|Emperor Mingyuan of Northern Wei|
|Emperor of Northern Wei|
|Reign||November 10, 409 – December 23, 423|
|Died||December 23, 423|
|Consorts|| Empress Zhao'ai |
|Issue|| Emperor Taiwu |
Emperor Mingyuan of Northern Wei ((北)魏明元帝) (392–423 AD), Chinese name Tuoba Si (拓拔嗣), Xianbei name Mumo (木末), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei.He was the oldest son of the founding emperor Emperor Daowu. During his reign, Northern Wei's territory did not expand as much as it did under either his father's reign or the reign of his son Emperor Taiwu, but he helped the state stabilize over northern China, and started the tradition of meeting with important imperial officials to listen to their advice and make final decisions. He is generally regarded by historians to be an intelligent and rational ruler.
Tuoba Si was born in 392 after his father Tuoba Gui had founded Northern Wei in 386 but before he had conquered most of rival Later Yan's territory and claimed imperial title in 399. His mother was Tuoba Gui's favorite consort, Consort Liu, the daughter of the Xiongnu chief Liu Toujuan (劉頭眷). He was born at the capital Yunzhong (雲中, in modern Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.) He was Tuoba Gui's oldest son, and his father was said to be so pleased by this late arrival of a son that he declared a general pardon. (Based on Northern Wei's official history, Tuoba Gui would only be 21 at this point; this might be further evidence corroborating the alternative version of his life history.)
As Tuoba Si grew, he was said to be a wise and kind young man, whose actions were all in accordance with proper protocol. In contrast, his oldest younger brother Tuoba Shao (拓拔紹) was a frivolous and violent young man, and often received punishment from Emperor Daowu, and Tuoba Si tried to correct his brother's behavior by rebukes, but this made Tuoba Shao angry at him. In 403, Tuoba Gui, by this point emperor (as Emperor Daowu), created him the Prince of Qi. In 409, Emperor Daowu was intent on creating Tuoba Si crown prince, but based on the Tuoba tradition that when an heir is decided upon, his mother must be put to death, Emperor Daowu forced Consort Liu to commit suicide. Either before or after he did so, he summoned Tuoba Si to explain to him that this tradition was also in accordance with Emperor Wu of Han's rationale to put his favorite concubine, Consort Zhao (Emperor Zhao of Han's mother) to death, to avoid overly great maternal influence on a young emperor. After Tuoba Si left his father's presence, because of the affection that he had for his mother, he mourned greatly. Hearing this, Emperor Daowu summoned him back to the palace—and, because Emperor Daowu, in his late reign, often displayed great paranoid and violent tendencies, the new crown prince's attendants suggested that he not go to the palace but hide in the country. Tuoba Si agreed and did so, fleeing the capital Pingcheng, where Emperor Daowu had moved the capital in 398.
Meanwhile, Emperor Daowu had, because of Tuoba Shao's crimes, imprisoned Tuoba Shao's mother Consort Helan and planned to execute him. Consort Helan sent her son a message, asking him to save her. In response, Tuoba Shao assassinated Emperor Daowu and then tried to take over as emperor, and he tried to seize the troops. Tuoba Si, upon hearing this news, returned to Pingcheng but hid himself, while trying to gather supporters gradually. Tuoba Shao tried to seek him out to kill him, but the imperial guards gradually shifted to Tuoba Si's side, and the imperial guards arrested Tuoba Shao and presented him to Tuoba Si. Tuoba Si executed Tuoba Shao, Consort Helan, and Tuoba Shao's associates. He then took the throne as Emperor Mingyuan.
Emperor Mingyuan, contrary to his father's dictatorial style, instituted a council of eight officials to advise him on all important decisions, with the intent to hear different opinions and then take informed actions. The council mostly constituted of ethnic Xianbei from his tribe, but also included Han and other ethnicities. This became a tradition that was followed by his descendants as well. However, while he was known as being much more lenient than his father, he also did not tolerate wrongdoing on his advisors' part. For example, in 413, one of his key advisors, Tuoba Qu (拓拔屈) the Marquess of Yuancheng, suffered a major defeat at the hands of Xia forces, and then, once demoted to governorship of Bing Province (并州, modern central and southern Shanxi), failed to carry out his task competently, and Emperor Mingyuan executed him.
In 410, Emperor Mingyuan sent one of his advisors, Baba Song (拔拔嵩) the Duke of Nanping to attack the Rouran, and when Baba was surrounded by Rouran troops, Emperor Mingyuan personally led an army to relieve Baba. For the next years, he often left the capital Pingcheng to examine the defenses on the northern and eastern fronts (with Rouran and Northern Yan), to make sure that his state would be properly defended against enemies. He also often sent armies to pacify rebelling tribes.
In 414, Emperor Mingyuan sent ambassadors to Later Qin, Northern Yan, Jin, and Rouran, to try to establish peaceful relationships. The Later Qin and Jin missions were apparently largely successful, but his ambassador Huniuyu Shimen (忽忸于什門) had a conflict with the Northern Yan emperor Feng Ba over Feng Ba's insistence that Huniuyu kneel to him, and Feng Ba detained Huniuyu and refused to establish relations with Northern Wei. How successful the Rouran mission was is harder to gauge, for although initially it appeared to be successful, by new year 415 the Rouran Khan Yujiulü Datan (郁久閭大檀) invaded, and Emperor Mingyuan was forced to respond, chasing Yujiulü Datan back to his territory, but when Emperor Mingyuan sent his advisor Daxi Jin (達奚斤) to pursue Yujiulü Datan, the Northern Wei forces ran into severe weather and suffered many casualties based on frostbite. This would start a theme that would last for centuries—often, Rouran would attack, and Northern Wei would counter-attack successfully, but then become unable to have decisive victories over Rouran.
Late in 414, Emperor Mingyuan began to have his official Cui Hao (the son of his key advisor Cui Hong (崔宏)) teach him the ancient texts of I Ching and Hong Fan (洪範) – both mystical texts. He also often asked Cui Hao to make predictions based on those texts, which often came true. Cui Hao therefore became increasingly trusted and consulted by Emperor Mingyuan for important decisions.
In 415, the northern regions of Northern Wei suffered a major famine, causing Emperor Mingyuan to consider moving the capital southward to Yecheng (鄴城, in modern Handan, Hebei), but at the advice of Cui Hao and the official Zhou Dan (周澹), who believed that such a move would quickly expose the actual numerical inferiority of the Xianbei to the Han, he kept the capital at Pingcheng, but also pursuant to Cui and Zhou's suggestion, moved a number of impoverished Xianbei to the modern Hebei region.
In winter 415, pursuant to a peace agreement they had reached earlier, Later Qin's emperor Yao Xing sent his daughter the Princess Xiping to Northern Wei to be married to Emperor Mingyuan. He welcomed her with ceremony fitting an empress. However, Tuoba customs dictated that only a consort who was able to craft a gold statue by her hands could be empress, and Princess Xiping was unable to, so Emperor Mingyuan only created her an imperial consort, but within the palace honored her as wife and empress.
In 416, the Jin general Liu Yu launched a major attack on Later Qin, intending to destroy it. As part of Liu Yu's force, a fleet commanded by the general Wang Zhongde (王仲德), approached Northern Wei's only main outpost south of the Yellow River, Huatai (滑台, in modern Anyang, Henan), the Northern Wei general Yuchi Jian (尉遲建), apprehensive of the Jin forces, abandoned Huatai and fled back north of the Yellow River. Emperor Mingyuan executed Yuchi and then sent messengers to rebuke Liu Yu and Wang Zhongde, both of whom restated that the target was Later Qin, not Northern Wei, and that the city would be returned as soon as the campaign was over. (However, Jin did not actually return Huatai, and Northern Wei would not have a major presence south of the Yellow River again until 422.)
Jin forces quickly captured Later Qin's major city Luoyang and then headed toward the Later Qin capital Chang'an. In spring 417, The Later Qin emperor Yao Hong (Yao Xing's son) requested emergency assistance. Emperor Mingyuan summoned his council to consider whether to launch armies to try to stop Jin advances to try to save Later Qin. Most of his advisors, apprehensive at whether Liu Yu actually intended to attack Northern Wei as well, suggested that Emperor Mingyuan try to intercept Liu Yu's forces. However, Cui Hao opined that this would precisely make Northern Wei the target of Jin attacks, and Emperor Mingyuan partially agreed, but still sent some 100,000 men, commanded by Baba Song, to guard the northern bank of the Yellow River to prepare for battle. If a Jin ship were blown by the wind to the northern bank, Northern Wei forces would seize the ship and kill or capture its crew, and when Jin forces then landed on the northern banks, Northern Wei forces would temporarily retreat, and then re-establish the northern bank defensive posture as soon as Jin forces reboarded their ships. Angry at this harassment, Liu Yu sent his general Ding Wu (丁旿) to land on the northern bank and deal Northern Wei forces a major defeat. This ended Emperor Mingyuan's attempts to save Later Qin, and there were no further Jin/Northern Wei battles throughout the campaign, as while Emperor Mingyuan still planned to cut off Liu Yu's path if he were stopped by Later Qin forces, Liu Yu was able to capture Chang'an and destroy Later Qin by fall 417, and Emperor Mingyuan's planned attacks never materialized. Many former Jin officials who opposed Liu Yu who had taken refuge with Later Qin fled to Northern Wei, and Emperor Mingyuan further ordered that anyone who could save and deliver members of the Yao imperial clan to Pingcheng would be greatly rewarded. (How effectively this order was is not known, and most members of the Yao clan were captured and killed by Liu Yu.)
In 418, Emperor Mingyuan launched a major attack on Northern Yan and put the Northern Yan capital Helong (和龍, in modern Jinzhou, Liaoning) under siege, but was unable to capture Helong and forced to retreat.
In 420, Emperor Mingyuan's wife Consort Yao died, and he posthumously honored her as an empress.
In 422, Emperor Mingyuan suffered a major illness, apparently caused by medicines that alchemists had given him that were supposedly capable of extending lifespans. He consulted Cui Hao on what he should do to prepare for events after his death. Cui Hao predicted that he would recover, but advised him to create his oldest son, 14-year-old Tuoba Tao the Prince of Taiping, crown prince, and then transfer some of the authorities to the crown prince so that his own burdens could be lessened. Baba Song also agreed, and Emperor Mingyuan created Tuoba Tao crown prince, and further had Crown Prince Tao take the throne to serve as the secondary emperor. He commissioned his key advisors Baba, Cui, Daxi Jin, Anchi Tong (安遲同), Qiumuling Guan (丘穆陵觀), and Qiudun Dui (丘敦堆) to serve as the Crown Prince's advisor. From this point on, most matters, particularly domestic matters, were ruled on by Crown Prince Tao, while Emperor Mingyuan himself only ruled on important matters.
Later in 422, after hearing about the death of Liu Yu (who had seized the Jin throne in 420 and established Liu Song), Emperor Mingyuan broke off relations with Liu Song and called his council, informing the advisors that he planned to attack and seize three major cities south of the Yellow River from Liu Song—Luoyang, Hulao, and Huatai, despite Cui's opposition. He commissioned Daxi as the commander of the forced to attack Liu Song.
Daxi first put Huatai under siege, but after he was unable to capture it quickly, Emperor Mingyuan personally led an army south to aid Daxi. He also had Crown Prince Tao lead an army to the northern border, to guard against a Rouran attack. Huatai then fell, and Daxi then approached Hulao and Luoyang. Meanwhile, Emperor Mingyuan also sent the generals E Qing (娥清), Lü Dafei (閭大肥), Pu Ji (普幾), and Yizhan Jian (乙旃建) east, capturing several commanderies in modern western Shandong. However, while other cities in Song's Qing Province (青州, modern central and eastern Shandong) fell as well, the Northern Wei forces were unable to capture the capital of Qing Province, Dongyang (東陽, in modern Qingzhou, Shandong), and were eventually forced to withdraw after food supplies ran out and a large number of soldiers grew ill. Northern Wei forces also stalled in their siege of Hulao, defended by the capable Liu Song general Mao Dezu (毛德祖), but were meanwhile able to capture Luoyang and Xuchang (許昌, in modern Xuchang, Henan) in spring 423, cutting off the path of any Liu Song relief force for Hulao. In summer 423, Hulao fell. The campaign then ceased, with Northern Wei now in control of much of modern Henan and western Shandong.
In 423, Emperor Mingyuan also started a major building project—the building of a wall on the northern borders to defend against Rouran attacks.
In winter 423, Emperor Mingyuan died from Chinese alchemical elixir poisoning. Crown Prince Tao took the throne as Emperor Taiwu.
The Northern Wei, also known as the Tuoba Wei (拓跋魏), Later Wei (後魏), was a dynasty founded by the Tuoba (Tabgach) clan of the Xianbei, which ruled northern China from 386 to 534 AD, during the period of the Northern and Southern 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. The Northern Wei were referred to as "Plaited Barbarians" by writers of the Southern dynasties, who considered themselves the true upholders of Chinese culture.
Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei ( 魏孝文帝), personal name né Tuoba Hong (拓拔宏), later Yuan Hong (元宏), or Toba Hung II, was an emperor of the Northern Wei from September 20, 471 to April 26, 499.
Yao Xing, courtesy name Zilüe (子略), formally Emperor Wenhuan of (Later) Qin ( 秦文桓帝), was an emperor of the Chinese/Qiang state Later Qin. He was the son of the founding emperor Yao Chang. For most of his reign, he did not use the title of emperor, but used the title Heavenly King. During his reign, he destroyed the rival Former Qin and proceeded to expand his hegemony over nearly all of western China, as he temporarily seized all of Western Qin's territory and forced Southern Liang, Northern Liang, Western Liáng, and Qiao Zong's Western Shu (西蜀) all to at least nominally submit to him, but late in his reign, defeats on the battlefield, particularly at the hands of the rebel general Helian Bobo, and internecine struggles between his sons and nephews greatly damaged the Later Qin state, and it was destroyed soon after his death. Yao Xing was an avid Buddhist, and it was during his reign that Buddhism first received official state support in China. The monk Kumarajiva also visited Chang'an at Yao Xing's request in 401.
Emperor Daowu of Northern Wei ( 魏道武帝) (371–409), personal name Tuoba Gui (拓拔珪), né Tuoba Shegui (拓拔渉珪), was the founding emperor of the Northern Wei. He was the grandson of the last prince of Dai, Tuoba Shiyijian. After the fall of the Dai state to Former Qin in 376, he was presumed to be the eventual successor to the Dai throne. After Former Qin fell into disarray in 383 following its defeat by Jin forces at the Battle of Fei River, Tuoba Gui took the opportunity to reestablish Dai in 386. He soon changed the state's name to Wei and declared himself a prince. He was initially a vassal of Later Yan, but after defeating Later Yan emperor Murong Bao in 397 and seizing most of Later Yan's territory, he claimed the imperial title in 398.
Consort Yao, who was initially Princess Xiping (西平公主) of the Chinese/Qiang state Later Qin, posthumously honored Empress Zhaoai, was the wife of Emperor Mingyuan of the Chinese/Xianbei state Northern Wei.
Helian Bobo, né Liu Bobo (劉勃勃), courtesy name Qujie (屈孑), formally Emperor Wulie of Xia (夏武烈帝), was the founding emperor of the Xiongnu state Xia. He is generally considered to be an extremely cruel ruler, one who betrayed every benefactor whom he had, and whose thirst for killing was excessive even for the turbulent times that he was in. He built an impressive capital for his state at Tongwancheng that remained difficult to besiege, even hundreds of years later during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.
Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei, personal name Tuoba Tao (拓拔燾), Xianbei name Büri(佛貍), was an emperor of Northern Wei. He was generally regarded as a capable ruler, and during his reign, Northern Wei roughly doubled in size and united all of northern China, thus ending the Sixteen Kingdoms period and, together with the southern dynasty Liu Song, started the Southern and Northern Dynasties period of ancient China history. He was a devout Taoist, under the influence of his prime minister Cui Hao, and in 444, at Cui Hao's suggestion and believing that Buddhists had supported the rebellion of Gai Wu (蓋吳), he ordered the abolition of Buddhism, at the penalty of death. This was the first of the Three Disasters of Wu for Chinese Buddhism. Late in his reign, his reign began to be cruel, and his people were also worn out by his incessant wars against Liu Song. In 452, he was assassinated by his eunuch Zong Ai, who put his son Tuoba Yu on the throne but then assassinated Tuoba Yu as well. The other officials overthrew Zong and put Emperor Taiwu's grandson Tuoba Jun on the throne as Emperor Wencheng.
Cui Hao (崔浩), courtesy name Boyuan (伯淵), was a prime minister of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. Largely because of Cui's counsel, Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei was able to unify northern China, ending the Sixteen Kingdoms era and, along with the southern Liu Song, entering the Southern and Northern Dynasties era. Also because of the influence of Cui, who was a devout Taoist, Emperor Taiwu became a devout Taoist as well. However, in 450, over reasons that are not completely clear to this day, Emperor Taiwu had Cui and his cadet branch executed.
Helian Chang, courtesy name Huan'guo (還國), nickname Zhe (折), was an emperor of the state Xia. He was the successor and a son of the founding emperor Helian Bobo. After his father's death in 425, he tried to expand Xia further, but soon his state began to collapse in light of pressure from rival Northern Wei. In 427, his capital Tongwan fell to Northern Wei forces, and in 428 he himself was captured. Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei did not kill him but instead treated him as an honored companion, marrying a sister to him and creating him high titles—initially the Duke of Kuaiji and later the Prince of Qin—but in 434, he tried to escape and was killed.
Tuoba Shiyijian was the last prince of the Tuoba Dai and ruled from 338 to 376 when Dai was conquered by the Former Qin. He was the son of Tuoba Yulü and the younger brother of Tuoba Yihuai, whom he succeeded in 338. In 340 he moved the capital to Shengle (盛樂). His grandson Tuoba Gui founded the Northern Wei dynasty.
Emperor Shao of (Liu) Song ( 宋少帝), also known by his post-removal title Prince of Yingyang (營陽王), personal name Liu Yifu (劉義符), nickname Chebing (車兵), was an emperor of the Chinese dynasty Liu Song. He was the oldest son of the founding emperor, Emperor Wu, and became emperor after his father's death in 422. The officials whom his father left in charge of the government became convinced that he was unfit to govern, and so deposed and killed him in 424, making his more-capable younger brother Liu Yilong emperor.
Juqu Mujian, named Juqu Maoqian (沮渠茂虔) in some sources, formally Prince Ai of Hexi (河西哀王), was a king of the Xiongnu state Northern Liang—with most Chinese historians considering him the last king, although with some considering his brothers Juqu Wuhui and Juqu Anzhou to be kings of the state as well. By the time that Juqu Mujian succeeded his father Juqu Mengxun in 433, Northern Liang appeared to be stronger than ever, yet was under the shadow of the much stronger state Northern Wei, to which Northern Liang was nominally a vassal. In 439, Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei launched a major campaign against Northern Liang and captured both his capital Guzang and Juqu Mujian himself. Juqu Mujian remained an honored Northern Wei subject as Emperor Taiwu's brother-in-law until 447, when Emperor Taiwu, believing him to be trying to rebel, forced him to commit suicide.
Tuoba Huang (拓拔晃), Xianbei name Tianzhen (天真), formally Crown Prince Jingmu (景穆太子), later further formally honored as Emperor Jingmu (景穆皇帝) with the temple name Gongzong (恭宗) by his son Emperor Wencheng, was a crown prince of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was the oldest son of Emperor Taiwu, and was created crown prince in 432 at the age of four, and as he grew older, Emperor Taiwu transferred more and more authority to him. However, in 451, he incurred the wrath of his father due to false accusations of the eunuch Zong Ai, and many of his associates were put to death. He himself grew ill in fear, and died that year.
Tuoba Yu (拓拔余), formally Prince Yin of Nan'an (南安隱王), Xianbei name Kebozhen (可博真), was briefly an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was placed on the throne by the eunuch Zong Ai after Zong assassinated his father Emperor Taiwu in spring 452, and Zong was largely in control of the regime during his reign. Later in the year, when Tuoba Yu tried to assert his own authority, Zong had him assassinated as well, but then was overthrown by a group of officials, who put Tuoba Yu's nephew Tuoba Jun on the throne as Emperor Wencheng.
Emperor Wencheng of Northern Wei ( 魏文成帝) (440–465), Chinese name Tuoba Jun (拓拔濬), Xianbei name Wulei (烏雷), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He became emperor aged 12 in the aftermath of the eunuch Zong Ai's assassinations of his grandfather Emperor Taiwu and uncle Tuoba Yu, and he was generally described by historians as a ruler who sought foremost to allow his people to rest after his grandfather's expansionist policies and extensive campaigns, who also reformed the laws to become more lenient.
Yuan He (源賀), né Tufa Poqiang (禿髮破羌), Xianbei name Hedouba (賀豆跋), formally Prince Xuan of Longxi (隴西宣王), was a high-level official of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was a son of Southern Liang's last prince Tufa Rutan, and after Southern Liang's destruction he fled to Northern Wei and began to serve as an official, gradually reaching positions of great power during the reigns of Emperor Wencheng and Emperor Xianwen.
Gao Yun, courtesy name Bogong (伯恭), formally Duke Wen of Xianyang (咸陽文公), was an official during the reigns of five emperors of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei.
Yujiulü Shelun or Qiudoufa Khagan (丘豆伐可汗) was khagan of the Rouran from 402 to 410.
Yujiulü Datan khan of the Rouran from 414 to July, 429 with the title of Mouhanheshenggai Khagan (牟汗紇升蓋可汗).
The Sixteen Kingdoms, less commonly the Sixteen States, was a chaotic period in Chinese history from 304 to 439 CE when the political order of northern China fractured into a series of short-lived dynastic states, most of which were founded by the "Five Barbarians," non-Chinese peoples who had settled in northern and western China during the preceding centuries and participated in the overthrow of the Western Jin dynasty in the early 4th century. The kingdoms founded by ethnic Xiongnu, Xianbei, Di, Jie, Qiang, as well as Chinese and other ethnicities, took on Chinese dynastic names, and fought against each other and the Eastern Jin dynasty, which succeeded the Western Jin and ruled southern China. The period ended with the unification of northern China in the early 5th century by the Northern Wei, a dynasty established by the Xianbei Tuoba clan, and the history of ancient China entered the Northern and Southern dynasties period.
Emperor Daowu of Northern Wei
| Emperor of Northern Wei |
Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei
| Emperor of China (Northern)|
Emperor Shao of Liu Song
| Emperor of China (Henan)|