Empress Dowager He (Eastern Wu)

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Empress Dowager He
Empress dowager of Eastern Wu
Born (Unknown)
Died (Unknown)
Traditional Chinese 何太后
Simplified Chinese 何太后
Pinyin Hé Tàihòu
Wade–Giles He T'ai-hou
Other names Consort He (Chinese: 何姬; pinyin: Hé Jī; Wade–Giles: He Chi)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is He.

Empress Dowager He (birth and death dates unknown), personal name unknown, was an empress dowager of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period. She was a concubine of Sun He, a son of Wu's founding emperor Sun Quan. She became the empress dowager during the reign of her son Sun Hao, the fourth and last emperor of Wu.


Lady He was from Jurong, then in Danyang Commandery (丹楊, seated in modern Xuancheng, Anhui). Her father He Sui (何遂) was a cavalry soldier in the army of Wu's founding emperor Sun Quan. One day, when Sun Quan was examining the troops, he noticed that she was peeking out and looking at the troops. He found her unusual, and gave her to his son Sun He as a consort. In 242, the same year that Sun He was created crown prince, she gave birth to his eldest son, Sun Hao.

Sun He, due to the machinations of many powerful people at court, was deposed in 250 and reduced to commoner status. In 252, he was created the Prince of Nanyang, with his princedom at Changsha. However, after Sun Jun became the regent for his brother, the emperor Sun Liang, in 253, Sun Jun forced him to commit suicide. His wife Princess Zhang also committed suicide. When Lady He was offered the opportunity to commit suicide as well, however, she declined — reasoning that someone needed to raise the children, and she was the one who raised Sun Hao and his three younger brothers (by other consorts), Sun De (孫德), Sun Qian (孫謙), and Sun Jun (孫俊 — note different character than the regent).

In 264, after the death of the emperor Sun Xiu, a younger brother of Sun He, the officials Puyang Xing (濮陽興) and Zhang Bu chose Sun Hao to be the emperor. He quickly posthumously honoured Sun He as an emperor and honoured Lady He as the empress dowager. Her family became exceedingly powerful during Sun Hao's reign. There was no record of when she died, and she probably survived to see the collapse of the empire under her son's violent and incompetent reign in 280 and its conquest by the Jin Dynasty, but it is not clear.

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