Emperor Wu of Liang

Emperor Wu of Liang (梁武帝) (464–549), personal name Xiao Yan (蕭衍), courtesy name Shuda (叔達), nickname Lian'er (練兒), was the founding emperor of the Liang Dynasty of Chinese history. His reign, until the end, was one of the most stable and prosperous during the Southern Dynasties. He came from the same family that ruled Southern Qi, but from a different branch.

Emperor Wu created universities and extending the Confucian civil service exams, demanding that sons of nobles study. He was well read himself and wrote poetry and patronized the arts. Although for governmental affairs he was Confucian in values, he embraced Buddhism as well. He himself was attracted to many Indian traditions. He banned the sacrifice of animals and was against execution. It was said that he received the Buddhist precepts during his reign, earning him the nickname The Bodhisattva Emperor. The Emperor is the namesake of the Emperor Liang Jeweled Repentance (梁皇寳懺), a widely read and major Buddhist text in China and Korea.

At the end of his reign, his overly lenient attitude on his clan's and officials' corruption and lack of dedication to the state came at a heavy price; when the general Hou Jing rebelled, few came to his aid, and Hou captured the capital Jiankang, holding Emperor Wu and his successor Emperor Jianwen under close control and plunging the entire Liang state into anarchy. Emperor Liang himself died while under house arrest, with some historians believing that Hou starved him to death.

Xiao Yan
Liang Wudi
Emperor of the Liang Dynasty
Predecessordynasty established, Emperor He as Emperor of Southern Qi
SuccessorEmperor Jianwen
Pretender(s)Xiao Zhengde (from 548 to 549)
Died549 (aged 85)
Full name
Family name: Xiāo (蕭)
Given name: Yǎn (衍)
Posthumous name
Wǔ (武),
literary meaning: "martial"
Temple name
Gāozǔ (高祖)
HouseLanling Xiao
FatherXiao Shunzhi
MotherZhang Shangrou


Xiao Yan was born in 464, during the reign of Emperor Xiaowu of Liu Song. His father Xiao Shunzhi (蕭順之), who claimed ancestry from the great Han Dynasty prime minister Xiao He, was a distant cousin of the Liu Song general Xiao Daocheng, and was part of Xiao Daocheng's close circle of advisors in Xiao Daocheng's eventual seizure of the Liu Song throne and establishment of Southern Qi (as its Emperor Gao) in 479. For Xiao Shunzhi's contributions, Xiao Daocheng created him the Marquess of Linxiang and made him a general. Xiao Yan was Xiao Shunzhi's third son, and his mother was Xiao Shunzhi's wife Zhang Zhirou (張至柔), who was also the mother of his older brothers Xiao Yi (蕭懿) and Xiao Fu (蕭敷), his younger brother Xiao Chang (蕭暢), and his younger sister Xiao Linyi (蕭令嫕). Lady Zhang died in 471, predating Xiao Shunzhi's becoming a marquess during Southern Qi.

Xiao Yan had six other brothers born of Xiao Shunzhi's concubines. One of them, Xiao Xiu (475–518) is now mainly remembered because of his comparatively well-preserved funerary statuary ensemble near Nanjing.[1][2][3]

Around 481 or 482, Xiao Yan married Chi Hui (郗徽), the daughter of the Liu Song official Chi Ye (郗燁) and the Princess Xunyang. She bore him three daughters—Xiao Yuyao (蕭玉姚), Xiao Yuwan (蕭玉婉), and Xiao Yuhuan (蕭玉嬛), but no sons.

Career as Southern Qi official and general

Xiao Yan was considered intelligent and handsome in his youth, and he started his career as a Southern Qi official by serving as military assistant for Emperor Wu's son Xiao Zilun (蕭子倫) the Prince of Baling, and later served on the staff of the prime minister Wang Jian. Wang was said to be impressed by Xiao Yan's talents and appearance, and he once said, "Mr. Xiao will be Shizhong [侍中, a high-level post] before he turns 30, and his honor will be innumerable after he turns 30." Xiao Yan also associated with Wang's successor as prime minister, Emperor Wu's son Xiao Ziliang (蕭子良) the Prince of Jingling, and became one of eight young officials talented in the literary arts particularly befriended by Xiao Ziliang—along with Fan Yun, Xiao Chen (蕭琛), Ren Fang (任昉), Wang Rong (王融), Xie Tiao (謝朓), Shen Yue, and Lu Chui (陸倕). After his father Xiao Shunzhi died in 490, he temporary left governmental service, but subsequently returned, and by 493 was serving on Xiao Ziliang's staff, but he did not join Wang Rong's plan to start a coup to have Xiao Ziliang made emperor when Emperor Wu grew ill in 493; the throne, instead, went to the crown prince, Emperor Wu's grandson Xiao Zhaoye. Xiao Yan subsequently was invited by the prime minister Xiao Luan to serve on his staff, and when Xiao Luan subsequently overthrew the frivolous Xiao Zhaoye in a coup, Xiao Yan was made a general and ordered to defend the important city Shouyang (壽陽, in modern Lu'an, Anhui). When Xiao Luan later took the throne (as Emperor Ming), Xiao Yan was created the Baron of Jianyang. In 495, when Northern Wei forces invade, Xiao Yan was on the frontline fighting Northern Wei troops, and he distinguished himself under the command of Wang Guangzhi (王廣之). Later that year, when Emperor Ming suspected the general Xiao Chen (蕭諶) of treason and executed him, it was Xiao Yan that he sent to arrest and executed Xiao Chen's brother Xiao Dan (蕭誕) the governor of Si Province (司州, modern southeastern Henan).

In 497, with Northern Wei again attacking, Xiao Yan was one of the generals that Emperor Ming sent to aid the embattled Yong Province (雍州, modern southwestern Henan and northwestern Hubei). Even though both he and his commander, Cui Huijing (崔慧景), were subsequently defeated by Northern Wei forces in battle, in 498 Xiao Yan was made the governor of Yong Province and the defender of Yong Province's capital, the important city Xiangyang (襄陽, in modern Xiangfan, Hubei), and he continued in that post after Emperor Ming's death and succession by his son Xiao Baojuan. It was at Xiangyang that Xiao Yan's wife Chi Hui died in 499. Xiao Yan would not take another wife for the rest of his life, although he would have a number of concubines.

Civil war against Xiao Baojuan

When Xiao Baojuan became Southern Qi's emperor in 498 at age 15, his power was initially curbed by several high-level officials that his father Emperor Ming left in charge—including Emperor Ming's cousins Jiang Shi (江祏) and Jiang Si (江祀), Xiao Baojuan's own uncle Liu Xuan (劉暄), Xiao Baojuan's cousin Xiao Yaoguang (蕭遙光) the Prince of Shi'an, the senior official Xu Xiaosi (徐孝嗣), and the general Xiao Tanzhi (蕭坦之). The six officials each handled important matters of state according to their will and paid the young emperor little deference, drawing his ire. Xiao Yan, hearing that the young emperor had a reputation for being violent and frivolous, secretly prepared for eventual civil war at his post at Yong Province, but was unable to persuade his older brother Xiao Yi, who was then the acting governor of Ying Province (郢州, modern eastern Hubei), to do the same.

In 499, receiving report that the high-level officials were planning to, on account of his irrational behavior, remove him from the throne, Xiao Baojuan acted first and executed Jiang Shi and Jiang Si. Xiao Yaoguang, who wanted to be emperor himself and feared being the next target, started an unsuccessful coup and was soon defeated and killed. However, despite the contributions of Xiao Tanzhi, Xu Xiaosi, Liu Xuan, and the generals Shen Wenji (沈文季) and Cao Hu (曹虎) in defeating Xiao Yaoguang, Xiao Baojuan soon had all of them killed as well on suspicion of plotting coups, leading to widespread sense of terror among central government officials. This led to a rebellion by the senior general Chen Xianda (陳顯達) from his post at Jiang Province (江州, modern Jiangxi and Fujian), which was quickly defeated as well, fanning Xiao Baojuan's sense of invulnerability. In fear, the general Pei Shuye (裴叔業), who controlled Shouyang as the governor of Yu Province (豫州, modern central Anhui), surrendered Shouyang to Northern Wei in 500, despite Xiao Yan's counsel against it.

Xiao Baojuan sent Cui Huijing to try to recapture Shouyang. Cui Huijing, however, as soon as he left the capital Jiankang, turned his army around and marched on the capital, hoping to overthrow Xiao Baojuan and replace him with his brother Xiao Baoxuan (蕭寶玄) the Prince of Jiangxia. Cui was initially successful, surrounding Xiao Baojuan's troops inside the palace complex. However, Xiao Yi, upon hearing news of Cui's rebellion, marched troops under his command to relieve the palace siege. He routed Cui's forces, and Cui was killed while trying to escape. Xiao Baojuan made Xiao Yi the prime minister, but soon killed him as well. Upon hearing of Xiao Yi's death, Xiao Yan announced a rebellion.

Xiao Baojuan sent an army commanded by the general Liu Shanyang (劉山陽) against Xiao Yan, but Xiao Yan convinced Xiao Yingzhou (蕭穎冑), the chief of staff of Xiao Baojuan's younger brother Xiao Baorong the Prince of Nankang, who was then governor of Jing Province (荊州, modern central and western Hubei), that Liu was intending to attack both Jing and Yong Province. Xiao Yingzhou therefore entered into an alliance with Xiao Yan, and Xiao Yingzhou surprised and killed Liu, and then declared that his and Xiao Yan's intent was to declare Xiao Baorong emperor, although he did not immediately have Xiao Baorong take imperial title. (Privately, Xiao Yan's staff was distrustful of Xiao Yingzhou and wanted to seize Xiao Baorong by force, but Xiao Yan, not willing to create a division in the coalition at that moment, concentrated on advancing east against Xiao Baojuan rather than to seize Xiao Baorong.)

In spring 501, Xiao Yingzhou declared Xiao Baorong emperor (as Emperor He), a declaration that Xiao Yan recognized. Xiao Yingzhou had himself and Xiao Yan given equivalent titles, and Xiao Yingzhou remained at Jiangling (江陵, in modern Jingzhou, Hubei), the capital of Jing Province, with the new emperor, while Xiao Yan continued to advance against the old emperor Xiao Baojuan. With Xiao Baojuan having lost the love of his generals (and having to fight off several more coup attempts within Jiankang itself), Xiao Yan was able to win battle after battle, capturing Yingcheng (郢城, in modern Wuhan, Hubei) in summer 501, and then forcing the surrender of Chen Bozhi (陳伯之), the governor of Jiang Province, in fall 501. In winter 501, he reached Jiankang and quickly captured the outer city, and then put the palace under siege. Meanwhile, Xiao Yingzhou, unable to fend off attacks that the general Xiao Gui (蕭璝), loyal to Xiao Baojuan, was launching from the west, died in anxiety. Xiao Yan's brother Xiao Dan (蕭儋) quickly arrived in Jiangling to take over custody of Emperor He, along with Xiao Yingzhou's lieutenant Xiaohou Xiang (夏侯詳). From that point on, the control of the new emperor was no longer contested.

Around the new year 502, Xiao Baojuan's generals Wang Zhenguo (王珍國) and Zhang Ji (張稷), fearful that Xiao Baojuan would kill them because they were unable to lift the siege, assassinated Xiao Baojuan and surrendered. Xiao Yan entered the palace triumphantly, and, making Xiao Zhaoye's mother Empress Dowager Wang Baoming titular regent, he had himself made the supreme commander and the Duke of Jian'an.

Establishment of the Liang dynasty

Xiao Yan soon began to carry out plans to take over imperial title himself. Consulting with his old friends Shen Yue and Fan Yun, he began to put his brothers and associates into important posts, while having Empress Dowager Wang grant him higher and higher honors and titles, while delaying Emperor He's return to the capital. He also began to execute Emperor He's brothers and cousins one by one, to eliminate the possibility of their resisting his moves. (Emperor He's brother Xiao Baoyin the Prince of Poyang, however, would escape to Northern Wei, and for decades would pose a threat as a Northern Wei general.) He had himself created the Duke of Liang, and then the Prince of Liang, and given the nine bestowments, all signs of impending takeover. Only with these preparations in place did he have Emperor He sent back toward the capital. Before Emperor He reached Jiankang, however, in spring 502, while Emperor He had only reached Gushu (姑孰, in modern Ma'anshan, Anhui), Xiao Yan had him issue an edict giving the throne to Xiao Yan, ending Southern Qi and beginning Liang Dynasty (with Xiao Yan as its Emperor Wu). Xiao Yan created Emperor He the Prince of Baling, but soon had him put to death, ending Emperor Ming's line (except for Xiao Baoyin, and Xiao Baoyi who was born disabled), although he treated Emperor Gao's and Emperor Wu's remaining progeny (most of those two emperors' progeny having been slaughtered by Emperor Ming) with honor and respect, making many of them his officials, reasoning that he and Southern Qi's imperial clan had the same origin. Emperor Wu created his infant son Xiao Tong, who was born of his concubine Consort Ding during the war against Xiao Baojuan, crown prince. (He had previously adopted his brother Xiao Hong (蕭宏)'s son Xiao Zhengde as his son, and Xiao Zhengde wanted to be crown prince; instead, after creating Xiao Tong crown prince, Emperor Wu rescinded the adoption and returned Xiao Zhengde to Xiao Hong's household, drawing Xiao Zhengde's resentment.)

Early Reign

The early reign of Emperor Wu was considered to be Liang Dynasty's prime. He was considered diligent and frugal, and he tried to foster willingness for his officials to have different opinions than his. However, an immediate troubling sign for his reign, which would become increasingly serious as time went on, was how he appeared to be willing to tolerate corruption by his own family members, particularly his brother Xiao Hong the Prince of Linchuan, and those high-level officials who he felt contributed to his establishment of Liang.

Emperor Wu also became the first emperor in Southern Dynasties' history to explicitly grant prime ministerial authorities to designated officials who were not prime ministers in name. He first granted those authorities to Fan Yun, and after Fan's death in 503, granted those authorities to Zhou She and Xu Mian, even though neither officially carried a high rank until late in their careers.

Two immediate threats that Emperor Wu had to deal with upon ascending the throne were rebellions by Chen Bozhi, who did not feel secure in his position despite Emperor Wu's permitting him to remain as the governor of Jiang Province, and Liu Jilian (劉季連) the governor of Yi Province (modern Sichuan and Chongqing), who was similarly apprehensive. By winter 502, however, Chen had been defeated by Emperor Wu's general Wang Mao (王茂) and was forced to flee to Northern Wei. In spring 503, Liu surrendered to Emperor Wu's general Deng Yuanqi (鄧元起), and the realm was pacified.

However, in fall 503, Emperor Xuanwu of Northern Wei, with a mind of having Xiao Baoyin reestablish Southern Qi as a puppet state, commissioned Xiao Baoyin and Chen with armies, and further sent his father Emperor Xiaowen's cousin Yuan Cheng (元澄) the Prince of Rencheng to lead a force to attack Liang, starting a war that lasted several years. Both sides had victories. However, Liang lost the important border city Yiyang (義陽, in modern Xinyang, Henan) in fall 504, and in spring 505, the general Xiahou Daoqian (夏侯道遷) rebelled and surrendered another important border city, Nanzheng (南鄭, in modern Hanzhong, Shaanxi) to Northern Wei. (It was in the aftermaths of Xiahou's rebellion that the first serious instance of Emperor Wu's refusal to punish a family member happened, as his nephew Xiao Yuanzao (蕭淵藻) the Marquess of Xichang, angry that when he rendezvoused with Deng Yuanqi that Deng took the best horses, assassinated Deng and falsely accused Deng of treason. While Emperor Wu discovered that Xiao Yuanzao's accusations were false and posthumously honored Deng, he took no punishment against Xiao Yuanzao other than demoting his rank.) In 505, Emperor Wu launched a major counterattack, commanded by Xiao Hong, with Liang's best troops. However, the apprehensive Xiao Hong stopped his army at Luokou (洛口, in modern Bengbu, Anhui) and refused to advance, despite his generals' urging. Meanwhile, in spring 506, the general Wei Rui (韋叡) was able to capture Hefei (合肥, in modern Hefei, Anhui), taken by Northern Wei when Pei Shuye surrendered Shouyang to Northern Wei. In fall 506, Xiao Hong's army, stationed at Luokou for nearly a year without advancing, had an attack of night terror, and Xiao Hong, in fear, fled, causing his army to collapse without a battle. When Northern Wei forces next attacked the fortress of Zhongli (鍾離, in modern Bengbu as well), however, they were defeated by a Liang army commanded by Wei and Cao Jingzong (曹景宗) in spring 507, allowing Liang to keep Zhongli and effectively ending the war. After the battle of Zhongli, there would continue to be border battles from time to time, but no large scale war for years.

In 511, when Emperor Wu received petition from an old peasant, who stopped him on the road when he was in the vicinity of Jiankang to offer sacrifices to heaven, that his criminal laws were too severe for the commoners (in particular, if one person committed a crime, the entire clan is punished), while being overly relaxing for officials and nobles, Emperor Wu considered revisions to the law. However, at the end, all he carried out was that criminals' clan members would not be required to undergo hard labor if they had seniors or children in their household, and he did not further reform his laws.

Starting in 514, Emperor Wu started carrying out a major construction project, downstream from Shouyang on the Huai River—a major dam that was intended to create a reservoir to flood Shouyang to allow Liang to capture the city. He started the project despite opposition from his engineers (who believed that the Huai River contained too much dirt in its water for a dam of the size necessary to be built). Despite engineering difficulties, however, the dam was successfully built by the general Kang Xuan (康絢) -- albeit at a major loss of life among the workers, due to the amount of work necessary and the diseases that occurred among them. (Zizhi Tongjian described the casualty rate to be at 70% to 80%.) Northern Wei's regent Empress Dowager Hu (who became regent over Emperor Xiaoming after Emperor Xuanwu's death in 515) sent armies commanded by Li Ping (李平) to attack Kang's escort forces, but could not damage the dam, which was finally completed in summer 516. it was described to be four and a half kilometers long, and the army pitched camp on the dam itself. Kang skillfully maintained the dam, and Shouyang began to be flooded. However, Emperor Wu recalled Kang to the capital and put the general Zhang Baozi (張豹子) in charge of the dam. Zhang, far less skillful and attentive than Kang, did not maintain the dam. With Huai River's water level greatly rising in winter 516, the dam collapsed, leading to more than 100,000 deaths downstream, and Shouyang was saved.

It is unclear when Emperor Wu began to be a devout Buddhist, but by 517 Buddhist influences on his policies began to be plain. That year, he ordered that imperial textile factories not weave gods and animals on clothes, because when the clothes undergo further manufacturing, the patterns might be damaged, showing disrespect to the gods and hurtfulness to the animals. In a further break from Confucian tradition, he considered making sacrifices to imperial ancestors vegetarian, instead of traditional animal sacrifices of goats, pigs, and cows, and the sacrifices were first changed to using dried meat, and then eventually to mock animals made from flour, vegetables, and fruits, and this change was despite popular opinion that this would bring displeasure from the ancestors.

Middle Reign

In 522, Emperor Wu's nephew Xiao Zhengde—whom he had previously adopted but then unadopted when Xiao Tong was born—resentful that he was not created crown prince, fled to Northern Wei, claiming to be the deposed crown prince and requesting Northern Wei aid. However, Northern Wei did not take his claim seriously, and in 523 Xiao Zhengde fled back to Liang. Instead of punishing Xiao Zhengde, however, Emperor Wu merely rebuked him tearfully, and in fact restored him to his title of Marquess of Xifeng.

In winter 523, with his state plagued by forgeries of its copper coins, Emperor Wu abolished copper coins and started minting iron coins. (The actual fiscal impact of this act was unclear, but traditional Chinese historians generally considered iron to be unsuitable to use for coinage.)

In 524, Emperor Wu launched a number of attacks on Northern Wei's southern territory, with Northern Wei forces occupied with fighting agrarian rebellions to the north and west. Liang forces largely met little resistance. Further, in spring 525, the Northern Wei general Yuan Faseng (元法僧) surrendered the key city of Pengcheng (彭城, in modern Xuzhou, Jiangsu) to Liang. However, in summer 525, Emperor Wu's son Xiao Zong (蕭綜), who suspected that he was actually the son of Southern Qi's emperor Xiao Baojuan (because his mother Consort Wu was formerly Xiao Baojuan's concubine and had given birth to him only seven months after she became Emperor Wu's concubine), in turn surrendered Pengcheng to Northern Wei, ending Liang's advances in the northeast, although in summer 526, Shouyang fell to Liang troops after Emperor Wu successfully reemployed the damming strategy. For the next several years, Liang continued to make minor gains on the borders with Northern Wei.

Over the years, Emperor Wu had increasingly given additional authorities to Xiao Tong the Crown Prince, and the relationship between father and son was dear. However, in 526, after the death of Xiao Tong's mother Consort Ding Lingguang (丁令光), the relationship would deteriorate. Xiao Tong sought out an appropriate place to bury Consort Ding, but while he was doing so, a land owner bribed the eunuch Yu Sanfu (俞三副) into convincing Emperor Wu that that piece of land would bring good fortune for the emperor, and so Emperor Wu bought the land and buried Consort Ding there. However, once Consort Ding was buried, a Taoist monk informed Xiao Tong that he believed that the land would bring ill fortune for Consort Ding's oldest son—Xiao Tong. Xiao Tong therefore allowed the monk to bury a few items intended to dissolve the ill fortune, such as wax ducks, at the position reserved for the oldest son. Later on, when one of Xiao Tong's attendants, Bao Miaozhi (鮑邈之), was squeezed out of Xiao Tong's inner circles by another attendant, Wei Ya (魏雅), he, in resentment, reported to Emperor Wu that Wei had carried out sorcery on Xiao Tong's behalf. When Emperor Wu investigated, waxed ducks were found, and Emperor Wu became surprised and angry, and wanted to investigate further. He only stopped the investigation when he was advised to do so by the prime minister Xu Mian, executing only the Taoist monk who had suggested the burial of wax ducks. Xiao Tong became humiliated in the affair, and was never able to clear himself completely in his father's eyes.

In 527, Emperor Wu made his first offering of himself to the service of Buddha (捨身, sheshen) at Tongtai Monastery (同泰寺), spending three days there.

In 528, after a coup in Northern Wei, with the warlord Erzhu Rong overthrowing Empress Dowager Hu (after she killed her own son, Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei, with poison), a number of Northern Wei officials, including Yuan Yue (元悅) the Prince of Ru'nan, Yuan Yu (元彧) the Prince of Linhuai, and Yuan Hao the Prince of Beihai, fled to Liang, and a number of other officials surrendered territories they controlled to Liang. In winter 528, Emperor Wu created Yuan Hao the Prince of Wei—intending to have him lay claim to the Northern Wei throne and, if successful, become a Liang vassal—and commissioned his general Chen Qingzhi (陳慶之) with an army to escort Yuan Hao back to Northern Wei. Despite the small size of Chen's army, he won battle after battle, and in spring 529, after Chen captured Suiyang (睢陽, in modern Shangqiu, Henan), Yuan Hao, with Emperor Wu's approval, proclaimed himself the emperor of Northern Wei. In summer 529, with Northern Wei troops unable to stand up to Chen, Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei fled the Northern Wei capital Luoyang, and Yuan Hao took it. However, Yuan Hao secretly wanted to rebel against Liang, and when Chen requested Emperor Wu to send reinforcements, Yuan Hao sent Emperor Wu a submission advising against it, and Emperor Wu, believing Yuan Hao, did not send additional troops. Soon, Erzhu Rong and Emperor Xiaozhuang counterattacked, and Luoyang fell. Yuan Hao fled and was killed in flight, and Chen's own army was destroyed, although Chen himself was able to flee back to Liang. Emperor Wu, realizing the impossibility of the task he gave Chen, nevertheless created Chen the Marquess of Yongxing in recognition of his victories.

In fall 529, Emperor Wu made his second offering of himself to the service of Buddha at Tongtai Monastery—but contrary to the first time he did, when he simply spent three days at the monastery, he stripped himself of imperial clothing and wore those of monks, and spent all day carrying out monastic tasks, including daily chores and giving of lectures on the Nirvana Sutra. He spent 12 days at the monastery, and returned to the palace only after the imperial offices made a huge donation to it—formally, to ransom "the Emperor Bodhisattva."

In 530, Emperor Wu made another attempt to establish a vassal regime in Northern Wei—by creating Yuan Yue the Prince of Wei, and commissioning Yuan Yue's uncle Fan Zun (范遵) with an army to escort Yuan Yue back to Northern Wei. Yuan Yue made some advances, particularly in light of the disturbance precipitated soon thereafter when Emperor Xiaozhuang ambushed and killed Erzhu Rong and was in turn overthrown by Erzhu Rong's nephew Erzhu Zhao and cousin Erzhu Shilong. However, Yuan Yue realized that the Erzhus then became firmly in control of Luoyang and that he would be unable to defeat them, and so returned to Liang in winter 530.

Xiao Tong's Death

Xiao Tong.

In 531, Xiao Tong who was the Crown Prince at the time died, and Emperor Wu personally attended his wake and buried him in a tomb appropriate for an emperor. He also summoned Xiao Tong's oldest son, Xiao Huan (蕭歡) the Duke of Huarong back to the capital Jiankang, preparing to create Xiao Huan crown prince to replace his father, as would be appropriate under Confucian principles of succession. However, still resentful over the wax duck affair, he hesitated for days without carrying out the creation, and finally did not do so. Instead, against popular opinion, he created Xiao Tong's younger brother, also by Consort Ding, Xiao Gang crown prince. To compensate Xiao Tong's three sons, he created the princes of large commandery—Xiao Huan the Prince of Yuzhang, Xiao Yu (蕭譽) the Prince of Hedong, and Xiao Cha the Prince of Yueyang, but his grandsons continued to resent him.

In 532, with Northern Wei again in civil war after the general Gao Huan rose against the Erzhus, Emperor Wu against sent an army to escort Yuan Yue back to Northern Wei, and subsequently, Gao Huan welcomed Yuan Yue, but then decided against making Yuan Yue emperor. Subsequently, Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei, whom Gao made emperor, had Yuan Yue executed.

In 534, with Mars seen in the Dipper constellation—traditionally thought to be a sign that the emperor would be forced to leave the palace—Emperor Wu tried to divert the ill fortune by walking barefoot around his palace. However, he soon heard that Northern Wei's Emperor Xiaowu had fled Luoyang in a dispute with Gao splitting Northern Wei into two separate countries. Wu, both glad and embarrassed, stated, "Is it that even barbarians correspond to astrological signs?"

Late Reign

Liang Wudi 3
Wu in his late reign.

With Northern Wei divided into Eastern Wei and Western Wei in light of Emperor Xiaowu's flight, Emperor Wu initially continued to send his forces to make minor territorial gains on the borders, against both Eastern Wei and Western Wei, for several years. It had been the case throughout Emperor Wu's reign that he was overly lenient to his relatives and high-level officials, but the trend appeared to become more severe late in his reign. His sons, all imperial princes, also grew increasingly disobedient of central authority, often acting as de facto emperors within their provincial domains.

By 537, Emperor Wu was at a détente with Eastern Wei, and ambassadors from both states often visited the other. While there was no such formal arrangement with Western Wei, there appeared to be few border conflicts after this point. With Eastern Wei and Western Wei locked into war, Liang was largely at peace. With Zhou She having died in 524 and Xu Mian having died in 535, Emperor Wu largely entrusted the government to Zhu Yi and He Jingrong (何敬容). While He was known for integrity, he lacked political skills, and Zhu became the de facto prime minister, wielding great power and amassing wealth. While Zhu was skillful and capable, he was also regarded as corrupt and jealous of others. His hold on power was particularly increased when He was dismissed in 544 over a corruption scandal involving the brother of his concubine.

In 539, based on Zhu's recommendation, Emperor Wu carried out a reorganization of the provincial divisions, placing the provinces into five classes based on their sizes and populations. After the reorganization, there were 108 provinces in total (20 of the first class, 10 of the second class, eight of the third class, 23 of the fourth class, and 21 of the fifth class), with the smaller provinces often consisting of single villages in southern and southwestern border regions.

In 541, the Vietnamese people of Jiao Province (交州, roughly modern Hanoi, Vietnam), dissatisfied at the cruel rule of the governor Xiao Zi (蕭諮) the Marquess of Wulin (Emperor Wu's nephew), declared a rebellion, led by Lý Bôn. The Liang forces could not put down Lý Bôn's rebellion quickly, and Lý Bôn eventually declared himself emperor of Vietnam in 544, fighting a guerilla war with Liang. Liang forces would not be driven out until 550.

In 545, Emperor Wu's official He Chen (賀琛) wrote a submission Emperor Wu to correct four matters—the corruption of officials, the wastefulness in the luxurious style of living among officials and the population at large, the harshness of penal laws, and the overspending on construction projects (mostly temples). Emperor Wu was exceedingly angry and rejected He's suggestions. Commenting on this incident, the historian Sima Guang wrote the following about Emperor Wu:

The emperor was filially pious, loving, humble, frugal, knowledgeable, and good at writing. He extensively studied mysticism, astrology, horseriding, archery, music, calligraphy, and weiqi. He worked hard, and even in the coldest winter times, he would get up at the fourth watch [between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.] to review important matters of state, and as his pen-wielding hand is exposed to the cold air, his skin would break. Ever since the era of Tianjian [from 502 to 519], he became a Buddhist and ate only vegetarian meals, not meat, and his single daily meal only contained vegetables and rough rice grains. Sometimes, when he was busy, he would flush his mouth and no longer eat after noon. He wore cloth and used bed covers made of bombax ceiba. Each hat he wore, he would use for three years, and each comforter he used, he would use for two years. Within the palace, starting from Guifei [first-ranked consort], their skirts would not be long enough to reach the ground. The emperor disliked alcohol, and unless he was offering sacrifices to the ancestors, feasting with the imperial officials, or holding Buddhist ceremonies, he used no music. Even when he was alone in a dark room, he wore proper clothing and sat carefully. No matter how hot the weather was, he would not peel up his sleeves or expose his arms. He treated palace servants as honored guests. However, he was overly lenient to the officials. The provincial and commandery governors often extracted wealth from the people. The messengers that he sent out to the locales often improperly pressured, criticized, or extorted from the locales. He trusted evil people and liked to criticize people for minor faults. He built many Buddhist towers and temples, inflicting great burdens on the government and the people. The area south of the Yangtze River had long peace, and as a result became wasteful in lifestyle. All of what He Chen said was true, but it was particularly because what he said was true that the emperor became angry.

In 546, Emperor Wu made his third offering of himself to the service of the Buddha. He spent more than a month at Tongtai Temple, before a fire that destroyed the temple tower caused him to return to the palace.

The Hou Jing disturbance and death

The Tianlu in the Imperial Tomb of Xiao Yan 2012-12
The tianlu for the imperial tomb of Xiao Yan

In 547, Gao Huan died, and was succeeded as the paramount authority in Eastern Wei by his son Gao Cheng. The Eastern Wei general Hou Jing, because he disliked the young Gao Cheng and considered himself superior, rebelled. He first surrendered the 13 provinces that he was in charge—all south of the Yellow River and north of the Huai River, to Western Wei, but believing that he would also not be tolerated by Western Wei's paramount general Yuwen Tai, Hou then surrendered nine of the 13 provinces (minus the four that he had turned over to Western Wei forces in exchange for help) to Liang.

Emperor Wu initially hesitated himself at whether to accept Hou's surrender, particularly because a number of his officials, including Xie Ju (謝舉), opposed, citing the long-standing peace with Eastern Wei. Zhu Yi, however, believing that approving of Hou's surrender would please Emperor Wu, argued that Hou should be accepted. Emperor Wu agreed, and he created Hou the Prince of He'nan, with acting imperial powers over the nine provinces. In the midst of this situation, Emperor Wu, while sending troops to aid Hou, offered himself to the service of the Buddha for the fourth time, spending 37 days at Tongtai Temple and only returning to the palace after his officials made another huge donation to Tongtai Temple.

Hou, with aid from Western Wei and Liang, initially stood Eastern Wei attacks. However, when Yuwen subsequently demanded that he proceed to the Western Wei capital Chang'an to greet Emperor Wen of Western Wei, Hou turned against Western Wei forces commanded by Wang Sizheng (王思政), although Western Wei largely held the cities that he had turned over. Meanwhile, Emperor Wu also commissioned a large army, commanded by his nephew Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang, to attack Eastern Wei to the east. By Emperor Wu's orders, Xiao Yuanming advanced to Hanshan (寒山), in Pengcheng's vicinity, to build a dam over the Si River (泗水) to use water to attack Pengcheng. Xiao Yuanming's lieutenant, the general Yang Kan (羊侃), quickly completed the dam, but when Yang advised Xiao Yuanming to attack Pengcheng, Xiao Yuanming hesitated. Meanwhile, Eastern Wei forces commanded by Murong Shaozong (慕容紹宗) arrived near Hanshan, and Yang advised Xiao Yuanming to attack them while they were still tired, but Xiao Yuanming failed to. Subsequently, when the armies engaged, the Liang forces were initially successful, but overextended themselves, and the Eastern Wei counterattack nearly destroyed the entire Liang army, capturing Xiao Yuanming and many of his officers.

Murong then turned his attention against Hou, meeting Hou at Woyang (渦陽, in modern Bozhou, Anhui). Initially, Hou defeated Murong in battle, forcing him to flee, but Murong then regrouped. Meanwhile, Hou's food supplies began to dwindle. In spring 548, Hou's troops collapsed, and he approached Shouyang. When the Wei An (韋黯), the acting governor of Southern Yu Province (南豫州, modern central Anhui) welcomed Hou, Hou took him by surprise and seized Shouyang. He then sent an apology to Emperor Wu, and Emperor Wu, not having the heart of forcing Hou away from Shouyang, made him the governor of Southern Yu Province.

With Eastern Wei having recovered all nine of the provinces that Hou had surrendered to Liang, Gao Cheng now sent overtures to Emperor Wu, requesting that peace be reinstated, offering to return Xiao Yuanming and Hou's relatives. Hou opposed peace, suspecting Gao Cheng's intentions, and he also did not trust Emperor Wu's subsequent guarantees never to betray him. Hou's fears were further increased when Emperor Wu sent ambassadors to mourn Gao Huan. Hou decided to test Emperor Wu by forging a letter from Gao Cheng, offering to swap Xiao Yuanming for Hou—and when Emperor Wu then responded, "If you return Yuanming in the morning, I will return Hou Jing in the evening" against the advice of Fu Qi (傅岐), Hou was outraged. Hou made an overture to Xiao Zhengde, promising to support him as the new emperor, and Xiao Zhengde agreed. Emperor Wu's nephew Xiao Fan (蕭範) the Prince of Poyang, who believed that Hou was about to rebel, suggested a preemptory attack, but Zhu advised against it, and Emperor Wu took no action on Xiao Fan's recommendation. In summer 548, Hou finally declared a rebellion, claiming that his goal was to clear the court of evil officials—Zhu, Xu Lin (徐麟), Lu Yan (陸驗), and Zhou Shizhen (周石珍) -- all corrupt officials that the people hated.

Initially, Emperor Wu did not take Hou's rebellion seriously, and he made the comment, "I can break off a tree branch and kill him with it." He sent his son Xiao Guan (蕭綸) the Prince of Shaoling to command a four-pronged army, intending to trap Hou at Shouyang, but Hou, taking decisive action, marched toward Jiankang before Xiao Guan's forces could converge, and within a month, he crossed the Yangtze and approached Jiankang, catching the city unprepared. When Emperor Wu sent Xiao Zhengde to resist Hou, Xiao Zhengde turned against Emperor Wu and served as Hou's guide. Hou quickly surrounded Jiankang, and the populace of Jiankang, unaccustomed to war, panicked and collapsed. Emperor Wu and Xiao Gang put together the imperial guards to defend the palace, and initially, the defenses held, particularly because the key general, Yang Kan, was capable. In winter 548, Hou had Xiao Zhengde declared emperor and married Xiao Zhengde's daughter. When Hou's forces began to run out of food supply, he allowed his soldiers to pillage from the people, and the people began to starve in large numbers. (In the siege, the vegetables that Emperor Wu was accustomed to eat ran out, and Emperor Wu became forced to eat eggs.)

The provincial governors, led by Xiao Guan and Xiao Yi the Prince of Xiangdong, meanwhile, were beginning to put a relief force together, and Xiao Guan arrived around the new year 549, but was defeated by Hou and was unable to lift the siege. Meanwhile, Yang died, and the people inside the palace walls grew increasingly desperate. As the siege went on, however, more Liang provincial forces converged, and they supported Liu Zhongli (柳仲禮) the governor of Si Province (司州, modern southern Henan) as their commander. Liu initially had some successes against Hou's forces, but in spring 549, Hou made a surprise attack on Liu's forces, and both sides incurred heavy losses, with Liu himself nearly dying of his injuries—after which, Liu became extremely hesitant to engage Hou. Liu grew very arrogant as well, even treating Xiao Guan was disrespect. Further, Liu's forces were pillaging the people as much as Hou's forces, and therefore the people saw no incentive to assist them.

With Hou's forces tired, however, Hou sued for peace, stating that he was willing to return to Shouyang if Emperor Wu was willing to cede four provinces west of the Yangtze River to him and willing to send Xiao Gang's oldest son Xiao Daqi the Prince of Xuancheng as a hostage. Emperor Wu agreed—except for sending Xiao Daqi's younger brother Xiao Dakuan (蕭大款) the Duke of Shicheng instead of Xiao Daqi. Once the relief forces withdrew slightly (under Hou's demand) and Hou's forces had rested about 15 days and obtained some additional food supplies, however, Hou changed his mind and decided not to withdraw after all. He resumed sieging the palace, and yet Liu took no actions. In late spring 549, the palace fell to Hou's toops, and Hou met Emperor Wu, initially acting as if he were willing to remain a faithful subject. Hou remained formally deferential to Emperor Wu and Xiao Gang the Crown Prince, but meanwhile effectively put them under house arrest. He issued an edict in Emperor Wu's name, disbanding Liu's forces, and Liu did so. Hou also deposed Xiao Zhengde.

Meanwhile, Emperor Wu continued to resist some of Hou's demands, and when Hou requested that certain of his associates by named to high-level posts, Emperor Wu refused. Hou reacted by reducing Emperor Wu's supplies, and in summer 549, Emperor Wu died. (It is unclear whether he died from illness or from starvation.) It was recorded that as he was dying, his mouth was bitter, and he wanted honey, but no one responded to his request. Hou allowed Xiao Gang to take the throne (as Emperor Jianwen) to succeed him.

Buddhist legends

Emperor Wu is remembered by many Buddhists today for the many contributions he gave to the faith. There are a few stories that revolve around his involvement with Buddhism.

Era names

  • Tianjian (天監 tiān jiān) 502-519
  • Putong (普通 pǔ tōng) 520-527
  • Datong (大通 dà tōng) 527-529 (note different tone than below)
  • Zhongdatong (中大通 zhōng dà tōng) 529-534 (note different tone than below)
  • Datong (大同 dà tóng) 535-546 (note different tone than above)
  • Zhongdatong (中大同 zhōng dà tóng) 546-547 (note different tone than above)
  • Taiqing (太清 tài qīng) 547-549


  • Parents:
    • Xiao Shunzhi (文皇帝 蕭順之)
    • Lady Zhang (文獻皇后 張氏; d. 471), personal name Shangrou (尚柔)
  • Consorts and Issue:
  1. Lady Xi of Gaoping (武德皇后 高平郗氏; 468 – 499), personal name Hui (徽)
    1. Princess Yongxing (永興公主; d. 529), personal name Yuyao (玉姚)
    2. Princess Yongshi (永世公主), personal name Yuwan (玉婉)
    3. Princess Yongkang (永康公主), personal name Yuhuan (玉嬛)
  2. Lady Ding (穆皇太后 丁氏; 484 – 526), personal name Lingguang (令光)
    1. Xiao Tong (昭明皇帝 蕭統; 501 – 531)
    2. Xiao Gang (簡文皇帝 蕭綱; 503 – 551)
    3. Xiao Xu (廬陵威王 蕭續; 506 – 547)
  3. Lady Ruan (文宣皇太后 阮氏; 477 – 542), personal name Lingying (令嬴)
    1. Xiao Yi (元皇帝 蕭繹; 508 – 555)
  4. Lady Wu (敬淑媛 吳氏; d. 527), personal name Jinghui (景暉)
    1. Xiao Zan (豫章王 蕭贊; 502 – 531)
  5. Lady Dong (淑儀 董氏)
    1. Xiao Ji (南康簡王 蕭績; 505 – 529)
  6. Lady Ge (修容 葛氏)
    1. Xiao Ji (武陵貞獻王 蕭紀; 508 – 553)
  7. Lady Ding (充華 丁氏)
    1. Xiao Lun (邵陵攜王 蕭綸; 507 – 551)
  8. Unknown
    1. Princess Fuyang Dao (富陽悼公主)
    2. Princess Yongjia (永嘉公主)
    3. Princess Yongding (永定公主)
    4. Princess Changcheng (長城公主), personal name Yuling (玉姈)
    5. Princess Anji (安吉公主), personal name Yuzhi (玉娡)
    6. Princess Lin'an (臨安公主)
    7. Princess Xin'an (信安公主)


  • Xiao Zheng (萧整)
    • Xiao Jun (萧俊)
    • Xiao Xia (萧辖)
      • Xiao Fuzi (萧副子)
        • Xiao Daoci (萧道赐)

See also


  1. ^ Benn, James A. (2007), Burning for the Buddha: self-immolation in Chinese Buddhism, Issue 19 of Studies in East Asian Buddhism, University of Hawaii Press, pp. 3, 243, 261, ISBN 0-8248-2992-1
  2. ^ Albert E. Dien, «Six Dynasties Civilization». Yale University Press, 2007 ISBN 0-300-07404-2. Partial text on Google Books. P. 190. A reconstruction of the original form of the ensemble is shown in Fig. 5.19.
  3. ^ 梁安成康王萧秀墓石刻 (Sculptures at the Tomb of Xiao Xiu) (in Chinese) (description and modern photos)
Chinese royalty
New dynasty Emperor of Liang Dynasty
Succeeded by
Emperor Jianwen of Liang
Preceded by
Emperor He of Southern Qi
Emperor of China (Southern)
Bhagadatta (Langkasuka)

Bhagadatta was a king of the kingdom of Langkasuka who established contacts with China in the 6th century. It is recorded in the Book of Liang that the king Pojiadaduo (婆伽達多, believed to be a Chinese transcription of Bhagadatta) sent his envoy Acheduo (阿撤多) to the court of Emperor Wu of Liang in 515 to present a memorial. Further missions were sent by Bhagadatta and his successor to the Liang court in 523, 531, and 568.According to the Book of Liang, the father of Bhagadatta was exiled by the king of Langkasuka and fled to India, where he married the eldest daughter of an Indian King, but after the king of Langkasuka had died, he was welcomed back and installed as a king. After his father had ruled Langkasuka for over 20 years, Bhagadatta succeeded the throne.

Buddhist legends about Emperor Wu of Liang

During his reign as emperor of China, Emperor Wu of Liang (r. 502–549) embraced and promoted Buddhism. Several times he became a Buddhist monk and forced his court to purchase him back with substantial offerings to the sangha. In 517 he ordered the destruction of Taoist temples and forced Taoist priests to return to lay life. Some of his other reforms, such as the disallowing of capital punishment and of the animal sacrifices during ancestral ceremonies, conformed with his Buddhist convictions.Because of his constant support for Buddhism, Emperor Wu came to be seen as the Chinese counterpart of Ashoka, the great Indian chakravartin and patron of the religion. Later writers who saw Emperor Wu's reign as a golden age of Chinese Buddhism compiled stories on the emperor's role in creating or sponsoring important Buddhist institutions or rituals. A cycle of stories developed around Bao Zhi, the emperor's favorite monk, and around Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of Zen, who was alleged to have met the emperor in the 520s.

Devavarman (Champa)

Devavarman (Chữ Nôm: 范天凯; Quốc ngữ: Phạm Thiên Khởi) was a king of the Lâm Ấp from 510 to about 526. In 510, Emperor Wu of Liang sent an Ambassador to Devavarman and forced the Cham people to pay an annual tribute.

Dingshan Temple

Dingshan Temple (Chinese: 定山寺; pinyin: Dìngshān Sì) is a Buddhist temple, located at the bottom of The Lions in the east of Pearl Spring, in Pukou, Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China. It is as famous as the Qixia Temple.

Emperor Wu

Emperor Wu or the Wu Emperor (武帝, lit. "The Martial Emperor") is the posthumous name of numerous Chinese rulers:

Emperor Wu of Han (156–87 BC), emperor of the Han dynasty

Emperor Wu of Wei (AD 155–220), a posthumous name of Cao Cao

Emperor Wu of Jin (236–290), first emperor of the Jin dynasty

Emperor Wu of Liu Song (363–422), founding emperor of the Chinese dynasty Liu Song

Emperor Wu of Southern Qi (440–493), emperor of the Chinese Southern Qi Dynasty

Emperor Wu of Liang (464–549), founding emperor of the Liang Dynasty of Chinese history

Emperor Wu of Chen (503–559), first emperor of the Chen dynasty of China

Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou (543–578), an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou

Empress Wu Zetian (625–705), from her actual surname rather than a posthumous epithetEmperor of Wu (吳帝) may refer to:

Li Zitong (died 622), agrarian rebel during the Sui–Tang interregnum

Empress Wang (Chen dynasty)

Empress Wang (王皇后, personal name unknown) was an empress of Chinese Chen Dynasty. Her husband was Emperor Fei (Chen Bozong).

Her father Wang Gu (王固) was a mid-level official during the Liang and early Chen Dynasties, and was a nephew of Liang's founder Emperor Wu of Liang. She married Chen Bozong in 560, when he was crown prince under his father Emperor Wen, and carried the title of Crown Princess. Her age at that time was not known, while he was either six or eight. In 566, she gave birth to the only son of his known to history, Chen Zhize (陳至澤).

Later in 566, Emperor Wen died, and Chen Bozong took the throne (as Emperor Fei). He created Crown Prince Wang empress and, in 567, he created her son Chen Zhize crown prince. Almost immediately, however, fights broke out between the officials that Emperor Wen put in charge of important matters. The victor, Emperor Fei's uncle Chen Xu the Prince of Ancheng, deposed Emperor Fei in winter 568 and took the throne himself in spring 569 (as Emperor Xuan). Emperor Fei was demoted to the title of Prince of Linhai, and the empress became the Princess of Linhai. In 570, the Prince of Linhai died, and Chen Zhize inherited the title of the Prince of Linhai. Presumably, she then became the Princess Dowager of Linhai. She died during Emperor Xuan's son Chen Shubao's Zhide (至德) era (583-586), but the exact year of her death is not known.

Fan Zhen

Fàn Zhen (范縝, hanyupinyin Fàn Zhěn) (c. 450 - 515) was a Chinese philosopher of the Southern Qi Dynasty, remembered today for his treatise Shén Miè Lùn (simplified Chinese 神灭论, traditional Chinese 神滅論, "On the Annihilation of the Soul").

Fàn was born into an impecunious family in today's Zhumadian, Henan province. Later he became a high-ranked official for his erudition. Reacting to Buddhism prevailing in his time, he wrote Shen Mie Lun at 507, denying the ideas of reincarnation and body-soul dualism. A courtier tried to persuade Fàn to give up his opinion, in exchange of a higher official title, but was refused. Emperor Wu of Liang, unhappy with his subject's work, made an imperial decree (敕答臣下神滅論) to criticize the treatise, and ordered 64 of his courtiers to answer Fàn back. 75 pamphlets were produced against Shen Mie Lun. Fàn did not surrender, though, and wrote back to hold fast to his opinion. The debate failed to disprove the treatise, and Fàn Zhen was exiled by the emperor for his "heresy". He was a member of a cadet branch of the elite Fàn family.

In Shen Mie Lun, Fàn writes that:

"The soul is the body; the body is the soul. There is the body, there is the soul; when the body annihilates, so does the soul."(神即形也,形即神也。是以形存則神存,形謝則神滅也。)

"The body is the substance of the soul; the soul is the effect of the body. That means the body refers to the substance, and the soul the effect. The body and the soul is one."(形者神之質,神者形之用,是則形稱其質,神言其用,形之與神,不得相異也。)

"The soul to the substance is like sharpness to a blade; the body to the effect is like a blade to its sharpness. The blade and its sharpness do not share the same name. However, there is no blade without its sharpness, and no sharpness without the blade. As there is no sharpness without a knife, it is impossible for a soul to exist without its body."(神之於質,猶利之於刃,形之於用,猶刃之於利,利之名非刃也,刃之名非利也。然而舍利無刃,舍刃無利,未聞刃沒而利存,豈容形亡而神在。)


Gaozu (Chinese: 高祖; pinyin: Gāozǔ; Wade–Giles: Kao1-tsu3; literally: "high forefather") is an imperial temple name typically used for Chinese emperors who founded a particular dynasty. It may refer to:

Emperor Gaozu of Han (256 BC or 247 BC – 195 BC)

Cao Pi (187–226) of Cao Wei, the temple name was eventually changed to Shizu

Liu Yuan (Han Zhao) (251–310), the temple name was eventually changed to Taizu

Shi Le (274–333) of Later Zhao

Fu Jian (317–355) of Former Qin

Qifu Gangui (died in 412) of Western Qin

Yao Xing (366–416) of Later Qin

Liu Yu (Emperor Wu of Liu Song) (363–422)

Yuan Hong (Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei) (467–499)

Emperor Wu of Liang (464–549)

Emperor Wu of Chen (503–559)

Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou (543–578)

Yang Jian (Emperor Wen of Sui) (541–604) of the Sui dynasty

Emperor Gaozu of Tang (566–635)

Wang Jian (Former Shu) (847–918) of Former Shu

Yang Longyan (897–920) of Wu (Ten Kingdoms)

Meng Zhixiang (874–934) of Later Shu

Liu Yan (emperor) (889–942) of Southern Han

Shi Jingtang (892–942) of the Later Jin (Five Dynasties)

Liu Zhiyuan (895–948) of the Later Han (Five Dynasties)

Chen Youliang (1320–1363) of Great HanIt may also refer to those who never officially declared themselves as emperors, but were posthumously given the title by their imperial descendants:

Sima Yi (179–251), Emperor Gaozu of the Jin dynasty (265–420)

Zhang Shi (Former Liang) (died in 320), Emperor Gaozu of Former Liang (320–376)

Murong Hui (269–333), Emperor Gaozu of Former Yan (337–370)

Gao Huan (496–547), Emperor Taizu of Northern Qi (550–577)

Hanshan Temple

Hanshan Temple (Chinese: 寒山寺; pinyin: Hánshān Sì); literally: "Cold Mountain Temple", is a Buddhist temple and monastery in Suzhou, China. It is located at the town of Fengqiao (lit. Maple Bridge), about 5 kilometres west of the old city of Suzhou.

Traditionally, Hanshan Temple is believed to have been founded during the Tianjian era (502–519) of the reign of Emperor Wu of Liang, in the Southern and Northern Dynasties period. The current name of the monastery derives from Hanshan, the legendary monk and poet. Hanshan and his disciple Shide are said to have come to the monastery during the reign of Emperor Taizong of Tang (627–649), where Hanshan became the abbot.

Juniperus chinensis from Six Dynasties

One Juniperus chinensis, over 1500 years-old, is located near the Southeast University in Nanjing.

It was planted in his Palace by the Emperor Wu of Liang in Six Dynasties.

Later, the Palace was destroyed by the war, however, the tree survives today.

In Ming Dynasty, the Guozijian (highest national educational institution) was built in the same place.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the Liang Jiang Normal Institute was built here.

It is now the location of Southeast University.

Liang dynasty

The Liang dynasty (Chinese: 梁朝; pinyin: Liáng cháo) (502–557), also known as the Southern Liang dynasty (南梁), was the third of the Southern Dynasties during China's Southern and Northern Dynasties period. It was located in East China and South China, and replaced by the Chen dynasty in 557. The small rump state Western Liang (555–587), located in Central China, continued until its annexation in 587.

Liberation Rite of Water and Land

The Liberation Rite of Water and Land (Chinese: 法界聖凡水陸普度大齋勝會; pinyin: Fǎjiè Shèng Fán Shuǐlù Pǔdù Dàzhāi Shèng Huì), also commonly known as the Waterland Dharma Function is a Chinese Buddhist ritual performed by temples and presided over by high monks. The service is often credited as one of the greatest rituals in Chinese Buddhism, as it is also the most elaborate and extremely rare service. The ceremony is attributed to the Emperor Wu of Liang, who was inspired one night when he had a dream which a monk advised him to organize a ceremony to help beings in the lower realms to be surfeited from their suffering. The ritual itself was compiled by the Chan Buddhist master Bao Zhi.

The main goal of the ceremony is to invite beings of higher realms to help the beings in the lower realms get out of their sufferings. It is said that those who participate receive great merit and blessings, even to those who do not contribute.

The ritual combines pre-Tang Chinese operatic text as well as ceremonial procedure inspired by Taoism and Vajrayana such as circumambulating, reciting sutras and repentance. Chinese instruments not usually used in Buddhist ceremonies are also employed.

Taizu of Liang

Taizu of Liang may refer to:

Zhang Gui (255–314), Governor of Liang during the Jin dynasty, sometimes known as Taizu of Former Liang

Lü Guang (337–400) of Later Liang during the Sixteen Kingdoms

Li Gao (351–417) of Western Liang during the Sixteen Kingdoms

Juqu Mengxun (368–433) of Northern Liang during the Sixteen Kingdoms

Xiao Shunzhi (fl. 477–482), whose son Emperor Wu of Liang posthumously honored him as Emperor Taizu of Liang

Zhu Wen (852–912) of Later Liang during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period

Wen Xuan

The Wen Xuan (Chinese: 文選 [wə̌n.ɕɥɛ̀n]), or Selections of Refined Literature, is one of the earliest and most important anthologies of Chinese poetry and literature, and is one of the world's oldest literary anthologies to be arranged by topic. It is a selection of what were judged to be the best poetic and prose pieces from the late Warring States period (c. 300 BC) to the early Liang dynasty (c. AD 500), excluding the Chinese Classics and philosophical texts. The Wen Xuan preserves most of the greatest fu rhapsody and shi poetry pieces from the Qin and Han dynasties, and for much of pre-modern history was one of the primary sources of literary knowledge for educated Chinese.The Wen Xuan was compiled between AD 520 and 530 in the city of Jiankang (modern Nanjing) during the Liang dynasty by Xiao Tong, the eldest son of Emperor Wu of Liang, and a group of scholars he had assembled. The Liang dynasty, though short-lived, was a period of intense literary activity, and the ruling Xiao family ensured that eminent writers and scholars were frequently invited to the imperial and provincial courts. As Crown Prince, Xiao Tong received the best classical Chinese education available and began selecting pieces for his new anthology in his early twenties. The Wen Xuan contains 761 separate pieces organized into 37 literary categories, the largest and most well known being "Rhapsodies" (fu) and "Lyric Poetry" (shi).

Study of the Wen Xuan enjoyed immense popularity during the Tang dynasty (618–907), and its study rivalled that of the Five Classics during that period. The Wen Xuan was required reading for any aspiring scholar and official even into the Song dynasty, as evidenced by the medieval Chinese rhyme "Wen Xuan study thoroughly done / Half your licentiate already won" (Wénxuǎn làn, xiùcái bàn 文選爛,秀才半). Throughout the Yuan and Ming dynasties study of the Wen Xuan lapsed out of popularity, though the great philologists of the Qing dynasty revived its study to some extent.

Three volumes of the first full English translation of the Wen Xuan have been published by the American sinologist David R. Knechtges, professor emeritus of Chinese at the University of Washington, who aims to eventually complete the translation in five additional volumes.

Western Liang (555–587)

The Liang (555–587), later called the Western Liang (西梁) or Later Liang (後梁) to distinguish it from the Liang dynasty (502–557), was a small puppet state during the Northern and Southern dynasties period, located in the middle Yangtze region in today's central Hubei province. From 555 to 557 it was subservient to the Western Wei, from 557 to 581 to the Northern Zhou (which replaced Western Wei), and from 581 to 587 to the Sui dynasty (which replaced Northern Zhou) before the Sui annexed it.

The Western Liang's founding emperor Xiao Cha was a grandson of the Liang dynasty founder Emperor Wu of Liang, as a result Western Liang is usually considered a rump state of the Liang dynasty after 557. From 555 to 557 the two states existed simultaneously: Xiao Cha ruled from Jiangling, while the Liang dynasty emperors Xiao Yuanming and Xiao Fangzhi ruled from Jiankang. Before 555, Emperor Yuan of Liang also ruled from Jiangling before he was captured and executed by Xiao Cha and his Western Wei backers, but he is considered a Liang dynasty emperor rather than a Western Liang emperor because, among other things, he (at least nominally) controlled a much larger territory.

The Western Liang had 3 emperors, Xiao Cha (Emperor Xuan), Xiao Kui (Emperor Ming), and Xiao Cong (Emperor Jing). From 617 to 621, Xiao Cha's great-grandson Xiao Xian occupied the former Western Liang territory (and more) and proclaimed himself King of Liang, but his short-lived state is usually considered separate.

Xiao Tong

Xiao Tong (traditional Chinese: 蕭統; simplified Chinese: 萧统; pinyin: Xiāo Tǒng; Wade–Giles: Hsiao T'ung, September/October 501 – 30 May 531), courtesy name Deshi (德施), formally Crown Prince Zhaoming (昭明太子, literally "Accomplished and Understanding Crown Prince"), was a Crown Prince of the Chinese Liang Dynasty, posthumously honored as Emperor Zhaoming (昭明皇帝). He was the oldest son of Emperor Wu of Liang, whom he predeceased. Xiao Tong's enduring legacy is the literary compendium Wen Xuan (Literary Anthology).

Zhang Sengyou

Zhang Sengyou (Chinese: 張僧繇, Zhāng Sēngyóu) was a famous Liang dynasty painter in the ink style in the reign of Emperor Wu of Liang.

His birth and death years are unknown, but he was active circa 490–540. He was from Wu Commandery (around present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu).


Zhongdatong may refer to 2 different era names used by Emperor Wu of Liang:

Zhongdatong (中大通, 529–534), Emperor Wu's 4th reign period

Zhongdatong (中大同, 546–547), Emperor Wu's 6th reign period

Zhou She

Zhou She (周捨) (469–524), courtesy name Shengyi (昇逸), formally Viscount Jian (簡子, literally "the undiscriminating viscount"), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Liang Dynasty. He was never titular prime minister, and never held an office of high rank, but was largely considered a de facto prime minister and was well regarded by his contemporaries.

Zhou She was an eighth-generation descendant of the famed Jin official Zhou Yi (周顗). His father Zhou Yong (周顒) was a Southern Qi official. When Zhou She was young, he became known for his skills in rhetoric, and he was retained by Wang Liang (王亮), then the mayor of the capital Jiankang, to serve as his secretary.

When Emperor Wu of Liang seized the throne from Emperor He of Southern Qi in 502, he sought out people with talent to serve in his administration. His prime minister Fan Yun was friendly with Zhou She's father Zhou Yong, and he recommended Zhou She, whom Emperor Wu made a low level official and gradually promoted. In 503, Fan died, and Emperor Wu entrusted the important matters of state to Zhou She and Xu Mian, effectively making them co-prime ministers, even though neither carried the title and neither received particularly high rank. For the next 20 years, Zhou and Xu served together in this key capacity. Zhou was considered capable and honest and particularly frugal in his living.

In 524, a letter was from Bai Wo (白渦), a commandery governor, was uncovered, in which Bai promised Zhou a large bribe. While there was no evidence showing that Zhou actually received the letter or acted on Bai's behalf, Emperor Wu relieved Zhou from his post. Zhou died later that year, and Emperor Wu, regretting relieving Zhou of his post, issued two edicts greatly praising Zhou for his service and personally attended his wake. He also gave Zhou the posthumous name of Viscount Jian—although there was no record in history indicating that Emperor Wu ever created Zhou a viscount while he was alive or posthumously.

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