Consort Chen (Wen)

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18th century depiction of Consort Chen

Consort Chen (577 - 605), born Princess Ningyuan (寧遠公主), was a daughter of Emperor Xuan of Chen and imperial concubine to Emperor Wen of Sui, founder of the Sui Dynasty.


The future Consort Chen was born in 577, during the reign of her father Emperor Xuan as Princess Ningyuan of Chen. Princess Ningyuan's mother was Emperor Xuan's concubine Consort Shi (施姬) (551 - 609). A native of Chang'an, Consort Shi was the daughter of Shi Jifeng (施績封), Prince of Shixing (始興王). In addition to Princess Ningyuan, she had borne Emperor Xuan two sons: Chen Shubao, Prince of Linhe and Chen Shuxing, Prince of Ruanling. Both sons later became officials under the Sui Dynasty.

The year Princess Ningyuan was born, Northern Qi, at whose expense Emperor Xuan had expanded Chen, fell to Northern Zhou. Cornered, Chen lost many of the gains that it had made from its conquest of Northern Qi territory.

In 582, when Princess Ningyuan was five, Emperor Xuan died, and the throne was inherited by Princess Ningyuan's older half-brother Chen Shubao, who was an incompetent ruler. On 10 February 589, Chen Shubao surrendered to Emperor Wen of Sui, ending the Chen Dynasty. Chen Shubao and his household (which presumably included Princess Ningyuan) were then escorted to the Sui capital.

Princess Ningyuan became Lady Xuanhua (宣華夫人), and later a concubine of Emperor Wen.