Why did Emperors of India and China have so many mistresses?

Sep 2016
545
天下
#2
Concubines, not mistresses. It served several purposes:
1. It created an ample supply of potential heirs.
2. It could grant the loyalty of families connected to a concubine.
3. Some Emperors were just perverts.

Unlike Europe, there was no hard stygma against polygamy. Although in China all women of the Emperor held a rank, with empresses, secondary wives, lesser rank concubines neatly delineated.
 
Likes: bedb
Jan 2019
220
London, United Kingdom
#4
Because given the power and opportunity most men would keep harems of women.
I can understand some men want more than 1 woman. However, when the number exceeds 5, things become very complicated. It's almost impossible to please so many women, while preventing conflicts between them. Some Indian and Chinese emperors had more than 50 women. When a man had more than 5, an additional woman would not bring him much additional pleasure. The law of diminishing marginal returns is always true.
Some Muslim countries allow a man to have at most 4 wives. The number 4 was chosen because, even given the opportunity, a man wouldn't want more than 4 wives because it was simply impossible to manage such complex relationship.
 
Jan 2019
220
London, United Kingdom
#5
Concubines, not mistresses. It served several purposes:
2. It could grant the loyalty of families connected to a concubine.
Just like European countries used dynastic marriage to form political alliances. However, when there are so many women under the same roof, it is almost impossible to please them all. Some women would inevitably grew hatred towards the emperor for being ignored. I think this may harm rather than enhance the loyalty of other noble family.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,216
#6
In Christian Europe kings could not have more than one wife at a time, but could have unofficial mistresses. In some countries there were multiple wives, in others official concubines.
 
Aug 2016
977
US&A
#8
I can understand some men want more than 1 woman. However, when the number exceeds 5, things become very complicated. It's almost impossible to please so many women, while preventing conflicts between them. Some Indian and Chinese emperors had more than 50 women. When a man had more than 5, an additional woman would not bring him much additional pleasure. The law of diminishing marginal returns is always true.
Some Muslim countries allow a man to have at most 4 wives. The number 4 was chosen because, even given the opportunity, a man wouldn't want more than 4 wives because it was simply impossible to manage such complex relationship.
Tilly, what do you mean "almost impossible to please so many women", are you really that naive? It wasn't about pleasing the women.
 
Jan 2019
220
London, United Kingdom
#9
Tilly, what do you mean "almost impossible to please so many women", are you really that naive? It wasn't about pleasing the women.
As far as I know, these women were mostly from noble and wealthy families. So the emperor must treat them with respect and keep them relatively content. They were not like slaves in Ottoman's harem.