2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

The Nature of Huan Hsuan’s Usurpation of
Eastern Chin Revisited

Xinyang Wang

Humanities, Hongkong University of Science & Technology

Some experts in the history of the Northern and Southern Dynasties argue that the efforts to strengthen imperial power initiated by Emperor Hsiao Wu of Eastern Chin, were discontinued when Huan Hsuan usurped the throne in A.D. 403 only to begin again when Liu Yü came to power. This article demonstrates, however, that, though in his early years Huan Hsuan did rally support from some of the great families who expected him to restore aristocratic rule, Huan’s actions in fact fell short of meeting the expectations of these families. On the contrary, once in power, Huan tried to restrict the interests of the great families as he wanted to be a strong ruler. Therefore, the nature of Huan’s usurpation was not a return to aristocratic rule but rather a continuation of efforts to strengthen imperial power.


Keywords: Huan Hsuan, Eastern Chin, great families, aristocratic government, imperial power