Empress Yu (于皇后, personal name unknown) (488?–507) was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. She was Emperor Xuanwu's first empress.
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 Xianbei were an originally nomadic tribal confederation residing in what is today's eastern Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Northeast China. Along with the Xiongnu, they were one of the major nomadic groups in northern China from the Han Dynasty to the Northern and Southern dynasties. They eventually established their own northern dynasties such as the Northern Wei founded in the 4th century AD by the Tuoba clan. During the Uprising of the Five Barbarians they became categorized as one of the Five Barbarians by the Han Chinese.
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 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.
She was the daughter of Yu Jing (于勁), the younger brother of the powerful general Yu Lie (于烈). It was said that when Emperor Xuanwu first assumed imperial powers — which probably referred to his relieving his uncle Yuan Xie of authorities in 501 — Yu Lie believed that the emperor lacked sufficient consorts, and so persuaded Emperor Xuanwu's attendants to praise of her beauty and virtues. Emperor Xuanwu took her as an imperial consort, and in late 501 created her empress. She was said to be quiet, tolerant, and not jealous. She bore him one son, Yuan Chang (元昌), in 506. By that point, however, she was said to have lost his favor, as he favored his cousin Consort Gao, and their uncle Gao Zhao became exceedingly powerful. When Empress Yu suddenly died in 507, it was believed that Consort Gao poisoned her, but historians concede that there is not conclusive evidence. When her son Yuan Chang died the following year (508), it was also alleged that Gao Zhao had him poisoned.
Yuan Xie (元勰), né Tuoba Xie, courtesy name Yanhe (彥和), formally Prince Wuxuan of Pengcheng (彭城武宣王), later posthumously honored as Emperor Wenmu (文穆皇帝) with the temple name of Suzu (肅祖), was an imperial prince of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was a son of Emperor Xianwen, and he often assisted his brother Emperor Xiaowen both in military and governmental matters. After Emperor Xiaowen's death, he briefly served as regent for Emperor Xiaowen's son Emperor Xuanwu. Eventually, due to suspicions and jealousy of Emperor Xuanwu's uncle Gao Zhao, Emperor Xuanwu believed false reports that Yuan Xie was going to rebel, and forced him to commit suicide. He was later posthumously honored as an emperor by his son Emperor Xiaozhuang, although subsequently Emperor Jiemin retracted the honors.
Empress Gao Ying was an empress of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. She was the second empress of Emperor Xuanwu.
Gao Zhao (高肇), courtesy name Shouwen (首文), was a high-level official of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was a maternal uncle of Emperor Xuanwu, and he became increasingly powerful during Emperor Xuanwu's reign, drawing anger from other high-level officials not only for his powerplay and corruption, but also because he was a mere commoner before Emperor Xuanwu's reign and not from the aristocracy and might have been Korean in origin. After Emperor Xuanwu died in 515, the other officials set a trap for Gao Zhao and had him killed.
Empress Feng Run
| Empress of Northern Wei |
| Succeeded by|
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.
Wang Zhengjun, officially Empress Xiaoyuan (孝元皇后), later and more commonly known as Grand Empress Dowager Wang, born in Yuancheng, was an empress during the Western Han dynasty of China, who played important roles during the reigns of five successive Han emperors and later led to the usurpation of the throne by her nephew Wang Mang. She is largely viewed sympathetically by historians as an unassuming and benevolent if overly doting woman who suffered much in her long life, who tried to influence the empire as well as she could, and who was not a party to her nephew's machinations, but whose failure, leading to the downfall of the Western Han Dynasty, was her overdependence on her clan.
Empress Dowager Bo (薄太后) was an imperial concubine of Emperor Gaozu of Han. She was also known as Consort Bo (薄姬) during the life of the Emperor, and more formally as either Empress Dowager Xiaowen (孝文太后) or (rarer) Empress Gao (高皇后). Despite being a concubine of lower standing, her son, Liu Heng, became Emperor Wen of Han, cementing her place in history. The year of her birth is not known. She died in 155 BC.
Zhangsun Wuji, courtesy name Fuji, formally the Duke of Zhao, was a Chinese official who served as a chancellor in the early Tang dynasty. He was Empress Zhangsun's brother, which made him a brother-in-law of Emperor Taizong and a maternal uncle of Emperor Gaozong. He was an important advisor to Li Shimin when the latter was still the Prince of Qin during the reign of his father, Emperor Gaozu. He helped Li Shimin overcome his brothers Li Jiancheng and Li Yuanji in a succession struggle at the Xuanwu Gate Incident, eventually enabling Li Shimin to become the heir apparent and later the emperor. He was also instrumental in Emperor Taizong's selection of Li Zhi as the Crown Prince, and was exceedingly powerful after Li Zhi took the throne as Emperor Gaozong. However, he gradually fell out of his nephew's favour by failing to support Emperor Gaozong's decision to depose his first wife, Empress Wang, and replacing her with Empress Wu. In 659, Zhangsun Wuji was falsely accused of treason by Empress Wu's political ally, Xu Jingzong, and eventually ordered to be sent into exile by Emperor Gaozong. Xu Jingzong subsequently sent the official Yuan Gongyu (袁公瑜) to force Zhangsun Wuji to commit suicide on his way to exile.
Emperor Xianwen of Northern Wei ( 魏獻文帝) (454–476), personal name Tuoba Hong, was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was the first emperor in Chinese history who, after retiring in favor of his son Emperor Xiaowen to become Taishang Huang 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.
Empress Dowager Hu, formally Empress Ling (靈皇后,), was an empress dowager of the nomadic dynasty Northern Wei (515-528). She was a concubine of Emperor Xuanwu, and she became regent and empress dowager after her son Emperor Xiaoming became emperor after Emperor Xuanwu's death in 515. She was considered to be intelligent but overly lenient, and during her regency, many agrarian rebellions occurred while corruption raged among imperial officials. In 528, she was believed to have poisoned her son Emperor Xiaoming after he tried to have her lover Zheng Yan (鄭儼) executed. This caused the general Erzhu Rong to attack and capture the capital Luoyang. Erzhu threw her into the Yellow River to drown.
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 Zhao (元釗), also known in history as Youzhu, was briefly an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei.
Yu Zhong (于忠) (452–518), né Wuniuyu Qiannian (勿忸于千年), courtesy name Sixian (思賢), formally Duke Wujing of Lingshou (靈壽武敬公), was an official of the Northern Wei dynasty. He briefly served as a regent during the reign of Emperor Xiaoming.
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.
Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei, personal name Yuan Ziyou, was an emperor of China of the Northern Wei, a Xianbei dynasty. He was placed on the throne by General Erzhu Rong, who refused to recognize the young emperor, Yuan Zhao, who Empress Dowager Hu had placed on the throne after she poisoned her son Emperor Xiaoming.
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 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.
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 Xiao, formally Empress Min, was an empress of the Chinese Sui Dynasty. Her husband was Emperor Yang of Sui.
Yu Zhining (于志寧) (588–665), courtesy name Zhongmi (仲謐), formally Duke Ding of Yan (燕定公), was a chancellor of the Chinese Tang dynasty, during the reigns of Emperor Taizong and Emperor Gaozong. He had served on the staff of Emperor Taizong's oldest son and crown prince Li Chengqian and, after Li Chengqian was removed for plotting to overthrow Emperor Taizong in 643, received approval for having tried to correct Li Chengqian in his ways. Emperor Taizong promoted him, and he subsequently played prominent roles in the imperial government late in Emperor Taizong's reign and early in Emperor Gaozong's reign. In 659, however, because he had previously not supported the ascension of Emperor Gaozong's second wife Empress Wu, he was removed from his office based on accusations by her ally Xu Jingzong that he had conspired with Emperor Gaozong's uncle Zhangsun Wuji, who had opposed Empress Wu's ascension.