Xiao Cha

Emperor Xuan of (Western) Liang ((西)梁宣帝; 519–562), personal name Xiao Cha (蕭詧), courtesy name Lisun (理孫), was the founding emperor of the Chinese Western Liang dynasty.[1] He took the Liang throne under support from Western Wei after Western Wei forces had defeated and killed his uncle Emperor Yuan in 554, but many traditional historians, because he controlled little territory and relied heavily on military support by Western Wei and Western Wei's successor state Northern Zhou, did not consider him and his successors true emperors of Liang. Instead, their state is traditionally considered separate, as Western Liang (or Later Liang).

Emperor of the Western Liang dynasty
PredecessorEmperor Yuan of Liang (Whole Liang dynasty)
SuccessorEmperor Ming
Liang Emperor(s)Emperor Min
Emperor Jing
Full name
Xiao Cha (蕭詧)

Courtesy name

Lisun (理孫)
Posthumous name
Xuan (宣帝)
Temple name
Zhongzong (中宗)

Early life

Xiao Cha was born in 519, as the third son of Xiao Tong, then the crown prince to Liang Dynasty's founder Emperor Wu. His mother was Xiao Tong's concubine Consort Gong. He was considered studious, concentrating particularly on Buddhist sutras, and as Emperor Wu was a devout Buddhist, he was happy that his grandson studied sutras in this manner. When Emperor Wu created Xiao Tong's sons dukes sometime between 520 and 527, Xiao Cha was created the Duke of Qujiang.

In 531, Xiao Tong died, but instead of creating Xiao Tong's oldest son Xiao Huan (蕭歡) the Duke of Huarong crown prince to succeed him (as was expected under Confucian principles of succession), Emperor Wu created Xiao Tong's younger brother Xiao Gang crown prince instead. However, he felt that he did not treat Xiao Tong's sons fairly, and therefore he created them princes—in Xiao Cha's case, the Prince of Yueyang—and gave them honors only slightly subordinate to their uncles. Because the capital commandery of Eastern Yang Province (東揚州, modern central and eastern Zhejiang), Kuaiji Commandery (the southern shore of Hangzhou Bay), was the richest commandery of the entire empire, he rotated them as the governor of Eastern Yang Province, and Xiao Cha was thus rotated there sometime before 546. However, despite these special treatments, Xiao Cha was still angry that he and his brothers were passed over by Emperor Wu. He saw that Emperor Wu, late in his long reign (since 502), was ruling over an imperial regime that was becoming inefficient and beset by factionalism between Emperor Wu's sons, and therefore, when he was made the governor of Yong Province (雍州, modern northwestern Hubei) in 546, he thought that this would be a good chance for him to establish a power base of his own, and therefore he cultivated the loyalty of the people to him by governing carefully.

Struggles against Xiao Yi (Emperor Yuan)

In 548, the general Hou Jing rebelled and attacked the capital Jiankang, capturing it in 549 and taking Emperor Wu and Crown Prince Gang hostage. (Emperor Wu died later that year and was succeeded by Crown Prince Gang (as Emperor Jianwen), albeit under Hou's control.) Meanwhile, also in 548, Emperor Wu had made Xiao Cha's older brother Xiao Yu (蕭譽) the Prince of Hedong the governor of Xiang Province (湘州, modern central Hunan), rotating the previous governor of Xiang Province, Zhang Zuan (張纘) to Yong Province. Zhang was a close friend of Emperor Wu's powerful son Xiao Yi the Prince of Xiangdong, who was then the governor of the key Jing Province (荊州, modern western and central Hubei), and he did not take Xiao Yu seriously, making Xiao Yu felt disrespected. Xiao Yu therefore detained Zhang and did not permit him to leave. Further, when Xiao Yi called for the provincial governors in his command region (which, inter alia, included both Xiang and Yong Provinces) to send troops to help lift the siege on Jiankang, Xiao Yu refused, and while Xiao Cha sent a detachment, he refused to command the detachment personally. When Zhang fled from Xiao Yu's custody late in 548, then, he went to Zhang, and, bearing grudges against Xiao Yu, falsely accused Xiao Yu, Xiao Cha, and their cousin Xiao Cao (蕭慥) the Prince of Guiyang and governor of Xin Province (信州, modern eastern Chongqing) of conspiring against Xiao Yi. Xiao Yi therefore killed Xiao Cao and prepared an army to attack Xiao Yu.

Xiao Yu was initially able to repel Xiao Yi's attack and cause Xiao Yi's heir apparent Xiao Fangdeng (蕭方等) to die in battle in summer 549, but by fall 549, he had been defeated by Xiao Yi's general Bao Quan (鮑泉), who put Xiao Yu's headquarters at Changsha (長沙, in modern Changsha, Hunan) under siege. Xiao Yu requested aid from Xiao Cha, and Xiao Cha commanded an army to attack Xiao Yi's headquarters at Jiangling. He put Jiangling under siege, but his attack was affected by heavy rains and repelled by Xiao Yi's general Wang Sengbian, and when his own general Du Ze (杜崱) surrendered to Xiao Yi, and Du Ze's brother Du An (杜岸) further launched a surprise attack on Xiao Cha's headquarters at Xiangyang (襄陽, in modern Xiangfan, Hubei), Xiao Cha was forced to withdraw back to Xiangyang. Unable to help his brother and fearing that he would become Xiao Yi's next target—indeed, Xiao Yi then sent the general Liu Zhongli (柳仲禮) to attack Xiao Cha—Xiao Cha submitted to Western Wei, offering to become a vassal, and sought aid, sending his wife Princess Wang and his heir apparent Xiao Liao (蕭嶚) to Western Wei as hostages. Yuwen Tai, the paramount general of Western Wei, accepted Xiao Cha's submission and sent the general Yang Zhong (楊忠) to aid Xiao Cha, and Yang defeated and captured Liu in spring 550. Yang subsequently entered into a treaty with Xiao Yi, putting Xiao Cha under Western Wei's protection.

In the summer of 550, Western Wei offered to declare Xiao Cha the Emperor of Liang to inherit Emperor Wu's throne. Xiao Cha declined, but accepted the lesser title of Prince of Liang and also assumed acting imperial authority. Later that year, made a trip to the Western Wei capital Chang'an to pay homage to Emperor Wen of Western Wei and Yuwen. In spring 551, when his uncle Xiao Guan (蕭綸) the Prince of Shaoling was captured and killed by Western Wei troops commanded by Yang, Xiao Cha, who respected Xiao Guan, took his body and buried it with honors. In summer 551, when he heard that Hou was launching an attack on Xiao Yi's domain, he sent his general Cai Dabao (蔡大寶) with an army heading toward Jiangling, claiming to be ready to render assistance, but after Xiao Yi sent a rebuking letter, he ordered Cai to withdraw.

In 552, after defeating Hou, Xiao Yi declared himself emperor (as Emperor Yuan) and set his capital at Jiangling. Believing himself to be strong, he was arrogant in his dealings with Western Wei, drawing attention from Yuwen, who began to consider invading Liang. When Xiao Cha became aware of this, he paid additional tribute to Western Wei to try to fan the flame. Subsequently, in spring 553, when Emperor Yuan not only made the Western Wei envoy Yuwen Renshu (宇文仁恕) felt insulted by not treating him with as much respect as the envoy from Northern Qi, but further made demands to Yuwen Tai to return former Liang territory taken by Western Wei, Yuwen Tai decided to invade the Liang. In winter 553, Northern Zhou troops, commanded by Yu Jin (于謹), arrived at Xiangyang, and Xiao Cha's forces joined them and continued to advance south toward Jiangling. Emperor Yuan was caught unprepared, and while he summoned his generals Wang Sengbian and Wang Lin to come to his aid, Emperor Yuan surrendered before they could arrive. Xiao Cha took the custody of Emperor Yuan, interrogating and insulting him heavily. Around the new year 555, with approval from Western Wei authorities, Xiao Cha put Emperor Yuan to death by suffocating him with a large bag full of dirt. He also executed Emperor Yuan's and Emperor Jianwen's sons who were captured when Jiangling fell.


Western Wei created Xiao Cha Emperor of (Western) Liang, and he declared himself as such in spring 555 (as Emperor Xuan). Western Wei forces transferred Jiangling and the surrounding area to Emperor Xuan, but required him to transfer control of the Xiangyang region in exchange, and further left a military garrison at Jiangling, both to protect Emperor Xuan and to make sure that he would not rebel. Further, Western Wei troops pillaged Jiangling and took most of the inhabitants and the Liang imperial treasures back to Chang'an. While Western Wei troops under Yu were still at Jiangling, Emperor Xuan's subordinate Yin Deyi (尹德毅) suggested that he make a surprise attack on Yu and slaughter the Western Wei troops, then reassert Liang's independence. Emperor Xuan declined, reasoning that Western Wei had protected him greatly and that to turn against Western Wei would be unjust. He later regretted the decision, but the decision was probably a correct one as the other Liang generals showed no inclination of recognizing him as emperor. (As whether Emperor Xuan was a "legitimate" emperor of Liang was thereafter historically debated, his state is usually referred to by historians as either Western Liang or Later Liang.)

Emperor Xuan posthumously honored his father Xiao Tong and Xiao Tong's wife Crown Princess Cai as emperor and empress, and honored his mother Consort Gong as empress dowager. He created his wife Princess Wang empress, and as his heir apparent Xiao Liao had died by this point, he created Xiao Liao's younger brother Xiao Kui as crown prince. He entrusted much of the governmental matters to Cai Dabao and Wang Cao (王操), both of whom served him faithfully. He appeared to have full expectation that he would be able to put additional Liang provinces under his control, but immediately, the Liang generals, including Wang Sengbian and Wang Lin, refused to recognize him. Wang Lin, who controlled modern Hunan and later parts of modern Hubei, indeed, sent his general Hou Ping (侯平) to attack Emperor Xuan, and while the attack was unsuccessful, Emperor Xuan was unable to expand his holdings.

Later in 555, Wang Sengbian declared Emperor Yuan's cousin Xiao Yuanming emperor. In fall 555, after Wang Sengbian was killed by his lieutenant Chen Baxian, Chen deposed Xiao Yuanming and declared Emperor Yuan's son Xiao Fangzhi emperor (as Emperor Jing). After Chen had Emperor Jing yield the throne to him in 558, establishing Chen Dynasty as its Emperor Wu, Wang Lin declared Emperor Yuan's grandson Xiao Zhuang emperor, thus maintaining a competing claim for the Liang throne.

In late 558, with Wang Lin having advanced east to try to attack Chen, Emperor Xuan sent Wang Cao to try to seize the commanderies forming modern Hunan from Xiao Zhuang's domain, although the scope of success for this action was unclear. In any case, however, when Hou Tian (侯瑱), a general of Chen Baxian's nephew Emperor Wen of Chen defeated Wang Lin in spring 560, a combination of Emperor Xuan's and Northern Zhou troops were able to take the western half of Xiao Zhuang's territory, and Emperor Xuan assumed control over that territory, albeit requiring Northern Zhou military support.

In fall 560, Hou Tian continued his advance, intending to take Xiang Province from Emperor Wenxuan. Northern Zhou generals Heruo Dun (賀若敦) and Dugu Sheng (獨孤盛) led their troops against Hou, and Chen and Northern Zhou troops soon stalemated, and while initially, Hou was unable to make much progress against Heruo and Dugu, soon, problems with food supplies and illnesses caused Northern Zhou troops to be worn down. Around the new year 561, Dugu was forced to withdraw, putting Heruo under even greater pressure. By spring 561, Yin Liang (殷亮), who was defending Changsha, surrendered to Chen. Hou Tian then proposed to Heruo to let him withdraw peacefully. Heruo agreed and withdrew, and all of the territory previously taken from Xiao Zhuang were now in Chen hands, limiting Emperor Xuan's domain to the Jiangling region again.

Emperor Xuan, depressed that his territory was small and heavily damaged by warfare, soon began to suffer from a serious skin lesion on his back. He died in spring 562. Xiao Kui succeeded him (as Emperor Ming).

The historian Li Yanshou (李延寿), in his History of Northern Dynasties, had this to say about Emperor Xuan, both praising him and noting some of his idiosyncricies:

Xiao Cha had great ambitions from his youth, and he was not bogged down with details. Although he often suspected others, he was gracious to his soldiers and received their loyalty. He did not drink and was content with frugal living. He served his mother with great filial piety, and did not preoccupy himself with feasting. He particularly disliked women, and even when they were several steps away from him, he would state that he could smell them. Any clothes he wore while having sexual contact with women would be discarded thereafter. After having sexual intercourse with a consort, he would have to take a day to recuperate. He also disliked seeing human hair, and his servants had to either wear turbans or hats so that their hairs would not be exposed.

Emperor Xuan was literarily capable, and he wrote 15 volumes of literary works and 36 volumes of commentary on Buddhist sutras.

Era name

  • Dading (大定 dà dìng) 555-562

Personal information


  1. ^ Knechtges, David R.; Chang, Taiping, eds. (2014). Ancient and Early Medieval Chinese Literature (vol.3 & 4): A Reference Guide, Part Three & Four. BRILL. p. 1468. ISBN 9789004271852.
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Yuan of Liang
Emperor of Liang Dynasty (Western)
Succeeded by
Emperor Ming of Western Liang
Emperor of Western Liang
Preceded by
Xiao Zhuang (Prince of Yongjia)
Emperor of China (Hunan)
Succeeded by
Emperor Wen of Chen
Emperor Gong of Western Wei

Emperor Gong of Western Wei ((西)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 Jing of Liang

Emperor Jing of Liang (Chinese: 梁敬帝; 543–558), personal name Xiao Fangzhi (蕭方智), courtesy name Huixiang (慧相), nickname Fazhen (法真), was an emperor of the Chinese Liang Dynasty. As the only surviving son of Emperor Yuan, he was declared emperor by the general Chen Baxian in 555, but in 557 Chen forced him to yield the throne and established Chen Dynasty. In 558, Chen had him killed.

Emperor Wen of Chen

Emperor Wen of Chen (陳文帝) (522–566), personal name Chen Qian (陳蒨), courtesy name Zihua (子華), was an emperor of the Chinese Chen Dynasty. He was the nephew of the founding emperor, Emperor Wu (Chen Baxian), and after Emperor Wu's death in 559, the officials supported him to be emperor since Emperor Wu's only surviving son, Chen Chang, was detained by rival Northern Zhou. At the time he took the throne, Chen had been devastated by war during the preceding Liang Dynasty, and many provinces nominally loyal to him were under control of relatively independent warlords. During his reign, he consolidated the state against warlords, and he also seized territory belonging to claimants to the Liang throne, Xiao Zhuang and Emperor Xuan of Western Liang, greatly expanding Chen's territory and strength.

Emperor Yuan of Liang

Emperor Yuan of Liang (Chinese: 梁元帝; pinyin: Liáng Yuándì) (16 September 508 – 27 January 555), personal name Xiao Yi (蕭繹), courtesy name Shicheng (世誠), nickname Qifu (七符), was an emperor of the Chinese Liang Dynasty. After his father Emperor Wu and brother Emperor Jianwen were successively taken hostage and controlled by the rebel general Hou Jing, Xiao Yi was largely viewed as the de facto leader of Liang, and after defeating Hou in 552 declared himself emperor. In 554, after offending Yuwen Tai, the paramount general of rival Western Wei, Western Wei forces descended on and captured his capital Jiangling (江陵, in modern Jingzhou, Hubei), executing him and instead declaring his nephew Xiao Cha (Emperor Xuan) the Emperor of Liang.

Emperor Yuan was a renowned writer and collector of ancient books, but was criticized by historians for concentrating on eliminating potential contenders for the throne rather than on fighting Hou Jing. As Jiangling was besieged by Western Wei troops, Emperor Yuan set his collection of more than 140,000 volumes of ancient books on fire, and this is commonly considered as one of the greatest disasters for the study of ancient works in Chinese history.

Empress Dowager Gong

Empress Dowager Gong (龔太后, personal name unknown) (died 562), formally Empress Dowager Yuan (元太后, literally "the discerning empress dowager") was an empress dowager of the Chinese dynasty Western Liang dynasty. She was the mother of Emperor Xuan of Western Liang (Xiao Cha) who founded the Western Liang with the support of Western Wei.

Lady Gong was a concubine of Xiao Tong, the first crown prince of Liang dynasty's founder Emperor Wu. Her rank was the second rank for a concubine of the crown prince, Baolin (保林). She gave birth to Xiao Cha in 519. (It is not known whether any of Xiao Tong's other four known sons were her sons as well, although his oldest son Xiao Huan (蕭歡) was not, as he was the son of Xiao Tong's wife Crown Princess Cai.) Little is known about her background, including her birth family, and Xiao Cha himself appeared to be closer to Crown Princess Cai's nephew Cai Dabao (蔡大寶) than he was with any cousins he might have had through his mother.

Historical references to Lady Gong were not numerous. In 549, while Liang was in a state of disarray after the fall of the capital Jiankang to the rebel general Hou Jing and the imperial princes were battling each other, Xiao Cha, then the Prince of Yueyang, was leading an army against his uncle Xiao Yi the Prince of Xiangdong to try to save his brother Xiao Yu (蕭譽) the Prince of Hedong (whom Xiao Yi's forces were besieging), when he left his headquarters Xiangyang in the hands of Cai Dabao and Lady Gong (who was at that time still referred to as Baolin, not as princess dowager), and they defended the city against a surprise attack by the general Du An (杜岸), who served under Xiao Cha but had defected to Xiao Yi. Subsequently, in order to fend of Xiao Yi's attacks, Xiao Cha became a Western Wei vassal and was created the Prince of Liang.

In 555, after Western Wei forces had defeated and killed Xiao Yi, Western Wei created Xiao Cha the emperor of (Western) Liang (as Emperor Xuan). While Emperor Xuan posthumously honored Xiao Tong as an emperor and Xiao Tong's wife Crown Princess Cai as an empress, he honored his mother as an empress dowager. After he died in 562 and was succeeded by his son Xiao Kui (as Emperor Ming), Emperor Ming honored her as grand empress dowager. She died about three months after her son.

Empress Dowager Wang

Empress Dowager Wang (王太后) may refer to:

Empress Wang Zhi (王娡) (died 126 BC), empress dowager of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Wu's mother

Empress Wang (Xuan) (died 16 BC), empress dowager of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Yuan's stepmother

Empress Wang Zhengjun (王政君) (71 BC – AD 13), empress dowager of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Cheng's mother

Empress Wang (Ping) (8 BC – AD 23), empress dowager of the Han Dynasty

Empress Dowager Wang Yuanji (王元姬) (217–268), empress dowager of the Jin Dynasty

Empress Wang Xianyuan (王憲嫄) (427–464), empress dowager of the Liu Song Dynasty, Emperor Qianfei's mother

Empress Wang Zhenfeng (王貞風) (436–479), empress dowager of the Liu Song Dynasty, Emperor Houfei's stepmother

Empress Dowager Wang Baoming (王寶明) (455–512), empress dowager of Southern Qi

Empress Dowager Wang (Xiao Dong) (fl. 551), empress dowager of the Liang Dynasty, Xiao Dong's mother

Empress Wang (Xiao Cha) (died 563), empress dowager of the Liang Dynasty, Xiao Kui's stepmother

Empress Dowager Wang (Xianzong) (763–816), empress dowager of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Xianzong's mother

Empress Dowager Wang (Jingzong) (died 845), empress dowager of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Jingzong's mother

Empress Dowager Wang (Rui) (died 928), empress dowager of the Wu state

Empress Wang

Empress Wang may refer to:

Empress Wang Zhi (王娡) (died 126 BC), empress of the Han Dynasty, married to Emperor Jing

Empress Wang (Xuan) (王皇后, given name unknown) (died 16 BC), empress of the Han Dynasty, married to Emperor Xuan

Empress Wang Zhengjun (王政君) (71 BC – AD 13), empress of the Han Dynasty, married to Emperor Yuan

Empress Wang (Ping) (王皇后, given name unknown) (8 BC – AD 23), empress of the Han Dynasty, married to Emperor Ping

Empress Wang (Xin Dynasty) (王皇后, given name unknown) (died 21), empress of the Xin Dynasty

Empress Wang (Cao Fang) (王皇后, given name unknown) (fl. 254), empress of the Cao Wei state

Empress Wang Muzhi (王穆之) (died 365), empress of the Jin Dynasty, married to Emperor Ai

Empress Wang Fahui (王法慧) (360–380), empress of the Jin Dynasty, married to Emperor Xiaowu

Empress Wang Shen'ai (王神愛) (384–412), empress of the Jin Dynasty, married to Emperor An

Empress Wang Xianyuan (王憲嫄) (427–464), empress of the Liu Song Dynasty, married to Emperor Xiaowu

Empress Wang Zhenfeng (王貞風) (436–479), empress of the Liu Song Dynasty, married to Emperor Ming

Wang Shaoming (王韶明) (fl. 490–494), empress of Southern Qi, married to Xiao Zhaowen

Wang Shunhua (王蕣華) (fl. 499–502), empress of Southern Qi, married to Xiao Baorong

Empress Wang (Jing) (王皇后, given name unknown) (fl. 552–557), empress of the Liang Dynasty, married to Xiao Fangzhi

Empress Wang (Xiao Cha) (王皇后, given name unknown) (died 563), empress of the Liang Dynasty, married to Xiao Cha

Empress Wang (Chen dynasty) (王皇后, given name unknown) (fl. 560–583), empress of the Chen Dynasty

Empress Wang (Gaozong) (王皇后, given name unknown) (died 655), empress of the Tang Dynasty, married to Emperor Gaozong

Empress Wang (Xuanzong) (王皇后, given name unknown) (died 724), empress of the Tang Dynasty, married to Emperor Xuanzong

Empress Wang (Dezong) (王皇后, given name unknown) (died 786), empress of the Tang Dynasty, married to Emperor Dezong

Empress Wang (Yang Pu) (王皇后, given name unknown) (fl. 933–937), empress of the Wu state

Empress Wang (Taizu) (王皇后, given name unknown) (942–963), empress of the Song Dynasty, married to Emperor Taizu

Empress Wang (Huizong) (王皇后, given name unknown) (1084–1108), empress of the Song Dynasty, married to Emperor Huizong

Empress Wang (Jurchen Jin) (王皇后, given name unknown) (fl. 1213–1233), empress of the Jurchen Jin Dynasty

Empress Wang (Jingtai) (汪皇后, given name unknown) (died 1505), empress of the Ming Dynasty, married to Jingtai Emperor

Empress Wang (Chenghua) (王皇后, given name unknown) (died 1518), empress of the Ming Dynasty, married to Chenghua Emperor

Empress Wang (Southern Ming) (王皇后, given name unknown) (died 1662), empress of Southern Ming

Empress Wang (Xiao Cha)

Empress Wang (王皇后, personal name unknown) (died 563), formally Empress Jing (靜皇后, literally "the meek empress"), was an empress of the Chinese dynasty Western Liang. Her husband Emperor Xuan of Western Liang (Xiao Cha) founded the Western Liang with the support of Western Wei.

It is not known when she married Xiao Cha, but it is known that she was his wife, not his concubine, and that while he carried the title Prince of Yueyang, she was the Princess of Yueyang. It is not known whether she was the mother of any of Xiao Cha's five known sons, although she was not the mother of his eventual heir Xiao Kui, whose mother was Xiao Cha's concubine Consort Cao. In 549, when the Liang dynasty was in a state of disarray after the capital Jiankang had fallen to the rebel general Hou Jing, Xiao Cha, then with his headquarters at Xiangyang (襄陽, in modern Xiangfan, Hubei), feared an attack from his uncle Xiao Yi the Prince of Xiangdong, and therefore became a Western Wei vassal. In order to show his loyalty, he sent Princess Wang and his heir apparent Xiao Liao (蕭嶚) to Western Wei as hostages. At some point, Western Wei allowed her to return to Xiao Cha.

In 555, after Western Wei forces had defeated and killed Xiao Yi, Western Wei created Xiao Cha the emperor of (Western) Liang (as Emperor Xuan). He created Princess Wang empress. In 562, after Emperor Xuan died and was succeeded by Xiao Kui (who had been created crown prince because Xiao Liao died before Emperor Xuan's ascension) as Emperor Ming, Emperor Ming honored her as empress dowager. She died in 563.

Hou Jing

Hou Jing (Chinese: 侯景; pinyin: Hóu Jǐng; died 552), courtesy name Wanjing (萬景), was a general of the Chinese dynasties Northern Wei, Eastern Wei, and Liang, and briefly, after controlling the Liang imperial regime for several years, usurped the Liang throne, establishing a state of Han. He was soon defeated by the Liang prince Xiao Yi the Prince of Xiangdong, and he was killed by his own associates while in flight. He was one of the reviled figures in Chinese history, known for his exceeding cruelty to enemies and civilians.

Li Ezi

Li Ezi (Chinese: 李娥姿; 536–588), 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.

Li Ezi was born in 536, around the Jiangling region, then ruled by Liang dynasty. In 554, Northern Zhou's predecessor state Western Wei's general Yu Jin (于謹) launched a major attack on Jiangling, then the capital of Liang's Emperor Yuan, capturing it and killing Emperor Yuan. While Western Wei then declared Emperor Yuan's nephew Xiao Cha Liang's emperor (as Emperor Xuan), to be a vassal of Western Wei, when Yu withdrew, he captured most of the population of Jiangling and the surrounding region back to the Western Wei capital Chang'an as spoils of war. Western Wei's paramount general Yuwen Tai awarded Li Ezi to his son Yuwen Yong, then the Duke of Fucheng, to be Yuwen Yong's concubine. She was seven years older than Yuwen Yong.

After Yuwen Tai's death in 556, his son Yuwen Jue took the throne from Emperor Gong of Western Wei in 557, ending Western Wei and establishing Northern Zhou as its Emperor Xiaomin. As the emperor's brother, Yuwen Yong continued to carry the title of duke, although he was promoted to the Duke of Lu by another brother, Emperor Ming, who succeeded Emperor Xiaomin after the powerful regent Yuwen Hu deposed and killed Emperor Xiaomin later in 557. In 559, Lady Li gave birth to Yuwen Yong's oldest son Yuwen Yun. (She would later bear him another son, his second son Yuwen Zan (宇文贊), although the date of Yuwen Zan's birth is not known to history.)

In 560, Emperor Ming was poisoned by Yuwen Hu, and Yuwen Yong became emperor (as Emperor Wu). He created Yuwen Yun the Duke of Lu. He did not create Consort Li empress, and immediately began overtures to pursue formal marital relations with Tujue, commencing in marrying the daughter of Tujue's Mugan Khan, Ashina Qijin in 568 as his empress. However, Empress Ashina did not bear a son, and in 572, after Emperor Wu killed Yuwen Hu and personally took power, he created Yuwen Yun crown prince. In summer 578, Emperor Wu died, and Yuwen Yun became emperor (as Emperor Xuan). He honored both Empress Ashina and Consort Li as empress dowagers (with Consort Li carrying the secondary title of Di Taihou (帝太后), to distinguish her from Empress Ashina's greater title of Huang Taihou (皇太后)).

In spring 579, the erratic Emperor Xuan formally passed the throne to his young son Yuwen Chan (as Emperor Jing), and he took an atypical title for a retired emperor — "Emperor Tianyuan" (天元皇帝, Tianyuan Huangdi). He thereafter changed her title several times — to Tianyuan Di Taihou (天元帝太后) in spring 579, then Tian Huang Taihou in summer 579, and Tianyuan Sheng Huang Taihou in spring 580. In summer 580, Emperor Xuan died, and Emperor Jing, then under the control of the regent Yang Jian, honored both Empress Dowager Ashina and her as grand empress dowagers — but with the title Tai Di Taihou (太帝太后) to distinguish her from the greater title of Tai Huang Taihou (太皇太后) that Empress Dowager Ashina carried.

In 581, Yang Jian seized the throne from Emperor Jing, ending Northern Zhou and starting Sui Dynasty (as its Emperor Wen). Emperor Jing and other members of Northern Zhou's imperial Yuwen clan were soon slaughtered. Grand Empress Dowager Li became a Buddhist nun, and changed her name to Changbei. She died in 588, and was buried only with ceremony due a Buddhist nun, south of Chang'an.

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.

Timeline of the Northern and Southern dynasties

This is a timeline of the Northern and Southern dynasties in China.

Wang Sengbian

Wang Sengbian (王僧辯) (died 555), courtesy name Juncai (君才), was a general of the Chinese dynasty Liang Dynasty. He came to prominence as the leading general under Emperor Yuan (Xiao Yi)'s campaigns against the rebel general Hou Jing and other competitors for the Liang throne, and after Emperor Yuan was defeated by Western Wei in 554 and killed around the new year 555 became the de facto regent over the remaining provinces of Liang. He made Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang, a cousin of Emperor Yuan and a candidate for the throne favored by Northern Qi, emperor, but four months later, his subordinate Chen Baxian carried out a coup, killing him and deposing Xiao Yuanming.

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 Kui

Emperor Ming of (Western) Liang ((西)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.

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).

Xiao Zhengde

Xiao Zhengde (蕭正德) (died 549), courtesy name Gonghe (公和), was an imperial prince and briefly a pretender to the throne of the Chinese Liang Dynasty.

It is not known when Xiao Zhengde was born, but it was known that he was the third son of Xiao Hong (蕭宏), a minor official during Southern Qi and a younger brother of the generals Xiao Yi (蕭懿) and Xiao Yan. As Xiao Yan initially did not have any sons, Xiao Yan adopted Xiao Zhengde to be his own son.

However, in 501, while Xiao Yan was engaged in a civil war against the cruel and arbitrary Southern Qi emperor Xiao Baojuan, Xiao Yan's concubine Ding Lingguang (丁令光) gave birth to a son, Xiao Tong. Despite that, after Xiao Yan overthrew Xiao Baojuan and in 502 forced Xiao Baojuan's brother Emperor He of Southern Qi to yield the throne to him, ending Southern Qi and starting Liang Dynasty (as its Emperor Wu), Xiao Zhengde hoped to be crown prince. Instead, Emperor Wu reversed the adoption and returned Xiao Zhengde to Xiao Hong's line, creating him only the Marquess of Xifeng.

Xiao Zhengde was not at all content with being just a marquess, and he resented the reversal of the adoption. In 522, he fled to rival Northern Wei, claiming to be Liang's deposed crown prince, and sought military assistance. The Northern Wei official Xiao Baoyin, a brother of Xiao Baojuan, instead suggested that Xiao Zhengde be put to death. The Northern Wei government did not kill Xiao Zhengde, but did not treat him with respect. He believed himself to be in danger, and he created a subterfuge—killing a boy and claiming that the boy was his, burying the boy far from the Northern Wei capital Luoyang. In 523, he fled back to Liang. Emperor Wu did not punish him, and in fact restored him to his title and positions.

After Xiao Zhengde's return to Liang, however, he did not regret his actions, but instead gathered thugs, often leading them in robberies. In 525, Xiao Zhengde was a general under the command of Emperor Wu's son Xiao Zong (蕭綜) the Prince of Yuzhang, defending the city of Pengcheng, which was surrendered to Liang by the Northern Wei general Yuan Faseng (元法僧) earlier that year. Xiao Zong, who had long suspected himself to be actually the son of Xiao Baojuan (since his mother Consort Wu was a concubine of Xiao Baojuan and had given birth to him only seven months after becoming Emperor Wu's concubine), defected to Northern Wei during the campaign, and his forces collapsed. Xiao Zhengde abandoned his troops and fled back to the capital Jiankang. Because of crimes he had previously committed and because of his abandoning his forces, Emperor Wu stripped Xiao Zhengde of his title and offices and exiled him to Linhai. However, even before Xiao Zhengde could reach Linhai, Emperor Wu sent a messenger pardoning him and restoring him to his title.

Xiao Tong died in 531, and Emperor Wu, because he then made Xiao Tong's younger brother Xiao Gang crown prince, bypassing Xiao Tong's sons Xiao Huan (蕭歡), Xiao Yu (蕭譽), and Xiao Cha, he created Xiao Huan, Xiao Yu, and Xiao Cha princes. At this time, Xiao Zhengde flattered Emperor Wu's favorite official Zhu Yi, and Zhu Yi spoke on his behalf, reminding Emperor Wu that Xiao Zhengde was previously his son, but was now only a marquess. Emperor Wu therefore created Xiao Zhengde the greater title of Prince of Linhe.

Xiao Zhengde was still not satisfied, however. When the general Hou Jing rebelled in fall 548, he, knowing Xiao Zhengde's disaffection, made secret overtures to Xiao Zhengde, promising to make him emperor. When Emperor Wu subsequently sent Xiao Zhengde with an army to try to resist Hou, Xiao Zhengde turned against Emperor Wu and joined forces with Hou. After Hou put Jiankang under siege and captured the outer city, forcing forces loyal to Emperor Wu to withdraw into the palace walls, Xiao Zhengde was declared emperor. He created his heir apparent Xiao Jianli (蕭見理) crown prince, and married a daughter to Hou. (Xiao Jianli soon died in a raid that he conducted at night.) He also made a pact with Hou that when the palace fell, Emperor Wu and Xiao Gang would not be spared. In spring 549, when Hou briefly entered into negotiations with Emperor Wu and Xiao Gang for peace, Xiao Zhengde spoke against it, and Hou subsequently reneged on the peace terms. When the palace fell, however, despite Xiao Zhengde's efforts to have Emperor Wu and Xiao Gang killed, Hou prevented it, instead using Emperor Wu as his pawn and deposing Xiao Zhengde back to his title of Prince of Linhe, although conferring him a highly honorary office of Dasima (大司馬). Xiao Zhengde became depressed, and when he subsequently met Emperor Wu, he wept bitterly. Emperor Wu responded, "You weep and weep, but is it not too late for you to regret?"

Xiao Zhengde resented Hou for reneging on the agreement, and he subsequently sent letters to his cousin Xiao Fan (蕭範) the Prince of Poyang, requesting that Xiao Fan come to Jiankang's relief. The letters were intercepted by Hou's forces, and in summer 549, Hou strangled Xiao Zhengde to death.

Xiao Zhuang

Xiao Zhuang (蕭莊) (548-577?), often known by his princely title of Prince of Yongjia (永嘉王), was a grandson of Emperor Yuan of Liang, who was declared by the general Wang Lin to be the legitimate emperor of Liang Dynasty in 558, under military assistance by Northern Qi. He thus was one of the three claimants to the Southern dynasties throne, competing with Emperor Xuan of Western Liang, who was supported by Northern Zhou, and Chen Dynasty's founder Emperor Wu of Chen and later his nephew Emperor Wen of Chen. In 560, with Wang Lin defeated by Chen troops, both Wang and Xiao Zhuang fled to Northern Qi, ending their rivalry with Chen and Western Liang. While Northern Qi emperors made promises to return Xiao Zhuang to the Liang throne, Northern Qi was never able to accomplish that promise, and Xiao Zhuang died shortly after Northern Qi's own destruction in 577.

Yuwen Tai

Yuwen Tai (Chinese: 宇文泰; pinyin: Yǔwén Tài) (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 (as Emperor Wen), 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.

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