|(Xi) Wei Wendi ((西)魏文帝)|
|Family name:||Yuan (元, yuán)|
|Given name:||Baoju (寶炬, bǎo jù)|
|Posthumous name:||Xiaowu (文, wén),|
literary meaning: "civil"
Emperor Wen of Western Wei ((西)魏文帝) (507–551), personal name Yuan Baoju (元寶炬), was an emperor of Western Wei—a branch successor state to Northern Wei. In 534, Yuan Baoju, then the Prince of Nanyang, followed his cousin Emperor Xiaowu in fleeing from the capital Luoyang to Chang'an, after a fallout between Emperor Xiaowu and the paramount general Gao Huan. However, Emperor Xiaowu's relationship to the general that he then depended on, Yuwen Tai, soon deteriorated as well, and around the new year 535, Yuwen Tai poisoned Emperor Xiaowu to death, making Yuan Baoju emperor (as Emperor Wen). As Gao Huan had, late in 534, made Yuan Shanjian the son of Emperor Wen's cousin Yuan Dan (元亶) the Prince of Qinghe emperor (as Emperor Xiaojing), thus establishing Eastern Wei, Emperor Wen was known as Western Wei's first emperor, formalizing the division. Emperor Wen's relationship with Yuwen appeared cordial, but he was unable to exercise much real power.
Yuan Baoju was born in 507, a member of the Tuoba clan of the Xianbei. His father Yuan Yu (元愉), the Prince of Jingzhao, was the son of Emperor Xiaowen and a younger brother of the reigning Emperor Xuanwu. His mother was recorded as Yuan Yu's concubine Yang Aofei (杨奥妃). He had three other brothers, at least one of whom, Yuan Baoyue (元寶月), was older, and born of Yang Aofei.
Yuan Yu favored Yang Aofei but not his wife, Princess Yu, a sister to Emperor Xuanwu's wife Empress Yu. Consequently, Empress Yu once summoned Yang Aofei to the palace, beat her severely, and then forced her to become a Buddhist nun. Only after the intercession of Empress Yu's father Yu Jing (于勁) was Yang Aofei returned to Yuan Yu. Meanwhile, in 508, Yuan Yu himself was punished by Emperor Xuanwu for corruption. He was caned 50 times and demoted to the governorship of Ji Province (冀州, modern central Hebei). In anger, he rebelled at the capital of Ji Province, Xindu (信都, in modern Hengshui, Hebei), alleging falsely that Emperor Xuanwu's uncle Gao Zhao had murdered the emperor and declaring himself emperor. Yuan Yu's rebellion was soon defeated by the general Li Ping (李平), and during his being delivered to the capital Luoyang, Gao had him killed. At that time, Yang Aofei was pregnant, and she was permitted to give birth and then was executed. Emperor Xuanwu did not execute any of Yuan Yu's sons, but had them, including Yuan Baoju, put under arrest at Zongzheng Temple (宗正寺). Assuming that Yang Aofei and Lady Yang were in fact the same person, this also meant that Yuan Baoju grew up without either parent. He and his brothers remained at Zongzheng Temple and were released only after Emperor Xuanwu's death in 515. During the reign of Emperor Xuanwu's son Emperor Xiaoming, Emperor Xiaoming's mother Empress Dowager Hu posthumously recreated Yuan Yu the Prince of Lintao, and Yuan Baoju and his brothers then observed a mourning period for their parents. Yuan Baoyue inherited the title, but Yuan Baoju did not possess any titles at the moment, although he was made a general. Despite Empress Dowager Hu's rehabilitation of Yuan Yu, however, Yuan Baoju was not impressed at her toleration of corruption, particularly by her lovers, and he secretly plotted with Emperor Xiaoming to have her lovers killed. When this plot was discovered, he was stripped of the office he held. In 525, he married his wife Lady Yifu, the daughter of a moderately prominent aristocratic family. (In his youth, Yuan Baoju was described by the Book of Wei as frivolous, alcoholic, and sexually immoral, but this description is highly suspect in that the Book of Wei was written by Wei Shou, an official of Eastern Wei, the rival of Western Wei, for which Yuan Baoju would eventually become emperor.) In 528, Emperor Xiaoming created him the Marquess of Shao County, and in 530, Emperor Xiaozhuang created him the Prince of Nanyang.
In 532, after several years of civil war, the victorious general Gao Huan made Yuan Baoju's cousin Yuan Xiu the Prince of Pingyang emperor (as Emperor Xiaowu). Emperor Xiaowu was not happy about Gao's hold on the military, and he entered into alliances with the independent generals Yuwen Tai and Heba Sheng (賀拔勝), seeking to resist Gao's control. Yuan Baoju served in Emperor Xiaowu's administration as a general. In 534, Emperor Xiaowu planned to act against Gao, but Gao discovered his plan and instead marched on Luoyang. Emperor Xiaowu decided to flee to Yuwen's territory, and Yuan Baoju accompanied Emperor Xiaowu in doing so, arriving at Chang'an in late 534. Also accompanying Emperor Xiaowu was Yuan Baoju's sister Yuan Mingyue (元明月) -- who was in an incestuous relationship with Emperor Xiaowu. Yuwen did not tolerate Emperor Xiaowu's incestuous relationships with Yuan Mingyue and two other cousins, and eventually he had Yuan Mingyue killed. Emperor Xiaowu became angry, and his relationship with Yuwen deteriorated. Around the new year 535, Yuwen poisoned him to death.
Initially, Yuwen was poised to make Emperor Xiaowu's nephew Yuan Zan (元贊) the Prince of Guangping the new emperor. However, under suggestion of Yuan Shun (元順) the Prince of Puyang, who argued that Yuan Zan was too young, Yuwen changed his mind and made Yuan Baoju, then 27, emperor instead (as Emperor Wen). As Gao had earlier declared Yuan Shanjian, the son of Yuan Baoju's cousin Yuan Dan (元亶) the Prince of Qinghe, emperor, Gao's territory became known as Eastern Wei, with Yuan Shanjian (Emperor Xiaojing) as emperor, and Yuwen's territory became known as Western Wei, with Emperor Wen as emperor.
Yuwen Tai publicly deferred to Emperor Wen on most matters, but Yuwen held actual power, with Emperor Wen not being able to exercise much independent authority. Throughout the early years of his reign, there were serious doubts as to whether Western Wei would survive, as Eastern Wei was then the much stronger state, and Gao Huan made repeated attempts to conquer Western Wei. However, with Yuwen and other generals capably defending the territory, Western Wei was able to withstand Gao's assaults.
In 535, Emperor Wen posthumously honored his father Yuan Yu as Emperor Wenjing, and he posthumously honored his mother Lady Yang as empress. He created his wife Princess Yifu empress, and her son Yuan Qin crown prince. His marriage with Empress Yifu was said to be a happy one, as she was virtuous and beautiful, and Emperor Wen respected her greatly. She bore him 12 children, although only Yuan Qin and Yuan Wu (元戊) the Prince of Wudu survived infancy.
In 538, with Western Wei under the threat of attack by Rouran, Yuwen first tried to alleviate the situation by marrying a daughter of a member of the imperial clan to Yujiulü Tahan (郁久閭塔寒), the brother of Rouran's Chiliantoubingdoufa Khan Yujiulü Anagui, but then, believing that to be insufficient, he asked Emperor Wen to divorce Empress Yifu and marry Yujiulü Anagui's daughter. Emperor Wen agreed, and divorced Empress Yifu, making her a Buddhist nun. He then married Yujiulü Anagui's daughter and created her empress. For a while, this brought peace with Rouran.
Later in 538, with Western Wei then (temporarily) controlling the old Northern Wei capital Luoyang, but with Luoyang under attack, Emperor Wen (who had wanted to visit the imperial ancestral tombs in Luoyang) and Yuwen led troops to reinforce Luoyang's defenses, leaving the official Zhou Huida (周惠達) and Crown Prince Qin in Chang'an. However, with the forces engaged in battle, Emperor Wen eventually became stuck at Hengnong (恆農, in modern Sanmenxia, Henan), when Chang'an was taken by rebelling former Eastern Wei troops who had been taken captive previously by Western Wei, forcing Zhou and Crown Prince Qin to flee as well. Yuwen was eventually able to disengage after abandoning Luoyang, and he put down the rebellion, allowing Emperor Wen to return to Chang'an.
Although the former Empress Yifu had been deposed and made a Buddhist nun, Empress Yujiulü was still not happy about her presence in the capital. in 540, Emperor Wen therefore made Yuan Wu the governor of Qin Province (秦州, roughly modern Tianshui, Gansu), and had Empress Yifu accompany Yuan Wu to Qin Province. However, because he still hoped to welcome her back to the palace one day, he secretly told her to keep her hair uncut, rather than shaved like a Buddhist nun. At this time, however, Rouran made a major attack on Western Wei, and many officials thought that the attack was on behalf of Empress Yujiulü. Emperor Wen felt compelled to order Empress Yifu to commit suicide, and he did. Soon thereafter, Empress Yujiulü, who was pregnant, died during childbirth.
In 548, Yuwen and Yuan Qin were on a grand tour of the provinces when Emperor Wen grew ill, and when they heard the news, Yuwen returned to Chang'an quickly, although by the time they returned, Emperor Wen had recovered.
In 549, Emperor Wen issued an edict—probably as Yuwen requested—ordering that the names of the ethnic Xianbei, changed to Han names during the reign of Emperor Xiaowen, be changed back to the original Xianbei names.
In 550, Gao Huan's son Gao Yang forced Eastern Wei's Emperor Xiaojing to yield the throne to him, ending Eastern Wei and starting Northern Qi (as its Emperor Wenxuan). Emperor Wen therefore became the only claimant to the Northern Wei throne. Yuwen, declaring Northern Qi a rebel state, launched a major attack, but Gao Yang himself commanded a large army to defend against the attack, and Western Wei not only did not make gains, but lost a number of provinces to Northern Qi.
In 551, Emperor Wen died and was buried with honors due an emperor, with Empress Yujiulü, although eventually Empress Yifu was buried with him. (It is not clear whether she displaced Empress Yujiulü or not.) Yuan Qin succeeded him (as Emperor Fei of Western Wei.
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 (Tabgach) 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.
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 Cha (元叉), courtesy name Bojun (伯雋), nickname Yecha (夜叉), was an official of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei, who initially came to power as the brother-in-law of Emperor Xiaoming's mother and regent Empress Dowager Hu. In 520, after a conflict with her lover Yuan Yi (元懌) the Prince of Qinghe, he killed Yuan Yi and put Empress Dowager Hu under house arrest, effectively taking over as regent. In 525, a countercoup by Empress Dowager Hu restored her, and bowing to public pressure, she forced him to commit suicide.
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.
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.
Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei ( 魏孝武帝), personal name Yuan Xiu, courtesy name Xiaoze (孝則), at times known as Emperor Chu, was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. After the general Gao Huan rebelled against and defeated the clan of the deceased paramount general Erzhu Rong in 532, he made Emperor Xiaowu emperor. Despite Gao's making him emperor, however, Emperor Xiaowu tried strenuously to free himself from Gao's control, and in 534, he, aligning with the general Yuwen Tai, formally broke with Gao. When Gao advanced south to try to again take control of the imperial government, Emperor Xiaowu fled to Yuwen's territory, leading to Northern Wei's division into two. Emperor Xiaowu's relationship with Yuwen, however, soon deteriorated over Yuwen's refusal to condone his incestuous relationships with his cousins, and around the new year 535, Yuwen poisoned him to death. Emperor Xiaowu's successor Emperor Wen of Western Wei is typically regarded, then, as the first emperor of Western Wei, formalizing the division of the empire.
Empress Gao was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. Her husband was Emperor Xiaowu.
Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei ( 魏孝靜帝) (524–552), personal name Yuan Shanjian (元善見), was the only emperor of the Eastern Wei – a branch successor state to Northern Wei. In 524, Northern Wei's paramount general Gao Huan, after Emperor Xiaowu had fled the capital Luoyang to reestablish the imperial government at Chang'an, made Emperor Xiaojing emperor as Emperor Xiaowu's replacement, and moved the capital from Luoyang to Yecheng, thus dividing Northern Wei into two, and Emperor Xiaojing's state became known as Eastern Wei. Although Gao Huan treated him with respect, real power was in the hands of Gao Huan, and then Gao Huan's sons Gao Cheng and Gao Yang. In 550, Gao Yang forced Emperor Xiaojing to yield the throne to him, ending Eastern Wei and establishing Northern Qi. Around the new year 552, the former Emperor Xiaojing was poisoned to death on the orders of the new emperor.
Empress Yifu (510–540), formally Empress Wen, was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei state Western Wei—a branch successor state of Northern Wei. Her husband was Emperor Wen.
Empress Yujiulü (525–540), formally Empress Dao, was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei state Western Wei — a branch successor state of Northern Wei. Her husband was Emperor Wen.
Husi Chun (斛斯椿) (495–537), courtesy name Fashou (法壽), Xianbei name Daidun (貸敦), formally Prince Wenxuan of Changshan (常山文宣王), was a general and official of the Chinese/Xianbei state Northern Wei and Northern Wei's branch successor state Western Wei.
Gao Huan (496–547), Xianbei name Heliuhun (賀六渾), formally Prince Xianwu of Qi (齊獻武王), later further formally honored by Northern Qi initially as Emperor Xianwu (獻武皇帝), then as Emperor Shenwu (神武皇帝) with the temple name Gaozu (高祖), was the paramount general of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei and Northern Wei's branch successor state Eastern Wei. Though being ethnically Chinese, Gao was deeply affected by Xianbei culture and was often considered more Xianbei than Chinese by his contemporaries. During his career, he and his family became firmly in control of the government of Eastern Wei, and eventually, in 550, his son Gao Yang forced Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei to yield the throne to him, establishing the Gao clan as the imperial clan of a new Northern Qi state.
Gao Cheng, courtesy name Zihui (子惠), formally Prince Wenxiang of Bohai (勃海文襄王), later further posthumously honored by Northern Qi as Emperor Wenxiang (文襄皇帝) with the temple name Shizong (世宗), was the paramount official of the Chinese/Xianbei state Eastern Wei, a branch successor state of Northern Wei. He was Gao Huan's oldest son, and because his father wielded actual power during Emperor Xiaojing's reign, Gao Cheng also received increasingly great authority, and after his father's death in 547 took over the reign of the state. He was considered capable but frivolous and arrogant, as well as lacking in sexual discretion. In 549, he was assassinated by his servant Lan Jing (蘭京), and his younger brother Gao Yang took over the control over the Eastern Wei regime.
Yuwen Tai (507–556), nickname Heita (黑獺), formally Duke Wen of Anding (安定文公), later further posthumously honored by Northern Zhou initially as Prince Wen (文王) then as Emperor Wen (文皇帝) with the temple name Taizu (太祖), was the paramount general of the Chinese/Xianbei state Western Wei, a branch successor state of Northern Wei. In 534, Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei, seeking to assert power independent of the paramount general Gao Huan, fled to Yuwen's domain, and when Gao subsequently proclaimed Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei emperor, a split of Northern Wei was effected, and when Yuwen subsequently poisoned Emperor Xiaowu to death around the new year 535 and declared his cousin Yuan Baoju emperor, the split was formalized, with the part under Gao's and Emperor Xiaojing's control known as Eastern Wei and the part under Yuwen's and Emperor Wen's control known as Western Wei. For the rest of his life, Yuwen endeavored to make Western Wei, then much weaker than its eastern counterpart, a strong state, and after his death, his son Yuwen Jue seized the throne from Emperor Gong of Western Wei, establishing Northern Zhou.
Princess Pingyi (馮翊公主), later honored as Empress Wenxiang (文襄皇后), formally posthumously honored as Empress Jing by Northern Qi, was a princess of the Chinese dynasty Northern Wei and its branch successor state Eastern Wei. She was the sister of Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei, and the wife of Eastern Wei's paramount official Gao Cheng, son of Gao Huan.
Yujiulü Anagui (?-552) was ruler of the Rouran (520-552) with the title of Chiliantoubingdoufa Khagan (敕連頭兵豆伐可汗).
Lou Zhaojun, formally Empress Ming, was an empress dowager of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. She was the wife of Gao Huan, the paramount general of Northern Wei and its branch successor state Eastern Wei, and during Gao Huan's lifetime was already influential on the political scene. After Gao Huan's death, she continued to exert influence through the regency of her son Gao Cheng, and then as empress dowager after another son Gao Yang seized the throne from Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei and established Northern Qi. She continued to serve as grand empress dowager through the reigns of Gao Yang's son Emperor Fei, and then again as empress dowager during the reigns of two more of her own sons, Emperor Xiaozhao and Emperor Wucheng.
Emperor Fei of Western Wei ( 魏廢帝), personal name Yuan Qin (元欽), was an emperor of the Xianbei state Western Wei—a branch successor state of Northern Wei. He, even more so than his father Emperor Wen, held little actual power in the face of overwhelming control of power by the paramount general Yuwen Tai. In 554, he tried to plot to have Yuwen killed, but his plot was discovered, and Yuwen deposed him, and soon had him killed.
Wei Xiaokuan (韋孝寬) (509–580), formal personal name Wei Shuyu (韋叔裕), known by the Xianbei name Yuwen Xiaokuan (宇文孝寬) during late Western Wei and Northern Zhou, formally Duke Xiang of Xun (勛襄公), was a general of the Chinese/Xianbei states Western Wei and Northern Zhou. He first became a prominent general during Western Wei as he defended the fortress of Yubi against a vastly larger army commanded by rival Eastern Wei's paramount general Gao Huan, and he eventually contributed greatly to the destruction of Eastern Wei's successor state Northern Qi by Northern Zhou. His final campaign, in 580, saw him siding with the regent Yang Jian against the general Yuchi Jiong in Northern Zhou's civil war, allowing Yang to defeat Yuchi and take over the throne as Sui Dynasty's Emperor Wen.
The military history of the Northern and Southern dynasties encompasses the period of Chinese military activity from 420 to 589. Officially starting with Liu Yu's usurpation of the Jin throne and creation of his Liu Song dynasty in 420, it ended in 589 with the Sui dynasty's conquest of Chen dynasty and reunification of China. The first of the Northern dynasties did not however begin in 420, but in 386 with the creation of Northern Wei. Thus there is some unofficial overlap with the era of the Sixteen Kingdoms.
Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei
| Emperor of Northern Wei (Western)|
Emperor Fei of Western Wei