avoid the issue by not giving birth ordinals to either Li Chongzhao or Li Chongfu. See New Book of Tang, vol. 81.
  5. ^ The title of Huang Taisun had been used before for the crown prince during the reigns of Emperor Hui of Jin and Emperor Wu of Southern Qi, but had never been used for a son of a crown prince. See response by official Wang Fangqing to Emperor Gaozong's inquiry in Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 203.
  6. ^ The Zizhi Tongjian indicated that the son of Li Zhe left nominally in charge of Chang'an was Li Chongfu the Prince of Tangchang. See Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 203. However, both the Old Book of Tang and the New Book of Tang indicated that it was Li Chongzhao who was left in charge, and as Li Chongzhao's position was higher than Li Chongfu's, as he had the title of deputy crown prince, it appeared more likely that Li Chongzhao was in charge. See Old Book of Tang, vol. 84,[5] and New Book of Tang, vol. 180.[6] The Old Book of Tang did, elsewhere, indicate that Li Chongfu, not Li Chongzhao, was nominally in charge. See Old Book of Tang, vol. 5.[7]
  7. ^ Li Chongrun's mother Empress Wei would later accuse his brother Li Chongfu of leaking the information, although there appears to be no particular evidence Li Chongfu did so, and in the Zizhi Tongjian, it was asserted that her accusation against Li Chongfu was false. See Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 208.
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