Yuwen Hu (宇文護) (513–572),courtesy name Sabao (薩保, also a title, which can be traced back to sartpāw “caravan leader”, but was used as given name, in many cases by Buddhists - referring to the metaphorical meaning of wise leader), formally Duke Dang of Jin (晉蕩公), was a regent of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou in China. He first came into prominence as the nephew of Western Wei's paramount general Yuwen Tai, and after Yuwen Tai's death in 556, he became the guardian to Yuwen Tai's son Yuwen Jue. In 557, he forced Emperor Gong of Western Wei to yield the throne to Yuwen Jue (Emperor Xiaomin), establishing Northern Zhou. However, Yuwen Hu dominated the political scene, and after Emperor Xiaomin tried to seize power later that year, he killed Emperor Xiaomin and replaced him with another son of Yuwen Tai, Emperor Ming. In 560, he poisoned Emperor Ming, who was succeeded by another son of Yuwen Tai, Emperor Wu. In 572, Emperor Wu ambushed Yuwen Hu and killed him, personally taking power.
Yuwen Hu was born in 513 as a son of Yuwen Hao (宇文顥), a son of the local peasant leader Yuwen Gong (宇文肱) at Wuchuan (武川, in modern Hohhot, Inner Mongolia). His mother was Lady Yan, who was probably Yuwen Hao's wife. He was said to be particularly bright as a child and was favored by Yuwen Gong. In 524, with Northern Wei's northern provinces engulfed in peasant rebellions, Yuwen Gong and his sons, along with another local leader, Heba Duba (賀拔度拔) and his sons, led a counter-rebellion against one of the major rebels, Poliuhan Baling (破六韓拔陵), who had taken Wuchuan earlier, and they killed Poliuhan's general Wei Kegu (衛可孤), temporarily restoring order. However, soon Yuwen Gong and his sons were forced to flee and join the army of another rebel leader, Xianyu Xiuli (鮮于修禮). It was while serving under Xianyu that Yuwen Gong died in battle, and it was probably also at the same time that Yuwen Hao died as well. After Xianyu Xiuli was killed by his general Yuan Hongye (元洪業) in 526, another general, Ge Rong (葛榮), in turn killed Yuan and took over Xianyu's troops, and Yuwen Hu stayed with his uncles in Ge's army. In 528, after Ge was defeated by Northern Wei's paramount general Erzhu Rong, Erzhu forcibly moved Ge's troops, including the Yuwens, to his power base at Jinyang (晉陽, in modern Taiyuan, Shandong), where he remained for several years. In 531 or 532, when Yuwen Hu's uncle Yuwen Tai was serving under the general Heba Yue (賀拔岳, Heba Duba's son) in the western provinces, Yuwen Hu went to join Yuwen Tai at Pingliang. (When he did so, he left both his mother Lady Yan and his aunt (Yuwen Hao's sister) at Jinyang.) As Yuwen Tai had no sons at that point,when he was out on military campaigns, he entrusted his household to Yuwen Hu. Yuwen Hu was said not to be strict as the household's governor but was nevertheless able to keep the household organized and solemn. Yuwen Tai, when he saw this, stated, "this child's ambitions and talents are like mine." In 533, when Heba added the strategically important Xia Province (夏州, roughly modern Yulin, Shaanxi) to the ones he controlled, he made Yuwen Tai its governor. Yuwen Tai left Yuwen Hu to serve under Heba. When Heba's associate Houmochen Yue (侯莫陳悅) assassinated Heba in early 534, Heba's generals invited Yuwen Tai to serve as their commander, and he agreed. In the subsequent armed confrontation with Houmochen (in which Yuwen Tai defeated Houmochen, causing Houmochen to commit suicide), Yuwen Hu served as one of his uncle's generals.
In 534, displeased at the control that the paramount general Gao Huan had on the military, Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei entered into an alliance with Yuwen Tai and Heba Sheng (賀拔勝, Heba Yue's brother), who controlled the southern provinces. When Gao realized this, he marched on the capital Luoyang, and Emperor Xiaowu decided to flee to Yuwen Tai's territory, sending messengers informing Yuwen Tai of his decision. Yuwen Hu was part of the army that Yuwen Tai sent to escort Emperor Xiaowu to Yuwen Tai's headquarters at Chang'an, commanded by the general Li Xian (李賢). For his participation in protecting the emperor, Yuwen Hu was created the Count of Shuichi. Later in 534, when Emperor Xiaowu refused to return to Luoyang despite requests by Gao, Gao declared Yuan Shanjian, the son of Emperor Xiaowu's cousin Yuan Dan (元亶), emperor (as Emperor Xiaojing), and moved the capital to Yecheng (鄴城, in modern Handan, Hebei), thus dividing Northern Wei into two—Western Wei, with Emperor Xiaowu as emperor and its capital at Chang'an, and Eastern Wei, with Emperor Xiaojing as emperor.
During the reign of Emperor Xiaowu's cousin and successor Emperor Wen of Western Wei, Yuwen Hu received a number of promotions, and he also had a number of accomplishments in the battlefield. He was created a duke. In 543, though, he was nearly killed in a battle at Luoyang and was only saved from capture or death by his subordinates Hou Fu (侯伏) and Hou Long'en (侯龍恩). Yuwen Tai removed him from his posts, but soon returned him to those posts. In 546, he was created the greater title of Duke of Zhongshan. In 549, when Yuwen Tai sent the general Yu Jin (于謹) to launch a major attack on Liang Dynasty's capital Jiangling, Yuwen Hu served as Yu's lieutenant. The Western Wei army was able to capture Jiangling and put Emperor Yuan of Liang to death, declaring his nephew Emperor Xuan of Western Liang as Liang's emperor instead (albeit controlling only the Jiangling region, known in history as the Western Liang). For this accomplishment, Yuwen Hu's son Yuwen Hui (宇文會) was created the Duke of Jiangling.
in fall 556, while Yuwen Tai was on a tour of the norther provinces, he became ill at Qiantun Mountain (牽屯山, in modern Guyuan, Ningxia). He summoned Yuwen Hu to Qiantun and entrusted the affairs of the state as well as his sons to Yuwen Hu. He soon died, and his heir apparent Yuwen Jue took over his titles, while Yuwen Hu took the reins of the state. (The senior generals and officials, who obeyed Yuwen Tai as effectively the first among equals, were initially reluctant to follow the leadership of the younger Yuwen Hu, only doing so after Yu Jin, previously Yuwen Hu's commanding general, declared his support on the basis that Yuwen Hu was the senior member of the Yuwen clan.) Around the new year 557, believing that Yuwen Jue, who was 14 at this time, needed to have his authority affirmed through an imperial title, Yuwen Hu had Emperor Gong of Western Wei (Emperor Wen's son) yield the throne to Yuwen Jue, ending Western Wei and establishing Northern Zhou.
Yuwen Jue took the throne (as Emperor Xiaomin), but did not use the title "emperor" (皇帝, huáng dì), using instead the Zhou Dynasty-style title "Heavenly Prince" ( Tian Wang ). He created Yuwen Hu the greater title of Duke of Jin.
The political situation, with Yuwen Hu as regent, was unstable. About a month after Emperor Xiaomin took the throne, two of the most senior officials, Zhao Gui (趙貴) the Duke of Chu and Dugu Xin the Duke of Wei, showed signs of displeasure about Yuwen Hu's hold on power. Zhao wanted to kill Yuwen Hu, an action that Dugu tried to persuade him against. Soon thereafter, however, Zhao's plans were revealed by another official, Yuwen Sheng (宇文盛), and Yuwen Hu had Zhao executed and removed Dugu from his office. Soon, he also forced Dugu to commit suicide. When another official, Qi Gui (齊軌), criticized Yuwen Hu's regency, he was also executed.
Meanwhile, Emperor Xiaomin himself, wanting to take power, was engaging in a plot to kill Yuwen Hu. His plot included two of Yuwen Tai's key associates, Li Zhi (李植) and Sun Heng (孫恆), as well as the other officials Yifu Feng (乙弗鳳) and Heba Ti (賀拔提), each of whom was ambitious and therefore further tried to fan Emperor Xiaomin's suspicions against Yuwen Hu. After Li tried to engage another official, Zhang Guangluo (張光洛) in the plot, however, Zhang revealed the plot to Yuwen Hu. Yuwen Hu, not wanting to take drastic actions at first, sent Li and Sun away to be provincial governors. When Emperor Xiaomin wanted to summon Li and Sun back to the capital Chang'an, Yuwen Hu urged against it, pledging his loyalty. However, Yifu and Heba became fearful and plotted to carry out the plot anyway. Zhang again informed Yuwen Hu, who discussed the matter with the generals Helan Xiang (賀蘭祥) and Yuchi Gang (尉遲綱). Helan suggested to him to depose Emperor Xiaomin, and Yuwen Hu had Yuchi arrest Yifu and Heba and disband the imperial guards. Emperor Xiaomin, surprised by the move, barricaded himself in the palace and armed his ladies in waiting and eunuchs. Yuwen Hu sent Helan into the palace to force Emperor Xiaomin to leave the palace and put him under house arrest at his old residence as the Duke of Lüeyang.
Yuwen Hu summoned the high-level officials and informed them the situation, proposing to depose Emperor Xiaomin and replace him with Emperor Xiaomin's older brother Yuwen Yu the Duke of Ningdu (who was not named heir by Yuwen Tai because his mother Lady Yao was a concubine). The high-level officials, not daring to oppose Yuwen Hu, agreed. Emperor Xiaomin's coconspirators were executed, while he himself was demoted to the rank of Duke of Lüeyang. A month later, Yuwen Hu executed him and forced his wife, Princess Yuan, to become a Buddhist nun. Soon thereafter, Yuwen Yu arrived at Chang'an and took the throne (as Emperor Ming), still using the title of Heavenly Prince.
Emperor Ming continued to honor Yuwen Hu with greater titles and honor, and in 558, he created Yuwen Hu's son Yuwen Zhi (宇文至) the Duke of Chongye.
In spring 559, Yuwen Hu formally returned his authorities to Emperor Ming, and Emperor Ming began to formally rule on all governmental matters, but Yuwen Hu retained authority over the military. In 559, Emperor Ming began to use the title of emperor.
in summer 560, Yuwen Hu, apprehensive of Emperor Ming's intelligence and abilities, instructed the imperial chef Li An (李安) to poison sugar cookies that were submitted to the emperor. Emperor Ming ate them and became ill. Knowing that he was near death, he instructed that, because his sons were young, the throne should be passed to his younger brother Yuwen Yong the Duke of Lu. He died soon thereafter, and Yuwen Yong took the throne as Emperor Wu. Yuwen Hu again took control of both political and military matters.
Emperor Wu did all he could to appear to honor Yuwen Hu in all things, speaking little and not interfering with Yuwen Hu's decisions. During meetings that Emperor Wu's mother Empress Dowager Chinu would have with Yuwen Hu, she would instruct Yuwen Hu to sit at the table with her, while Emperor Wu, as the younger cousin, would stand and attend to them. In 561, Emperor Wu formally bestowed Yuwen Hu, as the Minister of Palace Affairs (大冢宰), authority over the other five ministries as well. In spring 561, when the general Heruo Dun (賀若敦) was unable to hold the modern Hunan region against attacks by the Chen Dynasty general Hou Tian (侯瑱), it was by Yuwen Hu's orders that Heruo was relieved of his posts, despite Heruo's being able to withdraw without further losses. Around the same time, when Emperor Wu posthumously created Yuwen Hu's father Yuwen Hao and uncle Yuwen Luosheng (宇文洛生) Dukes of Shao and Ju, respectively, the inheritance of the titles went to Yuwen Hu's sons Yuwen Hui (宇文會) and Yuwen Zhi.
In spring 563, when Emperor Wu made a sudden night trip back to Chang'an while visiting Yuan Province (原州, roughly modern Guyuan, Gansu), Houmochen Chong (侯莫陳崇) the Duke of Liang made an off-the-cuff comment to his staff that it must be that Yuwen Hu died. When Houmochen's comments were reported, Emperor Wu rebuked Houmochen, but Yuwen Hu then followed up by sending soldiers to surround Houmochen's house to force him to commit suicide, although he permitted Houmochen to be buried with honors due a duke. Later that year, to show Yuwen Hu even greater deference, Emperor Wu ordered that in official documents, naming taboo be observed as to Yuwen Hu's name, an honor rarely given to non-emperors.
During the years, Yuwen Hu had tried to send spies to locate his mother Lady Yan and paternal aunt, who were left in the territory of Eastern Wei and its successor state Northern Qi—not knowing that they had been made servants at the subsidiary palace in Zhongshan (中山, in modern Baoding, Hebei). In 564, during peace negotiations with Northern Qi (following a joint Northern Zhou-Tujue attack on Northern Qi earlier that year), Northern Qi released Yuwen Hu's paternal aunt to Northern Zhou, and further promised to release Lady Yan. Emperor Wucheng of Northern Qi had Lady Yan exchange letters with Yuwen Hu, intending to use her to force concessions, but fearful of another Northern Zhou attack if he angered Yuwen Hu, released her without actually securing concessions. However, Yuwen Hu, concerned that Tujue might be displeased if Northern Zhou abandoned the joint operations, nevertheless launched another joint attack with Tujue later in 564, but the armies that he sent to attack Luoyang were defeated by Northern Qi troops and forced to withdraw. (Historians largely blamed the defeat on Yuwen Hu's half-hearted devotion to the attack and his lack of overall military strategic talent.)
In 565, when Heruo, again made a provincial governor, complained to messengers sent to him by the central government, Yuwen Hu became so displeased that he summoned Heruo back to Chang'an and forced him to commit suicide.
In summer 567, when the Chen general Hua Jiao (華皎), fearful of adverse intentions of the regent Chen Xu, offered to defect with his Xiang Province (湘州, modern central Hunan), Yuwen Hu, over the opposition by the official Cui You (崔猷), sent an army commanded by Emperor Wu's brother Yuwen Zhi (宇文直) the Duke of Wei to assist Hua and the forces of Northern Zhou's vassal Emperor Ming of Western Liang, who was also aiding Hua. The Chen general Wu Mingche, however, quickly defeated the joint forces of Northern Zhou, Western Liang, and Hua, forcing Hua and Yuwen Zhi to both give up the war and flee to the Western Liang capital Jiangling. Chen was able to retain all of Hua's territory and further make minor territorial gains against both Northern Zhou and Western Liang as well. Yuwen Hu relieved Yuwen Zhi from his posts, and while Yuwen Zhi was eventually restored to them, Yuwen Zhi, who had previously had a cordial relationship with Yuwen Hu, bore a grudge against Yuwen Hu and secretly encouraged Emperor Wu to act against Yuwen Hu.
Around the new year 568, Lady Yan died. By Emperor Wu's orders, Yuwen Hu did not observe the customary three-year mourning period, but continued to serve as regent.
In winter 570, when the Northern Qi general Hulü Guang seized the region north of the Fen River (汾水, flowing through modern Linfen, Shanxi), Yuwen Hu turned to another brother of Emperor Wu, Yuwen Xian the Duke of Qi, for advice, and Yuwen Xian suggested that he himself could lead an army against Hulü, while Yuwen Hu himself should command the main forces but stop at Tong Province (同州, roughly modern Weinan, Shaanxi). Subsequently, Yuwen Xian was able to force Hulü into a stalemate, but substantial territories were still lost to Northern Qi.
By 572, Emperor Wu was conspiring with Yuwen Zhi, as well as his associates Yuwen Shenju (宇文神舉), Wang Gui (王軌), and Yuwen Xiaobo (宇文孝伯), to find a way to kill Yuwen Hu, believing him to be a threat. In spring 572, after Emperor Wu and Yuwen Hu had a meeting, he invited Yuwen Hu into the palace to meet with Empress Dowager Chinu. On the way to her palace, he told Yuwen Hu that Empress Dowager Chinu was having problem with alcoholism and not listening to his advice to stop her drinking, so he wanted Yuwen Hu to advise her to change her ways as well. He further gave Yuwen Hu the text of the Jiu Gao (酒誥) -- an anti-alcoholism declaration written by King Cheng of Zhou—and suggested that he read the Jiu Gao to Empress Dowager Chinu. Once they reached her palace, Yuwen Hu, pursuant to Emperor Wu's request, started reading the Jiu Gao. Before he could finish it, Emperor Wu stepped behind him and used a jade tablet to strike the back of his head. Yuwen Hu fell to the ground, and Yuwen Zhi, who was hiding nearby, jumped out, and cut off Yuwen Hu's head, ending Yuwen Hu's hold on power. Yuwen Hu's sons and key associates were all executed. In 574, Yuwen Hu was posthumously restored to the title of Duke, reburied with honors due a duke, and awarded with a posthumous name (albeit the very unflattering one of Dang (蕩, meaning "improper")).
Emperor Wen of Sui, personal name Yang Jian (楊堅), Xianbei name Puliuru Jian (普六茹堅), alias Narayana deriving from Buddhist terms, was the founder and first emperor of China's Sui dynasty. He was a hard-working administrator and a micromanager. The Sui Shu records him as having withdrawn his favour from the Confucians, giving it to "the group advocating Xing-Ming and authoritarian government." As a Buddhist, he encouraged the spread of Buddhism through the state. He is regarded as one of the most important emperors in ancient China history, reunifying China in 589 after centuries of division since the fall of the Western Jin dynasty in 316. During his reign, the construction of the Grand Canal began.
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 emperors were of Xianbei descent.
Emperor Ming of (Western) Liang ( 梁明帝) (542–585), personal name Xiao Kui (蕭巋), courtesy name Renyuan (仁遠), was an emperor of the Chinese Western Liang dynasty. He, like his father Emperor Xuan and his son Emperor Jing, controlled little territory and relied heavily on military support from Northern Zhou and Northern Zhou's successor state Sui dynasty.
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.
Husi Chun (斛斯椿) (495–537), courtesy name Fashou (法壽), Xianbei name Daidun (貸敦), formally Prince Wenxuan of Changshan (常山文宣王), was a general and official of the Chinese/Xianbei state Northern Wei and Northern Wei's branch successor state Western Wei.
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 Gong of Western Wei ( 魏恭帝) (537–557), personal name né Yuan Kuo (元廓), later changed to Tuoba Kuo (拓拔廓), was the last emperor of the Western Wei -- a rump state of and successor to Northern Wei. He was made emperor in 554 after his older brother Emperor Fei was deposed by the paramount general Yuwen Tai. He carried little actual power, and in 556, after Yuwen Tai's death, Yuwen Tai's nephew Yuwen Hu, serving as guardian to Yuwen Tai's son Yuwen Jue, forced Emperor Gong to yield the throne to Yuwen Jue, ending Western Wei and starting Northern Zhou. The former emperor was killed in 557. Because Northern Wei's other branch successor state, Eastern Wei, had fallen in 550, Emperor Gong can be regarded as Northern Wei's final emperor as well.
Emperor Xiaomin of Northern Zhou ( 周孝閔帝) (542–557), personal name Yuwen Jue (宇文覺), nickname Tuoluoni (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.
Emperor Ming of Northern Zhou ( 周明帝) (534–560), personal name Yuwen Yu (宇文毓), Xianbei name Tongwantu (統萬突), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou, although at the start of his reign he used the alternative title "Heavenly Prince". He was made emperor after his younger brother Emperor Xiaomin was deposed and killed by the regent Yuwen Hu. Emperor Ming himself assumed some, but not all, powers from Yuwen Hu, and was generally considered able. Because of this, Yuwen Hu became apprehensive, and in 560, he poisoned Emperor Ming to death. While near death, however, Emperor Ming appointed his brother Yuwen Yong as his successor, believing Yuwen Yong to be intelligent and capable, and in 572, Yuwen Yong was finally able to kill Yuwen Hu and assume full imperial powers.
Empress Dugu or Queen Dugu, posthumously Empress Mingjing (明敬皇后), was the wife of the Emperor Ming of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou.
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.
Empress Dowager Chinu, formally Empress Xuan, was an empress dowager of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. She was the mother of Emperor Wu.
Wei Xiaokuan (韋孝寬) (509–580), formal personal name Wei Shuyu (韋叔裕), known by the Xianbei name Yuwen Xiaokuan (宇文孝寬) during late Western Wei and Northern Zhou, formally Duke Xiang of Xun (勛襄公), was a general of the Chinese/Xianbei states Western Wei and Northern Zhou. He first became a prominent general during Western Wei as he defended the fortress of Yubi against a vastly larger army commanded by rival Eastern Wei's paramount general Gao Huan, and he eventually contributed greatly to the destruction of Eastern Wei's successor state Northern Qi by Northern Zhou. His final campaign, in 580, saw him siding with the regent Yang Jian against the general Yuchi Jiong in Northern Zhou's civil war, allowing Yang to defeat Yuchi and take over the throne as Sui Dynasty's Emperor Wen.
Yuwen Xian (宇文憲), Xianbei name Pihetu (毗賀突), formally Prince Yang of Qi (齊煬王), was an imperial prince of the state Northern Zhou. He was a key official and general during the reign of his brother Emperor Wu, but after Emperor Wu's death was feared on account of his ability by his nephew Emperor Xuan, who therefore falsely accused him of plotting treason and strangled him.
Yuchi Jiong (尉遲迥), courtesy name Bojuluo (薄居羅), was a general of the Chinese/Xianbei states Western Wei and Northern Zhou. He first came to prominence while his uncle Yuwen Tai served as the paramount general of Western Wei, and subsequently served Northern Zhou after the Yuwen clan established the state after Yuwen Tai's death. In 580, believing that the regent Yang Jian had designs on the throne, Yuchi rose against Yang but was soon defeated. He committed suicide.
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.
Gāo Jiǒng ) known during the Northern Zhou period by the Xianbei name Dugu Jiong (独孤颎/獨孤熲), was a key official and general of the Chinese Sui Dynasty. He was a key advisor to Emperor Wen of Sui and instrumental in the campaign against rival the Chen Dynasty, allowing Sui to destroy Chen in 589 and reunify China. In 607, he offended Emperor Wen's son Emperor Yang of Sui by criticizing Emperor Yang's large rewards to Tujue's submissive Qimin Khan and was executed by Emperor Yang.
Dugu Xin, Xianbei name Qimitou (期彌頭), known as Dugu Ruyuan before 540, was a prominent military general and official during the chaotic Northern and Southern Dynasties period. In 534, Dugu Xin followed Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei to the west to join the warlord Yuwen Tai, and in the ensuing years led Western Wei forces against their archnemesis, the Eastern Wei. Despite an early debacle, he captured the former Northern Wei capital Luoyang from Eastern Wei in 537. He rose to high ranks under Yuwen Tai, and his eldest daughter married Yuwen Tai's son Yuwen Yu. When the Northern Zhou dynasty replaced Western Wei, Dugu Xin was created Duke of Wei (衛國公), but was soon forced by the powerful regent Yuwen Hu to commit suicide for challenging him.