Empress Yifu (乙弗皇后, personal name unknown) (510–540), formally Empress Wen (文皇后, literally "the civil empress"), was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei state Western Wei—a branch successor state of Northern Wei. Her husband was Emperor Wen (Yuan Baoju).
Her ancestors were ancestral chiefs of a branch tribe of Tuyuhun, and later became vassals of Northern Wei. After Northern Wei conquered Northern Liang in 439, her great-great-grandfather Yifu Mogui (乙弗莫瓌) led his tribe into Northern Wei and became a Northern Wei general. For three generations following his, the Yifus married Northern Wei princesses, and their daughters often married Northern Wei imperial princes. Her father Yifu Yuan (乙弗瑗) was a provincial governor, and her mother was the Princess Huaiyang, a daughter of Emperor Xiaowen.
In 525, when she was 15, she married Yuan Baoju, who was then 21 and a general under his cousin Emperor Xiaoming, but who carried no noble title because his father Yuan Yu (元愉) the Prince of Jingzhao had had his title stripped posthumously in a rebellion. In 535, after Northern Wei had split into Eastern Wei and Western Wei, he was made emperor (as Emperor Wen) by the general Yuwen Tai after the death of his cousin Emperor Xiaowu. He created her empress and created her son Yuan Qin crown prince.
As empress, Empress Yifu was said to be frugal, avoiding extravagant clothing, jewelry, and food, often eating just vegetables. She was also said to be kind and tolerant and never jealous, 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 occupied with wars against Eastern Wei and unable to defend itself against attacks by Rouran, Yuwen Tai wanted to further relationships with Rouran through an imperial marriage. He first had Emperor Wen create the daughter of the official Yuan Yi (元翌) as the Princess Huazheng and marry her to the Rouran Chiliantoubingdoufa Khan Yujiulü Anagui's brother Yujiulü Tahan (郁久閭塔寒), and then further asked Emperor Wen to marry Yujiulü Anagui's daughter. Emperor Wen was forced to agree. He deposed Empress Yifu and made her become a Buddhist nun, and he created Yujiulü Anagui's daughter empress.
Even though Empress Yifu had been deposed and made a nun, however, Empress Yujiulü was still jealous of her. To avoid conflict, in 540, Emperor Wen made Yuan Wu the governor of Qin Province (秦州, roughly modern Tianshui, Gansu), and had Empress Yifu accompany Yuan Wu to his post. Emperor Wen, still harboring love for her in his heart, secretly requested that she start keeping her hair uncut so that he could eventually welcome her back to the palace. Unfortunately, around the same time, Rouran launched a major attack against Western Wei, and a number of officials believed that the Rouran attack was made on behalf of Empress Yujiulü. Emperor Wen, with the officials pressuring him, sent his eunuch Cao Chong (曹寵) to Qin Province to order Empress Yifu to commit suicide. She made the comment to Cao:
She then committed suicide, and was buried with honors due an empress, albeit not near the capital Chang'an, but instead at the Maiji Cliffs (麥積崖), near Shanggui (上邽) the capital of Qin Province. It was not until later, when Yuan Qin was emperor, that she was reburied with Emperor Wen.
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.
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.
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.
Emperor Wen of Western Wei ( 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 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, 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.
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.
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 and minister 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.
Yujiulü Anagui (?-552) was ruler of the Rouran (520-552) with the title of Chiliantoubingdoufa Khagan (敕連頭兵豆伐可汗).
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.
Empress Yuwen was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei state Western Wei — a branch successor state of Northern Wei. Her husband was Emperor Fei, and her father was Western Wei's paramount general Yuwen Tai.
Emperor Xiaomin of Northern Zhou ( 周孝閔帝) (542–557), personal name Yuwen Jue (宇文覺), nickname Dharani (陀羅尼), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou (although he used the alternative title "Heavenly Prince". He was the heir of Western Wei's paramount general Yuwen Tai, and after Yuwen Tai's death in 556, his cousin Yuwen Hu, serving as his guardian, forced Emperor Gong of Western Wei to yield the throne to Yuwen Jue in spring 557, establishing Northern Zhou. Later in 557, however, Yuwen Jue, wanting to assume power personally, plotted to kill Yuwen Hu, who in turn deposed him and replaced him with his brother Yuwen Yu. Later that year, Yuwen Hu had Yuwen Jue executed.
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.
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.
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.
Yang Lihua was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou, and later a princess of Sui Dynasty. Her husband was Emperor Xuan of Northern Zhou, and her father was Yang Jian who later usurped the Northern Zhou throne to become the Emperor Wen of Sui.
Emperor Jing of Northern Zhou ( 周靜帝) (573–581), personally name né Yuwen Yan (宇文衍), later Yuwen Chan (宇文闡), was the last emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. He became emperor at the age of six, after his father Emperor Xuan formally passed the throne to him, but Emperor Xuan retained the imperial powers. After Emperor Xuan's death in 580, the official Yang Jian, the father of Emperor Xuan's wife Yang Lihua, seized power as regent. Yang soon defeated the general Yuchi Jiong, who tried to resist him, and in 581 had the young Emperor Jing yield the throne to him, ending Northern Zhou and establishing Sui Dynasty. Yang soon had the young emperor, as well as other members of Northern Zhou's imperial Yuwen clan, put to death.
Dugu Qieluo or Dugu Jialuo, formally Empress Wenxian (文獻皇后), was an empress of the Chinese Sui dynasty. She was the wife of Emperor Wen, who, on account of his love and respect for her, as well as an oath they made while they were young, did not have any concubines for at least most of their marriage, an extreme rarity among Chinese emperors. She also bore him all his 10 children. She was exceedingly powerful and influential during her husband's reign and very effective in managing the government. She was heavily involved in his decision to divert the order of succession from their oldest son Yang Yong to the second son Yang Guang.
The daughter of Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei, whose given name is unknown, 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, originally Tuoba. Yuan was the only child of Emperor Xiaoming, 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.
Queen Dugu is a 2019 Chinese web series starring Joe Chen and Chen Xiao. It is based on the life of Dugu Jialuo and her husband Yang Jian, the founders of the Sui dynasty. It started airing online via iQiyi, Youku and Tencent on February 11, 2019.
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