Sun Xiu was born in 235 to the founding emperor of Eastern Wu, Sun Quan, and his concubine Consort Wang. In his young age, he was known for his studiousness. About 250, Sun Quan had him marry the daughter of his sister Sun Xiaohu and her husband Zhu Ju.
In 252, just before Sun Quan's death, he was created the Prince of Langye, with his fief at Hulin . Later that year, after his younger brother Sun Liang became emperor under the regency of Zhuge Ke, Zhuge did not want the princes to be based near the important military bases along the Yangtze River, so he moved Sun Xiu to Danyang . Unlike his brother Sun Fen the Prince of Qi, who initially resisted, Sun Xiu did not put up any resistance to the move. Once he was at Danyang, however, the governor of Danyang Commandery, Li Heng , found many excuses to bully the young prince. Sun Xiu could not endure it, and so he petitioned his brother for another move; his brother had him moved to Kuaiji .
In 255, at the instigation of Sun Xiu's sister Sun Dahu , the regent Sun Jun, who had killed and replaced Zhuge in 253, killed Princess Xiaohu. Sun Xiu became fearful, and sent his wife Princess Zhu back to the capital Jianye, effectively offering to divorce her, but Sun Jun declined by sending Princess Zhu back to Sun Xiu.
In 258, after Sun Liang had tried to but failed to remove Sun Lin, Sun Jun's cousin and successor, Sun Lin had Sun Liang removed from the throne. He welcomed Sun Xiu to the capital and had him declared emperor.
Sun Xiu's killing of Sun Lin
Sun Xiu, in order to appease Sun Lin, added five counties to his and created his brothers marquesses as well. However, Sun Lin soon had a fallout with the new emperor over a relatively small incident -- Sun Lin had brought beef and wine to the palace, intending to feast with the emperor, but Sun Xiu refused the offering, and so Sun Lin took the food and wine to the house of the general Zhang Bu . He expressed to Zhang his disappointment at Sun Xiu's refusal -- including a remark that perhaps he should choose another emperor -- and Zhang reported Sun Lin's complaints to Sun Xiu. Sun Xiu became concerned about Sun Lin, but continued to outwardly show favor to Sun Lin. Sun Lin became concerned about his standing with the emperor and offered to leave Jianye to head up the defense of the secondary capital Wuchang . Sun Xiu approved.
However, Sun Xiu then became concerned that Sun Lin would take over that city and rebel. He conspired with Zhang and the senior general Ding Feng to kill Sun Lin at the Laba festival. Somehow, the news leaked, but Sun Lin, even though apprehensive, showed up at the festival anyway and was seized by Ding and Zhang's soldiers. Sun Lin begged Sun Xiu for his life, offering to be exiled to Jiao Province or to become a slave, but Sun Xiu declined -- stating to Sun Lin that he did not give Teng Yin , whom he killed in 256, or Lü Ju , who committed suicide after Teng's death, those choices. Sun was executed, as were members of his clan.
As emperor, Sun Xiu was known for being tolerant of differing opinions, as well as his studiousness. However, he did not appear to be a particularly capable emperor, either in military or domestic matters, and he entrusted most of the important affairs to Zhang and Puyang Xing , neither of whom was particularly capable either. Both were also moderately corrupt. The government was therefore not efficient or effective. For example, in 260, at Puyang's suggestion, a costly project was started to create an artificial lake known as the Puli Lake to create a defense against the rival Cao Wei, even though most other officials believed the project to be too costly and futile. Eventually, the project had to be abandoned when it became clear that it could not be completed.
Also in 260, Sun Xiu, who had always been concerned about plots regarding his deposed brother, the former emperor Sun Liang, acted after receiving false reports that Sun Liang had used witchcraft. He had Sun Liang demoted from being the Prince of Kuaiji to the Marquess of Houguan and sent him to his . Sun Liang died on the way -- with the prevalent theory being that he committed suicide, but with some historians believing that Sun Xiu poisoned him.
According to the Eastern Wu ambassador Xue Xu , who visited Eastern Wu's ally Shu Han in 261 at the order of Sun Xiu, the status that Shu Han was in at this point was:
:''The emperor is incompetent and does not know his errors; his subordinates just try to get by without causing trouble for themselves. When I was visiting them, I heard no honest words, and when I visited their countryside, the people looked hungry. I have heard of a story of swallows and sparrows making nests on top of mansions and being content, believing that it was the safest place, not realizing that the haystack and the support beams were on fire and that disaster was about to come. This might be what they are like.''
However, historians largely believe that Xue was not just referring to Shu Han, but rather using Shu Han's situation to try to awaken Sun Xiu so that he would realize that Eastern Wu was in a similar situation. Sun Xiu did not appear to realize this, however.
In 262, Sun Xiu created his wife Princess Zhu empress. He also created his oldest son Sun Wan crown prince.
In 263, due to the corruption of the commandery governor Sun Xu , the people of the Commandery rebelled, and they were joined by people of Jiuzhen and Ri'nan Commanderies, and the rebels sought military assistance from Cao Wei.
Also in 263, Shu Han was targeted by a major Cao Wei attack and sought assistance from Eastern Wu. Sun Xiu sent two separate forces, one attacking Shouchun and one heading toward Hanzhong to try to alleviate pressures on Shu Han, but neither was at all successful, and Shu Han's capital Chengdu and its emperor Liu Shan surrendered later that year without having received major help from Eastern Wu. Sun Xiu then heard that many Shu Han cities were still not decided as to what to do, and he sent a detachment to try to occupy them, but his forces were repelled by the former Shu Han general Luo Xian , the governor of Badong Commandery , who wanted to carry out Liu Shan's orders to surrender to Cao Wei, and was unable to seize any former Shu Han territory.
In summer 264, Sun Xiu fell ill and was unable to speak but still could write, so he wrote an edict summoning Puyang to the palace, where he pointed and entrusted Crown Prince Wan to him. Sun Xiu died soon thereafter. However, Puyang did not follow his wishes. Rather, after consulting with Zhang, they believed that the people were, in light of Shu Han's recent fall, yearning for an older emperor. At the recommendation of the general Wan Yu , who was friendly with former crown prince Sun He's son Sun Hao the Marquess of Wucheng, Puyang and Zhang declared Sun Hao emperor instead.
* ''Yong'an'' 258-264
** Sun Quan
** Consort Wang, posthumously honored as Empress Jinghuai
** Sun Wan, the Crown Prince , later the Prince of Yuzhang
** Sun Gong, the Prince of Ru'nan
** Sun Mang , the Prince of Liang
** Sun Bao, the Prince of Chen