Emperor Cheng of Jin

Emperor Cheng of Jin (Chinese: 晉成帝; pinyin: Jìn Chéng Dì; Wade–Giles: Chin Ch'eng-ti; 321 – 26 July 342), personal name Sima Yan (司馬衍), courtesy name Shigen (世根), was an emperor of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (265-420). He was the eldest son of Emperor Ming and became the crown prince on April 1, 325. During his reign, the administration was largely dominated by a succession of regents—initially his uncle Yu Liang, then Wang Dao, then the joint administration of He Chong (何充) and another uncle Yu Bing (庾冰). He became emperor at age four, and soon after his accession to the throne, the disastrous rebellion of Su Jun weakened Jin forces for decades.

Emperor Cheng of Jin (晉成帝)
Family name: Sima (司馬; Sīmǎ)
Given name: Yan (衍, Yǎn)
Temple name: Xianzong (顯宗, Xiǎnzōng)
Posthumous name: Cheng (成, Chéng),
literary meaning: "successful"

Family background

Sima Yan was born as the oldest son of Emperor Ming of Jin, who was crown prince at that time, by his wife Crown Princess Yu Wenjun, in 321. After Emperor Ming took the throne in 323 following the death of his father Emperor Yuan, he created Crown Princess Yu empress, but did not immediately create Prince Yan crown prince, until 325.

In fall 325, Emperor Ming grew ill. He entrusted the four-year-old Crown Prince Yan to a group of high-level officials, including Sima Yang (司馬羕) the Prince of Xiyang, Wang Dao, Bian Kun (卞壼), Chi Jian (郗鑒), Lu Ye (陸瞱), Wen Jiao, and Empress Yu's brother Yu Liang, perhaps intending that they lead by group with a balance of power. He died soon thereafter. Crown Prince Yan took the throne as Emperor Cheng.


Yu Liang's regency

Initially, the officials were in charge together, but as Empress Dowager Yu became regent, Yu Liang became effectively the most powerful official in the administration. He changed from the lenient policies of Wang (who was prime minister during Emperor Ming's reign) to stricter applications of laws and regulations, which offended the officials accustomed to Wang's lenience. Further, he became apprehensive of the generals Tao Kan and Zu Yue (祖約) -- neither of whom was mentioned in the list of honors and promotions announced by Emperor Ming's will and believed that Yu had erased their names from the will—and Su Jun, who had allowed many criminals to join his army. In 326, he alienated public opinion by falsely accusing Sima Yang's brother Sima Zong (司馬宗) the Prince of Nandun of treason and killing him and deposing Sima Yang.

The Su Jun Disturbance

In 327, apprensive of Su, Yu decided to try to strip his military command by promoting him to the minister of agriculture—a position that did not involve commanding troops. After initially hesitating, Su eventually refused and formed an alliance with Zu against Yu. Upon hearing this, Wen, whom Yu had made the governor of Jiang Province (江州, modern Jiangxi) to defend against Tao, the governor of Jing Province (荊州, modern Hubei), wanted to quickly move to help defend the capital Jiankang, as did the local forces to the east of the capital, but Yu declined all help, wanting Wen to remain in position against Tao and believing that he can defeat Su easily. Fearful that Yu would be defeated by Su, Wen headed toward the capital any way, but before that Su was able to capture the capital in early 328 and take Emperor Cheng and Empress Dowager Yu hostage. Bian died in the battle, and Yu Liang was forced to flee to Wen. Su allowed his soldiers to pillage the capital, and officials and commoners alike had their possessions—as well as clothes—stripped by Su's army, which even seized Empress Dowager Yu's servant girls. Empress Dowager Yu, humiliated by Su and fearful of what was to come, soon died in anxiety.

Su organized a new government, with Wang Dao, whom Su respected, as the titular regent, but with Su himself in actual power. Meanwhile, Yu and Wen organized efforts to recapture the capital. Wen's cousin Wen Chong (溫充) suggested inviting Tao, a capable general with a sizable army, to be the supreme commander of the army. However, Tao, still resentful of Yu, initially refused. Eventually he relented and joined Wen and Yu. They advanced east toward Jiankang. In response, Su forcibly took Emperor Cheng to the fortress of Shitou and put him and his attendants under virtual arrest. Meanwhile, Wang was secretly ordering the commanderies to the east to rise against Su, and he eventually persuaded Su's general Lu Yong (路永) to defect with him to Wen and Tao's army as well. Chi also arrived with his forces from Guangling (廣陵, in modern Huai'an, Jiangsu).

The Su and anti-Su forces battled for months, indecisively, and despite the numeric advantage the anti-Su forces had, they were unable to prevail, leading Tao to at one point consider withdrawing. However, Wen was able to persuade him to stay and continuing the battles against Su. In the fall, during an assault on Shitou, the anti-Su forces initially suffered losses, but as Su was making a counterattack against them, he fell off his horse and was hit by spears. The anti-Su soldiers rushed him and decapitated him. Su's forces initially supported his brother Su Yi (蘇逸) as leader and continued to defend Shitou, but by early 329 were defeated.

In the aftermaths of Su Jun's defeat, with Jiankang having been heavily damaged by war, the top officials considered moving the capital to either Yuzhang (豫章, in modern Nanchang, Jiangxi) or Kuaiji (in modern Shaoxing, Zhejiang), but after Wang opposed, noting that Jiankang was in a better position to monitor the northern defenses against Later Zhao, the capital remained at Jiankang. Wen was requested to remain in Jiankang as regent, but he, believing that Emperor Ming intended Wang to serve that role, yielded the position to Wang. Meanwhile, Yu Liang, initially offering to resign all of his posts and go into exile, accepted a provincial governor post.

In light of his mother's death, the eight-year-old Emperor Cheng appeared to have been raised by his paternal grandmother, Lady Xun, from this point on.

Wang Dao's regency

In late 329, Wen Jiao died, and the general Guo Mo (郭默) soon assassinated his successor Liu Yin (劉胤) and seized Jing Province for himself. Wang Dao initially wanted to avoid another war and placated Guo, but Tao Kan and Yu Liang opposed, and their forces quickly converged on Jiang Province's capital Xunyang (尋陽, in modern Jiujiang, Jiangxi) in 330, killing Guo.

Meanwhile, during and after the Su Jun Disturbance, Jin forces in central China, without the central government's aid, were unable to hold their positions and eventually lost most of central China to Later Zhao. Key cities lost during this time included the old capital Luoyang, Shouchun (壽春, in modern Lu'an, Anhui), and Xiangyang (襄陽, in modern Xiangfan, Hubei), although Xiangyang was recaptured in 332. In 333, Jin also lost Ning Province (寧州, modern Yunnan and Guizhou) to Cheng Han (but regained it in 339).

As regent, Wang largely restored his earlier policy of lenience and lax enforcement of the laws, greatly stabilizing the political scene but also leading to the spreading of corruption and incompetence. Eventually, in 338, Yu Liang tried to persuade Chi Jian to join him in moving to depose Wang, but after Chi refused, Yu did not carry out his plan.

In 336, Emperor Cheng married his wife Empress Du. Both of them were 15.

In 337, Murong Huang, the Xianbei chief who had been a Jin vassal with the Jin-bestowed title of Duke of Liaodong, claimed the title of Prince of Yan notwithstanding Jin's failure to grant him that title, effectively declaring independence and establishing Former Yan, although Murong Huang continued to claim to be a Jin vassal.

In 339, Yu wanted to make a major attack against Later Zhao, hoping to recapture central China, and Wang initially agreed with him, but after opposition by Chi and Cai Mo (蔡謨), Emperor Cheng ordered Yu not to carry out the war plans. Wang died in the fall of that year, and was succeeded by his assistant He Chong (何充) and Yu Liang's younger brother Yu Bing (庾冰). Emperor Cheng let He and Yu Bing decide most important matters, but also appeared to start making some decisions of his own. Yu Bing and He tried to reform some of the problems with Wang's regency, but did not appear very effective at doing so.

Late reign

After Wang Dao's death, Yu Liang resumed his plans for a campaign against Later Zhao, and this brought a major response by Later Zhao's emperor Shi Hu in late 339. Later Zhao forces inflicted great damage on many Jin cities and bases north of the Yangtze and captured Zhucheng (邾城, in modern Huanggang, Hubei). Humiliated, Yu cancelled the plans for a northern campaign, and he died in early 340.

Also in 340, Murong Huang formally requested that he be granted the title Prince of Yan. After lengthy debates among key officials about whether Murong Huang was still a faithful vassal, Emperor Cheng himself ruled that the request be granted.

In spring 341, Empress Du died. Emperor Cheng would not create another empress.

Later that year, Emperor Cheng decreed that the refugees from northern and central China, who had fled south during the times of Emperor Huai and Emperor Min, who had retained household registrations according to their native commanderies, be henceforth registered with the commanderies that they were now living in. This pragmatic move allowed the local commanderies to have greater manpower and reduced redundancy in local administrations.

In summer 342, Emperor Cheng grew gravely ill. He had two young sons -- Sima Pi and Sima Yi, then still in cradles, by his concubine Consort Zhou. Yu Bing, fearful that the Yus would lose power if a young emperor were named, persuaded Emperor Cheng that in the face of the powerful enemy Later Zhao that an older emperor should be named. Emperor Cheng agreed and designated his younger brother, Sima Yue the Prince of Langye be his heir, despite He Chong's opposition. He issued an edict entrusting his sons to Yu Bing, He, Sima Xi (司馬晞), Prince of Wuling, Sima Yu, Prince of Kuaiji (both paternal uncles), and Zhuge Hui (諸葛恢). He died soon thereafter and was succeeded by Prince Yue (as Emperor Kang).

Era names

  • Xianhe (咸和 xián hé) 326–335
  • Xiankang (咸康 xián kāng) 335–342


  • Parents:
    • Sima Shao, Emperor Ming (明皇帝 司馬紹; 299 – 325)
    • Empress Mingmu, of the Yu clan of Yingchuan (明穆皇后 潁川庾氏; 297 – 328), personal name Wenjun (文君)
  • Consorts and Issue:
  1. Empress Chenggong, of the Du clan of Jingzhao (成恭皇后 京兆杜氏; 321 – 341), personal name Lingyang (陵陽)
  2. Guiren, of the Zhou clan (貴人 周氏; d. 363)
    1. Sima Pi, Emperor Ai (哀皇帝 司馬丕; 341 – 365)
    2. Sima Yi, Duke Haixi (海西公 司馬奕; 342 – 386)
  3. Unknown
    1. Princess Xunyang (尋陽公主)
    2. Princess Nanping (南平公主)


Emperor Cheng of Jin
Born: 321 Died: 26 July 342
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Ming of Jin
Emperor of China
Eastern Jin
with Empress Dowager Yu (326–328)
Wang Dao (329–339)
Succeeded by
Emperor Kang of Jin

The Baopuzi (Chinese: 抱朴子; pinyin: Bàopǔzǐ; Wade–Giles: Pao-p'u-tzu; literally: "[Book of the] Master Who Embraces Simplicity"), written by the Jin dynasty scholar Ge Hong 葛洪 (283-343), is divided into esoteric Neipian 內篇 "Inner Chapters" and exoteric Waipian 外篇 "Outer Chapters". The Daoist Inner Chapters discuss topics such as techniques for xian 仙 "immortality; transcendence", Chinese alchemy, elixirs, and demonology. The Confucianist Outer Chapters discuss Chinese literature, Legalism, politics, and society.

Du Lingyang

Du Lingyang (321–341), formally Empress Chengong (成恭皇后) was an empress of the Jin dynasty (265-420) of China. Her husband was Emperor Cheng of Jin. (Some historians believe that her name was simply Du Ling, and that imperial archivists mistakenly attached the character "yang" to her name later. They point out that while the name of a county with the character "ling" in its name was changed pursuant to naming taboo, many names of places with "yang" in their names were not changed. However, there can be other explanations for this.)

Du Lingyang was the daughter of Du Yi (杜乂), a mid-level official and the hereditary Marquis of Dangyang, the grandson of the general Du Yu, who contributed much to Emperor Wu of Jin's conquest of Eastern Wu. Du Yi died early, and Du Lingyang, who did not have any brothers, was raised by her mother Lady Pei.

Du Lingyang was famed for her beauty and virtues, and Emperor Cheng married her as his empress in 336, when both of them were 15. He apparently favored her greatly, but she was childless. he died in 341, a year before he would die as well.

Emperor Ai of Jin

Emperor Ai of Jin (simplified Chinese: 晋哀帝; traditional Chinese: 晉哀帝; pinyin: Jìn Aī Dì; Wade–Giles: Chin Ai-ti; 341 – March 30, 365), personal name Sima Pi (司馬丕), courtesy name Qianling (千齡), was an emperor of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (265-420). During his brief reign, the actual powers were largely in the hands of his granduncle Sima Yu the Prince of Kuaiji, and the paramount general Huan Wen. According to historical accounts, he had an obsession with immortality, which resulted in his death, as died as the result of poisoning by pills given to him by magicians in 364 and in 365.

Emperor Kang of Jin

Emperor Kang of Jin (simplified Chinese: 晋康帝; traditional Chinese: 晉康帝; pinyin: Jìn Kāng Dì; Wade–Giles: Chin K'ang-ti; 322 – 17 November 344), personal name Sima Yue (司馬岳), courtesy name Shitong (世同), was an emperor of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (265-420). He was a son of Emperor Ming and younger brother (by the same mother) of Emperor Cheng. His reign was brief—only two years.

Emperor Ming of Jin

Emperor Ming of Jin (simplified Chinese: 晋明帝; traditional Chinese: 晉明帝; pinyin: Jìn Míng Dì; Wade–Giles: Chin Ming-ti; 299 – 18 October 325), personal name Sima Shao (司馬紹), courtesy name Daoji (道畿), was an emperor of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (265-420). During his brief reign (323-325), he led the weakened Jin out of domination by the warlord Wang Dun, but at his early death, the empire was left to his young son Emperor Cheng, and the fragile balance of power that he created was soon broken, leading to the Su Jun Disturbance and weakening the Jin state even further.

Empress Chenggong

Empress Chenggong may refer to:

Du Lingyang (321–341), wife of Emperor Cheng of Jin

Empress Xia (Song dynasty) (1136–1167), wife of Emperor Xiaozong of Song


Huanggang is a prefecture-level city in easternmost Hubei Province, China. It is situated to the north of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and is bounded in the north by the Dabie Mountains and is named after Mount Huanggang. It borders Henan in the north, Anhui in the east and Jiangxi in the south.

The city's administrative area covers 17,453 square kilometres (6,739 sq mi) and the total population was 7.4031 million as of the 2017 census, 366,769 of whom resided in the urban area. The Ezhou – Huanggang built-up (or metro) area was home to 1,035,496 inhabitants comprising (Echeng district and Huangzhou district of Huanggang). In 2007, the city is named China's top ten livable cities by Chinese Cities Brand Value Report, which was released at 2007 Beijing Summit of China Cities Forum.

List of Chinese monarchs

This list of Chinese monarchs includes rulers of China with various titles prior to the establishment of the Republic in 1912. From the Zhou dynasty until the Qin dynasty, rulers usually held the title "king" (Chinese: 王; pinyin: wáng). With the separation of China into different Warring States, this title had become so common that the unifier of China, the first Qin Emperor Qin Shihuang created a new title for himself, that of "emperor" (pinyin: huángdì). The title of Emperor of China continued to be used for the remainder of China's imperial history, right down to the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912. While many other monarchs existed in and around China throughout its history, this list covers only those with a quasi-legitimate claim to the majority of China, or those who have traditionally been named in king-lists. The following list of Chinese monarchs is in no way comprehensive.

Chinese sovereigns were known by many different names, and how they should be identified is often confusing. Sometimes the same emperor is commonly known by two or three separate names, or the same name is used by emperors of different dynasties. The tables below do not necessarily include all of an emperor's names – for example, posthumous names could run to more than twenty characters and were rarely used in historical writing – but, where possible, the most commonly used name or naming convention has been indicated.

These tables may not necessarily represent the most recently updated information on Chinese monarchs; please check the page for the relevant dynasty for possible additional information.

Follow these links to see how they are related:

Family tree of ancient Chinese emperors → Chinese emperors family tree (early) → Chinese emperors family tree (middle) → Chinese emperors family tree (late)

Military history of the Jin dynasty (266–420) and the Sixteen Kingdoms (304–439)

The military history of the Jin dynasty encompasses the period of Chinese military activity from the 266 AD to 420 AD. The Jin dynasty is usually divided into Western and Eastern Jin eras. Western Jin lasted from its usurpation of Cao Wei in 266 to 316 when the Uprising of the Five Barbarians split the empire and created a number of barbarian states in the north. The Jin court fled to Jiankang, starting the era of Eastern Jin, which ended in 420 when it was usurped by the Liu Song dynasty.

The Sixteen Kingdoms were a series of barbarian states occupying northern China after the fall of Western Jin. They were eventually extinguished by Northern Wei in 439 AD.

Murong De

Murong De (Chinese: 慕容德; 336–405), name changed in 400 to Murong Beide (慕容備德), courtesy name Xuanming (玄明), formally Emperor Xianwu of (Southern) Yan ((南)燕獻武帝), was the founding emperor of the Chinese/Xianbei state Southern Yan. He was the son of Former Yan's founding prince Murong Huang (Prince Wenming) and younger brother to both Former Yan emperor Murong Jun (Emperor Jingzhao) and Later Yan emperor Murong Chui (Emperor Wucheng), and therefore was an imperial prince and general during the times of both states. After Murong Chui's son Murong Bao lost most of Later Yan's territory to Northern Wei, Murong De took troops under his own command south and established Southern Yan, which secured modern Shandong, but failed to expand further, and was destroyed by Jin Dynasty (265-420) after Murong De's death and succession by his nephew Murong Chao.

Murong Huang

Murong Huang (Chinese: 慕容皝; 297–348), courtesy name Yuanzhen (元真), formally Prince Wenming of (Former) Yan ((前)燕文明王) was a ruler of the Xianbei state Former Yan and the commonly recognized founder of the state. When he first succeeded his father Murong Hui in 333, he carried the Jin Dynasty (265-420)-bestowed title Duke of Liaodong, but in 337 claimed the title of Prince of Yan, which is traditionally viewed as the founding date of Former Yan. (Emperor Cheng of Jin did retroactively recognize Murong Huang's princely title in 341 after much debate among Jin officials.) After his son Murong Jun completely broke away from Jin and claimed the title of emperor in 353, he was posthumoustly honored as Emperor Wenming of (Former) Yan with the temple name Taizu (太祖).

Sima Yan (disambiguation)

Sīmǎ Yán (司馬炎) is the personal name of Emperor Wu of Jin, the founding monarch of Jin dynasty (265–420).

Sima Yan also prefers to:

Sīmǎ Yǎn (司馬演), eleventh son of Emperor Wu of Jin;

Sīmǎ Yàn (司馬晏), another son of Emperor Wu of Jin and father of Emperor Min of Jin;

Sīmǎ Yǎn (司馬衍), personal name of Emperor Cheng of Jin.

Temple name

Temple names are commonly used when naming most Chinese, Korean (Goryeo and Joseon dynasties), and Vietnamese (such dynasties as Trần, Lý, and Lê) monarchs. They should not be confused with era names and posthumous names.

Compared to posthumous names, the use of temple names is more exclusive. Both titles were given after death to a ruler, but unlike the often elaborate posthumous name, a temple name almost always consists of only two characters:

an adjective: chosen to reflect the circumstances of the emperor's reign (such as "Martial" or "Lamentable"). The vocabulary overlaps with that of posthumous titles' adjectives, but for one emperor, the temple name's adjective character usually does not repeat as one of the many adjective characters in his posthumous name. The usual exception is "Filial" (孝). The founders are almost always either "High" (高) or "Grand" (太).

"emperor": either zǔ (祖) or zōng (宗).

Zu ("forefather") implies a progenitor, either a founder of a dynasty or a new line within an existing one. Zu is also given to monarchs with great accomplishment. The equivalent in Korean is jo (조), and tổ in Vietnamese.

Zong ("ancestor") is used in all other rulers. It is rendered as jong (종) in Korean, and tông in Vietnamese.The "temple" in "temple name" refers to the "grand temple" (太廟), also called "great temple" (大廟) or "ancestral temple" (祖廟), where crown princes and other royalty gathered to worship their ancestors. The ancestral tablets in the grand temple recorded the temple names of the rulers.

In earlier times, only rulers had temple names, such as Taihao (太昊). Temple names were assigned sporadically from the Shang dynasty and regularly from the Tang dynasty. Some Han emperors had their temple names permanently removed by their descendants in 190 AD. Temple names are the usual way to refer to emperors from the Tang dynasty up to the Ming dynasty. For the Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty (from 1368 AD), era names are often used instead.

In Korea, temple names are used to refer to kings of the early Goryeo (until 1274 AD), and kings and emperors of Joseon. For the Korean Empire, era names should be used, but the temple names are often used instead. In Vietnam, most rulers are known by their temple names, with the exception of Tây Sơn and Nguyễn monarchs, who are better known by their era names.

Numerous individuals who did not serve as monarch during their lifetime were posthumously promoted to "emperor" or "king" by their descendants and given temple names.

Timeline of Chinese history

This is a timeline of Chinese history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in China and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of China. See also the list of rulers of China, Chinese emperors family tree, dynasties in Chinese history and years in China.

Dates prior to 841 BC, the beginning of the Gonghe Regency, are provisional and subject to dispute.

Timeline of the Jin dynasty (265–420) and the Sixteen Kingdoms (304–439)

This is a timeline of the Jin dynasty (265–420) and the Sixteen Kingdoms (304–439).


Xiankang (咸康) was a Chinese era name used by several emperors of China. It may refer to:

Xiankang (335–342), era name used by Emperor Cheng of Jin

Xiankang (925–926), era name used by Wang Zongyan, emperor of Former Shu

Zhang Jun (prince)

Zhang Jun (張駿 Zhāng Jùn; 307–346), courtesy name Gongting (公庭), formally Duke Zhongcheng of Xiping (西平忠成公, posthumous name given by Jin Dynasty (265-420)) or Duke Wen of Xiping (西平文公, posthumous name used internally in Former Liang) was a ruler of the Chinese state Former Liang. During his reign, he at times used the Jin-created title of Duke of Xiping, but when forced to submit to Han Zhao and Later Zhao, he used the title Prince of Liang. Late in his reign, even when not under Later Zhao's pressure, he claimed the title of "Acting Prince of Liang." During the brief reign of his son Zhang Zuo, he was honored as Prince Wen of Liang (涼文王).

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