Daughter of Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei

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Daughter of Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei
10th Emperor of Northern Wei
Reign1 April 528
Predecessor Emperor Xiaoming
Successor Yuan Zhao
Born12 February 528
Luoyang, Northern Wei
(present-day Luoyang, Henan, China)
Full name
Family name: Yuan (元)
Given name: Unknown
Era name and dates
Wutai (武泰): 1st month – 4th month, 528 [note 1] (Chinese calendar)
February – June, 528 (Gregorian calendar)
Father Emperor Xiaoming
MotherPan Wailian

The unnamed daughter of Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei (12 February 528 – ?) was briefly the emperor of Northern Wei (386–534), a Xianbei dynasty that ruled Northern China from the late fourth to the early sixth century AD. She bore the surname Yuan (Chinese :; pinyin :Yuán), originally Tuoba . [note 2] Yuan was the only child of Emperor Xiaoming (r. 515–528), born to his concubine Consort Pan. Soon after her birth, her grandmother the Empress Dowager Hu, who was also Xiaoming's regent, falsely declared that she was a boy and ordered a general pardon. Emperor Xiaoming died soon afterwards. On 1 April 528, Empress Dowager Hu installed the infant on the throne for a matter of hours before replacing her with Yuan Zhao the next day. Xiaoming's daughter was not recognised as an emperor (huangdi) by later generations. No further information about her is available. [3]

Northern Wei former country (386–535)

The Northern Wei or the Northern Wei Empire, also known as the Tuoba Wei (拓跋魏), Later Wei (後魏), or Yuan Wei (元魏), was a dynasty founded by the Tuoba clan of the Xianbei, which ruled northern China from 386 to 534 AD, during the period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Described as "part of an era of political turbulence and intense social and cultural change", the Northern Wei Dynasty is particularly noted for unifying northern China in 439: this was also a period of introduced foreign ideas, such as Buddhism, which became firmly established.

Xianbei ancient people in Manchuria and Mongolia

The Xianbei were an originally nomadic tribal confederation residing in what is today's eastern Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Northeast China. Along with the Xiongnu, they were one of the major nomadic groups in northern China from the Han Dynasty to the Northern and Southern dynasties. They eventually established their own northern dynasties such as the Northern Wei founded in the 4th century AD by the Tuoba clan. During the Uprising of the Five Barbarians they became categorized as one of the Five Barbarians by the Han Chinese.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Contents

Birth

Empress Dowager Hu (d. 528), known posthumously as Empress Dowager Ling, was originally one of Emperor Xuanwu's (483–515, r. 499–515) consorts; she gave birth to his only living heir Yuan Xu (510–528). Following Xuanwu's death, Yuan Xu ascended the throne as Emperor Xiaoming, and Hu was honoured as Consort Dowager, and soon Empress Dowager. [4] Because Emperor Xiaoming was still young, she became his regent. [4] To exert her power as the highest ruler of Northern Wei, she addressed herself as Zhen (Chinese : ; pinyin :Zhèn), a first-person pronoun reserved for use by the emperor after the Qin dynasty. Officials addressed her as Bixia (Chinese : 陛下 ; pinyin :Bìxià), an honorific used when addressing the emperor directly. [5]

Empress Dowager Hu, formally Empress Ling (靈皇后,), was an empress dowager of the nomadic dynasty Northern Wei (515-528). She was a concubine of Emperor Xuanwu, and she became regent and empress dowager after her son Emperor Xiaoming became emperor after Emperor Xuanwu's death in 515. She was considered to be intelligent but overly lenient, and during her regency, many agrarian rebellions occurred while corruption raged among imperial officials. In 528, she was believed to have poisoned her son Emperor Xiaoming after he tried to have her lover Zheng Yan (鄭儼) executed. This caused the general Erzhu Rong to attack and capture the capital Luoyang. Erzhu threw her into the Yellow River to drown.

A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia after the person's death, and is used almost exclusively instead of one's personal name or other official titles during their life. The posthumous name is commonly used when naming royalty of China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

Xuanwu was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty of Northern Wei (499-515). He is known within China as Beiwei Xuanwudi (北魏宣武帝). He was born Tuoba Ke, but later changed his surname so that he became Yuan Ke. During Xuanwu's reign, Northern Wei appeared, outwardly, to be at its prime, but there was much political infighting and corruption, particularly by Xuanwu's uncle Gao Zhao.

When Emperor Xiaoming grew up, however, his mother refused to hand authority over to him. She successfully eliminated many of her opponents, including favourites of the emperor. [6] The ancient Chinese historians who wrote the official history of the Northern Wei portrayed her as promiscuous. [7] Both her lifestyle and her ruling style elicited widespread dissatisfaction among officials and from her son. [8] Emperor Xiaoming gathered the people to oppose her and executed her lover Yuan Yi (元怿) in 520, [9] causing deep hatred from his mother. [10] After several failed attempts to overthrow the empress dowager, Xiaoming secretly ordered General Erzhu Rong to send troops to the capital Luoyang to coerce her into handing over the authority. [11] When she learned about the plot, she discussed strategies with the officials who supported her. [12]

An official history is a work of history which is sponsored, authorised or endorsed by its subject. The term is most commonly used for histories which are produced for a government. The term also applies to commissions from non-state bodies as company histories, i.e. histories of commercial companies. An official biography is often known as an authorized biography.

Erzhu Rong (爾朱榮), courtesy name Tianbao (天寶), formally Prince Wu of Jin (晉武王), was a general of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was of Xiongnu ancestry, and after Emperor Xiaoming was killed by his mother Empress Dowager Hu in 528, Erzhu overthrew her and put Emperor Xiaozhuang on the throne, but at the same time slaughtered many imperial officials and took over most of actual power either directly or through associates. He then contributed much to the rebuilding of the Northern Wei state, which had been rendered fractured by agrarian rebellions during Emperor Xiaoming's reign. However, in 530, Emperor Xiaozhuang, believing that Erzhu would eventually usurp the throne, tricked Erzhu into the palace and ambushed him. Subsequently, however, Erzhu's clan members, led by his cousin Erzhu Shilong and nephew Erzhu Zhao, defeated and killed Emperor Xiaozhuang. He was often compared by historians to the Han Dynasty general Dong Zhuo, for his ferocity in battle and for his violence and lack of tact.

Luoyang Prefecture-level city in Henan, Peoples Republic of China

Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River in the west of Henan province. Governed as a prefecture-level city, it borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast. As of the final 2010 census, Luoyang had a population of 6,549,941 inhabitants with 1,857,003 people living in the built-up area made of the city's five urban districts, all of which except the Jili District are not urbanized yet.

As these events were occurring, on 12 February 528, Consort Pan, one of Emperor Xiaoming's nine concubines, gave birth to a daughter. [13] [14] Empress Dowager Hu falsely declared that the child was a son; [13] she issued an edict the following day, ordering a general pardon and changing the emperor's reign title from Xiaochang (孝昌) to Wutai (武泰). [15] [16]

Amnesty is defined as: "A pardon extended by the government to a group or class of people, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiving certain classes of people who are subject to trial but have not yet been convicted." It includes more than pardon, inasmuch as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the offense. Amnesty is more and more used to express "freedom" and the time when prisoners can go free.

A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers. Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back to year one or yuán (元). The numbering of the year increases on the first day of the Chinese calendar each year. The era name originated as a motto or slogan chosen by an emperor.

Accession to the throne

On 31 March 528, Emperor Xiaoming suddenly died in Xianyang Palace (显阳殿). [17] The following day (1 April 528), Empress Dowager Hu declared the 50-day-old baby girl Yuan the new emperor, while she herself continued to be regent. [18] She ordered another general pardon. As the year of Emperor Xiaoming's reign had not ended, the era name was not changed and the name "Wutai" remained in use. Empress Dowager Hu continued to be effectively in power. [18]

Dethronement

Just a few hours later,[ citation needed ] Empress Dowager Hu issued an edict [19] [20] to dethrone the infant Emperor and declared that Yuan was a girl. She placed Yuan Zhao son of the deceased Yuan Baohui (元宝晖), Prince of Lintaoon the throne instead. [21] Yuan Zhao ascended the throne on 2 April 528, the day after Empress Dowager Hu issued the edict. [22]

Yuan Zhao (元釗), also known in history as Youzhu, was briefly an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei.

As he was too young to rule, Yuan Zhao was made a puppet emperor under Empress Dowager Hu. [23] The series of events involving her son's death and the installation of the infant girl and the three-year-old Yuan Zhao on the throne occurred to ensure the continuation of her regency. [23]

Outcome

Because Empress Dowager Hu replaced the emperor in an unbridled manner, General Erzhu Rong sent in troops to overthrow her, stating that she had deceived Heaven as well as the Imperial Court by letting the infant girl succeed to the throne. [24] Erzhu Rong made Yuan Ziyou (507–531) emperor. [25] Not long after, Erzhu Rong sent troops to occupy the capital Luoyang, and Empress Dowager Hu and Yuan Zhao were held captive. They were delivered to his camp at Heyin (河阴). Empress Dowager Hu begged him for mercy, but he refused and had her and Yuan Zhao drowned in the Yellow River. [26] Erzhu later killed thousands of Han Chinese officials and their families who had served at the Northern Wei court during her regency. [27] [28] This massacre is known as the Heyin Incident (河阴之变). [29] Erzhu Rong became the highest authority of the empire. From that time on, political power fell into the hands of powerful ministers and warlords. Gao Huan and Yuwen Tai were generals during the Erzhu Rong era who respectively controlled Eastern Wei and Western Wei following the split of the dynasty, [30] while Erzhu controlled the northern part of the empire. This division eventually led to the downfall of the dynasty. [28]

For the acts she committed during her regency, Empress Dowager Hu was discredited and became infamous in history for causing the downfall of the dynasty. [31] [32]

Controversy

Yuan's status as an emperor (huangdi) remains controversial and is not recognised by many. Official historical records have never listed her as a legitimate sovereign because she was a puppet under Empress Dowager Hu and reigned for less than a day. She was also an impostor for the throne as a boy. Hence, Wu Zetian remains as the first and only recognised female huangdi in Chinese history. [33] Researcher Cheng Yang (成扬) believes that the fact that Yuan was the "first female in history to ascend the imperial throne" cannot be denied despite it being a plot by Empress Dowager Hu. According to Cheng, Wu Zetian was not the only female huangdi, but the only one to have reigned over the empire. [34] Luo Yuanzhen (罗元贞), another researcher on Wu, thinks that modern historians should not acknowledge Yuan's title as Huangdi as ancient Chinese historians did not. [33]

Family

Yuan briefly appeared in Chapter 47 Xiao Baoyin's rebellion and capture by Erzhu Rong (Chinese :萧宝夤称尊叛命 尔朱荣抗表兴师) of the Romance of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (Chinese :南北史演义) of Republic of China novelist Cai Dongfan's Popular Romance of Dynasties (Chinese : 历朝通俗演义 ); the story largely conforms with the historical account. [35]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. This was the last era name of Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei. After his death, it remained in use during the short reigns of his daughter and Yuan Zhao. [1]
  2. The surname of the Wei ruling family was changed from Tuoba to Yuan by Emperor Xiaowen (r. 471–499). [2]

Related Research Articles

Wu Zetian founding empress of the Zhou Dynasty

Wu Zetian, alternatively named Wu Zhao, Wu Hou, during the later Tang dynasty as Tian Hou, in English as Empress Consort Wu or by the deprecated term "Empress Wu", was a Chinese sovereign who ruled unofficially as empress consort and empress dowager and officially as empress regnant (皇帝) during the brief Zhou dynasty, which interrupted the Tang dynasty. Wu was the sole officially recognized empress regnant of China in more than two millennia.

Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei ( 魏孝明帝), personal name Yuan Xu (元詡), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei (386–535). He ascended the throne in the age of five (515), so governmental matters were dominated by his mother Empress Dowager Hu. In 528, Emperor Xiaoming tried to curb his mother's powers and kill her lover Zheng Yan (鄭儼) by conspiring with the general Erzhu Rong. As a result, 18-year-old emperor was poisoned by his mother, who was soon overthrown by Erzhu. From that point on, Northern Wei royal lineage had no actual power. The next ruler, Emperor Xiaozhuang (507–531) was established by Erzhu. Since Erzhu's rival, general Gao Huan, enthroned another royal offspring, the country was soon split in two rival polities, Eastern and Western Wei, both of which did not hold long on the political map of the Southern and Northern Dynasties.

Yuan Yong (元雍), né Tuoba Yong (拓拔雍), courtesy name Simu (思穆), formally Prince Wenmu of Gaoyang (高陽文穆王), was an imperial prince of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was very powerful during the reign of his grandnephew Emperor Xiaoming, and by corrupt means grew very rich. This, however, drew resentment from the populace, and after Emperor Xiaoming's death in 528 and the subsequent overthrowing of Emperor Xiaoming's mother Empress Dowager Hu by the general Erzhu Rong, Erzhu had him and over 2,000 other officials slaughtered at Heyin.

Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei, personal name Yuan Ziyou, was an emperor of China of the Northern Wei, a Xianbei dynasty. He was placed on the throne by General Erzhu Rong, who refused to recognize the young emperor, Yuan Zhao, who Empress Dowager Hu had placed on the throne after she poisoned her son Emperor Xiaoming.

Empress Erzhu Ying'e (爾朱英娥) was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. She was the wife of Emperor Xiaozhuang and a daughter of the paramount general Erzhu Rong. She later became a concubine of Northern Wei and Eastern Wei's paramount general Gao Huan.

Empress Erzhu (爾朱皇后) was briefly an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. Her husband was Yuan Ye, also known as the Prince of Changguang.

Yuan Hao (元顥), courtesy name Ziming (子明) was an imperial prince and pretender to the throne of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei, who briefly received allegiance from most of the provinces south of the Yellow River after he captured the capital Luoyang with support of neighboring Liang Dynasty. He became complacent after capturing Luoyang, however, and when the general Erzhu Rong, who supported Emperor Xiaozhuang, counterattacked later that year, Yuan Hao fled Luoyang and was killed in flight.

Emperor Jiemin of Northern Wei ( 魏節閔帝), also known as Emperor Qianfei (前廢帝), at times referred to by pre-ascension title Prince of Guangling (廣陵王), personal name Yuan Gong (元恭), courtesy name Xiuye (脩業), was an emperor of Northern Wei. He became emperor after the clan members of the paramount general Erzhu Rong, after Erzhu Rong was killed by Emperor Xiaozhuang, overthrew Emperor Xiaozhuang. Emperor Jiemin tried to revive the Northern Wei state, but with his power curbed by the Erzhus, was not able to accomplish much. After the general Gao Huan defeated the Erzhus in 532, Emperor Jiemin was imprisoned by Gao and subsequently poisoned to death by Emperor Xiaowu, whom Gao made emperor.

Erzhu Shilong (爾朱世隆) (500–532), courtesy name Rongzong (榮宗), was an official of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He first became prominent when after his cousin Erzhu Rong overthrew Emperor Xiaoming's mother Empress Dowager Hu and made Emperor Xiaozhuang emperor. Later, when Emperor Xiaozhuang killed Erzhu Rong in 530, Erzhu Shilong participated in the counterattack that overthrew Emperor Xiaozhuang, and thereafter controlled the imperial government during the reign of Emperor Jiemin. When the general Gao Huan, in turn, rebelled in response to Emperor Xiaozhuang's death, the officials in the imperial capital Luoyang rebelled against the Erzhus, and Erzhu Shilong was executed after failing to flee Luoyang.

Erzhu Tianguang (496–532) was a general of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He became a major general during the reign of Emperor Xiaozhuang, when his father's cousin Erzhu Rong was the paramount general of the state. He was renowned for pacifying the Guanzhong region, which had been seized by agrarian rebel generals Moqi Chounu (万俟醜奴) and Wang Qingyun (王慶雲) in 530. He thereafter tried to maintain a relatively distant profile from the other Erzhu clan members, particularly after Emperor Xiaozhuang killed Erzhu Rong later in 530 and then was overthrown and killed by Erzhu Rong's nephew Erzhu Zhao and cousin Erzhu Shilong. In 532, after the other Erzhus had suffered defeats at the hand of the rebelling general Gao Huan, Erzhu Tianguang tried to come to their aid, but was also defeated by another general who rebelled, Husi Chun, and Gao executed him.

Empress Gao was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. Her husband was Emperor Xiaowu.

Empress Ashina (551–582) was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. She was the daughter of Göktürk's Muqan Qaghan, and her husband was Emperor Wu.

Empress Dowager Chinu, formally Empress Xuan, was an empress dowager of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. She was the mother of Emperor Wu.

Li Ezi, later Buddhist nun name Changbei (常悲), was an empress dowager of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. She was the mother of Emperor Xuan.

Empress Hu (胡皇后) may refer to:

Empress Fu was an empress consort and empress dowager during the Later Zhou dynasty. She was a daughter of general Fu Yanqing and a younger sister of Empress Xuanyi, who was married to the Later Zhou emperor Guo Rong from 951 or so to 956. Guo Rong had been without a wife ever since Empress Xuanyi's death in 956, and he married the younger Fu in July 959 when he fell critically ill. The marriage was clearly political and most likely not consummated: Guo Rong died 10 days later and was succeeded by his 6-year-old son Guo Zongxun. Empress Dowager Fu as his guardian became the regent.

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Further reading

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei
Emperor of Northern Wei
528
Succeeded by
Yuan Zhao