|Reign||January 18, 577 – January 21, 577|
Gao Yanzong (高延宗) (died 577), 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.
Gao Yanzong was the fifth son of Gao Cheng, who was the heir of Eastern Wei's paramount general Gao Huan, and who took over the regency of Eastern Wei after Gao Huan's death in 547. Gao Yanzong's mother was Gao Cheng's concubine Lady Chen, who was previously a concubine of Yuan Dan (元湛) the Prince of Guangyang, but his birth year is not known in history. As Gao Cheng was assassinated by his servant Lan Jing (蘭京) in 549, Gao Yanzong was raised by Gao Cheng's younger brother Gao Yang, who seized the throne from Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei in 550, establishing Northern Qi as its Emperor Wenxuan. Emperor Wenxuan was described as loving Gao Yanzong so much that even when Gao Yanzong was 11, he still had Gao Yanzong ride him for game. In or sometime before 555, Emperor Wenxuan asked Gao Yanzong what princely title he wanted, and Gao Yanzong responded, "I want to be the Prince of Chongtian (衝天, meaning, "rising to heaven")." The prime minister Yang Yin commented, "There is no such commandery on earth. I wish that he would be satisfied (安, an) with virtues (德, de)." Emperor Wenxuan thus created Gao Yanzong the Prince of Ande in 555.
During the subsequent reign of Emperor Xiaozhao, another uncle of Gao Yanzong's, Gao Yanzong was the governor of Ding Province (定州, roughly modern Baoding, Hebei). He was accused of abusing his staff—including defecating upstairs and forcing someone to receive the feces downstairs in his mouth, and mixing feces with pork and serving it to others, and those who would not eat it would be whipped. When Emperor Xiaozhao heard this, he had the official Zhao Daode (趙道德) go to Ding Province to cane Gao Yanzong 100 times. As Gao Yanzong did not take the punishment with good attitude, Zhao added 30 times to his caning. Gao Yanzong was also known for testing the sharpness of his sword by cutting humans with it, and for tolerating his staff of abuses. During the subsequent reign of another uncle, Emperor Wucheng, Emperor Wucheng sent messengers to whip him for these abuses and executed nine of his associates. Thereafter, Gao Yanzong regretted his actions and changed his ways. In 566, when Emperor Wucheng tortured his brother Gao Xiaowan (高孝琬) the Prince of Hejian to death, Gao Yanzong mourned greatly, and he made an effigy of Emperor Wucheng out of straw and whipped it, stating, "Why kill my brother?" When his servant informed Emperor Wucheng, Emperor Wucheng whipped Gao Yanzong 100 times, nearly causing his death. Subsequently, however, Gao Yanzong was rotated through a number of important offices. In 569, after Emperor Wucheng's death, he was one of the individuals who tried to persuade Emperor Wucheng's son Gao Wei and wife Empress Dowager Hu to remove Emperor Wucheng's favorite official He Shikai from his post, but was ultimately unsuccessful in doing so. Subsequently, in 571, after Gao Wei's brother Gao Yan killed He Shikai in a coup, Gao Yanzong, along with his brother Gao Xiaoheng (高孝珩) the Prince of Guangning, tried to encourage Gao Yan to take further action to seize power, but Gao Yan hesitated and was ultimately defeated and killed.
In 576, Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou launched a major attack on Northern Qi, capturing Pingyang (平陽, in modern Linfen, Shanxi). Gao Wei subsequently led a large army to try to recapture Pingyang, defended by the Northern Zhou general Liang Shiyan (梁士彥), and Gao Yanzong served under Gao Wei in the campaign. When Northern Zhou's Emperor Wu subsequently arrived with an army to try to relieve Pingyang around new year 577, Gao Wei engaged Emperor Wu. However, shortly after battle began, Gao Wei's favorite consort, Feng Xiaolian and the official Mu Tipo panicked and persuaded Gao Wei to flee, causing the Northern Qi army to collapse. Only Gao Yanzong suffered no losses and was able to withdraw to the secondary capital Jinyang (晉陽, in modern Taiyuan, Shanxi), where Gao Wei fled. When Gao Wei informed Gao Yanzong that he planned to flee further to Shuo Province (朔州, roughly modern Shuozhou, Shanxi), Gao Yanzong wept and tried to encourage him to defend Jinyang, but Gao Wei would not listen, and instead first delivered his mother Empress Dowager Hu and his crown prince Gao Heng to Shuo Province.
Two days later, with Northern Zhou forces approaching, Gao Wei made Gao Yanzong the governor of Bing Province (并州, roughly modern Taiyuan) and put him in charge of the remaining forces in the region, intending to flee to Shuo Province (again Gao Yanzong's advice). (Once Gao Wei left Jinyang, however, he changed his mind and fled back to the capital Yecheng instead.)
Meanwhile, the generals at Jinyang all encouraged Gao Yanzong to take imperial title, stating to him that if he did not, they could not fight and die for him. The day after Gao Wei left Jinyang, Gao Yanzong agreed and declared himself emperor. When he did so, the people of the surrounding region rushed to support him, and he opened Gao Wei's private treasury at Jinyang to reward the treasure to the soldiers, along with the ladies in waiting of Jinyang Palace. He also confiscated the properties of Gao Wei's favorite eunuchs. It was said that Gao Yanzong visited the soldiers and shook their hands, referring to himself by name, to raise the morale. Meanwhile, he sent messengers to his uncle Gao Jie (高湝) the Prince of Rencheng, stating that he was only taking imperial title out of expediency and that Gao Jie should be emperor. (Gao Jie did not accept the overture, and instead arrested Gao Yanzong's messengers and delivered them to Gao Wei.)
The next day, Northern Zhou troops arrived and put Jinyang under siege. Gao Yanzong, despite his obesity, personally fought in the battle, and while he had some personal successes, the generals that he left in charge of the east gate, He Aganzi (和阿干子) and Duan Chang (段暢), surrendered to Northern Zhou, allowing Emperor Wu to enter the city—but once Emperor Wu did, Gao Yanzong followed and launched a fierce attack, leading to a general rout of Northern Zhou troops. Emperor Wu was nearly killed, but was able to fight his way back out of the city. Gao Yanzong thought that Emperor Wu must be dead and searched the bodies for him, but could not find him. Meanwhile, his own soldiers, in celebration of the great victory, drank heavily and could not be regrouped.
Two days later, Emperor Wu regrouped and again attacked Jinyang's east gate and was able to breach it. Gao Yanzong resisted, but was worn out, and he fled. Northern Zhou forces gave chase and captured him. Emperor Wu got off his horse and personally shook Gao Yanzong's hand. Gao Yanzong initially declined, stating, "How can a dead man's hand touch that of the supreme ruler?" Emperor Wu responded, in an implicit recognition of Gao Yanzong's imperial claim, "The emperors of the two states fight not out of enmity but rather out of the welfare of the people. I will not harm you. Please do not worry." He had Gao Yanzong change into civilian official uniform and treated him with respect, asking him for his input on how Yecheng could be captured. Gao Yanzong initially refused to answer, but later stated, "I cannot imagine what might happen if the Prince of Rencheng reinforced and defended the city, but if the emperor himself defended the city, Your Imperial Majesty's servants would not even see blood on their swords."
Consistent with Gao Yanzong's prediction, Gao Wei abandoned Yecheng and fled south, intending to try to reorganize resistance south of the Yellow River and, if he could not do so, flee to Chen Dynasty. In flight, however, Gao Wei was captured by Northern Zhou troops and delivered to Emperor Wu, who subsequently annexed Northern Qi and took Gao Wei and the other Gao clan members, including Gao Yanzong, back to his capital of Chang'an. Emperor Wu created Gao Wei the Duke of Wen and was said to have bestowed more than 30 princes of the Gao clan noble titles, but there was no record as to what title he gave Gao Yanzong. When he invited them to a feast and had Gao Wei dance during the feast, Gao Yanzong was so saddened that he wanted to commit suicide by poison, but his servants persuaded him not to.
In winter 577, Emperor Wu, apprehensive of the Gao clan, decided to massacre them. He therefore falsely accused Gao Wei of conspiring with Mu Tipo to rebel, and ordered Gao Wei and other members of the Gao clan to commit suicide. Many members of the Gao clan clamored and proclaimed their innocence, begging to be spared, but Gao Yanzong rolled up his sleeve and wept, not saying anything. The executioners had to stuff poisonous peppers into his mouth to kill him. In 578, his wife Princess Li took his body and buried it.
The Northern Qi was one of the Northern dynasties of ancient China 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.
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.
Emperor Wenxuan of (Northern) Qi ( 齊文宣帝) (526–559), personal name Gao Yang, courtesy name Zijin (子進), Xianbei name Hounigan (侯尼干), 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.
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.
Empress Li Zu'e was an empress of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi, known at times semi-formally as Empress Zhaoxin (昭信皇后). Her husband was Emperor Wenxuan, the first emperor of 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.
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.
Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou ( 周武帝) (543–578), personal name Yuwen Yong (宇文邕), Xianbei name 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gao Shaoyi (高紹義), often known by his princely title of Prince of Fanyang (范陽王), was an imperial prince of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi, who claimed the Northern Qi throne in exile under the protection of Tujue after rival Northern Zhou seized nearly all of Northern Qi territory and captured the emperors, Gao Shaoyi's cousin Gao Wei and Gao Wei's son Gao Heng in 577. In 580, Tujue, after negotiating a peace treaty with Northern Zhou, turned Gao Shaoyi over to Northern Zhou, and he was exiled to modern Sichuan, ending his claim on the Northern Qi imperial title. Most traditional historians do not consider Gao Shaoyi a true 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.
Mu Tipo (穆提婆), né Luo Tipo (駱提婆), was a Xianbei 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.
Gao Anagong (高阿那肱) was a Xianbei 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.
Li Delin (李德林), courtesy name Gongfu (公輔), formally either Duke Wen of Anping (安平文公) or Viscount Wen of Cheng'an (成安文子), was an official of the Chinese dynasties Northern Qi, Northern Zhou, and Sui Dynasty. He was a prolific writer whose writing ability was greatly praised by his contemporaries and the emperors that he served under. He began the compilation of the Book of Northern Qi, a work that he was never able to complete, but his son Li Baiyao later completed the work.
| Emperor of Northern Qi (Shanxi)|
| Emperor of China (Shanxi)|
Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou