Emperor Gaozu was wounded by a stray arrow during the campaign against Ying Bu. He became seriously ill and remained in his inner chambers for a long period of time and ordered his guards to deny entry to everyone who tried to visit him. After several days, Fan Kuai barged into the chambers to see the emperor and the other subjects followed behind him. They saw Emperor Gaozu lying on his bed and attended to by a eunuch. Fan Kuai said, “How glorious it was when Your Majesty first led us to conquer the empire and how weary we are now. Your subjects are worried when they learn that Your Majesty is ill, but Your Majesty refuses to see us and prefers the company of a eunuch instead. Has Your Majesty forgotten the incident about Zhao Gao?” The emperor laughed and got out of bed to meet his subjects.

Emperor Gaozu’s health deteriorated later so Empress Lü Zhi hired a famous physician to heal him. When Emperor Gaozu enquired about his condition, the physician told him that his illness could be cured, but the emperor was displeased and he scolded the physician, “Isn’t it Heaven’s will that I managed to conquer this empire in simple clothing and with nothing but a sword? My life is determined by Heaven. It is useless even if Bian Que is here!” He refused to continue with the treatment and sent the physician away. Before his death, he said that Cao Shen could succeed Xiao He as the chancellor after Xiao died, and that Wang Ling could succeed Cao Shen. He also said that Wang Ling might be too young to perform his duties so Chen Ping could assist Wang, but Chen was also qualified to assume the responsibilities of a chancellor all by himself. He also named Zhou Bo as a possible candidate for the role of Grand Commandant. He died in Changle Palace (長樂宮) on 1 June 195 BC and was succeeded by Liu Ying, who became historically known as Emperor Hui.

Picture: Tomb of Emperor Gaozu in Changling, Xianyang

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