Empress Hulü (斛律皇后, personal name unknown) was an empress of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. She was Gao Wei's first empress, and she was a daughter of the general Hulü Guang.
The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty, during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was recorded as the twenty-first Shang king by the written records of Shang dynasty unearthed. Ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian and the Bamboo Annals describe a Xia dynasty before the Shang, but no writing is known from the period, and Shang writings do not indicate the existence of the Xia. The Shang ruled in the Yellow River valley, which is commonly held to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. However, Neolithic civilizations originated at various cultural centers along both the Yellow River and Yangtze River. These Yellow River and Yangtze civilizations arose millennia before the Shang. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations, and is regarded as one of the cradles of civilization.
The Northern Qi was one of the Northern dynasties of Chinese history and ruled northern China from 550 to 577. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Wenxuan, and it was ended following attacks from Northern Zhou.
Gao Wei (高緯) (557–577), often known in history as Houzhu of Northern Qi ( 齊後主), courtesy name Rengang (仁綱), sometimes referred to by his later Northern Zhou-created title of Duke of Wen (溫公), was an emperor of Northern Qi. During his reign, Northern Qi's imperial administration was plunged into severe corruption and wastefulness, with the military suffering after Gao Wei killed the great general Hulü Guang in 572. Rival Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou launched a major attack in 576, and Northern Qi forces collapsed. Gao Wei, who formally passed the throne to his son Gao Heng, was captured while trying to flee to Chen Dynasty, and later that year, the Northern Zhou emperor executed him and almost all members of his clan.
Her family was one of the most prominent military families in Northern Qi, as her grandfather Hulü Jin (斛律金) was one of the major generals serving the dynasty's ancestor Gao Huan and then continued to serve in his old age the successive emperors Emperor Wenxuan, Emperor Fei, Emperor Xiaozhao, and Gao Wei's father Emperor Wucheng. Her father Hulü Guang was honored even more for his military talent than her grandfather, and her uncle Hulü Xian (斛律羨) and brother Hulü Wudu (斛律武都) also served as major generals.
Gao Huan (496–547), courtesy 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 Han Chinese paramount general of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei and Northern Wei's branch successor state Eastern Wei. Though being ethnically Han, Gao was deeply affected by Xianbei culture and was often considered more Xianbei than Han 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.
Emperor Wenxuan of (Northern) Qi ( 齊文宣帝) (526–559), personal name Gao Yang, courtesy name Zijin (子進), was the first emperor of the Northern Qi. He was the second son of Eastern Wei's paramount general Gao Huan, and the death of his brother and Gao Huan's designated successor Gao Cheng in 549 became the regent of Eastern Wei. In 550, he forced Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei to yield the throne to him, ending Eastern Wei and starting Northern Qi.
Emperor Fei of Northern Qi ( 齊廢帝) (545–561), personal name Gao Yin (高殷), courtesy name Zhengdao (正道), posthumously Prince Mindao of Ji'nan (濟南閔悼王), was briefly an emperor of the Northern Qi. He was the oldest son of the first emperor, Emperor Wenxuan, and he became emperor after Emperor Wenxuan's death in 559. However, in his young age, the officials fought over power, and in 560, Emperor Fei's uncle Gao Yan the Prince of Changshan killed the prime minister Yang Yin and took over power, soon deposing Emperor Fei and taking the throne himself as Emperor Xiaozhao. In 561, fearful of prophecies that Emperor Fei would return to the throne, Emperor Xiaozhao had him put to death.
She married Gao Wei while he was still crown prince during Emperor Wucheng's reign—before Emperor Wucheng passed the throne to him in 565 while he was just eight years old. (Her age at that time is not known, but she was probably around Gao Wei's age.) She carried the title of Crown Princess previously, and in 565 Emperor Wucheng, while passing the throne to Gao Wei, created her empress. She was not favored by Gao Wei, and she did not bear him a son, although she bore a daughter in spring 572 and Gao Wei, in order to please Hulü Guang, initially claimed that it was a son and declared a general pardon, but was subsequently forced to reveal that it was a daughter. (Gao Wei's concubine Consort Mu Sheli bore him his oldest son Gao Heng in 570, and as Consort Mu's adoptive mother Lu Lingxuan was planning to have Gao Heng made crown prince but feared that Empress Hulü would oppose, she gave Gao Heng to Empress Hulü to have her raise him.)
A crown prince is the male heir apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. Its female form is crown princess, which may refer either to an heir apparent or, especially in earlier times, the wife of the person styled crown prince.
Mu Sheli (穆舍利), originally named Mu Yeli (穆邪利), nickname Huanghua (黃花), was an empress of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. She was Gao Wei's last empress.
Gao Heng, often known in history as the Youzhu of Northern Qi ( 齊幼主), was briefly an emperor of Northern Qi. In 577, with Northern Qi under a major attack by rival Northern Zhou, Gao Heng's father Gao Wei, then emperor, wanted to try to deflect ill omens that portended a change in imperial status, and therefore passed the throne to Gao Heng. Later that year, after they fled in face of Northern Zhou forces' arrival, they were captured and taken to the Northern Zhou capital Chang'an, where, in winter 577, Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou ordered them, as well as other members of the Gao clan, to commit suicide. Northern Qi territory was seized by Northern Zhou, although for several years Gao Wei's cousin Gao Shaoyi claimed imperial title in exile under Tujue's protection.
Later in 572, the official Zu Ting falsely accused Hulü Guang of plotting rebellion, and Gao Wei executed Hulü Guang, along with his entire clan except his youngest son Hulü Zhong (斛律鍾). Empress Hulü was not killed, but she was deposed and housed in a subsidiary palace. When rival Northern Zhou launched a major attack in 577 and threatened the capital Yecheng in spring 578, she, along with his other deposed empress Empress Hu, was summoned to the main palace, probably for her protection. Yecheng fell a few days later, and Gao Wei was captured in flight. Northern Zhou took over Northern Qi's territory.
Zu Ting, courtesy name Xiaozheng (孝徵), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi (550–577). He was renowned for his literary and administrative talents.
The Northern Zhou followed the Western Wei, and ruled northern China from 557 to 581 AD. The last of the Northern Dynasties of China's Northern and Southern dynasties period, it was eventually overthrown by the Sui Dynasty. Like the preceding Western and Northern Wei dynasties, the Northern Zhou were members of the Tuoba clan of the Xianbei.
Empress Hu was an empress of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. She was Gao Wei's second empress.
After Northern Qi's fall, the former Empress Hulü married the Northern Zhou official Yuan Ren (元仁). Nothing further was recorded about her in history, including the year of her death.
Northern Qi had six empresses in its history:
Emperor Xiaozhao of Northern Qi ( 齊孝昭帝) (535–561), personal name Gao Yan (高演), courtesy name Yan'an (延安), was an emperor of Northern Qi. He was generally considered a capable ruler, but ruled for less than two years before dying from injuries suffered from falling off a horse. Northern Qi would not have another capable ruler after his death.
Empress Yuan was an empress of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi, known at times semi-formally as Empress Shuncheng (順成皇后). Her husband was Emperor Xiaozhao.
Gao Yan (558–571), courtesy name Renwei (仁威), posthumously honored Emperor Gong'ai of Chu (楚恭哀帝), was an imperial prince of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. He was a son of Emperor Wucheng, and was much favored by both Emperor Wucheng and Empress Hu. In 571, during the reign of his older brother Gao Wei, he tried to seize power and killed Gao Wei's trusted official He Shikai, but his uprising subsequently collapsed when he hesitated at taking further action. Later that year, Gao Wei put him to death.
Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou ( 周武帝) (543–578), personal name Yuwen Yong (宇文邕), nickname Miluotu (禰羅突), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. As was the case of the reigns of his brothers Emperor Xiaomin and Emperor Ming, the early part of his reign was dominated by his cousin Yuwen Hu, but in 572 he ambushed Yuwen Hu and seized power personally. He thereafter ruled ably and built up the power of his military, destroying rival Northern Qi in 577 and annexing its territory. His death the next year, however, ended his ambitions of uniting China, and under the reign of his erratic son Emperor Xuan, Northern Zhou itself soon deteriorated and was usurped by Yang Jian in 581.
Emperor Wucheng of Northern Qi ( 齊武成帝) (537–569), personal name Gao Zhan, nickname Buluoji (步落稽), was an emperor of Northern Qi. In traditional Chinese historiography, he was presented as a minimally competent ruler who devoted much of his time to feasting and pleasure-seeking, neglecting the affairs of the state. The state was governed with assistance from his adviser He Shikai and other appointed administrators. In 565, he passed the throne to his young son Gao Wei, taking the title Taishang Huang, but continued to make key decisions. He died in 569, and the Northern Qi would fall in 577.
Empress Hu was an empress consort and empress dowager of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. Her husband was Emperor Wucheng. She was the empress dowager during the reign of her son Gao Wei.
He Shikai (和士開) (524–571), courtesy name Yantong (彥通), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. He was a close associate of Emperor Wucheng prior to Emperor Wucheng's accession to the throne, and he became a powerful official during Emperor Wucheng's reign. He was criticized in traditional histories as a corrupt and incompetent official. After Emperor Wucheng's death, Emperor Wucheng's son Gao Yan the Prince of Langye was displeased with the authority that He Shikai was still wielding, and killed him in a coup in 571, but subsequently was himself killed.
Hulü Guang (斛律光) (515–572), courtesy name Mingyue (明月), was a general of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. During the late years of the dynasty—the reigns of Emperor Wucheng and Gao Wei, traditionally viewed as a period of corruption and debauchery when Northern Qi's once-powerful status was deteriorating—Hulü was viewed as the key pillar to the state and its army, maintaining the army's strength against rivals Northern Zhou and Chen Dynasty. The powerful officials Zu Ting and Mu Tipo, who had disagreements with him, however, falsely accused him of plotting treason, and in 572, Gao Wei believed those accusations and killed Hulü. Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou was very glad over the news and declared a general pardon, and in 578, Northern Qi fell to Northern Zhou.
Gao Yanzong (高延宗), often known by his princely title of Prince of Ande (安德王), was an imperial prince of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi who briefly claimed imperial title in 577 for three days as his cousin, the emperor Gao Wei fled in the face of an attack by rival Northern Zhou. Traditional historians usually did not consider him an emperor of Northern Qi.
Consort Feng Xiaolian (馮小憐) was an imperial consort of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. She was a concubine of the penultimate Gao Wei, and his infatuation with her caused her to be, fairly or unfairly, often stated by traditional historians as a reason for Northern Qi's downfall.
Lu Lingxuan (陸令萱) was a lady in waiting in the palace of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. As she served as the wet nurse to the emperor Gao Wei, she became exceedingly powerful during his reign, at times eclipsing in importance his mother Empress Dowager Hu, and was often criticized by historians for her corruption and treachery.
Mu Tipo (穆提婆), né Luo Tipo (駱提婆), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. He was a close associate of the emperor Gao Wei, and during the latter part of Gao Wei's reign controlled the political scene along with his mother Lu Lingxuan, and the other favorites of Gao Wei, Han Zhangluan and Gao Anagong. In 577, in the midst of a major attack by rival Northern Zhou, Mu surrendered to Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou and was made a provincial governor, but after Northern Zhou destroyed Northern Qi and took over its territory, Emperor Wu falsely accused Mu of conspiring with Gao Wei, and killed Mu and forced Gao Wei and other members of the Gao clan to commit suicide.
Han Zhangluan (韓長鸞), formal personal name Han Feng (韓鳳), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. He was initially a guard commander for Gao Wei when Gao Wei was crown prince, and became a close associate of Gao Wei after Gao Wei became emperor. Late in Gao Wei's reign, he dominated the political scene along with Mu Tipo and Gao Anagong. While not as criticized for corruption as Mu and Gao Anagong were, he was blamed by historians for his rejection of civilians and ethnic Han officials, including the killing of the officials Cui Jishu (崔季舒) and Zhang Diao (張雕) at his instigation.
Gao Anagong (高阿那肱) was an official of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. He was a close associate of the emperor Gao Wei, and late in Gao Wei's reign dominated the political scene along with Mu Tipo and Han Zhangluan. While probably not as corrupt as Mu and Mu's mother and Gao Wei's wet nurse Lu Lingxuan, he was known for incompetence. In 577, with Northern Qi under major attack by rival Northern Zhou, after Gao Wei fled the capital Yecheng, Gao Anagong betrayed him and gave him false information, allowing Northern Zhou forces to capture him. In 580, with Northern Zhou in civil war between the regent Yang Jian and the general Yuchi Jiong, Gao Anagong was on Yuchi's side and, after Yuchi's defeat, was executed.
The Book of Northern Qi, was the official history of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. It was written by the Tang Dynasty historian Li Baiyao (李百藥) and was completed in 636. It is listed among the official Twenty-Four Histories of China. The original book contained 50 chapters but it was found during the Song Dynasty that only 17 chapters were intact. The rest are lost.
The Zizhi Tongjian is a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography, published in 1084 in the form of a chronicle. In 1065 AD, Emperor Yingzong of Song ordered the great historian Sima Guang to lead with other scholars such as his chief assistants Liu Shu, Liu Ban and Fan Zuyu, the compilation of a universal history of China. The task took 19 years to be completed, and, in 1084 AD, it was presented to his successor Emperor Shenzong of Song. The Zizhi Tongjian records Chinese history from 403 BC to 959 AD, covering 16 dynasties and spanning across almost 1,400 years, and contains 294 volumes (卷) and about 3 million Chinese characters.
Empress Hu (Gao Zhan's wife)
| Empress of Northern Qi |
| Succeeded by|
Empress Hu (Gao Wei's wife)