Empress Song (Han dynasty)

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Empress Song (宋皇后, personal name unknown) (died 178) was an empress during the Han Dynasty. She was Emperor Ling's first wife, who later became a victim of the powerful eunuchs.

Family background and marriage to Emperor Ling[edit]

The later Empress Song was born into a clan that was honored, but not particularly powerful, during the Eastern Han Dynasty. Her father Song Feng (宋酆) was a grandnephew of Consort Song, the imperial consort of Emperor Zhang who gave birth to his first crown prince Liu Qing. During the early reign of Emperor Ling, he served as the commander of the capital (Luoyang) defense forces. Her aunt was the wife of Prince Liu Kui (劉悝) of Bohai, the brother of Emperor Ling's predecessor Emperor Huan.

In 170, Lady Song was selected to be an imperial consort. In 171, even though she was not a favored consort, she was created empress, perhaps because of her noble lineage. Her father Song Feng was created a marquess.

Fall and death[edit]

As stated, however, Empress Song never had Emperor Ling's favor. Therefore, the concubines who wanted to replace her often defamed her. In 172, an incident occurred that would have great negative implications for her—the powerful eunuch Wang Fu (王甫), after Prince Kui of Bohai failed to pay him bribes that had been promised him, falsely accused Prince Kui of treason. Prince Kui was forced to commit suicide, and his entire household—including his wife—was executed. Thereafter, Wang and his confederates became constantly concerned that if Empress Song became powerful, she would avenge her aunt. They therefore joined with the concubines to falsely accuse her of witchcraft against Emperor Ling's life. In 178, Emperor Ling finally believed them and deposed Empress Song. Empress Song was imprisoned and died in despair. Her father Song Feng and her brothers were all executed. Song Qi (宋奇), formally Marquess Yinqiang (隐强侯), who was also executed, was probably a brother of the empress; and as his wife was a younger cousin sister of Cao Cao, Cao was dismissed from his post as magistrate of Dunqiu (顿丘). Some of the eunuchs not involved in the plot who took pity on the late empress gathered her body and those of her family members and gave them proper burials, but as commoners.

Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Dou Miao
Empress of Eastern Han Dynasty
171–178
Succeeded by
Empress He