Emperor Ming of Northern Zhou
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Emperor Ming of Northern Zhou ((北)周明帝) (534–560), personal name Yuwen Yu (宇文毓),
Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mongol language, the language spoken at the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire ...
name Tongwantu (統萬突), was an
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), m ...
of the
Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mongol language, the language spoken at the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire ...
-led Chinese
Northern Zhou dynasty The Northern Zhou (; ) followed the Western Wei, and ruled northern China from 557 to 581 AD. The last of the Northern and Southern dynasties#Northern dynasties, Northern Dynasties of China's Northern and Southern dynasties period, it was eventu ...
, although at the start of his reign he used the alternative title "Heavenly Prince" (''
Tian Wang Heavenly King or Tian Wang () is a Chinese title for various religious deities and divine leaders throughout history, as well as an alternate form of the term '' Son of Heaven'', referring to the emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via ...
''). He was made emperor after his younger brother Emperor Xiaomin was deposed and killed by the
regent A regent (from the Latin : ruling, governing) is a person appointed to govern a state ''pro tempore'' (Latin Language, Latin: 'for the time being') because the regnant monarch is a minor, is absent, abdicated the throne, is incapacitated or dea ...
Yuwen HuYuwen Hu (宇文護) (513 – 14 April 572), courtesy name Sabao (薩保, also a title, which can be traced back to ''sartpāw “caravan leader”'', but was used as given name, in many cases by Buddhists - referring to the metaphorical meaning of w ...
. Emperor Ming himself assumed some, but not all, powers from Yuwen Hu, and was generally considered able. Because of this, Yuwen Hu became apprehensive, and in 560, he poisoned Emperor Ming to death. While near death, however, Emperor Ming appointed his brother
Yuwen Yong Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou ((北)周武帝) (543–578), personal name Yuwen Yong (宇文邕), Xianbei name Miluotu (禰羅突), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. As was the case of the reigns of his brothers Emperor Xiaomin of ...
(Emperor Wu) as his successor, believing Yuwen Yong to be intelligent and capable, and in 572, Yuwen Yong was finally able to kill Yuwen Hu and assume full imperial powers.


Background

Yuwen Yu was born in 534, as the oldest son of the then-
Northern Wei Maitreya Maitreya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Euro ...
general
Yuwen Tai Yuwen Tai () (507–556), nickname Heita (黑獺), formally Duke Wen of Anding (安定文公), later further posthumously honored by Northern Zhou initially as Prince Wen (文王) then as Emperor Wen (文皇帝) with the temple name Taizu (太 ...

Yuwen Tai
. His mother was Yuwen Tai's
concubine Concubinage is an interpersonal The concept of interpersonal relationship involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships vary in their degree of intimacy or self-disclos ...
Lady Yao. His nickname of Tongwantu was derived from the fact that Lady Yao gave birth to him at the important city of
Tongwan Tongwancheng () was the capital of the Xiongnu-led Xia (Sixteen Kingdoms), Hu Xia dynasty in northern China during the Sixteen Kingdoms period in the early 5th century. The city is at the southern edge of the Maowusu Sands of the Ordos Desert, on ...
(統萬, in modern Yulin, Shaanxi, Yulin, Shaanxi) while accompanying Yuwen Tai on an inspection of the city. Also in 534, Northern Wei divided into two rival states, Western Wei and Eastern Wei, with Yuwen Tai as the paramount general of Western Wei. In 548, Emperor Wen of Western Wei, to further honor Yuwen Tai, created Yuwen Yu the Duke of Ningdu. In 550, he was made a provincial governor, and for the next several years, he was rotated between several provinces. During his term as a provincial governor, he married the Empress Dugu (Northern Zhou), daughter of the key general Dugu Xin as his wife. In spring 556, Yuwen Tai was pondering the issue of succession. His wife Princess Fengyi, the sister of Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei, had one son, Emperor Xiaomin of Northern Zhou, Yuwen Jue, but he considered the fact of whether making Yuwen Jue heir apparent over Yuwen Yu would trouble Dugu Xin. 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 heir apparent. Yuwen Tai died later that year, and Yuwen Jue inherited his titles, under the guardianship of Yuwen Tai's nephew
Yuwen HuYuwen Hu (宇文護) (513 – 14 April 572), courtesy name Sabao (薩保, also a title, which can be traced back to ''sartpāw “caravan leader”'', but was used as given name, in many cases by Buddhists - referring to the metaphorical meaning of w ...
. In early 557, Yuwen Hu forced Emperor Gong of Western Wei to yield the throne to Yuwen Jue, ending Western Wei and establishing Northern Zhou (with Yuwen Jue as its Emperor Xiaomin but using the alternative title of "Heavenly Prince" (''
Tian Wang Heavenly King or Tian Wang () is a Chinese title for various religious deities and divine leaders throughout history, as well as an alternate form of the term '' Son of Heaven'', referring to the emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via ...
'')). Later in 557, the 15-year-old Emperor Xiaomin, wanting to exercise full imperial powers, plotted to have Yuwen Hu killed. When Yuwen Hu discovered the plot, he deposed and then killed Emperor Xiaomin. Yuwen Hu welcomed Yuwen Yu to the capital Chang'an to take over the throne, still with the Heavenly Prince title.


Reign

In spring 558, Emperor Ming created his wife Duchess Dugu the title of princess (as he was still using the Heavenly Prince title at this point). Three months later, however, she died. (The historian Bo Yang speculated that because Yuwen Hu had in 557 forced her father Dugu Xin to commit suicide after Dugu Xin was implicated in a plot to overthrow Yuwen Hu, that Yuwen Hu had her murdered, but had no concrete evidence to show that that happened.) In spring 559, Yuwen Hu formally returned his authorities to Emperor Ming, and Emperor Ming began to formally rule on all governmental matters, but Yuwen Hu retained authority over the military. Emperor Ming was generally credited with making sensible decisions and being humble toward elders, honoring them appropriately and listening to their advice. In fall 559, Emperor Ming formally began to use the title of emperor and started using an era name—which Yuwen Tai had earlier abolished during the time of Western Wei's Emperor Fei. In spring 560, with Xiao Zhuang—a rival claimant to the Liang Dynasty throne to Western Liang (555–587), Western Liang's Emperor Xuan of Western Liang, who was a Northern Zhou vassal and whom Northern Zhou supported—attacking Chen Dynasty territory with his paramount general Wang Lin (general), Wang Lin, Northern Zhou sent its general Shi Ning () to attack Xiao Zhuang's capital Jiangxia (江夏, in modern Wuhan, Hubei). Soon, however, after Xiao Zhuang and Wang were defeated by the Chen general Hou Tian () and forced to flee to Northern Qi and Chen forces subsequently approaching Jiangxia, Northern Zhou abandoned the campaign on Jiangxia, but were able to seize part of Xiao Zhuang's former territory—modern Hunan, which Northern Zhou turned over to Western Liang but sent forces to help defend. In spring 560, Chen made peace overtures to Northern Zhou, which Northern Zhou accepted. in summer 560, Yuwen Hu, apprehensive of Emperor Ming's intelligence and abilities, instructed the imperial chef Li An () to poison sugar cookies that were submitted to the emperor. Emperor Ming ate them and became ill. Knowing that he was near death, he instructed that, because his sons were young, the throne should be passed to his younger brother
Yuwen Yong Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou ((北)周武帝) (543–578), personal name Yuwen Yong (宇文邕), Xianbei name Miluotu (禰羅突), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. As was the case of the reigns of his brothers Emperor Xiaomin of ...
the Duke of Lu. He died soon thereafter, and Yuwen Yong took the throne as Emperor Wu.


Era name

* ''Wucheng'' (武成 wǔ chéng) 559-560


Family

Consorts and Issue: * Empress Dugu (Northern Zhou), Empress Mingjing, of the Dugu clan of Henan (; d. 558) * ''Fei'', of the Xu clan () ** Yuwen Xian, Prince Bila (; 559–580), first son * Unknown ** Yuwen Zhen, Prince Feng (; d. 581), second son ** Yuwen Shi, Prince Song (; d. 581), third son ** Princess Henan () *** Married Yuchi Jing () ** A daughter who married Helan Shi ()


Ancestry


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Ming, Emperor of Northern Zhou Northern Wei people Northern Zhou emperors 534 births 560 deaths People from Weinan Murdered Chinese emperors