|Emperor Xianwen of Northern Wei|
|Emperor of Northern Wei|
|Died||476 (aged 21–22)|
|Issue|| Emperor Xiaowen |
Emperor Xianwen of Northern Wei ((北)魏獻文帝) (454 – 476), personal name Tuoba Hong, Xianbei name Didouyin (第豆胤), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was the first emperor in Chinese history who, after retiring at age 17 in favor of his 4-year old son Emperor Xiaowen to become Taishang Huang (retired emperor) in 471, continued to hold on to power until his death in 476—when the official history states vaguely that he may have been killed by his stepmother Empress Dowager Feng.
Tuoba Hong was born in 454, as Emperor Wencheng's oldest son. His mother was Consort Li, who had previously been captured in war and had become a concubine of Tuoba Ren (拓拔仁) the Prince of Yongchang, a distant relative of Emperor Wencheng, who was executed in 453 after having been accused of crimes. After Tuoba Ren's death, she was seized and taken into the palace, where she became Emperor Wencheng's concubine. In 456, Emperor Wencheng created Tuoba Hong crown prince—and, at the same time, according to Northern Wei customs, ordered Consort Li to commit suicide.
In 465, Emperor Wencheng died, and the 11-year-old Crown Prince Hong ascended the throne as Emperor Xianwen. Emperor Wencheng's wife Empress Feng was honored as empress dowager, and Emperor Xianwen's deceased mother Consort Li was posthumously honored as Empress Yuan. Power soon fell into the hands of the official Yifu Hun, who assumed dictatorial powers and killed a large number of other officials, including Yang Baoping (楊保平), Jia Airen (賈愛仁) the Duke of Pingyang, and Zhang Tiandu (張天度), Qiumuling Duohou (丘穆陵多侯), Tuoba Yu (拓拔郁) the Duke of Shunyang, and Emperor Wencheng's prime minister Buliugu Li. However, in 466, Empress Dowager Feng staged a coup and had Yifu arrested and executed. She assumed regency herself.
Empress Dowager Feng engaged Jia Xiu (賈秀), Gao Yun, and Gao Lü (高閭) as her assistants in the regency. Later, she also incorporated her brother Feng Xi (馮熙) into the decision-making circle.
Empress Dowager Feng was soon presented with a major opportunity to expand Northern Wei territory, as also in 466, rival Liu Song had a major dynastic succession struggle after Emperor Qianfei of Liu Song was assassinated in 465. Emperor Qianfei's uncle Emperor Ming of Liu Song was declared emperor in the capital Jiankang, while his brother Liu Zixun the Prince of Jin'an was declared emperor in early 466 in Xunyang (尋陽, in modern Jiujiang, Jiangxi). After Emperor Ming's forces defeated Liu Zixun's and captured and executed Liu Zixun in fall 466, the Liu Song general Xue Andu (薛安都), the governor of Xu Province (徐州, modern northern Jiangsu and northern Anhui), who had initially declared for Liu Zixun, was apprehensive that he would be punished by Emperor Ming, and so decided to surrender to Northern Wei, and soon, he was joined by Bi Zhongjing (畢眾敬) the governor of Yan Province (兗州, modern western Shandong) and Chang Zhenqi (常珍奇) the governor of Ru'nan Commandery (汝南, roughly modern Zhumadian, Henan). Empress Dowager Feng sent the general Yuchi Yuan (尉遲元) to accept the surrenders of these Liu Song generals and to secure the region just north of the Huai River, and Yuchi subsequently defeated two attempts by Emperor Ming to recapture those provinces. She also sent the general Murong Baiyao (慕容白曜) to attack and try to capture Liu Song's Qing (青州, modern central and eastern Shandong) and Ji (冀州, modern northwestern Shandong) Provinces, which were cut off from the rest of Liu Song after Xue's defection, and by 469, both provinces fell into Northern Wei hands, and all of the regions north of the Huai River were by now Northern Wei territory.
In 467, Emperor Xianwen's concubine Consort Li—a daughter of his uncle Li Hui (李惠) and therefore his cousin—bore his oldest child Tuoba Hong (different character than his own), and Empress Dowager Feng personally raised the young prince. She soon terminated her regency and returned imperial powers to Emperor Xianwen, who was 13 years old at this point.
As emperor, Emperor Xianwen was described as hardworking and appropriate in his awards and punishments—in particular, in promoting honest officials and demoting corrupt ones, and it was said that only starting in his reign were Northern Wei officials praised for being honest. He was also said to be heavily into studies of religions and philosophies, including both Taoism and Buddhism.
In 469, Emperor Xianwen created Tuoba Hong crown prince. As Tuoba Hong's mother Consort Li died the same year and was described in traditional histories to be missed by all in the palace, she was probably forced to commit suicide pursuant to Northern Wei customs.
In 470, resentful that Murong Baiyao had flattered Yifu Hun while Yifu was in power, Emperor Xianwen, in an act that appeared to be uncharacteristic for his reign, falsely accused Murong Baiyao of treason and put him and his son Murong Ruyi (慕容如意) to death.
Also in 470, an event would damage Emperor Xianwen's relationship with his stepmother Empress Dowager Feng. Empress Dowager Feng had taken the official Li Yi (李奕) as her lover. In 470, the official Li Xin (李訢), who was a close friend of Li Yi's brother Li Fu (李敷), was accused of corruption, and Emperor Xianwen became aware of the accusations even though Li Fu tried to suppress the reports. He had known about his stepmother's relationship with Li Yi and, while he had not taken any actions against it at that point, disapproved of it. He sentenced Li Xin to death, but then informed Li Xin that if he could report on crimes that Li Fu and Li Yi had committed, he would be spared. After initial reluctance, Li Xin did so, and another man named Fan Biao (范標) also did so. Emperor Xianwen then executed Li Fu and Li Xin. Empress Dowager Feng became resentful of Emperor Xianwen after that point.
In 471, because of Emperor Xianwen's philosophical interests, he wanted to leave the throne to spend more time on his studies. He wanted to pass his throne to his uncle Tuoba Zitui (拓拔子推) the Prince of Jingzhao, who was highly praised by all officials. He therefore summoned an imperial council to discuss the matter. The officials largely opposed Emperor Xianwen's proposal, and suggested instead that if Emperor Xianwen wanted to leave the throne, he should pass the throne to Crown Prince Hong. He therefore did so, and the four-year-old crown prince took the throne as Emperor Xiaowen. Emperor Xianwen himself took the title of Taishang Huangdi (retired emperor).
As retired emperor, however, Emperor Xianwen continued to be in control of the Imperial regime, and all important matters were still submitted to him. He spent much time on criminal law matters, and during this time, the criminal cases generally were paid more attention, and while they took longer to process, the results were considered more just.
In 476, legend claims that still resentful of Emperor Xianwen, Empress Dowager Feng killed him. (Most historians, including Sima Guang, believed that she poisoned him, but another version indicated that Empress Dowager Feng readied assassins who, when Emperor Xianwen came to her palace to greet her, seized and smothered him.) However, studies by 周思源 Zhou Siyuan point out that if Feng had killed the monarch, chaos would have ensued, but nothing of the sort happened. Zhou reasons that after a failed attempt to oust Feng, the Emperor committed suicide. After his death and a smooth transition, Empress Dowager Feng assumed regency over Emperor Xiaowen.
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.
Emperor Cheng of Han was an emperor of the Chinese Han dynasty ruling from 33 until 7 BC. He succeeded his father Emperor Yuan of Han. Under Emperor Cheng, the Han dynasty continued its growing disintegration as the emperor's maternal relatives from the Wang clan increased their grip on the levers of power and on governmental affairs as encouraged by the previous emperor. Corruption and greedy officials continued to plague the government and, as a result, rebellions broke out throughout the country. Emperor Cheng died childless after a reign of 26 years. He was succeeded by his nephew Emperor Ai of Han.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
Emperor Xuan of Northern Zhou ( 周宣帝) (559–580), personal name Yuwen Yun (宇文贇), courtesy name Qianbo (乾伯), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. He was known in history as an erratic and wasteful ruler, whose actions greatly weakened the Northern Zhou regime. As part of that erratic behavior, he passed the throne to his son Emperor Jing in 579, less than a year after taking the throne, and subsequently entitled not only his wife Yang Lihua empress, but four additional concubines as empresses. After his death in 580, the government was taken over by his father-in-law Yang Jian, who soon deposed his son Emperor Jing, ending Northern Zhou and establishing Sui Dynasty.
Emperor Wencheng of Northern Wei
| Emperor of Northern Wei |
Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei
| Emperor of China (Northern)|
Emperor Ming of Liu Song
| Emperor of China (Northern Jiangsu)|
| Emperor of China (Shandong)|