Li Bian

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Li Bian (李昪)
Emperor Liezu of (Southern) Tang (more...)
1st emperor of Southern Tang
Reign November 10, 937[1][2] – March 30, 943
Successor Li Jing (Emperor Yuanzong), son
Born January 7, 889[3][1]
Pengcheng, Xú Prefecture, Tang
Died March 30, 943[1][4]
Jinling Prefecture, Southern Tang
  • Zhong Shiguang (種時光)
  • Lady Ji (吉)
  • Lady Zhou (周)
  • Lady Meng (孟)
Era name and dates
Shēngyúan (昇元): November 10, 937 – April 8, 943[1][4]
Posthumous name
Emperor Guangwen Suwu Xiaogao
(光文肅武孝高皇帝) (full)
Temple name
Lièzǔ (烈祖)
Dynasty Southern Tang
  • Li Rong (李榮), biological father
  • Xu Wen, adoptive father
  • Lady Liu (劉), biological mother
  • Lady Li (李), adoptive mother
Li Bian
Xu Gao
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Xu Zhigao
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Li Pengnu
Li Zhenglun / Xu Zhenglun
Traditional Chinese /
Simplified Chinese /
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Li or Xu.

Li Bian (7 January 889 – 30 March 943, courtesy name Zhenglun), known as Xu Gao between 937 and 939 and Xu Zhigao before 937, and possibly Li Pengnu during his childhood, also known posthumously by his temple name Liezu, was the founder and first emperor of the Southern Tang. He was an adopted son and successor of the Wu regent Xu Wen who usurped power from the Wu emperor Yang Pu.

Rise to power[edit]

Li Bian was the adoptive son of Yang Xingmi, the founder of the Wu Kingdom, but later was adopted by the general Xu Wen and had his name changed to Xu Zhigao. He was able to usurp power in the Wu state from Yang’s successors in 937. He declared himself to be the legitimate successor to the Tang Dynasty, which had fallen in 907. This is the justification he used for adopting the imperial surname of Li.


Pottery Dancers. 943 CE. From tomb of Li Bian, founder of Southern Tang Dynasty

Xianzhu’s reign was short, only six years. However, he was successful in solidifying the state, preparing it for aggressive expansion that his successor, Zhongzhu, would engage in. He established the capital at Nanjing, a different location as the predecessor state Wu's Yangzhou. He also began a pattern of Nanjing becoming one of the three main centers of art and culture in southern China during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period


While the kingdom Xianzhu founded did not succeed in reuniting the Chinese realm, however, it played an important part in the consolidation of politics with the absorption of Min and Chu. It also became one of the leading centers of learning, along with Chengdu of the Later Shu and Hangzhou of Wuyue.

Personal information[edit]

  • Father
    • Li Rong (李榮) (d. 893), posthumously honored Emperor Xiaode with the temple name of Qingzong (honored 938)
  • Mother
    • Lady Liu, posthumously honored Empress Degong (honored 938)
  • Adoptive Father
    • Xu Wen, Prince Zhongwu of Qi during Wu, further posthumously honored Emperor Wu (honored 937), initially with the temple name of Taizu (honored 937) then Yizu (honored 938)
  • Adoptive Mother
    • Lady Li, posthumously honored Empress Mingde (honored 937)
  • Wives
    • Lady Wang, the Lady of Wei, posthumously honored imperial consort rank Shunfei
    • Empress Song, mother of Crown Prince Jingtong and Princes Jingqian, Jingsui, and Jingda
  • Major Concubine
    • Lady Zhong Shiguang, mother of Prince Jingti
  • Children
    • Xu Jingtong (徐景通), name later changed to Xu Jing (changed 937), then to Li Jing (李璟) (changed 938), then to Li Jing (李景) (changed 958), initially the Prince of Wu (created 937), later the Prince of Qi (created 938), later the Crown Prince (created 940), later Emperor Yuanzong of Southern Tang
    • Xu Jingqian (徐景遷) (919-937), posthumously created the Prince of Gaoping (created 937), then Prince Ding of Chu (created 943)
    • Xu Jingsui (徐景遂), name later changed to Li Jingsui (李景遂) (changed 938), initially the Prince of Ji, then the Prince of Shou (created 937), then the Prince of Shou (created 939), then the Prince of Yan (created 943), then the Prince of Qi (created 943), then the Crown Prince (created 947), then the Prince of Jin (created 958), posthumously re-created Crown Prince Wencheng
    • Xu Jingda (徐景達) (924-957), name later changed to Li Jingda (李景達), initially the Duke of Shouyang (created 937), then the Prince of Xuancheng (created 939), then the Prince of E (created 943), then the Prince of Qi (created 943), posthumously created Crown Prince Zhaoxiao
    • Li Jingti (李景逷) (938-968), initially the Prince of Baoning (created 943), later the Prince of Xin, later Prince Zhaoshun of Jiang
    • Princess Yongxing, wife of the Wu crown prince Yang Lian
    • Princess Fengcheng
    • Princess Shengtang
    • Princess Taihe, wife of Yan Xu (嚴續)
    • Princess Jianchang
    • Princess Yushan
    • Princess Xingguo, wife of Ma Renyu (馬仁裕)


  1. ^ a b c d Academia Sinica Chinese-Western Calendar Converter.
  2. ^ Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 281.
  3. ^ Spring and Autumn Annals of the Ten Kingdoms (十國春秋), vol. 15.
  4. ^ a b Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 283.
  • Kurz, Johannes L. (2011). China's Southern Tang Dynasty (937-976). Routledge. ISBN -9780415454964. 
  • Mote, F.W. (1999). Imperial China (900-1800). Harvard University Press. pp. 11, 14, 22. ISBN 0-674-01212-7. 
Chinese nobility
Preceded by
None (dynasty founded)
Emperor of Southern Tang
Succeeded by
Li Jing (Emperor Yuanzong)
Preceded by
Yang Pu of Wu
Emperor of China (Jiangsu/Anhui/Jiangxi/Eastern Hubei)