Emperor Xiaomin of Northern Zhou ((北)周孝閔帝) (542–557), personal name Yuwen Jue (宇文覺), nickname (陀羅尼), was the founder of the -led of China, ruling as Heavenly Prince ('). He was the heir of 's paramount general , and after Yuwen Tai's death in 556, his cousin , serving as his guardian, forced to yield the throne to Yuwen Jue in spring 557, establishing Northern Zhou. Later in 557, however, Yuwen Jue, wanting to assume power personally, plotted to kill Yuwen Hu, who in turn deposed him and replaced him with his brother (Emperor Ming). Later that year, Yuwen Hu had Yuwen Jue executed.


Yuwen Jue was born in 542 as the son of , then the paramount general of , and Yuwen Tai's wife Princess Pingyi, the sister of . He was Yuwen Tai's third son, but was largely viewed as Yuwen Tai's likely heir because his mother was both of royal birth and Yuwen Tai's wife, while his older brothers and Yuwen Zhen () were sons of s. In 550, he became the Duke of Lüeyang. He later married 's daughter the Princess Jin'an as his wife and duchess. In spring 556, Yuwen Tai was pondering the issue of succession. Yuwen Jue was born of the Princess Pingyi, but Yuwen Yu was older and married to the daughter of one of his chief generals, . On the advice of Li Yuan (), who argued that the son of a wife always had precedence over the son of a concubine, Yuwen Tai made Yuwen Jue his . in fall 556, while Yuwen Tai was on a tour of the norther provinces, he became ill at Qiantun Mountain (牽屯山, in modern , ). He summoned his nephew the Duke of Zhongshan to Qiantun and entrusted the affairs of the state as well as his sons to Yuwen Hu. He soon died, and Yuwen Jue took over his titles (among them, Duke of Anding), while Yuwen Hu took the reins of the state. Yuwen Jue set up his headquarters at Tong Province (同州, roughly modern , ), where Yuwen Tai's headquarters had been. Around the new year 557, Yuwen Jue gained the greater title of Duke of Zhou. In spring 557, Yuwen Hu, believing that Yuwen Jue's youth meant that he needed to take imperial title to affirm his authority, forced Emperor Gong to yield the throne to Yuwen Jue (as Emperor Xiaomin), ending Western Wei and starting Northern Zhou.

Reign and death

Emperor Xiaomin took the throne, but did not use the title "emperor" (皇帝, huáng dì), but used the -style title "Heavenly Prince" ('). He posthumously honored Yuwen Tai as Prince Wen and the Princess Pingyi as Princess Wen. He created the former Emperor Gong the Duke of Song, but soon thereafter, the duke was executed. The governmental structure and ceremonies were largely imitative of Zhou Dynasty, but also incorporated many elements, largely abandoning customs originated in the post-Zhou centuries. He created his wife, Duchess Yuan, princess. with Yuwen Hu as regent, The political situation was unstable. About a month after Emperor Xiaomin took the throne, two of the most senior officials, Zhao Gui () the Duke of Chu and Dugu Xin the Duke of Wei, showed displeasure about Yuwen Hu's hold on power. Zhao wanted to kill Yuwen Hu, an action that Dugu tried to persuade him against. Soon thereafter, however, Zhao's plans were revealed by another official, Yuwen Sheng (), and Yuwen Hu had Zhao executed and removed Dugu from his office. Soon, he also forced Dugu to commit suicide. When another official, Qi Gui (), criticized Yuwen Hu's regency, he was also executed. Meanwhile, Emperor Xiaomin himself, wanting to take power, was engaging in a plot to kill Yuwen Hu. His plot included two of Yuwen Tai's key associates, Li Zhi () and Sun Heng (), as well as the other officials Yifu Feng () and Heba Ti (), each of whom was ambitious and therefore further tried to fan Emperor Xiaomin's suspicions against Yuwen Hu. After Li tried to engage another official, Zhang Guangluo () in the plot, however, Zhang revealed the plot to Yuwen Hu. Yuwen Hu, not wanting to take drastic actions at first, sent Li and Sun away to be provincial governors. When Emperor Xiaomin wanted to summon Li and Sun back to the capital , Yuwen Hu urged against it, pledging his loyalty. However, Yifu and Heba became fearful and plotted to carry out the plot anyway. Zhang again informed Yuwen Hu, who discussed the matter with the generals Helan Xiang () and Yuchi Gang (). Helan suggested to him to depose Emperor Xiaomin, and Yuwen Hu had Yuchi arrest Yifu and Heba and disband the imperial guards. Emperor Xiaomin, surprised by the move, barricaded himself in the palace and armed his and s. Yuwen Hu sent Helan into the palace to force Emperor Xiaomin to leave the palace and put him under house arrest at his old residence as the Duke of Lüeyang. Yuwen Hu summoned the high-level officials and informed them the situation, proposing to depose Emperor Xiaomin and replace him with Yuwen Yu. The high-level officials, not daring to oppose Yuwen Hu, agreed. Emperor Xiaomin's coconspirators were executed, while he himself was demoted to the rank of Duke of Lüeyang. A month later, Yuwen Hu executed him and forced his wife, Princess Yuan, to become a nun. After another brother of Emperor Xiaomin, killed Yuwen Hu in 572, he posthumously honored Emperor Xiaomin as emperor and reburied him with honors due one.


Consorts and Issue: * , of the Yuan clan of Henan (; d. 616), second cousin, personal name Humo () * ''Furen'', of the Lu clan () ** Yuwen Kang, Prince Jili (; d. 576), first son



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